Dodgers taking global reach to the masses

The Sporting Tribune's Doug Padilla writes about the Dodgers playing in in their third different country this regular season.

TORONTO — Even the high-end nomadic life can be a grind with its pressurized cabins, black-out curtains, body-clock concessions and itinerary demands.

Throw in long flights, customs agents and currency exchanges, and suddenly the requirements become super-sized.

The Los Angeles Dodgers know all about it. On Friday they played in in their third different country during the opening month of the season and baseball’s road warriors have the luggage tags and the passports stamps to prove it.

To repeat: The third different country.  The season began with two early games at Seoul, South Korea, on March 20-21, moved back to the United States and now the tour hits Canada’s largest city as it visits Toronto.

As it has turned out, the Dodgers have embraced the travel chaos, playing their best baseball away from home. Call it the chance to bond and lean on each other. Los Angeles, it seems, is where the team is catching up on rest and normalcy.

Heading into the three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays, the Dodgers are 7-3 away from home, tied for the least amount of road defeats among all MLB teams. At home, they are a mediocre 9-8 and have lost each of their last three home series.

The latest road success came this week when the pitching staff was at the forefront of a three-game sweep of the Washington Nationals, capped by Thursday afternoon’s pitching-efficient 2-1 victory.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto, one of the few members of the Dodgers with a pitching performance away from Los Angeles that he would prefer to forget, continues to blossom with his new teammates. Yamamoto turned elite fastball command and an effective curveball into seven strikeouts over six scoreless innings.

It was a far cry from his Dodgers debut at South Korea against the San Diego Padres when he didn’t even make it to the second inning. He gave up five runs in his lone inning of work there but has given up a combined six earned runs over his next five outings. His early 45.00 ERA is down to 3.54.

Dodgers right-hander Evan Phillips earned the save Thursday with two strikeouts over a scoreless ninth inning. It was much improved from a save on Tuesday at Washington when he walked three batters in his one inning of work and gave up a single but got away with it thanks to the defense cutting down a runner at the plate.

With a visiting stadium in the background, and opposing fans filing out of the ballpark following their team’s defeat, Phillips gave a nod to road life on SportsNet LA after his seventh save of the season.

“I guess we just needed a road trip,” Phillips said after the sweep countered the Nationals’ series win at Dodger Stadium last week. “Just get out of LA for a little bit. The juju just wasn’t right for us that homestand. But it’s a long season so I think our whole mindset inside (the locker room) is to just go after it each and every day.

“It certainly felt good to come here to D.C. and get some revenge on these guys.”

There is no revenge at stake in Toronto, but there is a reunion with an old friend set to take place. Justin Turner is on the Blue Jays now, and up to his old tricks with two home runs, a .324 batting average and a .929 OPS in 24 games. His eight doubles were tied for the American League lead.

Even though payback is not on the agenda this weekend, the Dodgers do have something they can lean into. Right-hander Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to start Saturday and the road has been his happy place.

In his Dodgers debut against the Padres at South Korea, Glasnow gave up two runs over five innings while earning the win. In his only other road start, he went seven scoreless at Minnesota to earn another win.

While the Nationals roughed up Glasnow last week for six runs over five innings in a home loss, when he was feeling under the weather, he rebounded to deliver eight shutout innings against the New York Mets on Sunday with 10 strikeouts. He threw a season-high 101 pitches.

The 10-0 victory over the Mets was the first of the Dodgers’ current four-game winning streak and set the tone for the road trip after a 3-6 homestand when they lost all three series.

“You know what? It’s the first complete baseball game I can recall,” Roberts said, before he knew what a momentum builder the victory would be. “We were clean defensively. I thought the at-bats throughout the game were really good – especially the guys at the bottom of the order.

“They did a fantastic job of kind of leading into the top part of the order and scoring some runs. And then obviously what Tyler did. Just overall, it was fun to just watch a clean baseball game.”

While the Dodgers’ offense had its issues during the homestand, and the bottom of the order is still trying to emerge, the biggest difference between being at home and being on the road is with the pitching staff.

In 10 road games, the Dodgers have a 3.21 ERA. In 17 home games, the mark is 4.15. And that is with Glasnow making four of his six starts at home.

“Just tried to keep the rhythm the same,” Glasnow said after his last start. “Working on stuff … I think being relaxed and rhythmic always helps me be in the zone a lot longer with all my pitches.

“Rhythm-wise and how my body was moving was efficient (against the Mets) and I was able to get out of innings quick.”

Rhythm. Relaxation. Physical comfort. The Dodgers have been showing most of that on the road, but Glasnow’s most recent start did come at home, suggesting that those traits could be showing up a Dodger Stadium too.

Until then, the Dodgers will spend the weekend in Canada then head to Arizona. When the trip ends, they will play 19 consecutive games in California.

Only then can put away the passports and neck pillows. It will be time to settle into a comfort zone.