The Los Angeles Dodgers earned a series victory over the rival San Francisco Giants Sunday night with a comeback win behind a strong Kenta Maeda outing and Joc Pederson’s two-run home run. Yasiel Puig also electrified the crowd by scoring from second base on a Yasmani Grandal infield single to give the Dodgers an insurance run.
While Maeda went on to throw seven innings, the longest outing of his young Major League career, it wasn’t without some bumps along the way. The right-hander walked two batters in the first inning, surpassing the one walk Maeda issued over 12 combined innings pitched in his two starts prior.
On top of some frustration that came with handing out free passes, Maeda believed the strike zone was less than favorable. “I think I was trying to make balls look really good back there, so he thought the umpire was squeezing him,” Grandal explained after the win.
“When really, the umpire wasn’t. [Maeda] was just a little outside the zone. Obviously, this is the first time we’ve actually played together in a game, so he doesn’t really know how I catch.” Grandal missed time during Spring Training due to lingering forearm soreness, which was also the reason he began the year on the disabled list.
Sunday’s game was the first time Grandal and Maeda worked together. The 27-year-old catcher reviewed film with Maeda between innings to show the Japanese native he wasn’t hitting the zone. “I said, as the game goes on, we’re going to start to get pitches like this. Don’t try to make a perfect pitch.”
On top of throwing a season-high seven innings, Maeda also set a new high with seven strikeouts. He did give up a solo home run to Joe Panik in the third, which ended his scoreless streak with the Dodgers at 14.2 innings pitched.
Grandal acknowledged Maeda has the benefit of being an unknown to opposing batters at this time, but is confident changes will be made when necessary. “By the time he spends a couple of months in the league, teams will adjust to him. But at the same time, we’re going to adjust to the league,” Grandal said. “That’s how everybody does it.”
Maeda’s next start will come on Saturday against the Colorado Rockies at hitter-friendly Coors Field. Entering play on Monday, the Rockies are ranked fourth in baseball with 68 runs scored.