ANAHEIM – The Dodgers entered Saturday’s game against the Angels after losing 14 of their last 18 games. That nightmare stretch saw their record drop from a Majors best 13-2 to 17-16.
While there were some moments of frustration, the Dodgers continually said there was no panic inside the clubhouse, even despite the recent slippage. Manager Dave Roberts has repeatedly pointed to the talent on the list, which is why they eventually break out of it. Just Friday, after a blowout loss to the Angels, catcher Will Smith assured everyone in his post game Zoom Call that the Dodgers̵
This confidence stems from the fact that this core of players won a world series just seven months ago and is expected to compete for another title this season. The Dodgers’ offense backed up their words Saturday in a 14-11 win over the Angels at Angel Stadium, snatching a season-high four-game losing streak.
“On the offensive side, there were a lot of good things,” Roberts said. “Just team offense, which was really good tonight. Across the board, just some hard at-bats. ”
During that recent move, apparently, everything has gone wrong for the Dodgers. They have suffered a lot of injuries, they have made some bad defensive plays and their offense has not clicked.
In five innings, the Dodgers looked like the same team that ran away with the best record in the Majors last season. Clayton Kershaw returned from the shortest outing of his career, starting on an inning against the Cubs on Tuesday. Kershaw watched in three days of rest as he only threw 39 spots in his final start. You would never have guessed it with the way left-handers struck Saturday.
Kershaw struck out five and allowed two hits over five fruitless innings. It was the 84th fruitless start to Kershaw’s career, the sixth most of a starter since 1920.
“Very much needed, for sure,” Kershaw said. “Five innings is obviously not something to write home about. But the team thought it was best after coming out of short rest or whatever. Every time you throw five innings, you do not feel like you have done your job, but in this situation, it seemed to make the most sense. ”
When Kershaw traded on the mound, the offense made sure to give their ace enough running back with a big eight-run inning. And perhaps even more encouraging for the Dodgers is the fact that their best player, Mookie Betts, led the way.
Over the last two seasons, Roberts has said the team’s offense goes the way Betts does. So far this season, Betts has not hit quite as he or the Dodgers would expect, which is a big reason why the offense has not yet reached its full potential.
But on Saturday, Betts went, and so did the Dodgers. Betts got the fourth inning rally started with a leadoff walk and added a two-run single later in the frame. Betts went 2-for-3 with four RBIs on Saturday and has gone 4-for-7 with a homer in two games against the Angels. In his last nine games, Betts is 12-for-37 (.324) with two homers and eight RBIs.
Max Muncy, Matt Beaty, Austin Barnes, Betts, Corey Seager and Smith all delivered RBI hits. The Dodgers then tackled five more runs in the fifth. After going 3-for-36 with runners in scoring position over four-game strides, the Dodgers went 11-for-23 in similar situations Saturday.
“Just put in a lot of work,” Betts said. “You’re going through a season, you’ve had your ups and downs. I’m just trying to jump on a wave and ride it.”
As good as the Dodgers were in the first five innings, they struggled just as much in the final four. After pulling Kershaw, the Dodgers’ bullpen almost allowed the Angels to erase the 13-run lead. Dennis Santana, Mitch White and Garrett Cleavinger all fought and allowed a total of 11 runs. A Jose Roja three-run homer off the Cleavinger limited a seven-run seventh for the Angels, cutting Dodgers’ lead to 14-11.
With Corey Knebel, David Price, Brusdar Graterol and Scott Alexander all at IL, the Dodgers push many inexperienced relievers into action. It hasn’t worked out so far, a concern that goes on for the Dodgers.
“I would not say nervous,” Roberts said when asked if he became nervous during the Angels’ comeback attempt. “But I just wasn’t happy with the fact that you have to get gearing guys in the ball game when you have a 13-run lead.”
It was not as beautiful as the Dodgers hoped, but given how the last three weeks have gone, they will happily win.
“Beggars cannot be voters,” Betts said. “We take every win we can get.”