Stripling thrilled with win No. 1 despite its flaws

Dodgers rookie bests college roommate Wacha, gets first big league hit

May 14th, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- It wasn't a 13-strikeout shutout or anything Kershaw-like, but Ross Stripling was thrilled with Major League victory No. 1 on Friday night, warts and all.

In his seventh trip to the post, he decisioned Texas A&M roommate Michael Wacha while the Dodgers were outplaying the Cardinals for an 8-4 win. St. Louis added to its MLB-leading total with four errors, three by rookie shortstop Aledmys Diaz, making four of the Dodgers' six runs off Wacha unearned.

Stripling lasted only five-plus innings, charged with four runs on eight hits, and he was statistically better in five of his previous six starts that didn't result in a victory.

"I don't think we'll look back at this as the best game we ever pitched, but it was a lot of fun," said Stripling. "To get the first hit off of him is kind of funny and to get the first win is really cool."

Stripling enjoyed, and even contributed to, a lineup-wide windfall, with five Dodgers driving in runs and five scoring them. Stripling won a dinner bet with Wacha with his first Major League hit, a single, and he also reached on an error and scored a run.

"I'm definitely getting a lobster, wherever we go," Stripling said. "Maybe a nice bottle of wine, maybe a steak to go. And I'm going to get Wacha to sign the first hit ball. Already texted him that."

While both pitchers struggled (Wacha was gone after four innings), Stripling said the matchup was literally a dream come true, and one they used to talk about.

"You talk like, 'Can you imagine if we both get drafted and we make it and we pitch against each other some day? That would be pretty incredible,'" he said. "That's part of college baseball, you sit around and talk and hope, and for it to come true is pretty neat. I don't think we're both pumped about the way it went, it was a goofy game for both of us, but we'll look back and cherish this moment to have pitched against each other."

Stripling also should cherish the eight runs the Dodgers scored for him, compared to the 20 runs total he received in his other six starts. Yasiel Puig had three hits including his fourth homer. Howie Kendrick, leading off, had two hits and a would-be home run pulled back by center fielder Randal Grichuk. Trayce Thompson singled in two runs and Joc Pederson reached base three times.

Setting aside the feel-good showdown, Stripling did allow 11 baserunners in five innings, with more walks (three) than strikeouts (two) -- five days after throwing a six-inning one-hitter in Toronto. In this one, he was removed after allowing extra-base hits to the first two batters in the sixth, five relievers shutting down the Cardinals over the final four innings. The bullpen hasn't allowed an earned run over its last 19 innings.

"I think [Stripling] just started losing his crispness when he got around the 75-pitch mark," said manager Dave Roberts, who had to call on closer Kenley Jansen for his 12th save when the ninth inning got messy despite a four-run lead. "The curveball was good, but I don't know if it's a mental thing or physical."