By: Malaika Bobino
San Francisco, CA – It was only a matter of time. Without their leading hitter Matt Kemp, the Los Angeles Dodgers struggle to maintain their top spot in the National League. Collectively as a team they were getting wins after Kemp was put on the disabled list. But now the team has fallen into an offensive slump.
The Giants are now two games behind the first place Dodgers who were shutout 8-0 tonight. Barry Zito was off to an amazing start after pitching a stellar game. He surrendered three hits through seven innings and had the offense to back him.
“This is a very important series,” said Pablo Sandoval. “We want to finish in first place before the MLB All-Star break. When we return for the second half, we will already have the focus we need to get better.”
Sandoval was the key to the offense, he doubled twice and drove in three runs. The Giants scored four runs in the first frame, which was the most runs they have scored in the first inning this season. This is the closest San Francisco has been behind the Dodgers since April 6th.
“Given where we were, it’s great to be in this situation,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “There’s so much baseball left, but your where you want to be. It’s important even in this point of the season. But it’s too early to be looking at standing.”
For the Dodgers, they have more concerns than the standings. Nathan Eovaldi who is now 0-4 and recorded his sixth straight start without a victory. He tossed five innings, allowing 10 hits, 8 runs (all earned), one walk and one strikeout. Eovaldi showed no command on the mound and left the plate wide open.
“He had a little bit of bad luck in the first,” said manager Don Mattingly. “We couldn’t stop the bleeding. He [Barry Zito] kept us off balance, it’s tough to get back into the game being down by seven runs early.”
A few sloppy plays from the Dodgers lead to an easy inning for the Giants. Ryan Theriot grounded to short stop Dee Gordon who tripped on his own two feet and Theriot was safe at first. Melky Cabrera followed with a pop up with the ball dropping between Gordon and center fielder Tony Gwynn for the base hit. Then Angel Pagan’s RBI double with a grounder that went over first baseman Juan Rivera was unbelievable.
The hits continued, three more runs earned in the second. More mistakes from the Dodgers, Gregor Blanco singled center, a fielder’s choice when Dee threw to first for the out and the ball bounced off Juan’s foot at first base. Two back-to-back RBI singles from Theriot and Pagan. And a sacrifice fly from Sandoval gave the Giants a 7-0 lead to end the inning.
That launched a stretch in which Zito retired 14 of the 16 batters he faced until Jerry Hairston and A.J Ellis singled back-to-back in the seventh. But thanks to the defense and Barry’s calm on the mound the next three batters hit fly balls to both left field and center field to end the inning.
“Zito changes speed and tries not to throw it over if he doesn’t have to,” said Mattingly. “We’ve got to be able to keep it close and make their pitcher work in danger all night long. He didn’t have any danger.”
“It’s the biggest rivalry in baseball,” Barry explained. “We’re going to play them down the stretch in crunch time in September, no doubt. So, it’s good to get that win under your belt. They’re banged up right now over there. We have to capitalize on that, we were banged up early in the year and they capitalized on that. That’s the nature of the game, it’s a marathon.”