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Dodgers' struggles offer Maeda little wiggle room

@kengurnick
July 7, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- One of the best offenses in Dodgers history hasn’t been the best offense at Dodger Stadium the last two games. With Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot home runs off Kenta Maeda leading the Padres to a 3-1 win on Saturday night after a 3-2 Padres win Friday

LOS ANGELES -- One of the best offenses in Dodgers history hasn’t been the best offense at Dodger Stadium the last two games.

With Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot home runs off Kenta Maeda leading the Padres to a 3-1 win on Saturday night after a 3-2 Padres win Friday night, that’s three runs in two games for a Dodgers offense averaging 5.24 runs per game on the season.

Box score

Now the Dodgers have lost back-to-back home games for only the second time this year. And they left manager Dave Roberts with the choice of defending his starting pitcher or indicting his hitters.

He did a little of both.

“I thought [Maeda] threw the ball really well across the board,” said Roberts. “He made two mistakes and, unfortunately, they were homers. But to go deep into the [eighth] inning, he threw a great baseball game.”

The offense, not so much. It was held scoreless for 5 2/3 innings by rookie Chris Paddack, the Dodgers’ only run scoring in the eighth inning, and it was unearned. Maybe the Dodgers are a little too eager for the All-Star break, or maybe the Padres are highly motivated with an all-comers National League Wild Card race.

“I definitely don’t think we were flat. You’ve got to give credit to the guys over there when they do pitch well,” he said. “But, collectively, we can do a better job of at-bats. There’s going to be games where you just don’t score runs.

“When you get into leverage counts, we have a tendency to put their pitch in play softly on the ground. I think, at times, we’re getting big instead of staying in the big part of the field and winning a pitch or taking a pitch that we might have done in the past. As a group, when you’re putting secondary pitches in play, softly on the ground, we as hitters have to make adjustments as well.”

Maeda (7-5) allowed only four hits in 7 2/3 innings, but all three runs scored on two sliders that the Padres hit out of the park. This season’s game-wide home run barrage is stinging Maeda, who has already allowed 14 at the break compared to 13 for all of 2018. He is winless since May 31.

“I did misplace those two pitches,” said Maeda. “The one against Renfroe was up and I was trying to get a swing and a miss. The one to Margot, I was trying to get a swing. I looked at the video and it didn’t break as much as I imagined.”

Renfroe’s career-high 27th home run came with two outs in the seventh inning on a 1-2 slider, breaking a scoreless tie. On Friday night, Renfroe’s eighth-inning home run on a Yimi Garcia slider broke a 2-2 tie. Renfroe also beat Kenley Jansen with a walk-off grand slam in the ninth inning on May 5.

“I have had some good outings and some bad outings, but I believe I am progressing,” said Maeda. “Outing by outing, I’m getting good results and hopefully I can take it into the rest of the season to get good results.”

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.