LOS ANGELES — After taking game one of the series on Tuesday night, the Dodgers looked to start a winning streak of their own on Wednesday night as Clayton Kershaw took the mound looking for his ninth win of the season. The bats started slow, but eventually a late rally and gusty performance by Kershaw had the Dodgers in position to sneak away with a win. That wouldn’t be the case. Bullpen woes continued and the Dodgers fell, 8-4.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
6th inning rally
Coming into Wednesday’s matchup, White Sox starter Mike Clevinger had an ERA north of 8.00 when facing the Dodgers. In three starts against LA as a member of the Padres, Clevinger threw a combined 13 innings, allowing 14 earned runs in the process. Wednesday was different.
Through four innings, Clevinger had allowed one hit and limited the damage. The Dodgers looked ready to get on the board in the 5th inning. Miguel Rojas and Austin Barnes both singled to lead off the inning, setting up Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman with runners on the corners and no outs. Both Betts and Freeman popped out into foul territory on the first pitch they saw. Clevinger injured himself on a pitch thrown to J.D. Martinez in the following at-bat and needed to be removed from the game.
Heading into the 6th, the Dodgers were 0-7 with runners in scoring position. Jason Heyward made that 1-8 on an RBI single to right field to plate the Dodgers’ first run. Austin Barnes tied the game later in the inning on a fielder’s choice. Mookie Betts made up for his 5th inning blunder, giving the Dodgers their first lead of the game on a two-RBI single to right field. After trailing 2-0, the Dodgers rallied for four runs in the 6th to take what would be a short-lived 4-2 lead.
Yency Almonte is not a multi-inning reliever. He’s only recorded more than three outs three times in 29 appearances this season. Almonte relieved Clayton Kershaw on Wednesday night, who despite not having his best stuff, was able to get through six innings of two run ball, both of which came on solo home runs.
Almonte was tasked with facing the top of Chicago’s order, needing a big shutdown inning following the Dodgers’ 6th inning rally. He sat them down on 10 pitches. Job well done. Not so fast. Roberts opted to ride the hot hand and send Almonte back out for a second inning of work in the 8th inning. Five pitches later, the game was tied.
Following an Eloy Jimenez leadoff double, Jake Burger launched his second homer of the game, a two-run shot off of the foul pole in left field to tie the game, 4-4. The White Sox would tack on another run in the 8th, two more in the 9th, and take game two of the series, 8-4.
Dog days of summer
The Dodgers are going through a tough stretch. Currently, the Dodgers sit three games behind the Corbin Carroll led Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West standings and are 3-7 in their last 10 games. Those seven losses include a couple of blown leads in Cincinnati and one last night in LA.
It’s a weird year in the NL. The Diamondbacks, Marlins, Pirates and Giants all hold a top-six record in the National League. The Padres and Mets are below .500, and the Cardinals are the worst team in the league. Some would argue this shift from the norm is great for baseball, others would argue not so much. Either way, I have to think that at some point, as the dog days of summer creep in, things will start to even out. The Dodgers’ roster looks different this year than in past years, and they aren’t going to be able to rely on sheer star power to win the division and finish atop the NL. It’s going to take all 26.
The Dodgers are back at it tonight. Michael Grove will make the start, as Dylan Cease takes the ball for the White Sox. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 PST, but get there early, it’s Clayton Kershaw bobblehead night.