LOS ANGELES -- On a day when the Dodgers needed a strong, or at least long, start, Kenta Maeda battled through pain, heat, and mechanical problems to deliver an eight-strikeout start and help the Dodgers to a 2-1 win.Maeda left his previous start with a contusion after taking a 95-mph
LOS ANGELES -- On a day when the Dodgers needed a strong, or at least long, start, Kenta Maeda battled through pain, heat, and mechanical problems to deliver an eight-strikeout start and help the Dodgers to a 2-1 win.
Maeda left his previous start with a contusion after taking a 95-mph line drive off the right lower leg. X-rays were negative, but a painful bruise still remained at the point of impact.
"It starts with the player, the player has got to get the credit," manager Dave Roberts said. "The medical staff did a great job with Kenta, but first and foremost, Kenta has a lot of fight, a lot of heart, and when you're not feeling 100 percent and you still go out and compete, that's what Kenta does."
Roberts had joked before the game that he hoped Maeda had to slide on the leg while baserunning, but there probably weren't too many smiles when Maeda slid into third in the third inning and was called out. Roberts chalked it up to Maeda's aggressiveness and said it didn't create any additional concerns.
As if the leg discomfort wasn't enough, Maeda also had to deal with the hottest day at Dodger Stadium so far this season, with temperatures reaching as high as 99 degrees. However, Maeda said after the game that he had played in hotter temperatures in Japan.
It was a slog early for Maeda, who allowed five baserunners on 67 pitches in the first three innings. Scooter Gennett took a badly placed two-seamer into the left-field stands to give the Brewers a 1-0 lead, which they would not relinquish until Maeda had exited the game. A mechanical adjustment was made and Maeda struck out the side in order in the fourth inning.
"At the top of his delivery, he was being a little too quick with his arm and had a hard time catching up," Roberts said. "He worked on staying back and getting a better pause at the top out of the windup."
A seven-pitch fifth inning allowed Maeda to reach the later stages of the game, a feat recently unfamiliar to the Dodgers. In their last three games, the bullpen had been forced to throw 16 1/3 innings due to abbreviated starts from the rotation -- Scott Kazmir on Thursday, Julio Urias on Friday and Mike Bolsinger on Saturday. Carlos Frias' recall from Triple-A Oklahoma City gave the team a nine-man bullpen in order to mitigate the stress.
"It was great. It was what we desperately needed," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "Eat some innings. Bullpen's been pretty depleted. Kenta picked us up big time today. Just a really strong outing. I'm proud of him for the way he battled."
Jack Baer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Los Angeles.