Dodgers Batter Ross and Nationals

The Dodgers had their way with the Nationals pitching staff yesterday, especially since it was the first time Dave Martinez decided to use the opener. One pitcher who looked good was lefthander Matt Grace, who was the opener and retired all six hitters he faced, three of them on strikeouts. After Grace the only lefthander the Nationals had in the pen was Tony Sipp and the Dodgers lefthanded bats assaulted Nationals pitching for a 9-3 win. One right handed bat that did most of the damage was Will Smith, who finished the day 3 for 3 with six RBIs. But he had the lefthanded bats getting on in front of him, who combined to score seven of the nine runs the Dodgers scored.

They say if you want to beat a good starting pitcher you get to him early. The Nationals were able to get to Clayton Kershaw early. Trea Turner started things off with a single and Adam Eaton punched one down the right field line for a triple. For some reason Cody Bellinger was playing near centerfield for the lefthand hitting Eaton. Eaton scored on a fly ball from Juan Soto. The Nationals had a 2-0 lead. All seemed good. Until the Nationals replaced Grace with Joe Ross.

Joe Ross came into the game with a ERA around 9. He did not improve on that. Will Smith jumped on his third pitch of the game to deposit a ball into the right field bleachers to put the Dodgers on the scoreboard. Ross then gave up a hard single to Joc Pederson but was able to retire the next three hitters to protect the Nationals lead.

In the fourth Ross completely lost it. After striking out A.J. Pollock the left handed bats poised to attack. Cody Bellinger walked and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Max Muncy lined a single over shortstop to drive in Bellinger. Corey Seager hit a double into the right center field gap. Eaton had trouble picking the ball up and Seager advanced to third, being credited with a double. Will Smith blasted another pitch that traveled to the warning track, but Robles was able to shag the ball down as his back hit the wall. The Dodgers were now up 4-2.

The Dodgers were able to add another run in the sixth when Muncy and Corey Seager hit back to back singles. Will Smith smacked one into the right center field gap, Robles attempted a diving catch and failed. The Nationals were fortunate that only one run scored. With runners on second and third Pederson was walked intentionally and Clayton Kershaw grounded out to end the inning with only one run logged against Ross.

The game really got out of hand in the seventh when the Dodgers exploded for four runs off Joe Ross and Javy Guerra. Guerra walked the first two hitters he faced to load the bases, setting the stage for Will Smith to clear the bases by driving one against the wall in left field to score all three runs, stopping at second with his second double of the game. He finished the day with six RBIs.

Clayton Kershaw did not have too much trouble with the Nats bats after giving up hits to the first two batters. He retired the next nine hitters. In the sixth he got into a little trouble, missing his pitches for eight straight balls to put two runners on. Brian Dozier flied out to right to end the inning. Kershaw was done for the day after that.

Yan Gomes did line a curve ball from Joe Kelly for a homerun in the seventh. That was all the damage the Nationals bats could do against the Dodger pen. Two double play ground outs in the last two innings flushed out any potential for a rally.

Game notes: Lots of Dodger blue mixed with the National red. A sellout crowd of 39,616 was at the game…Joe Ross has a nice fastball at 95. He did strike out 7 in his 4.2 innings of work. But there were just too many pitches the Dodger bats were able to barrel, especially the lefthanded bats. In the sixth inning both Ross and Kershaw had thrown 70 pitches, but Kershaw had gone two more innings than Ross…It appeared that starting Grace gave Dave Martinez no lefthander in the pen to counter the lefthanded bats. At no time did Tony Sipp warm up in the pen. The left handed bats were able to pepper the Nationals right handed arms for 9 runs…With two strikes on Juan Soto the Dodgers moved Jacob Turner from third base to the second base side of the bag. They seemed to think Juan Soto has a tendency to pull the ball with a two strike count…The last hit for Will Smith was a walk off homerun. Sent back down to the minors his first hit coming back was a homerun. He now has four homeruns in 29 at bats. Myworld thinks he will stick around awhile with Austin Barnes struggling to hit…Max Scherzer is again being bothered by his back and may miss another start. Austin Voth is not available because of shoulder issues…Because of a short bench the Nationals chose to bat Matt Grace in the second inning with two outs and no one on base. They brought in Joe Ross to pitch in the third.

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