Lance Lynn’s seven-inning, two-run, five-hit effort in Tuesday night’s 11-2 win over the San Diego Padres wasn’t the kind of dominant start that will fuel hopes that the burly right-hander can take on the playoffs for the Dodgers. rotation or take the team to the World Series in October.
But he provided a much-needed shot in the arm to a staff that was devastated by Dustin May and Tony Gonsolin’s season-ending elbow injuries, by Clayton Kershaw’s velocity-sapping shoulder injury, by Walker Buehler’s aborted return from Tommy John surgery and Julio Urías’ recent arrest on domestic violence charges.
Lynn gave an overworked bullpen respite with a 111-pitch effort in which he struck out three and walked two, and first baseman Freddie Freeman and catcher Will Smith provided most of the offense to help the Dodgers narrow their magic number to clinch their tenth place. National League West title in 11 years at five games.
Freeman celebrated his 34th birthday in style with four hits and four runs, hitting a two-run home run in the third inning and his major league-leading and franchise-record 55th double to right field in the eighth . He now has 121 runs on the season, a career high.
Smith doubled in the first, walked and scored in the third, hit a three-run homer in the fourth and was hit by a pitch and scored in the seventh.
“Yeah, when I walked in today and saw all this here, I let out a laugh,” said Freeman, whose locker in the corner of the clubhouse was filled with blue and silver balloons, boxes of cookies and a case of goodies. wine. given to him by teammate Jason Heyward, who has the locker next door.
“I kind of knew who was responsible: that’s my locker mate here. He’s just amazing. All the kids started wishing me happy birthday around 10 when I woke up, so that was just nice. Everyone let me know it was my birthday.”
A mariachi band serenaded Freeman with a birthday song before the top of the second inning, and a crowd of 42,194 at Chavez Ravine chanted his name: “Freddie! Freddie!” – in the ninth.
“You have a four-story stadium, the only one in baseball, you have 50,000 people here every night, going out of their way to make you feel good about doing your job, it means a lot,” Freeman said. “I appreciate it.”
Lynn went 4-0 with a 2.03 ERA in his first five starts for the Dodgers following the July 28 trade with the Chicago White Sox, but was rocked for 15 earned runs and 14 hits — six of them homers — in nine innings of his next two starts, losses to Atlanta and Miami.
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“The last two starts haven’t been good and I think that was a wake-up call for Lance,” manager Dave Roberts said before the game. “Not that he needs it, but he takes it personally. He’s a pro and I expect him to come out and fill the strike zone, make quality pitches and put us in a position to win.
Lynn did just that despite serving up his Major League-record 41st home run, a solo shot by Fernando Tatis Jr. in the fifth inning.
Lynn escaped a two-on, no-out jam in a 26-pitch first inning by getting Juan Soto to third, Manny Machado flying out to the warning track in right and striking out Xander Bogaerts in a full-count, 94 mph fastball.
Dodgers shortstop Kiké Hernández made a superb backhand strike off Tatis’ 111 mph one-hopper and fired to second baseman Mookie Betts to start a double play to end the third.
The Padres loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth on Soto’s double, Machado’s single and Bogaerts’ walk, but Lynn minimized the damage by retiring Trent Grisham on a fielder’s choice RBI (a bunt to third), Matthew Batten flying out on the right and Brett Sullivan flying on the left.
“I don’t think Lance had the command tonight — everyone in the ballpark saw he was trying to find his delivery, the ball was doing some weird things and he was getting some bad counts, some walks there,” Roberts said. “But he made suggestions when he needed them.
“Kiké’s double play and that fourth inning, when they had the bases loaded and Grisham bunted, got us out of the inning. This changed the game. The guy who hit on the six hole bunted…basically did us a favor, because they had [Lynn] on the strings. He recovered and passed seven.
Freeman got the Dodgers’ offense going with a single to center with one out in the first inning. He took third on Smith’s double to left and scored on Max Muncy’s sacrifice fly to center for a 1-0 lead.
Hernández led off the third with a single to right, and Freeman drove a home run to left-center, his 26th of the season, for a 3-0 lead. Smith, Muncy and J.D. Martinez walked to load the bases, and David Peralta’s fielder’s choice made it 4-0.
The Padres scored in the top of the fourth, but the Dodgers responded with three more runs in the bottom half of the inning, Hernández reaching on a one-out infield single, Freeman hitting a two-out single to right and Smith dunked a three. -run a homer to center — his first extra-base homer since Sept. 3 and first homer since Aug. 29 — for a 7-1 lead.
The Dodgers tacked on two insurance runs in the seventh, loading the bases with no outs off reliever Nick Hernandez and scoring on Chris Taylor’s RBI single and Outman’s sacrifice fly out to veteran lefty Rich Hill, and two in the eighth on the two-run double by Martinez. to separate.
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Hurt’s impressive debut
The Dodgers promoted another highly regarded pitching prospect, Kyle Hurt, from Triple-A Oklahoma City, and the 25-year-old right-hander shone in his big league debut.
Hurt replaced Lynn to start the eighth inning and retired the heart of the Padres’ order: Tatis on a fly ball to center, Soto on a grounder to shortstop and Machado on a grounder to third. He then eliminated the team in order—Garrett Cooper, Grisham and Batten—in the ninth.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Hurt, a Rancho Santa Fe native who played at USC, had the highest strikeout rate in the minors, going 4-4 with a 3.87 ERA, 145 strikeouts and 41 walks in 88⅓ innings over 25 games (16 starts) for Double-A Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
Ranked as the organization’s 12th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline, Hurt features a fastball that sits between 93-96 mph and touches 98, a plus changeup, a tight slider and a curveball.
Hurt, who will provide length out of the bullpen, was a fifth-round pick of the Marlins in 2020. He was acquired along with lefty Alex Vesia for reliever Dylan Floro prior to the 2021 season.
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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.