Machado's bobble-night pop puts LA closer

Dodgers' magic number trimmed to 7 with win over Padres

September 23rd, 2018

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers had everything lined up for Manny Machado on Saturday night. It was his bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium, wife Yainee threw out the ceremonial first pitch and manager Dave Roberts dropped the slugger a notch into the cleanup spot.
Take your pick of catalyst, but Machado responded with a three-run homer off during a five-run third inning that powered a 7-2 win over the Padres as the Dodgers reduced their magic number for clinching the National League West to seven. Los Angeles is 1 1/2 games ahead of Colorado with seven to play.
Before the game, Roberts discussed Machado's disappointing offense since the 5-for-1 trade during the All-Star break brought the talented shortstop to the Dodgers. Entering Saturday night's game, he had hit 52 points lower -- with an OPS nearly 200 points lower -- than he did in Baltimore. His strikeout ratio has been way up and his numbers have been especially down against righties since coming to the Dodgers -- .233/.266/.421.
"I guess it took the bobblehead night and he came through with the big hit," said Roberts. "He's trying like heck and he wants that signature moment, that big hit. Tonight, hopefully, it alleviates the anxiety or pressure for him."
Starter Rich Hill went seven innings, marred only by 's homer to center with two out in the sixth inning. Hill (10-5) struck out seven and ran his win streak to four. He's 8-1 since the All-Star break.
Hill said he made a mechanical adjustment with his curve that resulted in a later break. The Dodgers have scored 44 runs over his last four starts.
Machado's homer was his 36th of the season (12th with the Dodgers) and gave him a career-high 100 RBIs (35 with the Dodgers). and also went deep as the Dodgers set a franchise record with 222 home runs this season.

Roberts had suggested that Machado's inconsistency could be the result of adjusting to pitchers in a new league, as well as trying too hard. Machado shrugged off the suggestion that he's pressing.
"I don't look at numbers," said Machado, a free agent after this season. "It's all about W's for me. The numbers I put up, I'm going to keep putting up numbers, it don't matter. What matters is the W's for the team. I just play baseball. Whatever I do out there, I'm comfortable with. I'm confident with what I can do to provide for the ballclub. No pressure on that point."
Roberts had bat third, between and Machado. Machado's home run came one out after back-to-back doubles by Pederson and Turner, the latter driving in two runs.
"I do think having J.T. and Max in front of him, conducting those at-bats, I think that's kind of contagious and you've seen that from the hole and on-deck circle and you have a better chance to take that to the batter's box," Roberts said. "Today, he got a pitch he could handle that was elevated and he took it to the big part of the field."
Pederson slugged Nix's second pitch of the game for his 24th home run and seventh leading off the first inning this season. Grandal added a solo shot in the sixth inning, his 24th.

With a 7-1 lead going into the top of the ninth inning, the game unexpectedly turned into a save opportunity that converted after and Tony Cingrani allowed four consecutive batters to reach base. But with the bases loaded and one out, Jansen struck out and for his 37th save. Roberts said the important tell was that Jansen had four swing-and-miss strikes.

In the Dodgers' 155th game, Hill became their first pitcher to reach 10 wins. This is the longest into a season it has taken the club to have a 10-game winner. According to Stats LLC, the previous mark was set by the 1944 Dodgers, who needed 147 games.

Grandal's home run, estimated by Statcast™ at 425 feet, was his 11th in 28 career games against his former club. He joined the Dodgers in the December 2014 trade that sent Matt Kemp to San Diego.

"He's a veteran pitcher who wants the big moment and knew, coming off a loss yesterday, we needed this start and he delivered." -- Roberts, on Hill
starts Sunday's series finale at 1:10 p.m. PT against rookie left-hander Joey Lucchesi and the Padres. Ryu not only went seven scoreless innings on Monday against a Rockies team that was in first place at the time, the lefty has a 2.21 ERA in seven starts since returning from the disabled list.