After riding the wave in the first two months of the season, the Dodgers embarked on a nine-game road trip this week stuck in a reverse current, seemingly swimming upstream amid a three-week slump.
They were floundering under a series of injuries to their roster and their pitching team.
They were weighed down by ill-timed hitting and inconsistent throwing, especially from the bullpen.
And while they remained safely in the playoff picture, their recent 7-11 slippage was starting to look like more than a blip.
“We showed we can beat anyone, and we can lose to other teams,” manager Dave Roberts said. “So we have to play good baseball.”
On Tuesday evening, his team obliged, taking a collective breath of fresh air with a 8-2 win over the Cincinnati Reds at the Great American Ball Park.
“It was nice to… come out and have a good start to the road trip,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, who led the way with three hits, one walk and five RBIs.
“We executed our game plan and we fought,” echoed shortstop Trea Turner, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a four-for-five performance. “It was just the total package tonight.”
Indeed, Tuesday was a reversal of some of the Dodgers’ recent troubling trends.
They took advantage of several chances with runners in scoring position, going three for eight in such situations.
Freeman had the two biggest hits: a two-run double in the third inning that erased a one-run deficit and a three-run triple in the eighth, making him the third player on the team to eclipse 40 runs products.
“We haven’t swung the sticks very well for a few weeks,” Freeman said. “It’s not just about hitting in the situation. It hits in general. It’s a difficult game. If you put too much emphasis on one thing, you will pursue it all the time.
While the Dodgers also got a solo home run from Will Smith and racked up 17 hits, the second most in a game this season, their ability to fabricate a few extra runs with sacrifice flies was also key.
Roberts said his favorite streak of the game came in the fourth, when Justin Turner hit a brace, advanced to third on a sacrificial bunt from Eddy Alvarez and scored on a fly ball from Gavin Lux.
“We’re going to strike,” Roberts said. “But those things over there win a lot of baseball games.”
The pitching made sure he wasn’t going to get lost.
Tony Gonsolin produced another solid effort, reclaiming the major league best record (9-0) and ERA (1.58) in a five inning, two run start. The Dodgers bullpen combined for four scoreless innings.
Now the challenge will be for the Dodgers (41-25) to build momentum — something they’ve struggled to do, having won no more than two straight games since late May.
They have a tough opposing pitcher on the horizon, starting with right-handers Luis Castillo and Hunter Greene in the next two games against the Reds (23-44), then a three-game trip to Atlanta to face the Braves. weekend.
They’re still trying to make up for the absence of right fielder Mookie Betts as well.
But at the start of a tricky nine-day, three-city swing, they at least plugged a few holes and started paddling in the right direction again.
“Every night won’t be perfect,” Trea Turner said. “But tonight was a good night, a good start to this road trip.”
Ferguson back on IL
The Dodgers placed reliever Caleb Ferguson on the disabled list with tendonitis in his left forearm. This decision was retroactive to last Friday.
While Ferguson hadn’t given up a run in six appearances this season when he returned from Tommy John surgery, he said he had struggled with pain over the past two weeks.
Roberts said the pain would have forced the team to be diligent with Ferguson’s workload. Given the start of 20 straight games and the need to reduce the pitching staff by one to meet MLB’s new 13 pitching maximum that went into effect this week, the club decided it would be best to place Ferguson on the IL.
“Caleb is obviously a great competitor and he’s not too thrilled to be coming back to IL considering everything he’s had to go through to come back,” Roberts said. “But his return to the game, I don’t see it taking very long.”
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