Kenley Jansen‘s return from the DL was not the walk in the park we expected. Instead, he surrendered back-to-back home runs to Jedd Gyorko and Matt Carpenter in the top of the ninth inning as the Cardinals beat the Dodgers 5-3. With the loss, the Dodgers are now 2.5 games behind the D-backs and 2 games behind the Rockies.
Jansen wasn’t the only pitcher who struggled on Monday night. Alex Wood lasted only four-plus innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks. His night started out bad when José Martínez launched a solo home run in the first inning. Wood missed his spot with a fastball and Martínez made him pay big-time.
Things turned south real fast in the fifth inning. Wood gave up two hits and a walk, the second hit was a run-scoring single that gave the Cards a 2-0 lead, then he was removed from the game. JT Chargois entered the game, walked a batter, then left with an injury. So who do the Dodgers turn to? Pedro Báez. Báez entered the game with the bases loaded and did what he does best: walked the first batter he faced. 3-0 Cards.
The Dodgers almost managed to get the momentum in their favor in the bottom of the fifth inning. Manny Machado hit an RBI single with no outs in the inning, collecting the Dodgers’ first hit of the game with runners in scoring position, and cutting the deficit to 3-1. Cody Bellinger drove in another run with a sacrifice fly that took advantage of the poor throwing arm of Marcell Ozuna, bringing the Dodgers within a run. But in typical Dodger fashion, they left Machado stranded at second base.
It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the Dodgers scored again, but this time, they managed to tie the game. With two outs, Bellinger and Matt Kemp walked, giving the Dodgers runners on first and second. Max Muncy hit a soft line drive into left field for a game-tying RBI single. Unfortunately, the Dodgers loaded the bases but left the runners on base in the seventh.
When Jansen came on to pitch the ninth inning, Dodger fans were excited. Who wouldn’t be? Jansen’s healthy again and that means the Dodgers won’t lose another game. Or does it? Well, Jansen wasn’t sharp in his return. He allowed back-to-back home runs to Gyorko and Carpenter. The Dodgers were unable to score in the bottom of the ninth and they lost 5-3.
Location Is Important!
Most home runs come on missed pitch location. That’s exactly what happened on two of the three home runs hit by the Cardinals. When Wood gave up the homer to Martínez, the pitch was supposed to be at the knees. Instead, it was around the letters and Martínez made him pay. It was the same thing when Jansen faced Gyorko. The pitch was supposed to be down, but he threw it up, allowing Gyorko to hit it up and over the wall.
In case you don’t understand that stat, it means the Dodgers only collected two hits in thirteen at-bats with runners in scoring position. This means they had Cardinals’ pitchers on the ropes a lot, but only cashed in twice.
In the first inning, the Dodgers had the bases loaded, then a popout and double play ended the threat. The Dodgers had a runner on second base with no outs in the fourth inning, but they left him there. In the eighth inning, the Dodgers got the go-ahead run on third base with one out. But as you probably guessed, they left him there. When the game was over, the Dodgers had left 14 men on base.
The Dodgers will try to redeem themselves in game two. Hyun-Jin Ryu will try to duplicate his last start, when he pitched six scoreless innings in his return from the DL. He will be opposed by Daniel Poncedeleon. He has a 2.04 ERA in six appearances. He allowed no runs over seven innings in his only start of the year. The game will start at 7:10pm.