Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Dodgers swept by Giants, sink to third in the West

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LOS ANGELES ― The Dodgers went into the weekend with the third-best record in the National League. They ended it with the third-best record in their own division.

In between, they suffered an embarrassing three-game sweep at the hands of the San Francisco Giants. Sunday’s 7-3 loss before an announced crowd of 52,307 at Dodger Stadium marked a new low on a few fronts.

The Dodgers (39-33) have fallen from first place to third in the National League West in the span of two weeks. Their 4-game deficit behind the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks (43-28) is their largest of the season.

The Giants (39-32) secured their first sweep at Dodger Stadium in a series of three or more games since August 20-22, 2012.

“It’s not the ideal situation right now,” Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman said. “It’s hard to even put into words. Every day we come in with the right attitude. … And every day it’s another loss right now. It’s one of these trying points in the season where you have to grind, keep coming every single day to show up, and expect to win. Our team is way too good to go through this stretch.”

Friday’s 11-inning loss was a close game. The Dodgers’ 15-0 loss Saturday was not. Sunday’s game was the worst start of Tony Gonsolin’s career.

The right-hander was granted six days of rest between his two previous starts because of a vague soreness he felt after pitching against the Cincinnati Reds on June 6. It helped. Gonsolin threw six shutout innings against the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

Manager Dave Roberts said Gonsolin was not “out of the woods” after experiencing similar soreness following that game. Because their bullpen had thrown more than 14 innings over the previous three games, a bullpen game was not an option Sunday. And rather than recall a pitcher from the minor leagues and start Gonsolin on Tuesday in Anaheim, the Dodgers trusted the ball to Gonsolin on regular rest.

For three innings, that looked like the wise choice. Despite subpar velocity ― his fastball was sitting 90-91 mph in the first inning, less than his season average of 92.3 ― Gonsolin held the Giants without a hit until the fourth inning. Quickly, a sacrifice fly by Thairo Estrada and an RBI single by Mike Yastrzemski put the Dodgers in a 2-0 hole.

In the bottom of the fourth, David Peralta walked, went to second base on a JD Martinez single, and scored on a James Outman single to bring the Dodgers within 2-1. The two teams traded runs in the fifth inning. In the sixth inning, the wheels fell off.

Gonsolin walked Estrada, who stole second base. Dodgers shortstop Mookie Betts made an outstanding stop on a ground ball to his left and threw Estrada out at third base. But Gonsolin allowed back-to-back doubles by Yastrzemski and Luis Matos, before Matos scored on a Blake Sabol single.

Gonsolin struck out Casey Schmitt on a 93.5 mph fastball ― ironically, his fastest pitch of the game. It was also his last. Victor Gonzalez took over and allowed another run before the inning ended. The Giants’ seventh run was charged to Gonsolin’s ledger. He had never allowed more than six runs in a major league start.

“My execution just really suffered after that third inning,” Gonsolin said. “Balls were left up in the zone, they got some soft hits that fell down, and some hard hits that also fell. Overall the execution wasn’t there.”

The Dodgers made the game interesting in the end. They loaded the bases in the bottom of the ninth against Giants pitcher Scott Alexander, who was then removed with hamstring tightness.

That prompted Giants manager Gabe Kapler to summon his closer, Camilo Doval. Will Smith took Doval’s first pitch off his left arm, forcing in Jonny DeLuca with the Dodgers’ third run. Doval came back to strike out Peralta and retire Martinez on a flyout to right field to end the game.

Smith, Peralta and James Outman each had two of the Dodgers’ nine hits. The Dodgers out-hit the Giants, 9 to 8, but repeatedly failed to execute in important situations. They went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. One runner was thrown out at home on a routine ground ball to second base.

The Dodgers are 5-10 in June, losing four games in the standings in the process.

“If you look back at this two-week stretch, there’s a lot of things we’re not doing well,” Roberts said. “We’re not playing clean baseball, fundamental baseball. I think it’s going back to, not just trying to win, but focus on the little things: catching the baseball, minimize walks, throwing to the right base, not getting thrown out on the bases . Executing a pickoff play ― those are the things that are coming back to haunt us. Typically we’re much better at that.”

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