Los Angeles – Following a festive home opener that saw the Dodgers receive their World Series rings in front of roughly, 15,000 fans, they were back at it again Saturday night against the Washington Nationals (record).
On this night, the Dodgers honored the memory of Tommy Lasorda and it was quite a dedication as the offense shook off their Friday afternoon woes and were able to knock off Nationals by a score of 9-5, a game that manager Dave Roberts knows that Lasorda would have thoroughly enjoyed.
“What the organization did beforehand tonight continued to bring him back to life,” Roberts said postgame. “It was nice to remember the good times and with the ring ceremony yesterday to dedicating tonight’s game to Tommy made it even more special.”
Justin Turner provided the only offense in the entirety of Friday’s 1-0 Dodger victory, with a solo home run in the sixth inning but Saturday’s game had a much different start as both offenses came out hungry to score early.
The Nationals did just that to Dodgers starter Julio Urias, who gave up three singles to the first five hitters and allowed the Nats to carry a 1-0 lead through one and half innings.
The Dodgers came out just as aggressively and looked to get back to their offensive highs from the opening road trip that saw them score 44 runs with 80 hits (7 home runs) and a team total batting average of .310.
Nationals’ pitcher Patrick Corbin was activated from the Covid-protocol list and was making his season debut. After a 1-2-3 first inning, Corbin gave up three straight walks to open the second and the Dodgers promptly made him pay.
Rookie Zach McKinstry hit a 2-RBI single to give the Dodgers their first lead of the night, but the Boys in Blue weren’t done there. Two batters later, Chris Taylor (who got the start in place of Mookie Betts who is still dealing with back issues) crushed a no-doubt, 3-run homer down the left-field line and pushed the lead to four at 5-1.
Roberts has said that McKinstry and Taylor are cut from the same cloth in their ability to play everywhere on the field and provide a spark on offense.
“Zach is just an all-around good ballplayer,” Roberts said. “I feel comfortable putting him in any position on the diamond, just like Chris.”
Taylor takes the comment as a compliment, emphasizing the importance of being able to play any position and knowing he’s going to have the confidence no matter what.
“If you play and have an aggressive mindset and try to be great instead of passive, you’re going to be great,” Taylor said postgame.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Turner came up after a Corey Seager single and smacked an RBI double into the gap between left and centerfield to push the lead to 6-1.
The Nats would respond the very next inning thanks in part to a Juan Soto moonshot of a home run. Urias would give up a single to Ryan Zimmerman but get Starlin Castro to fly out following Soto’s homer. Despite the two outs, Urias gave up back-to-back singles, allowing the Nats to cut the lead in half.
“I thought Julio’s last outing was better,” Roberts said. “He didn’t have great command tonight like he did [in Colorado] but he has such good stuff to keep us in ballgames.”
Two quick outs by Taylor and Seager opened the bottom half of the seventh inning before Turner came up and knocked a sinking liner into fair territory and over the infield wall for a ground-rule double.
Will Smith was then intentionally walked, and Max Muncy singled to load the bases for AJ Pollock. This was the third at-bat where Pollock had an opportunity with runners in scoring position (grounded into an inning-ending double play in the third and struck out looking in the fifth) and as the saying goes, ‘the third time’s a charm.’
Pollock laced a hard-sinking line drive to left field where Nats outfielder Andrew Stevenson attempted a diving catch, but it was to no avail. The ball trickled all the way to the wall and Pollock cleared the bases with a double, pushing the Dodgers lead to 9-3.
The Nats would not go away quietly as in the ninth with two outs, Scott Alexander would give up a 2-run home run to Soto (his second of the night) before getting the game-ending groundout to seal the 9-5 victory.
Urias expressed his gratitude in his postgame interview for the bullpen’s performance after he was pulled in the fifth with two outs.
“It was a little bit of a mixed bag,” Urias said. “Loss some control but Jimmy came in and did a great job and the bullpen backed us up. Great effort all around to get the job done tonight.”