Dodgers’ late comeback falls short in extras, 6-5

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Yamamoto shines in Dodger Stadium debut, Mookie Betts continues hot start, but bullpen fails to hold Cardinals in extras.

LOS ANGELES – Amongst some up and down weather, Saturday was a rollercoaster of a game for the Dodgers. Yoshinobu Yamamoto made his first career Dodger Stadium start and looked fantastic after his rough outing in South Korea, and the Dodger offense was stymied early but broke out late. 

Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith each had three hits to fuel the Dodger comeback in the later innings, but ultimately the bullpen couldn’t hold the Cardinals in extras.

The Dodgers are now 3-2 on the season. 

Here are my three takeaways:

Betts looks like a bonafide MVP candidate yet again in this early part of the season. After his home run in the ninth to keep the Dodgers alive, Mookie is now hitting an insane .611, with an OBP of .720. I know that there are not many at bats, so the numbers are a bit inflated, but Mookie’s approach and demeanor at the plate is as locked in as I have ever seen it with the Dodgers. 

After his underperformance in the playoffs for the second straight year in 2023, it looks like Betts has made a focus to key in on not chasing and driving the ball with force. Not just that, but he is the table setter for Ohtani and Freeman, and has been passing the baton when leading off innings or starting rallies, which is an excellent sign for the offense. 

It seemed like everyone lost their minds when Yamamoto had a bad first outing in Korea, but I know that Japanese arms take some time to get used to the mound and ball of the Major Leagues, so it made sense that he would struggle out of the gate. Obviously when the Dodgers put forth so much money to acquire him, there is some reason for concern. But on Saturday, Yamamoto dominated, even through a rain delay. 

He went five innings, giving up only two hits and striking out five Cardinals. He was absolutely pinpoint with his command as well, not walking a single batter in his first Dodger Stadium outing. This is exactly the type of dominance that the front office saw in Japan and I only expect him to grow and improve as the season goes on.  

After the tremendous start by Yamamoto, I had full confidence in the Dodgers’ bullpen to at least keep things close, but it goes to show that one bad outing can have a profound effect on a result. Joe Kelly has mostly been a lockdown arm for the bullpen, and after getting into some trouble, he only lasted ⅔ of an inning. Kelly gave up four earned runs to put the Cardinals ahead and just did not look like the pitcher that Dave Roberts has relied on for years now. The good thing about the outing is that he only walked one, so it was not like his command was missing. 

I fully expect Kelly to round back into form as well, because you could chalk it up to the rain delay and having to warm back up, or you can just chalk it up to early season woes and finding your best stuff. 

The rest of the bullpen did an admirable job, and I believe Kelly will still be a go to guy for Dave Roberts as the season progresses. His stuff is just too good to not believe in. 

With weather pending yet again, Gavin Stone will toe the rubber for the first time in 2024, against Steven Matz of St. Louis. First pitch for Sunday Night Baseball on Easter is set for 4:10 PM PST.