The Los Angeles Dodgers depth has afforded them with the luxury of temporarily replacing Rich Hill in the starting rotation with Alex Wood. While Wood had pitched admirably thus far, both in relief and two spot starts, his outing Wednesday night at AT&T Park was Wood’s best of the season.
He struck out four of the first six batters faced, and held the San Francisco Giants without a hit for five innings. Wood lost a perfect game on a Brandon Belt walk with one out in the fourth inning. Drew Stubbs’ leadoff single broke up Wood’s no-hit bid.
Unfazed by the base hit, Wood retired the next three batters faced. He exited after a season-high 77 pitches over six innings, and with a 3-0 lead. The Dodgers bullpen failed to protect it, and the Giants won in walk-off fashion in the 10th inning.
Wood’s removal coupled with the quartet of Dodgers’ relief pitchers who combined to cough up the lead, resulted in some second-guessing.
Manager Dave Roberts said after the loss that a pitch count was in place, which Wood was unaware of, but understanding, per Bill Plunkett of the Southern California News Group:
“I didn’t know I was on a pitch count until I got yanked,” Wood said. “That was probably the longest I’d gone since my last spring start so I wasn’t surprised.”
Prior to Wednesday, Wood’s longest outing this season was 4.2 innings of work against the Arizona Diamondbacks on April 21. He threw 76 pitches and didn’t factor into the decision at Chase Field.
Wood’s effectiveness tends to decrease after 75 pitches in a start, and he’d yet to shoulder that kind of workload since undergoing elbow surgery last season. This year, Wood is 1-0 with a 2.29 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and 19 strikeouts in 19.2 innings across five games (three starts).