Hopes of another Dodgers road blowout quickly fade in loss to Rangers
A successful second-half-opening road trip in which the Dodgers won six of nine games in New York, Baltimore and Texas ended with a thud on Sunday, the Rangers shaking off Max Muncy’s first-inning grand slam for an 8-4 comeback victory in Globe Life Field.
Sunday’s series finale began much like Saturday’s 16-3 shellacking of the Rangers ended, as Mookie Betts opened the game with a double, Freddie Freeman singled, Chris Taylor walked with one out and Muncy drove his fifth career grand slam and third this season into the right-field seats for a 4-0 lead.
But just when it seemed the National League West-leading Dodgers might produce another blowout with their bats, the American League West-leading Rangers tightened the spigot of an offense that produced 31 runs and 34 hits, including six homers and eight doubles, in the first 19 innings of the series.
Rangers left-hander Martin Perez quickly found the strike zone that he struggled to locate in the first inning, blanking the Dodgers on three hits with six strikeouts from the second through sixth innings, and relievers Brock Burke, Aroldis Chapman and Will Smith covered the final three frames.
Gifted with a four-run lead before taking the mound, Dodgers starter Emmet Sheehan gave it all back and more, the rookie right-hander yielding eight runs and eight hits in 3⅔ innings and walking five, all of whom scored, a shoddy outing that only accentuated the team’s need to acquire a starting pitcher before the Aug. 1 trade deadline.
A pair of first-inning free passes and Jonah Heim’s two-run double, a ball Dodgers right fielder Jonny DeLuca got his glove on with a dive into the gap but couldn’t hold onto–pulled the Rangers to within 4-2 in the bottom of the first.
Another pair of walks and RBI singles by Marcus Semien, Nathaniel Lowe and Josh Jung in the second inning pushed the Rangers ahead 5-4.
Singles by Ezequiel Duran and Brad Miller and Leody Taveras’ two-run double to right-center gave Texas a 7-4 lead in the third, and Heim’s two-out walk and Duran’s RBI double to left made it 8-4 in the fourth.
The Dodgers, who played without hot-hitting designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who was scratched because of left-hamstring tightness right before first pitch, threatened in the third when Freeman led off with a walk and Will Smith hit a ground-rule double to right.
But Chris Taylor flied out to medium left, Freeman holding, Muncy struck out on an 84-mph changeup and James Outman, despite battling back from an 0-and-2 count and fouling off five two-strike pitches, ended an 11-pitch at-bat with a groundout to second.
The Dodgers did not advance another runner to second base against Perez, who improved to 10-3 with a 4.91 ERA.
Manager Dave Roberts provided a pregame update on Clayton Kershaw that might have clouded more than clarified the status of the veteran left-hander, who hasn’t pitched since leaving a June 27 start in Colorado when his shoulder began to feel “cranky” in the sixth inning,
The Dodgers insist that Kershaw, who is 10-4 with a 2.55 ERA in 16 starts, has not experienced a setback and that he remains “asymptomatic” while throwing aggressive bullpen sessions and playing catch, but Roberts said a two-inning simulated game that Kershaw was scheduled to throw on Monday has been “pushed back.”
Kershaw will throw a bullpen session and then to hitters before a return, which is not expected until early August, but “I just don’t know when that pen is going to happen,” Roberts said. “There’s no pain, no setback. It’s more how we time his return. I think it’s smart to not put a hard date on it. I don’t think that’s fair to Clayton or the training staff.”
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