Dodgers Hope Bats Reignite in Return to Los Angeles

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks
PHOENIX, AZ – SEPTEMBER 12: Yasmani Grandal #9 of the Los Angeles Dodgers bats against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of a MLB game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)

Whenever the Dodgers‘ bats decided to hibernate with runners in scoring position during the regular season, they seemed to do so with a vengeance. Such was the case in Game 2 of the NLDS on Sunday afternoon. The Boys in Blue had control through three innings behind a Corey Seager solo home run and an RBI single by Josh Reddick, but were lulled to sleep shortly thereafter, eventually falling 5-2 to the Nationals and seeing the series become tied at one game apiece.

The turning point in the game was when Nats’ catcher Jose Lobaton drilled a three-run home run into the left field stands in the bottom of the third frame. Dodgers’ southpaw Rich Hill creeped into trouble while walking Daniel Murphy and hitting Danny Espinosa, then saw his 2-0 lead vanish after he left a high hanging curveball dangle in Lobaton’s wheelhouse.

Murphy, perhaps the most productive hitter in all of baseball this year, drove in a pair of insurance runs later in the contest to cap off the scoring for Washington. Known for his postseason offensive prowess against the Dodgers, Murphy went 3-for-3 at the dish and is now 4-for-6 in the series.

The Nationals used a total of five relievers to shutout the Dodgers after starter Tanner Roark exited the game with one out in the fifth inning. The lone hit allowed by the Nats’ bullpen was a single by Justin Turner in the ninth inning; however, closer Mark Melancon worked around the minor threat and ultimately earned the save. Hard-throwing righty Blake Treinen threw a perfect 1-1/3 frames in recording the win.

The Dodgers saw themselves waste countless scoring opportunities on Sunday, most notably stranding the bases loaded three times during the first five innings of play. Catcher Yasmani Grandal grounded into a double play with the bases juiced in the third, and struck out with one away in the same scenario in the fifth.

The Dodgers also left two marooned in the sixth inning, and for the game left a total of 12 runners on base.

Despite the sluggish offense, Hill told reporters that he was shouldering the responsibility for the loss himself.

“We’re tied in the series now because I didn’t execute. It’s extremely disappointing,” Hill said. “The good news is we’re going home, and with home field advantage in the series it’s going to be big.”

With their return to Los Angeles, the Dodgers hope their bats reignite despite having to square off against Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez in Game 3. The team hit only .213 against southpaws during the regular season, and have gone 1-for-14 against leftys so far in the NLDS.

The Dodgers will counter with righty Kenta Maeda, who won 16 games for the club and tallied a 3.48 ERA over 175 innings during his rookie campaign.

First pitch for Monday’s contest is slated for 1:08 p.m. local time.

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