Clayton Kershaw looked up when Yan Gomes hit the pitch on Saturday night at Nationals Park, screamed in frustration once he realized where the ball was going and looked away.
He landed over the left field wall with two outs in the fourth inning for a three-run equalizer. Most nights, Kershaw would have rebounded, finished strong and kept the Dodgers in the game. Mother Nature had other plans.
In a few minutes, with an out at the start of the fifth inning, the sky opened and the game was stopped. He resumed after a rain delay of 1 hour and 44 minutes without Kershaw or Washington Nationals starter Paulo Espino. With a reliever game looming on Sunday and questions in their rotation, it was an untimely streak for the Dodgers.
But they kept winning 5-3 extend their winning streak to eight games and temporarily equalize the San Francisco Giants for first place in the National League West.
“It certainly wasn’t ideal,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I know Clayton wanted to keep going, which does him honor. No surprise. But we made it and we’ll be fine tomorrow.
The Dodgers (52-31) scored three runs in the fourth inning on two sacrifice flies and an RBI brace from Gavin Lux. Then they took the lead without hitting a ball out of the infield in the start of the sixth on a pitch hit, a fielder’s pick, a mistake and AJ Pollock’s single RBI to the third baseman. The dribbler had an exit speed of 65.1 mph.
Lux worked on balls to start the ninth inning, stole the second and scored on Chris Taylor’s single to give the Dodgers a two-run cushion. The Dodgers built enough offense despite just five hits and no homers. They rise high. But Sunday, after a recovery of less than 11 hours, will present a challenge.
Kershaw’s rain-shortened outing means the Dodgers will effectively be forced into reliever box games on consecutive days. Trevor Bauer was scheduled to start Sunday morning against the Nationals (40-41) – the series final is set for 11 a.m. EST – until he was put on paid administrative leave on Friday after quitting. ‘a woman accused him of sexual assault and obtained temporary detention. order against him Tuesday.
The Dodgers, with no obvious viable choice to immediately save the workload of a conventional starter, will opt for a set of relievers. They will be in a bind after using five relievers to cover the final five innings on Saturday.
After the win, Roberts said the team still haven’t decided on an opener for Sunday morning. He said the club will recall Oklahoma City triple-A right-hander Edwin Uceta to take on some of the workload. Uceta is a regular starter, but he hasn’t recorded more than four innings in his 12 outings between the triple A and the majors. Roberts said he could throw 75 to 80 shots on Sunday.
As for after Sunday, the league can keep Bauer on leave for seven days, but it would require the approval of the players’ union to extend the term. If approval is not granted, Bauer will return to the roster on Friday when the Dodgers host the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium, unless the team decides to go it alone. It seems unlikely.
Highlights of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals on Saturday.
If Bauer misses more than seven days, the Dodgers would rather avoid navigating the schedule with a four-man rotation for an extended period. They have two internal options for the role: veteran David Price and minor leaguer Josias Gray.
Price is a former Cy Young Award winner that the Dodgers placed in the reliever pen after retiring from the 2020 season due to health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. He started two opener this season in the Dodgers’ five weeks with four starters following Dustin May’s elbow injury, which ended the season. He’s allowed 12 runs – won 11 – in 25-2 / 3 innings this season.
On Saturday, Roberts said Price would not be available for more than 40 locations on Sunday. The left-hander would need several starts, perhaps up to a month, to build up the endurance needed for the workload of a conventional starter. “Accumulation is something else that is neither ideal nor practical,” said Roberts.
Price said a plan was in place, but declined to release details.
“I’ll start if they want me to start,” Price said. “It’s okay with me.”
While Price, 35, has 11 full seasons of major league experience as a starter, Gray is yet to make his big league debut. The 23-year-old right-hander started the season as the organization’s highest-ranked prospect but has only pitched one game this season. He was arrested with a shock to his shoulder after starting Oklahoma City’s opening day.
Gray picked up the pitch recently and Roberts has said he expects him to appear in games soon. But it will also need time to build. Acquiring a starter before the July 31 deadline, already a possibility before the allegations against Bauer surface, is an alternative.