Bullpen contingent keeps Dodgers close

Six relievers limit Marlins to three unearned runs as offense stalls

May 17th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have gotten their swagger back during the current homestand, but in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Marlins at Dodger Stadium, it was just one of those days where they fell short. The loss snapped the team’s four-game winning streak.

As they continue to wait for Tony Gonsolin to finish his rehab and reclaim his spot in the rotation, the Dodgers leaned on a bullpen day, and it was a pretty successful one, despite the ultimate result.

“They give us opportunities to win games,” said Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts about the team’s pitching staff. “We just have to come through in some situations -- a lot of situations. Our staff has been amazing, so I have to tip my cap to them. We can’t ask for anything more than what they’ve been doing.”

served as the opener, making his first start since June 20, 2019. Los Angeles hoped to get at least two innings from Nelson, but the right-hander didn’t have his best command, walking two and allowing one hit over 1 2/3 innings. Still, Nelson was able to keep the Marlins off the scoreboard and passed the baton to left-hander Alex Vesia, who ended the second inning by striking out Marlins starter Pablo López.

Vesia hadn’t appeared in a game in 12 days, but the left-hander did his job, striking out three in one-plus innings. After Vesia came Dennis Santana, who also kept the Marlins off the scoreboard in his 1 1/3 innings.

The fourth Dodgers pitcher, Edwin Uceta, provided the most length, tossing three innings, but the Marlins were able to get to him in the fifth inning. Adam Duvall hammered a long two-out, three-run homer to give the Marlins a 3-2 lead. Uceta didn’t get any help from second baseman Sheldon Neuse, who committed an error to begin the inning. All three of the Marlins’ runs were unearned.

“What stood out was the way [the bullpen] pitched, the way they competed and gave us a chance to win,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I thought Edwin made one mistake to Duvall, but outside of that, he was really good. They were all good today."

Following Uceta’s three innings, the Dodgers went to Joe Kelly in the eighth and Mitch White in the ninth. Overall, a very solid outing by a bullpen that has not been pitching its best over the last month. They’ll also get a big boost on Monday, as David Price is expected to come off the injured list on Monday against Arizona.

But as solid as the bullpen’s effort was on Sunday, the Dodgers’ offense wasn’t able to produce the same magic they have over the last four nights. With runners at the corners and two outs in the eighth inning, former Dodgers right-hander Dylan Floro struck out Luke Raley to end the club’s late rally.

With Corey Seager out for at least a month with a fractured right hand and Chris Taylor now nursing a sore right wrist, the Dodgers will need to find ways to continue the offensive attack they found during the beginning of this homestand.

Being consistent on the offensive side has been an issue for the Dodgers so far this season, but injuries have played a big role in that. Cody Bellinger and Zach McKinstry are still nursing injuries, though they hope to be back soon. AJ Pollock will also be out for several weeks.

The Dodgers, however, will be getting some help on Monday when they open a four-game series against the D-backs. They’re expected to add Yoshi Tsutsugo, whom they acquired from the Rays on Saturday, to the active roster. The deal with Albert Pujols is also expected to become official and the future Hall of Famer could be in the lineup against left-hander Madison Bumgarner.

As Roberts said before the game, nobody is going to feel bad for the Dodgers because of the injuries. Now they’re just going to have to find ways to win games until they have all their weapons back.

“Obviously we want to play full strength, but I think the guys we have now are plenty good enough to win games,” Betts said. “I think everyone kind of goes through their rough patch, hopefully we’re over the edge. We just have to get everyone healthy and we should be all right.”