Sports

Dodgers lose to the Diamondbacks and squander a fantastic game by Shohei Ohtani

Tuesday night was the Shohei Ohtani show at Dodger Stadium.

Too bad much of the supporting cast failed to show up.

Despite two hits and some timely baserunning from Ohtani, who continues to lead the majors in batting average, slugging percentage and OPS, the Dodgers never gained traction in an 7-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Instead, they endured a lackluster performance from starting pitcher Gavin Stone, who gave up four runs and eight hits in six innings.

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They received little production from the rest of their lineup, which managed only six hits while struggling with Arizona right-hander Brandon Pfaadt.

And in their one chance to erase a night-long deficit — the Diamondbacks opened the scoring with two runs in the second inning — the Dodgers came up short, leaving a potential tying run stuck in scoring position to end a sixth-inning rally.

It all meant Ohtani’s havoc-wreaking efforts were wasted, with the slugger’s fourth-inning double, sixth-inning RBI single and two stolen bases (one of which led to an error that allowed him to score) all winding up for naught in what was the Dodgers’ fifth loss in 19 games this month.

“We couldn’t get to Pfaadt early,” manager Dave Roberts said, “and wound up losing the ballgame.”

After the Dodgers were held hitless through the first three innings, Ohtani provided the team’s first sign of life in the fourth inning.

Freeman's grand slam, Yamamoto's solid start power Dodgers to 6-4 victory  over Diamondbacks | Sports | reformer.com

Leading off the inning, he sliced an opposite-field double down the left-field line (Ohtani’s 17 doubles this season rank second in the majors). Then, Ohtani took off for a steal of third, getting such a strong jump that he not only reached the bag safely but also caused an errant throw from Gold Glove catcher Gabriel Moreno. As the ball sailed into left field, Ohtani scrambled to his feet and trotted home safely.

The Dodgers were trailing 4-1 in the sixth inning when Ohtani struck again.

After a leadoff double from Miguel Vargas — his first hit since being called back up the big leagues last week — Ohtani hammered a run-scoring single through the right side of the infield. Then, after swiping second for his 13th steal of the season (tied for seventh in the majors), Ohtani scored on Will Smith’s double two batters later, helping spark a rally that nearly tied the score.

About the only thing Ohtani didn’t do Tuesday was speak to reporters, declining an interview request through a team public relations official after the loss.

His manager, however, was full of postgame praise.

“Shohei’s playing amazing baseball,” Roberts said. “With the bat, with his legs, it’s really game-changing stuff.”

Stealing bases just another elite s𝓀𝒾𝓁𝓁 for Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani and  Mookie Betts – Orange County Register

Still, down 4-3 after Ohtani’s second run, the Dodgers failed to complete the comeback.

Teoscar Hernández flied out to end the sixth. Gavin Lux was stranded after hitting a leadoff triple in the seventh. And after Stone’s exit at the end of the sixth — Stone’s four runs against were his most since his second start of the season — former Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson effectively ended the game with a three-run blast off Michael Grove, who created a jam for himself with a leadoff walk in the seventh.

“I thought [Stone] did a good job of competing, keeping us in the ballgame, getting through six innings,” Roberts said. “I took a shot with Michael to try to keep [the deficit] at one. Unfortunately, that leadoff walk came to haunt us. … That brings Joc to the plate, and [he] left a slider out over.”

While Ohtani’s contributions were the biggest of the night, the extra-base hits from Vargas and Lux marked positive signs in their efforts to rediscover success at the MLB level.

Lux entered the night batting .194 (14th worst among MLB hitters with at least 130 plate appearances) and looking somewhat lost at the plate. But in the seventh inning, he ambushed a first-pitch sinker from Ryan Thompson, then turned on the jets as the ball rattled around in the right-field corner, pulling into third with his second triple, and sixth extra-base hit, of the season.

Lux also added a single in the ninth inning, marking just his sixth multihit game in 33 starts this season.

“Gavin’s a dynamic hitter,” Roberts said. “I think if you look at, call it these last 10 games, he’s hitting the ball harder, he’s taking better at-bats. It’s trending in the right direction for him.”

Vargas’ double was equally encouraging.

Dodgers waste Shohei Ohtani's record-tying homer in loss to Padres – Orange  County Register

The Dodgers opening day second baseman last year, Vargas had been in the minors since last year’s All-Star break — he was batting just .195 at the time of his demotion — before being recalled for injured third baseman Max Muncy last Friday.

He went hitless in a start against Cincinnati on Saturday but bounced back in the sixth inning Tuesday by lining a first-pitch fastball from Pfaadt to left for a double.

The swing looked just as manager Dave Roberts had promised pregame, when the skipper said the 24-year-old prospect had looked “a little more freed up, a little more aggressive” in a strong start to the season with triple-A Oklahoma City.

“For him, it’s just trying to trust that last year is behind him,” Roberts said. “This is a new year. He’s grown and matured. And just let his talent take over.”

In Tuesday’s loss, however, few other Dodgers did the same.

Mookie Betts went 0 for 3 with a walk. Freddie Freeman was hitless in four at-bats. And outside of the hits from Lux and Vargas, the bottom half of the lineup offered no other production, leaving Ohtani to shoulder too much of the load on an otherwise quiet night at Chavez Ravine.

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