Dodgers Tee Off on Triple-A Relievers, Drop Diamondbacks

Dodgers Diamondbacks

Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 3

PHOENIX, July 31 — When the Arizona Diamondbacks had to place five players on the injured list Friday, two had tested positive for COVID. The other three were for contact tracing. To fill the holes, they had to bring up relievers that had been sent to the minors after having passed through waivers. This left manager Torey Lovullo with veteran Tyler Clippard as a closer and a bunch of Triple-A middle relievers. Eventually, it was going to catch up to the Diamondbacks. Saturday it did. In Friday night’s game, the Diamondbacks used only the relievers who were already on the major league roster. They were not available Saturday. The Los Angeles Dodgers took advantage of this. In the top of the seventh, they lit up Stefan Crichton and Ryan Buchter while batting around. The four-run inning paced the Dodgers to an 8–3 victory over the Diamondbacks Saturday night.

Dodgers Have Big Second but Diamondbacks Catch Up

Diamondbacks starter Merrill Kelly pitched around two first-inning singles without giving up a run. Four second-inning singles, however, led to three runs for the Dodgers, giving them a 3–0 lead. Kelly settled down after that, pitching scoreless innings between the third and sixth.

Meanwhile, the Diamondbacks got two runs back in the fourth off Dodgers starter Mitch White. These came from a one-out walk by first baseman Asdrubal Cabrera and a follow-up home run by right fielder Kole Calhoun. In the bottom of the fifth, a solo home run by shortstop Nick Ahmed tied the game at three.

Batting Around in the Seventh

Kelly retook the mound in the seventh and retired shortstop Chris Taylor on a fly to right. He then walked second baseman Max Muncy, bringing Lovullo to the mound. After a longer-than-usual conversation, Kelly left the game to an ovation. In came the embattled Crichton, one of the emergency call-ups who had already been sent to Triple-A. The first hitter to face him — third baseman Justin Turner — blasted the second pitch into the left-field bullpen. Catcher Will Smith and left fielder AJ Pollock followed with consecutive singles, bring Lovullo back to the mound. In came Buchter, who gave up two more singles before escaping on consecutive force plays at second.

A promising 3–3 game quickly blew up into a 7–3 Dodgers lead. The Diamondbacks did not even manage a baserunner after that. Meanwhile, in the top of the ninth, a leadoff double by Pollock and RBI single by Albert Pujols finalized the score.

Kelly’s Outing

Lovullo said about Kelly, “There were some early hiccups where he gave a couple runs. But he got into a really good rhythm and pitched well into this ballgame and gave us a chance to win.” The conversation Lovullo and Kelly had on the mound as Kelly was relieved was not disclosed. However, Kelly did say, “At the time, I was pretty gassed.” He added later, “Obviously, selfishly, I want to be out there. I want to go as deep as I can for my own personal regard. But (there) also comes a time where you have to think of the team more than yourself.”

Looking Ahead for the Dodgers and Diamondbacks

Alex Vesia (1–1) earned the win in relief for the Dodgers (63–43), while Kelly (7–8) took a tough loss for the Diamondbacks (33–72). The three-game series concludes Sunday, with the first pitch at 1:10 Arizona Time. In a battle of lefties, Julio Urias (12–3, 3.54 ERA) will pitch for the Dodgers, while the Diamondbacks will send Caleb Smith (3–7, 4.61 ERA) to the hill.

Main Photo:
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Players mentioned:

Torey Lovullo, Tyler Clippard, Stefan Crichton, Ryan Buchter, Merrill Kelly, Mitch White, Asdrubal Cabrera, Kole Calhoun, Nick Ahmed, Chris Taylor, Max Muncy, Justin Turner, Will Smith, AJ Pollock, Albert Pujols, Alex Vesia, Julio Urias, Caleb Smith