'Very inconsistent offense' continues to fluster Dodgers

May 26th, 2024

CINCINNATI -- Offensive woes continue to follow the Dodgers.

On Saturday night, Walker Buehler held the Reds to three runs, but the offense could not cash in on two key chances against Hunter Greene as Cincinnati handed the Dodgers a fourth straight loss, a 3-1 defeat before a sellout crowd at Great American Ball Park.

The Dodgers had the bases loaded with none out in the second and scored just one run when Jason Heyward grounded into a double play. In the sixth, Shohei Ohtani, dealing with a right hamstring contusion, managed to trot his way to third on a triple with one out.

But Freddie Freeman flied out to shallow left and Will Smith popped out to second, and the threat was gone.

“I thought in that one inning, Jason, bases loaded, nobody out. We stressed Greene right there, I thought he took a good at-bat but ultimately grounded into a double play, cash in one,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “And then we had another situation where the ball wasn't hit deep enough and we couldn't cash in. And that was sort of the story of the game.”

Taking the mound for the fourth time after returning from a second Tommy John surgery, Buehler was making second straight start against the Reds. Last Saturday, he earned his first win in nearly two years, allowing just three hits, striking out seven and walking none in six scoreless innings.

Saturday night was a bit different for the right-hander, who earned a reputation for blowing batters away with 100 mph heat when he came up in 2017.

Buehler was charged with the loss and fell to 1-2 on the season, allowing six hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one, throwing 91 pitches, 61 for strikes.

The Reds got to Buehler quickly, as he left an 83.6 mph slider up belt-high and Spencer Steer replicated his first-row, first-inning homer to left from Friday night. After the Dodgers tied the game in the second, Buehler tried sneaking a 96 mph four-seamer past Will Benson.

The left-handed slugger took the center-cut fastball the opposite way to left for his seventh roundtripper of the season and a 2-1 lead.

“I don't necessarily think I'm complacent, but I think in the past I could kind of get away with 1-0 or 2-0 and throw heaters and just really try and rip them and whatever and blow by people,” said Buehler. “But that's something that they will look at and think through if we need to kind of throw wrinkles in those counts.”

But the takeaway Saturday was the offense that can’t seem to come up with big hits with runners in scoring position, as the Dodgers were 0-for-7 in such situations.

The Dodgers’ bottom of the order continued to struggle, with the Nos. 6-9 hitters going a combined 0-for-10 with two walks.

“It's not just the top that's got to go out there and do their thing,” Roberts said. “It's the middle, it's the bottom of the order. It's everyone, and not trying to play for one big hit. But we haven't got that yet. And so I think that each game you look at, there's some opportunities for us to put up a crooked number, and we just haven't been able to do that.”

Greene appeared to have Ohtani’s number early, striking him out in the first and third innings.

“Obviously, he’s an outstanding hitter and player as a whole,” Greene said of the two-way star. “Being able to read his swings, that chess game of going back and forth and thinking with each other -- all of that is super important when you’re facing a team like these guys. It’s just reading the swings, seeing how he approached me the last game and how I can keep him off beat. That was the focus today.”

The Dodgers are hoping a short night of rest will lead to better luck and execution Sunday.

“As far as the two weeks of very inconsistent offense, it's a collective effort,” Roberts said.

“Just got to keep going,” Mookie Betts added. “There's no words that anybody can say that's going to make us all of a sudden start hitting. If that was the case, we would’ve a long time ago. It’s just part of the game.”