The Los Angeles Dodgers spent the last three-plus weeks adjusting to the oddities Major League Baseball deemed necessary to stage a season during a global pandemic from the comfort of their home. They held workouts, played scrimmages, hosted exhibitions and, finally, completed a four-game series against the San Francisco Giants to begin the regular season while adhering to rigorous protocols at an empty Dodger Stadium.
The opening series was a letdown. The Dodgers dropped Sunday’s finale, 3-1, to split the set against a club projected to finish last place in the National League West despite outscoring the Giants 22-10 in the four games.
Julio Urías, stifled by a high pitch count early, allowed a run on five hits over five innings in his 2020 debut. He issued three walks and posted three strikeouts. A batter reached base every inning. He threw 78 pitches.
The left-hander exited with the score tied before the Giants jumped ahead in the sixth inning against Brusdar Graterol and Adam Kolarek. The Giants added another run in the seventh on Donovan Solano’s two-out RBI single off Pedro Báez to take a 3-1 lead.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, accumulated seven hits against seven pitchers. They left 10 runners on base, ballooning their total for the series to 42.
They produced their only run in the third. Mookie Betts delivered a one-out single, swiped second base for his first steal as a Dodger, then dashed home on Cody Bellinger’s single to right field.
The Dodgers had their best shot to rally in the eighth inning but Kiké Hernández grounded out with the bases loaded against right-handed submariner Tyler Rogers. After the game, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t consider pinch-hitting for Hernández with Joc Pederson, a left-handed hitter, available on the bench despite it being a right-on-right matchup because Hernández recorded a two-run single off Rogers on Thursday and Rogers’ splits are neutral historically.
“I think you just got to give credit to those guys,” Roberts said. “They matched up really well. You’re seeing a different guy every at-bat.”
Finishing the series without a major coronavirus-related snag was itself an accomplishment. Now comes the Dodgers’ final major unknown challenge of the COVID-19 Era: traveling.
While the other active major North American professional sports leagues are operating inside hubs to avoid the risk traveling presents, MLB is plowing forward with a 60-game season in 26 different regions to reach the postseason pot of television gold.
The Dodgers are scheduled to fly to Houston, a recent virus hotspot, on Monday for the start of a nine-game road trip with games Tuesday and Wednesday against the Astros at Minute Maid Park. It’ll be the clubs’ first meetings since the Astros’ cheating scandal tarnished their championship season in 2017. Fans will be absent, but the emotions should be charged after the clubs lobbed attacks back and forth through the media during spring training.
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