Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Trusted Alex Wood’s Velocity In Fateful 6th Inning
Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Trusted Alex Wood’s Velocity In Fateful 6th Inning
Eric Risberg-AP Photo

Clayton Kershaw made it relatively easy on Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts in the club’s Opening Day game against the San Diego Padres. The left-handed ace threw 96 pitches and nine strikeouts over seven scoreless innings.

The Dodgers held a 15-0 lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, which made removing Kershaw a no-brainer. Louis Coleman and Yimi Garcia combined for two scoreless innings to wrap up the Dodgers’ win.

Then on Tuesday, Scott Kazmir was lifted after throwing 75 pitches in six innings. Despite the southpaw sailing through much of the game, Roberts decided that was enough for Kazmir.

Again, the Dodgers bullpen answered the bell, with Pedro Baez, Chris Hatcher and Kenley Jansen each throwing a scoreless frame. Roberts stuck with that blueprint in the series finale, removing Kenta Maeda at 84 pitches and six shutout innings.

Garcia, J.P. Howell and Joe Blanton finished out the final three innings to complete the Dodgers’ three-game sweep of the Padres, with each win a shutout. The rookie manager deviated from the early precedent in Thursday’s series opener against the San Francisco Giants, and it backfired.

Alex Wood gave up three runs in the fifth inning, which cut the Dodgers’ lead to 4-3. Roberts allowed Wood to bat for himself in the sixth and the southpaw was back out on the mound in the bottom half of the inning.

Matt Duffy and Brandon Crawford combined for back-to-back base hits with no outs, and Roberts came with the hook. San Francisco went on to score four runs that inning, taking a lead they never relinquished.

Roberts explained his decision to leave Wood in the game was due to the left-hander still pitching with normal velocity and the Giants’ trouble in squaring up balls, according to ESPN’s Doug Padilla:

“He had 24 pitches in the fifth inning,” Roberts said. “He gave up a couple of doubles and there was still some weak contact. I felt that his velocity was still there. After the fifth inning there was 74 pitches [total], so as far as stamina and where he was at, I didn’t see him missing arm side and I didn’t see that he was losing velocity.”

The Giants’ soft hits were reminiscent of the success they had on multiple occasions against Brett Anderson last season. The loss served as a reminder of the season-long trouble the Dodgers had at AT&T Park in 2015.

Los Angeles was just 2-8 last season in the Giants’ home stadium; both wins didn’t come until September. However, one of them was to clinch a third consecutive National League West title, thanks in large part to Kershaw’s complete-game shutout.

Ross Stripling, Kershaw and Kazmir are the Dodgers’ probables for the next three games against the Giants.