Dodgers' stingy streak ends as bats held in check

On Ohtani bobblehead night, Reds' budding star De La Cruz steals the show -- and 4 bases

May 17th, 2024

LOS ANGELES -- The playoff atmosphere was undeniable Thursday, with much of a typically late-arriving L.A. crowd in their seats well before the game began.

A double dose of made the buzz palpable.

But neither Ohtani’s bat nor his bobblehead -- one given away to each of the first 40,000 in attendance -- could outshine the Reds, who leaned into their own dynamic player, Elly De La Cruz, and sprinted to a 7-2 victory over the Dodgers.

With all eyes on Ohtani, De La Cruz stole a career-high four bases and had four hits to match a career best. He added three runs scored, and in general had the kind of day that will make heads nod in the affirmative during his own bobblehead night on June 11 in Cincinnati.

Along with the paltry offensive showing, Dodgers ace Tyler Glasnow had one of his worst outings so far this season. The right-hander gave up four runs on six hits over five innings, with one walk and eight strikeouts.

“The pitches I threw to him were bad, and then not getting ahead,” Glasnow said of De La Cruz's ease of thievery on the bases. “I think on the basepaths, just me not being quick to hold runners and him being extremely fast. Yeah, he’s a good baserunner.”

The first inning was particularly troublesome for Glasnow. Not only did the Reds plate two runs, but they had four balls come off the bat at more than 100 mph. The first of those was a leadoff home run from Will Benson, whose 107.5-mph blast came on the sixth pitch of the game.

The Reds added another run in the third and one more in the fifth. Glasnow rebounded to strike out eight before his departure, but it was far too late -- as he said he found his rhythm later in the game.

When the Reds tacked on three more runs in the ninth inning off Nick Ramirez, the Dodgers’ franchise-best run of 22 consecutive games of allowing four runs or fewer came to an end. That it happened on a day when Glasnow started might have been the biggest surprise of all.

“It's been impressive,” manager Dave Roberts said after the four-run streak ended. “We've gotten great starting pitching clearly, and the guys in the bullpen have all stepped up. And they stepped up tonight. We gave up more than four runs, but I still thought both those guys stepped up tonight.

“But the run that we were on, as far as preventing runs, certainly hasn't happened in quite some time for the Dodgers, and it's a lot of people that get a lot of credit. And also, we played good defense [during the streak], too.”

Many in a season-best crowd of 53,527 -- the largest announced crowd at an MLB game this season -- had departed by the time the pitching streak came to an end. At the very least, an Ohtani keepsake was secured.

Ohtani went 0-for-2 with a walk and his own stolen base, but he was also hit in the back of the leg by a pickoff throw in the first inning and was removed for pinch-hitter Andy Pages in the ninth. Roberts said postgame that his club's premier power-and-speed threat was fine.

“I thought he just missed some pitches, maybe expanded a little bit, but I'm not going to put too much weight into tonight,” Roberts said when asked to assess Ohtani’s performance. “I think those guys just made some good pitches and just missed the barrel.”

While the Dodgers’ offensive disappearing act was understandable in a 4-1 loss to the Giants and ace Logan Webb on Wednesday, Thursday's struggles came on a Reds bullpen day. They had just two hits leading into the ninth inning, when Gavin Lux ended the shutout bid with two outs on a two-run single.

In each of the Dodgers’ four defeats over the past week, they scored two runs or fewer.

“I think going back to San Diego, I thought they really pitched us well,” Roberts said. “Obviously Logan threw a really good ballgame as always. He's tough on us. And then tonight, they sort of just mixed and matched with the bullpen game. [We] didn't have an answer tonight for Nick Martinez, didn't really threaten, and got behind the eight ball with the score.”

Upstaged by the Reds’ five-tool star, Ohtani could only offer a tip of the cap. It was De La Cruz who playfully poked Ohtani in the upper arm during a pause in play last season in Anaheim, as if to see if he was real. Ohtani wouldn’t have been blamed if he did the same Thursday.

“He’s a really good player,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I do believe the team really rallied around him today. It was a very impressive performance tonight.”