By Earl Heath, Contributing Sports Writer
The L.A. Dodgers went on the road for the first time during the COVID-19 era. It was also the first time they have played Houston since the 2017 World Series.
They got off to a good start with a 5-2 win in game one. Mookie Betts earned a bases loaded walk in the fifth inning scoring Cory Seager to get the Dodgers on the board. Next A.J. Pollack scored on an error as Astros catcher Martin Maldanado dropped the ball at home plate on a grounder hit by Max Muncy. Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger followed with back to back singles. Chris Taylor then walked to drive in Muncy for the fifth and final run of the frame.
In the sixth things got interesting when Dodger pitcher Joe Kelly in relief threw a 3-0 fastball over the head of Alex Bergman. The next batter Michael Brantley hit a ground ball to Muncy at first who threw to second to force out Bergman, on the throwback to first Brantley stepped on the foot of Kelly who was covering the bag. While headed back to the mound Kelly gave a second look at Brantley. Carlos Correa was up next and the first pitch from Kelly a breaking ball that also sailed over his head forcing him to the ground. He stared at Kelly while re-adjusting his batting gloves and helmet. Later in the at-bat he swung at a 2-2 pitch end the inning. On the way back to the dugout Kelley muttered something and both benches emptied in a COVID clearing way. The teams got close to each other some kept their mask on and they never touched the other team. When it was over Adam Kolarek (1-0) got the win, Kenley Jensen the save. Later in the week Kelly was hit with an eight suspension by MLB. Dodger skipper Dave Roberts thought it was overdone. “That’s just for me, to excessive,“ said Roberts who served a one game suspension himself for the incident. “We’re all hopeful it gets shortened through an arbitrator, so we’ll see.”
The following night the Dodgers battled the Astros to a 1-1 tie into the top of the11th inning Mookie Betts ripped a double to right center to score Keke Hernandez to put L.A. up 2-1. However, in the bottom of the frame Carlos Correa singled to knock in Jack Mayfield to tie the game 2-2.
In the top of the 13th Rookie Edwin Rio led off the inning going “Uptown” with a 380-foot blast to right center that gave the ‘Men in Blue’ the lead for good and the final of 4-2.
It marked the first time the teams use the new rule of starting the extra inning with a runner on second base. Manger Dave Roberts loves the format. “I think it’s a great concept, it speeds the game up so the game could end sooner,” said Roberts on AM 570 The Roggin and Rodney show. “I am for it moving forward. Baseball is full of traditionalist but I think that’s why the NBA and NFL come up with a marketability it adds excitement to the game.”
AT ARIZONA: The Dodgers next headed to Arizona where they won three of four. Game one was a 6-3 win as Max Muncy and AJ Pollack collected two his apiece and Corey Seager joined Pollock having two RBI’s each. Ross Stripling (2-0) got the win going 5 1/3 with two strikeouts while walking two.
GAME TWO: L.A. fell 5-3 as the D-Backs scored 5 runs in the seventh inning as DH Christian Walker had a three-run double to highlight a five-run inning. ormer Angel Kole Calhoun also drove in a run. Hector Rondon (1-0) got the win while Archie Bradley picked up the save. Blake Treinen (0-1) took the lost. Mookie Betts had three hits and two RBI’s for the Dodgers.
GAME THREE: The Dodgers had some big innings Edwin Rios hit a two run homer in the fourth. That was followed by Matt Beatty’s solo shot. In the fifth Justin Turner ripped a two-run double scoring Betts and Cory Seager. AJ Pollock followed with a two-run shot to cap off a five-run fifth. Chris Taylor added a three-run as the Dodgers rolled to a 11-2 win. Julio Urias (1-0) gave up two runs over six inning and struck out five. “It just speaks to our depth,” said Dave Roberts. “We’ve got a lot of good players.“
GAME FOUR: The Dodgers saw the return of Clayton Kershaw was a sight to see as the veteran lefty got his first start of the season. He went six innings giving up three hits while striking out eight. Scott Alexander, Pedro Baez pitched an inning apiece and Kenly Jansen got his second save of the season. Cody Bellinger hit a two homer to help with a 3-0 win. The Dodgers are 7-3 (at press time) one game behind the Rockies in the NL West.
DODGER NOTES: Justin Turner is 5th in National League in batting hitting .294 with 10 hits,4 doubles and 6 RBI’s. Mookie Betts is tied for 12th with a 289 avg.,13 hits, scoring 5 runs. Betts also earned MLB Network Play of the week as he stone cold threw -out the D-Backs Katel Marte try to stretch a double in to a triple. Betts threw a bullet from the right field foul pole to third base to nail Marte.