mlb

Dodgers swept by Reds as offensive woes continue

Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
The Dodgers put together just three hits within the first seven innings as they lost their fifth in a row for the first time since 2019.

Starter Yoshinobu Yamamoto allowed some timely hits to the Reds as a big third inning propelled them to a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers at Great American Ball Park.

Yamamoto walked two batters and allowed six hits, tossing five innings of baseball. He tossed his second consecutive start with exactly 100 pitches as he took his first loss since April 6. Now 5-2, the righty allowed a couple of costly two-out hits that ultimately put Cincinnati in front for good.

The lineup once again possessed a lack of energy and focus at the plate. The 5-9 spots in the lineup had an especially brutal day, going a combined 0-16. The only Dodger run of the day came on an RBI double from Freddie Freeman in the top of the ninth. The hit snapped a team 0-22 streak with runners in scoring position.

With the losing streak now at five, Los Angeles has quickly fallen to 33-22, going 14-11 on the road. They were swept by a Reds team that had lost six of their previous eight games heading into the series.

Here are three takeaways:

2-out hitting sinks Yamamoto

Yamamoto was tagged for four runs, which all came in the bottom of the third inning. He had recorded the first two outs of the frame before Jake Fraley eventually stepped up with runners on first and second. His infield single loaded the bases for Jonathan India. He would deliver for Cincinnati, grounding a two-run single into right field that broke open the scoring and gave them the early lead.

India, who hit a grand slam in Friday’s game, would then steal second base. Nick Martini followed up with another two-run single to make it 4-0 and keep the rally going. The pair of two-out hits highlighted what was a brutal third inning for Yamamoto. He conceded four of his six hits within the frame and was otherwise sharp-looking.

The 25-year-old used 37 of his 100 pitches within the inning as well. In the other four innings he worked, only two hits were allowed as he tallied eight strikeouts on the day. His ERA still rose to 3.51, which is third among Dodgers’ starting pitchers. Yamamoto has now allowed four earned runs in two of his last three starts as he’s struggled to limit opposing lineups. With the Los Angeles offense in a slump, his performance was not good enough to help the team come away with a win.

After the game, he spoke on his third-inning performance and inability to secure the final out of the frame. “From the get-go, I was feeling pretty good today,” he said. “However in that moment, I couldn’t throw my best pitches.”

More Dodgers hitting trouble

Los Angeles put just one run on the board for the second consecutive day. They once again could not string together any sort of rally, managing to finally record their first hit of the series with runners in scoring position in the ninth inning. Across their five-game skid, they have scored more than three runs on just one occasion. The lack of recent hitting success comes as a surprise for a team that owned the highest batting average in baseball throughout the majority of the season. Now at .253, they have dropped to sixth in the league.

Shohei Ohtani went 3-12 in the series as he continued to play through an injured hamstring. Freddie Freeman also finished the series 3-12 as his batting average has dipped down to .284. The bottom of the lineup had virtually no production at all, with the 5-9 slots contributing only three hits throughout the whole series.

Gavin Lux, who finished the weekend 1-9, spoke about the team’s hitting slump after the game. “It’s just a long season, it’s one of those runs,” he said. “It’s a really good lineup so we know it’s gonna flip, we just gotta make it happen.” The second-baseman is hitting just .206 this season as he looks to bounce back from a torn ACL in 2023.

The lineup certainly has the firepower to turn things around, but will need to be more consistent when it comes to converting with runners in scoring position. Los Angeles went 4-29 (.183) in such situations during the series as they scored just two times across the two final games.

What’s up next?

The bright side for the Dodgers is that they will have a great opportunity to turn things around in their next series. They will head to New York for a three-game set against a Mets team that broke a five-game skid of their own on Sunday morning. They are 22-30 and 15 games back of first place in the NL East. Despite the struggles for Los Angeles on the road recently, the Mets have gone 11-16 at home. That’s the fifth-worst mark in baseball, giving the Dodgers a prime opportunity to break out of their slump and collect a few wins before heading back home.

Manager Dave Roberts understands that it’s never fun to go through a hitting slump, but recognizes that it’s up to his team to make the turnaround.

One key area that the team will need to focus on is the revival of their slugging. Los Angeles has hit just two home runs across their losing streak so far, leaving them to operate without a key trademark of their offense. The Dodgers have crushed the most home runs in the National League this season with 68 and will need to keep raising that number if they want to see the wins return. This could be a tall task against a Mets team that is tied for the least home runs allowed in baseball at 42.

Game one of the series between Los Angeles and New York is scheduled for 1:10 on Monday afternoon. Gavin Stone (4-2, 3.60 ERA) will take the mound for the Dodgers against Mets’ righty Tylor Megill (0-2, 3.00 ERA).