A bullpen game for both teams surprisingly led to offense largely being at a premium before the Los Angeles Dodgers strung together a big seventh inning a 7-5 win against the Tampa Bay Rays, led by two doubles and four RBI from Corey Seager.
The Dodgers were held without a hit as the Rays had a combined perfect game through four innings. Blake Snell was dominant in his return from elbow surgery, collecting four strikeouts over two innings.
One of L.A.’s best chances at a hit came on Will Smith’s drive to the left-center field gap in the third inning that was caught easily because the Rays deployed a four-man outfield. Then in the fourth, Chris Taylor made solid contact but his line drive was hit right at Austin Meadows in right field.
Colin Poche took over for Tampa Bay in the bottom of the fifth inning and promptly walked Cody Bellinger on four pitches, giving the Dodgers their first baserunner. Max Muncy was then hit by a pitch, and Kiké Hernandez’s groundout to the right side advanced both runners.
Seager’s two-run, ground-rule double not only represented the Dodgers’ first hit of the night but it gave them a lead. The double was Seager’s 40th, which tied a career high and made him the sixth player in franchise history with at least that many in two seasons.
He joined Zach Wheat (1924-25), Johnny Frederick (1929-30), Babe Herman (1929-32), Raul Mondesi (1996-97) and Shawn Green (2000, 2003) as Dodgers to accomplish the feat. Seager then set a new career high with a 41st double, driving in another two runs to again give the Dodgers a lead in the seventh inning.
The floodgates then opened, as Gavin Lux and A.J. Pollock each hit an RBI single, and Bellinger’s double capped off the five-run inning. While it gave the Dodgers a comfortable lead at the time, they needed every bit of the offense.
Pressed into starting duty, Caleb Ferguson couldn’t quite get out of his own way as he issued a pair of one-out walks in a predetermined short start. He managed to toss a scoreless first inning, but a stolen base and balk led to Tampa Bay taking a 1-0 lead in the second.
Ross Stripling was initially scheduled to start Tuesday, but a change was made in order to continue preparing him for a role out of the bullpen come the postseason. Although Stripling was expected to follow Ferguson, he was the third Dodgers relief pitcher used.
Stripling lost the Dodgers’ combined no-hitter upon entering, as he allowed back-to-back singles with one out in the fourth inning. An apparent double play was overturned, though Stripling stranded runners at the corners to keep the Rays’ lead at 1-0.
After Seager’s first double of the game put the Dodgers ahead, Pedro Baez surrendered a game-tying home run to Ji-Man Choi in the sixth inning. Kenta Maeda then allowed a double, RBI single and two-run home run in the eighth.
That prompted Dodgers manager Dave Roberts to turn to Kenley Jansen, who added to his recent success by completing a four-out save.