The Los Angeles Dodgers made a statement in the face of adversity on Monday with their 8-4 victory against the Washington Nationals. Los Angeles is now 4-0 this season against the top team in National League East, and trail the San Francisco Giants by 4.5 games.
Tuesday’s game was filled with welcome-to-the-big-leagues moments for Nationals righty Reynaldo Lopez, who made his Major League debut. Chase Utley began the Dodgers’ string of hits with a leadoff home run in the first inning.
Howie Kendrick followed with a base hit and Justin Turner doubled before Lopez could record the first out, which came on an Adrian Gonzalez line drive that was only caught because the Nationals were in a shift.
Joc Pederson, who was reinstated from the disabled list on Tuesday, tacked on a two-run single before Lopez could get out of the inning.
After the game, Nationals manager Dusty Baker expressed some surprise over the success the Dodgers had in hitting Lopez’s fastball, via Bill Ladson and Alex Putterman of MLB.com:
“The Dodgers didn’t miss many fastballs. For a guy that throws as hard as he does, you expect them to miss more fastballs,” Baker said. “He had a quite a few strikeouts, but the strikeouts came from his offspeed, slider or his changeup. You don’t know if the Dodgers were seeing something or the kid wasn’t pitching inside enough.”
Lopez credited the Dodgers for keying in on his fastball:
“I just had a better feel for my pitches and was learning the hitters a little better, therefore it just came to me a little better,” Lopez said. “I felt like the location of the fastball was very good but they were anticipating fastball and jumping on that fastball right away so after the first few innings it seemed like I started mixing up my pitches better, and it worked out.”
Lopez at one point retired eight consecutive batters, collecting six strikeouts, and striking out the side during that span. He ultimately allowed six runs on 10 hits and had nine strikeouts over 4.2 innings of work.
Lopez’s nine strikeouts were the second-most by a Nationals pitcher in his Major League debut since 2005. The young right-hander’s stay in the Majors was brief as Lopez was optioned back to Triple-A on Wednesday.