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Wood feels shaky return 'as hard as anybody'

@kengurnick
July 25, 2020

Beaten by the Giants on Saturday, Alex Wood beat himself up a little after his return to the Dodgers’ starting rotation turned in their first loss of the year, 5-4, to the Giants at Dodger Stadium. After offseason departures of starters Hyun Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill, Wood

Beaten by the Giants on Saturday, Alex Wood beat himself up a little after his return to the Dodgers’ starting rotation turned in their first loss of the year, 5-4, to the Giants at Dodger Stadium.

After offseason departures of starters Hyun Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill, Wood was signed for depth despite winning only once for Cincinnati last year while battling a back injury. His immediate importance to the Dodgers’ rotation is heightened by David Price electing not to pitch this year and Clayton Kershaw beginning the season on the injured list.

Box score

“The weight that’s constantly on your shoulders to go out there and be the best and do your part to help the team win is super important,” said Wood, who lasted only three innings. “For anybody that knows me, I wear days like this as hard as anybody. I’ll deal with my feelings when I leave the park and be back tomorrow to get ready for the next one.”

Wood seemed reluctant to throw fastballs, but lacked command with his changeup and sliders. He fell behind hitters, allowing the leadoff batter to reach base each inning -- one of them a home run by Wilmer Flores -- and walked three with four strikeouts.

“They have a solid lineup against left-handed pitchers, so it was a little more difficult preparing for them,” said Wood. “I kind of got away from my general plan of how aggressive I am. We threw too much soft stuff early. They had some good at-bats, drawing walks. Overall, just getting away from what I do best in terms of pounding the zone and attacking early. I felt better in the third inning, got back to doing what I like to do.”

Notes: Dustin May gets another start; Chris Taylor at DH

By then, he was up to 69 pitches, including a tiring 31 in the second inning, and manager Dave Roberts went to the bullpen. Dennis Santana allowed a pair of fourth-inning runs as the Giants extended their lead to 5-1, before relievers Joe Kelly, Blake Treinen, Jake McGee and Dylan Floro combined for six strikeouts over the final four scoreless innings.

Despite Wood’s shaky outing and the unexpected defections from the rotation, Roberts remained confident that the Dodgers have sufficient starting pitching.

“With Dustin [May] stepping up and Ross [Stripling] throwing well, we’re expecting to get Clayton back sometime soon,” Roberts said. “Every start Julio [Urías] makes and Dustin makes, they continue to get better. Woody is a veteran, he’ll be fine. So, I think our starting pitching depth, I’m really comfortable with it.”

The Dodgers’ offense trimmed the margin with a pair of unearned runs in the eighth and a Will Smith homer in the ninth, which only underscored how four baserunning mistakes turned this game into a loss instead of a third consecutive win. Guilty were Justin Turner, Chris Taylor, Joc Pederson and Austin Barnes.

“A little too much aggressiveness, and a couple of them are just mental mistakes,” Roberts said. “Win or lose, it’s how you play the game, and I think how we got there today, I’m not pleased with. You leave four outs on the field, we pride ourselves on intelligence and running the bases and knowing the scoreboard. When you get doubled off four times and give away outs, that’s just not helpful.”

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