The Los Angeles Dodgers entered the Freeway Series having gone 37-13 in their last 50 games and largely carried by a starting pitching staff that was dominant on a nightly basis. Hyun-Jin Ryu carried the torch again Monday night, albeit in what finished as a loss for the Dodgers.
Whereas they squandered a lead against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in the series opener, the script was flipped on the Dodgers the ensuing night. Kenta Maeda retired the first two batters faced but then came unraveled.
Shohei Ohtani lined a home run out to right-center field, which Maeda followed by hitting Kole Calhoun and walking Jonathan Lucroy. Brian Goodwin found a hole in the shift for an RBI single and Justin Bour landed the big blow with a three-run home run.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts reverted back to a familiar refrain about the lack of intent that lends to Maeda landing in trouble when his 36-pitch first inning, as seen on SportsNet LA:
“I just think the walk to Lucroy was a big blow. The way Kenta is throwing the baseball, he should get him out. Nothing against Jonathan. For me, that first inning, I thought Kenta wasn’t as aggressive as he’s been when he’s pitched well. I say aggressive, when you’re really not going after guys with your secondary pitches and your fastball is non-competitive. He really didn’t use his fastball. The second time through, when five runs on the board, I thought he was considerably more aggressive. You have to be able to trust throwing the fastball at times to keep those guys off your secondary pitches. For him to still regroup and go 4.1 (innings), it really saved our bullpen. Credit to Kenta for doing that.”
As Roberts noted, Maeda did manage to settle in after allowing the home run to Bour. From that point on he retired 11 of the next 13 batters faced. The only Angels to reach safely during that stretch came via walk in the second and third innings.
Maeda ended his night on a positive note by striking out Mike Trout for a second time. But the 4.1 innings pitched marked his shortest outing since going four in a loss to the Chicago Cubs on April 23.
Moreover, the right-hander hadn’t allowed more than one earned run in three of his past five starts.