The Los Angeles Dodgers settled for a disappointing split of their four-game Opening Series against the Arizona Diamondbacks, which largely was due to boom-or-bust offensive results and the bullpen stumbling.
On Friday night, the Dodgers held a 1-0 lead before Alex Vesia surrendered a two-run, go-ahead homer to pinch-hitter Kyle Lewis in the eighth inning.
On Sunday, Brusdar Graterol struggled to get outs in the ninth inning and it resulted in the Diamondbacks taking a decided 2-1 lead.
Although the bullpen is not solely to blame for the two losses, those missteps offset what was a strong showing from the Dodgers starting rotation.
Each of the four starters pitched at least six innings and combined to allow just four earned runs. They also had 25 strikeouts against just one walk.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he “absolutely” was pleased with the group’s performance.
“You never want to lose games, but if you look at how we came out of the first four games, I think the starters are continually getting built up,” Roberts added. “And then our guys in the ‘pen are feeling pretty frisky. So I think that we’re in a good spot as far as the next two games to the off day.”
Next up is Michael Grove, who makes his 2023 debut Monday night. The Dodgers rotation initially was due to be rounded out by Ryan Pepiot replacing the injured Tony Gonsolin, but he was put on the 15-day injured list because of a left oblique strain.
Dodgers starting rotation
Julio Urías made his first career Opening Day start and got himself on track after a shaky beginning that saw the Diamondbacks score a run in each of the first two innings.
Urías retired 13 of 15 batters faced to get through the sixth. The only baserunners during that stretch came on a Miguel Rojas error that Urías immediately erased by inducing an inning-ending double play, and Ketel Marte attempting to stretch a single into a double.
“I made a couple adjustments and felt like myself on the mound a little bit more after those first two innings,” Urías said through an interpreter. “I think I was cutting the fastball too much. Made those adjustments and I was able to be more successful.”
Urías additionally unveiled a new cutter during the start.
Dustin May had the longest outing of any Dodgers starter during the Diamondbacks series at seven innings.
Arizona threatened early on Corbin Carroll’s double with one out in the second inning, but May retired the next two batters. He didn’t allow another hit until Christian Walker singled with one out in the fourth.
May got through six shutout innings on just 73 pitches and ultimately got through seven for the longest start in his career.
“My pitch count was pretty low, so going into the dugout, I was wanting to stay in,” May said of his thought process after completing six innings.
“If [Roberts] would’ve come over, I would’ve tried to barter with him to go back out. But he didn’t and he let me go back out, so that was a good confidence booster.”
Clayton Kershaw was bumped to the third game of the season so the Dodgers could split the lefties in their rotation. He built on a strong close to Spring Training by limiting the Diamondbacks to only one run over his six innings of work.
Kershaw threw just 76 pitches in the outing and finished with nine strikeouts. He now has 2,816 career strikeouts and passed Mike Mussian for 23rd place on the all-time list. Kershaw could join Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer as the only active pitchers with 3,000 career strikeouts.
Noah Syndergaard impressed in his Dodgers debut as he got through six-plus innings without allowing a run. He allowed four hits, collected six strikeouts and walked off the field to a standing ovation.
“It was awesome. I’m a big believer in first impressions,” Syndergaard said of his Dodgers debut. “New home, new fanbase, so just wanted to go out there and execute.
“Attack hitters and leave a good first impression. Glad I got the first one over. Relax a little bit and let the nerves kind of calm down. All in all, I think it was a really good outing. Just unfortunately we lost.”
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