They tested the melting point of cardboard at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.
The cutouts kept up their structural integrity long enough for the Dodgers to broaden their season-high series of wins to seven games with two-out RBIs from Justin Turner and Corey Seager in a 2-1 win over the Seattle Mariners.
The seven-game streak matches the Dodgers’ longest series of wins during a 106-win season in 2019 — and using the 2020 60-game change rate means 19 games in succession.
“Two really good pitching performances today,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Hits were hard to come by. Baserunners were hard to come by.”
Beginning in 102-degree heat, two youthful pitchers, the Dodgers’ Tony Gonsolin and the Mariners’ Marco Gonzales, dueled through five scoreless innings, permitting only two hits each.
In his third beginning of the season, Gonsolin was exceptional once again. He coordinated his career-long with six scoreless innings against the Mariners, permitting only those two hits and hitting a player. In 14 2/3 innings this season, Gonsolin has not surrendered a run and a turn spot seems to be beckoning.
“Tony is doing a great job of controlling what he can control and making good on opportunities,” Roberts said.
“Obviously Tony did everything he can do and that’s most important. I think we’ve got some difficult decisions obviously with Ross (Stripling) in the rotation, trying to get him untracked, with Alex (Wood) coming back at some point, with a taxed bullpen. There’s things we’ve got to discuss internally. We’ll do what’s best for all of us. But obviously looking out, whether it’s short term or longer term, Tony is certainly going to be a big part of this.”
In the interim, Gonzales flummoxed the Dodgers for seven innings by throwing moderate, increasingly slow still. His fastball settled easily in the high 80s and he depended on a powerful curve, changeup and cut fastball that had the Dodgers hitters wobbly. They struck out multiple times in the initial five innings.
Left-handers like Gonzales have become the Dodgers’ kryptonite. They came into the game batting only .210 with a .658 OPS against left-handed pitching. Just eight of their MLB-leading 46 home runs have fallen off left-handers. Indeed, even right-handed Mookie Betts has strangely battled against lefties this season (3 for 25 through Tuesday).
“To be honest, I dug in a little bit and the average and the surface numbers certainly don’t look good,” Roberts said of the team’s struggles against left-handers. “But the expected slug I think is a lot better and I think with the quality of contact and the unluckiness, I think there’s something to that. I guess for me these guys just have to continue to take these at-bats against the lefties. Today, I just think Gonzales pitched a heckuva ballgame.”
Austin Barnes arrived at base on a swinging hit to begin the 6th inning. He moved into scoring position on a ground out then jogged home when Turner bounced a ground ball into left field.
The Mariners attached it with a run in the seventh against the Dodgers’ bullpen, yet Barnes lit the fuse for the triumphant convention with a one-out walk in the eighth against Mariners reliever Dan Altavilla.
After Betts jumped out for the second out, Barnes saw a chance to get into scoring position and he took it, stealing second base. Seager drove him in with a two-out single to right.
“I kind of thought it was a good time to go earlier in the count. But Seager was up, kind of the heart of our order was up, and you don’t want to make an out on the bases,” Barnes said. “I thought I could get them, then when they played behind me I was a little confused because, you know, I can run a little bit. I’m not super slow. I just took a shot.”