The Los Angeles Dodgers recalled Garrett Cleavinger prior to Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals in order to provide some relief for a bullpen as the team is in the midst of playing 18 consecutive games without a day off.
Cleavinger quickly found himself in a high-leverage spot as Dodgers manager Dave Roberts called on the left-hander in the eighth inning to protect a 3-2 lead.
The inning started with Gavin Lux making a throwing error on a routine grounder that allowed Josh Bell to reach safely. That was followed by strikeouts from Nelson Cruz and Keibert Ruiz before Luis García gave the Nationals a 4-3 lead with a two-run home run.
Cleavinger was in the game due to the likes of Caleb Ferguson, Evan Phillips, David Price and Alex Vesia not being available.
“There were some other guys we were just going to stay away from,” Roberts explained of using Cleavinger. “David would’ve been four of five; Alex, we’re trying to make sure we take care of as far as his workload and manage that.
“And honestly, I felt it was a good lane for Garrett. It just didn’t work out, but I really felt good about where we were at in that part of the game. Phillips was down too.”
Cleavinger remained in the game in the ninth inning and the Nationals added a sacrifice fly and two-run double before Phil Bickford entered and allowed an inherited runner to score before.
“I was trying to get through the ninth with Cleavinger to kind of save some bullets for Phil,” Roberts said. “We’ve got another game here, and then we’ve got four in Colorado. So just trying to manage the entire ‘pen workload.”
By the end of his outing, Cleavinger allowed six runs (four earned) in 1.2 innings while being credited with a blown save and a loss. The Nationals went on to win 8-3 and clinched a series victory against the Dodgers.
Roberts unsure why Dodgers struggle against sub-.500 teams
The Dodgers came out of the All-Star break with a sweep of the San Francisco Giants but had their eight-game winning streak snapped by the Nationals, and now are in danger of being swept.
The Nationals entered the series with a 32-65 record, which was the worst mark in all of baseball, and the Dodgers have also struggled against the Pittsburgh Pirates. “I don’t know that answer,” Roberts said when asked why the team has struggled against sub-.500 opponents at times this season.
“I know that we came off a big series, but I know that’s not an excuse for us to essentially have a letdown and call it a letdown. I don’t think it was. I thought we came in prepared and they pitched us well.
“As far as teams kind of at the bottom of the standings, I don’t know the answer. I think we still have the mindset coming in. I wish I knew that answer.”
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