Home Sports Dodgers ride Freddie Freeman’s grand slam, Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s strong start to victory

Dodgers ride Freddie Freeman’s grand slam, Yoshinobu Yamamoto’s strong start to victory

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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, May 20, 2024 – Freddie Freeman of the Dodgers hits a grand slam against the Diamondbacks in the third inning at Dodgers Stadium on Monday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

There are days that Dodgers They have to get wins, like they did against the Cincinnati Reds to take a tight four-game series over the weekend.

Then there are days like Monday, when the Dodgers attack an opposing pitcher, take a huge early lead and then shift into cruise control, making stress-free wins something of a routine affair at the start of this season.

The club’s 6-4 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium featured all of those familiar, one-sided characteristics.

The Dodgers exploded for six runs in the third inning, fueled by a grand slam by Freddie Freeman. He erased a brief Diamondbacks lead, quickly erasing Joc Pederson’s RBI single in the top of the third. And then he handed the keys to the starting pitcher. Yoshinobu Yamamotogetting a strong two-run, 6 ⅓ inning start from the Japanese rookie.

There was some drama late, when the Diamondbacks cut a four-run deficit in half in the eighth with back-to-back home runs off Elieser Hernandez, a low-leverage long reliever in a banged-up Dodgers bullpen.

But, as usual, the club closed the door before things got really interesting, earning an easy ninth-inning save from Daniel Hudson to complete its fourth straight victory.

It was just a really good offensive inning,” manager Dave Roberts said of the club’s third-inning outburst.

Roberts’ only real complaint?

“I wish we could have put together more of those tonight,” he said, “to potentially stay away from our closer.”

In the end, however, anything more productive would have been superfluous for the Dodgers, who own the third-best record in the majors and, at 33-17, have tied for eighth most wins at the 50-game mark. a championship. season in franchise history in Los Angeles.

Read more: “It has become a weapon.” How Michael Grove became a high-leverage Dodgers reliever

The big lead allowed Yamamoto to throw 100 mostly stress-free pitches, his most yet in a major league start, while striking out eight and lowering his ERA to 3.17.

“It does help,” Yamamoto said through his interpreter about launching with so much breathing room. “I think I can do more different things than when the game is very close.”

It allowed Roberts to give a star player some rest, after he threw out Teoscar Hernandez (who has started all 50 games so far) early in the seventh.

It also allowed the Dodgers to maintain their torrid early-season pace, improving their record in May to 14-4.

“Pitching has been the driving force for us during this good run we’re on,” Roberts said.

However, their lineup’s six-run explosion was the most important thing on Monday.

The third inning onslaught began quickly, when Kiké Hernández tied the score with a solo shot to open the inning.

After that, the Dodgers jumped on Arizona pitcher Slade Cecconi.

Miguel Rojas and Mookie Betts singled. Shohei Ohtani walked one on five pitches. Freeman then unleashed a 2-and-1 fastball on his knees, hitting a grand slam to center field (the sixth of his career) to earn a brief curtain call from a crowd of 37,634.

“It’s nice,” Freeman said. “We work every day, we push ourselves every day, and when the fans appreciate the little things in the games, when we all play and try to win, it feels good.”

In the next at-bat, Will Smith added for good measure, hitting his fifth home run of the season to complete the Dodgers’ second-highest scoring inning of the season (and 14th inning with at least four runs).

“We should be able to score runs every inning, whether it’s a crooked number or creating some type of stress,” Roberts said. “When we click, that’s what happens.”

From there, Yamamoto’s job was easy: fill the strike zone, limit the damage and throw as deep as possible in a start that included seven hits, a walk and few legitimate threats from the injury-plagued Diamondbacks ( 22-26).

“I learned this lineup the first time I faced them,” said Yamamoto, who pitched six shutout innings at Phoenix earlier this month. “So that was a little advantage for me.”

On Monday, it counted as one of many advantages for the mighty Dodgers, who once again made winning look easy to continue their fast start to the 2024 season.

Sheehan Update

Seven days earlier, doctors told Emmet Sheehan he had a choice.

Continue to try to avoid surgery and hope your bad arm eventually heals, or have Tommy John surgery and try to return sometime next summer.

Sitting in the dugout with his arm in a sling Monday, Sheehan discussed for the first time why he chose the latter.

“I knew what it meant,” Sheehan said. “It’s obviously not the best feeling in the world.”

Despite that, Sheehan was not intimidated by the diagnosis. He didn’t seem worried about his long-term outlook. During his talk with reporters on Monday, he seemed barely affected by the roughly 13-month rehabilitation process ahead.

Like most modern pitchers, you know that injuries are an occupational hazard of the job.

And, like most modern pitchers, he hopes his surgery is simply a career detour; that the progress he made with a 4-1 record and 4.92 ERA as a rookie last year won’t be erased by a year recovering from surgery.

Read more: Hernandez: Dodgers have good reason to be patient, believe Walker Buehler can still dominate

“There’s no point in thinking about it now,” he said of his disappointment at not being able to pitch this year. “It’s like moving on to the next thing, trying to progress, get better and be healthy for next year.”

Sheehan was first injured during the spring, when an arm soreness (and, as he revealed Monday, a previously undisclosed oblique strain) forced him to miss the start of the season. Sheehan said there was no pitch when he felt his ligament tear. He had even tried to improve in recent weeks, completing regular pregame long toss sessions in the outfield.

However, when his pain didn’t go away, doctors told him it might be time to go under the knife, leading him to make the decision to undergo Tommy John surgery that also included an internal “brace” to give him additional support to the damaged ligament.

“There’s a lot of work to do ahead, but I’ve been in situations before where it didn’t look like I was going to make it to the big leagues or get drafted, things like that,” Sheehan said. “I haven’t had rehab for so long. But I know what it looks like. So I’m not too scared.”

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This story originally appeared on Los Angeles Times.

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