AT&T PARK — Sunday’s nightcap between the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers was a microcosm of the opening two-and-a-half months for the National League heavyweights.
In the 2-1 win for the hosts, the Giants’ bats provided just enough offense to back yet another stellar outing from their starting staff. The visitors didn’t.
The offensive hero was Brandon Belt, who crushed a towering home run in the sixth inning into the seats above triples alley — the deepest spot in the park. The starter was Jake Peavy, who has successfully pulled out of an early-season nose dive.
“He’s a fun guy to watch to start with because he’s such a tough competitor and you know you’re going to get all you got from him,” manager Bruce Bochy said after the vet blanked the Dodgers for six frames while scattering four hits. “It was a rough go in the early going here, but he’s not going to get down. Hes going to keep fighting. He’s righted the ship here and he’s pitched very well.”
With Peavy dealing, the Dodgers couldn’t find the hits to back up their rookie phenom Julio Urias, who enjoyed his best outing of his brief major league career.
“Sunday night baseball. Biggest rival. Pennant race starting to take form. To step in and throw the ball the way he did for five-and-one-third [innings] is phenomenal,” said Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis after the 19-year-old lefty allowed two runs in while striking out seven Giants.
For the Dodgers, whose offense ranks third-to-last in the NL in OPS, the loss was far from the first time they’d failed their pitching staff.
The most troubling part is that not even the players on the expensively assembled club have a grasp of what is going wrong.
“What do you think?” Ellis shot back at a reporter when asked why the talented Dodgers have slumped so much at the plate.
Manager Dave Roberts knows his squad is just as underwhelming as its 33-31 mark indicates.
“If we feel we’re better [than our record], then we have to play better,” Roberts said after his team dropped five games behind the Giants in the NL West. “This is what we are — until otherwise. I know we can play better and be more consistent.”
The Dodgers won’t get the chance to show that improvement to the Giants anytime soon. The next time the rivals are slated to meet is on
Aug. 23 at Dodger Stadium.
There’s no telling what the Dodgers — or the Giants — will look like at their next meeting.
Los Angeles could have a revamped lineup, and San Francisco could be sporting a re-worked bullpen in which the struggling Santiago Casilla is no longer in charge of locking up the ninth inning.
For now, Roberts insisted it’s much too soon to think about whether the Dodgers need to bring in external reinforcements.
“I think the guys in the clubhouse realize that we need to be better,” Roberts said. “There’s some underperforming and the guys know that. That as a manager excites me — that there’s accountability.”