Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Wednesday, July 24, 2024 75° Today's Paper

Sports BreakingTop News

Dodgers waste big game by Ohtani in loss to Diamondbacks

                                Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani runs to first base on a single in the sixth inning, Tuesday, against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.
Swipe or click to see more


Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani runs to first base on a single in the sixth inning, Tuesday, against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium.

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.

They received little production from the rest of their lineup, which managed only five 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 seventh-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.

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

First, he sliced an opposite-field double down the left-field line (Ohtani’s 17 doubles this season are 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.

Down 4-3, the Dodgers had a chance to keep the rally going. But Teoscar Hernández flied out to retire the side — one of many wasted chances on a night the Dodgers were just two for 10 with runners in scoring position.

That would be as close as the Dodgers (33-18) would get. Reliever Michael Grove was summoned in the seventh inning to replace Stone — who gave up his most runs since his second start of the season on April 7 — but promptly allowed the Diamondbacks (23-26) to pull away again, giving up a three-run homer to former Dodgers slugger Joc Pederson that made it 7-3.

Gavin Lux led off the bottom of the seventh with a triple but was left stranded. After that, the Dodgers failed to threaten again, setting up a series rubber match with their National League West rivals today.

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.

Vargas’ double was equally encouraging.

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.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines. Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.