The Dodgers have hit more home runs in 2020 than any other team. All 118 landed over the fence.
Three games and 110 at bat in the new season, one batter Dodger finally broke the barrier on Saturday. However, Zach McKinstry couldn’t quietly trot around the Coors Field basepaths. Colorado Rockies left fielder Raimel Tapia jumped up, caught McKinstrys’ ball in his glove strap and sent it back onto the playing field.
As the ball moved away from him on the warning track, Tapia dropped aside at the foot of the fence. McKinstry, meanwhile, never stopped running. His homerun inside the park was the first of his career and the decisive blow in the Dodgers’ 6-5 win over the Rockies.
My first home run in high school, it hit the wall and bounced back, ”McKinstry said. This one was definitely a little cooler.
The 25-year-old utility player said his parents were among 20,688 in attendance. They chose the right time to attend their first game of the season.
McKinstry was not in the starting lineup, having only entered the game as a pinch hitter for starting pitcher Walker Buehler. The game was tied 4-4 in the eighth inning when he got a quick 1-1 from pitcher Mychal Givens.
Zach is a very straightforward guy, said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. Seeing him coming towards the canoe after crossing the marble, all that excitement and energy was fun.
Corey Seager led the Dodgers’ 12-stroke offense with a 3-on-4 performance. With two strikeouts in the eighth inning and Gavin Lux in first base, Givens walked Seager and pitched less carefully to next hitter, Chris Taylor. Taylor hit a brace down left field, scoring Lux with what turned out to be the winning run.
Colorado scored a run against Victor Gonzalez late in the eighth inning, reducing the Dodgers’ lead to 6-5, but Kenley Jansen recorded the last five strikeouts to win his first stoppage of the season.
Roberts said Jansen stepped up for us on a night when several relievers were unavailable to pitch. The closer veteran has been grappling with questions about his speed for months and endurance at the highest ballpark in years. Three times during his career, he has experienced an episode of atrial fibrillation in Denver.
On Saturday, with runners on first and second in the eighth inning, he knocked out Ryan McMahon on a 94 mph fastball for the third out.
He got five big outs for us, Roberts said of Jansen.
Buehler allowed four hits in six innings, failed to walk one batter, and struck out four. Tapia put the Rockies on the board with a solo homerun in the third inning. A brace in opposing field by McMahon led to another point in the fourth. After five innings, the Dodgers were trailing 2-0 and had just three baserunners on their own.
Rockies pitcher Jon Gray entered the game with a record of success against the Dodgers at home 4-1 with a career 3.48 earned-run average, with wins in each of his last two starts. . He was masterful again on Saturday, pairing a 97 mph fastball with superb command. Only his body failed him.
Seager started the sixth inning with a brace. Gray was quickly visited by a sports coach and removed from the game. The Rockies said the right-hander was suffering from cramps all over his body. Right-hander Yency Almonte took over, and the pitchers duel was over. A traditional Coors Field game had started.
With two strikeouts, Max Muncy hit only one third baseman Josh Fuentes, who was moved into the traditional shortstop hole. Seager marked the Dodgers’ first inning, reducing their deficit to 2-1. AJ Pollock, who beat the cursors by two strokes to end his two beats against Gray, chose to keep the inning alive. Almonte then hit Edwin Rios with a 95 mph fastball to charge the bases.
Austin Barnes was chasing his first RBI of the season when Almonte hung a 1 and 1 slider over the plate. Barnes hit a single in left field, and Muncy and Pollock scored to put the Dodgers ahead 3-2.
In the seventh inning, Lux smoked a triple in the right corner against right-hander Tyler Kinley, then scored on a Seager single. The Dodgers led 4-2.
Right-hander Blake Treinen (1-0), making his first appearance in 2021, relieved Buehler at the bottom of the seventh inning. Treinen didn’t allow a home run until his 25th game last season, but he started the new season by walking CJ Cron and giving up a two-point home run to Fuentes. The match was tied 4-4.
A big swing from McKinstry, coupled with a bit of luck, put the momentum back in favor of the Dodgers. It was an unusual climax for an unusual series.
On Thursday, the Dodgers had a home run when two runners crossed on base. Friday’s game came to a halt when a cat ran across the field. Saturday’s game was delayed because a water fountain in the center field did not stop. The Dodgers will look for their third victory of the season in Sunday’s series final.
Expect the unexpected, I guess, says Roberts.
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