By Bill Shaikin/Los Angeles Times
If the Los Angeles Dodgers had played reasonably well, they could have blamed this all on the Minnesota Twins.
The Twins, you see, were close to acquiring pitcher Jaime Garcia from the Atlanta Braves.
The trade was so close that the Braves flew a minor league pitcher to Los Angeles, to take Garcia’s scheduled start here Friday. The Dodgers even went to the trouble of making out a new lineup, to replace the one prepared for Garcia.
The Twins couldn’t close the deal. Garcia trudged to the mound at Dodger Stadium. And he put on what might have been the showcase to end all showcase starts, cooling the bats of the hottest team in baseball and hitting a grand slam too, as the Braves pounded the Dodgers 12-3.
“That was pretty unbelievable,” Garcia said. “I’ve never hit a grand slam in my life, not even in Little League.”
It was a weird night all around. The Dodgers lost their second straight game - this one their most lopsided defeat this season - the first time they have lost consecutive games since June 5-6. They gave up a grand slam to the opposing pitcher at Dodger Stadium since 1984, when Hall of Famer Steve Carlton hit one off Fernando Valenzuela.
And, by the eighth inning, ushers had dispersed among the aisles, trying to track down the mischief makers launching paper airplanes from the upper levels of Dodger Stadium, a welcome diversion for fans marking time until the fireworks show. Alex Wood lost his first game this season, the first time he has lost since May 30, 2016. The box score shows Wood (11-1) was battered for nine runs in 42/3 innings. In his previous 10 starts, he had given up six runs in 62 innings.
This was the first start this season in which the Dodgers let Wood make 100 pitches. It also was the first start in three months in which he could not complete five innings - and, back then, he still was building arm strength after the Dodgers had stashed him in the bullpen to open the season.
But, by the time the Braves finally started hitting rockets off Wood, the Dodgers’ defense had so betrayed their starting pitcher that the Braves already had all the runs they needed.
The Braves scored two runs in the first inning, earned but not truly deserved. Ender Inciarte opened the game with an infield single.
Johan Camargo then hit a fly ball to deep center field. Enrique Hernandez, playing center because the Dodgers don’t use Joc Pederson against left-handers, took an erratic route to the ball and missed it. Inciarte sped around third and headed home, but catcher Yasmani Grandal could not handle the relay throw.
Later in the inning, after Wood should have had his three outs, Tyler Flowers singled home Camargo.
In the fourth inning, the Braves had two on and two out, and Garcia popped up, high in the air and a little down the first base line.
The ball should have been caught by Grandal or first baseman Cody Bellinger, but neither was anywhere close to the play, so Wood scrambled over to make the play - and dropped the ball for an error. That gave the Braves a 4-0 lead.
The fifth inning, well, that was all on Wood. Freddie Freeman started the inning with a home run. Garcia capped the scoring with a grand slam - on an 0-2 pitch, no less - to give the Braves a 9-0 lead.
On the mound, Garcia gave up three runs in seven innings. He threw fewer pitches in seven innings than Wood threw in 42/3.
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