LOS ANGELES — In the first meeting for the West Coast rivals in more than two months, the Los Angeles Dodgers showed their visitors from the north that new identity they have been working on.
“There is no pressure and [Roberts] throws you in situations where you have a good chance to succeed,” Toles said. “I don’t see any pressure or anything like that.”
Nobody looked pressured in what has been billed as a key late-season series, amid games that figure to weigh large when the division is decided on the first weekend of October. The Dodgers returned home from a productive road trip to deliver 14 hits after pounding out 21 on Monday against the Reds.
It might have been the first game of a showdown series Tuesday, but for the Dodgers it was simply a carbon copy of what they have been doing for some time now, all the way down to the five-inning outing from another starter.
Kenta Maeda was far from efficient in throwing 103 pitches over five innings of work, but it was plenty to outduel Bumgarner, who lasted only five innings himself while giving up five run and nine hits. The Dodgers have now won each of the last five times Bumgarner has pitched against them.
The question remains, how long can the Dodgers keep up their offensive sense of urgency? Their lead is only two games after all, with eight games remaining between these two teams, the last three of which are in San Francisco to end the season.
Can the Dodgers really run away from the competition on the back of a less-than-efficient starting staff? Or at the very least, can the staff, which has endured one injury after another, keep doing just enough until Clayton Kershaw is able to return?
“You know what, I just know that we will be ready to play tomorrow and ready to win a game tomorrow,” Roberts said. “That’s been our focus, to not try to get too far ahead of ourselves. I think people can ask questions like, ‘Can we sustain it?’ But I think that we can prepare to win a game tomorrow and after that we will be ready for the next day. That approach has worked up to this point, and that is what we will continue to do.”
And as long as Seager is on a 14-game hit streak, Gonzalez is on a 16-gamer and Turner has hit safely in 17 of his last 19, there are plenty of reasons to think the Dodgers’ current play is sustainable.
“We struggled early in the year and now we’re doing our part,” Gonzalez said of the offense. “The season has its ups and downs, and at the end of the season it will come together as a unit. Right now we’re swinging the bats pretty well.”
“He’s got one Thursday, so I’ll give him one on Thursday,” Girardi said before the Yankees’ 5-1 win over the Mariners, cracking one of his signature jokes, because the Yankees have no game Thursday.
Girardi had planned on giving Sanchez the day off Tuesday or Wednesday, but because Sanchez is so hot at the plate, the manager gave Sanchez only a half-day. Sanchez was the Yankees DH and — can you believe it? — didn’t homer. He did have a single in four at-bats.
“Defensively, he has been just as good as offensively,” Girardi said.
While he is the biggest reason to watch the Yankees on a daily basis, he is not the reason the Yankees won Tuesday.
The big-money guys, CC Sabathia and Jacoby Ellsbury, led the way on the field. Sabathia pitched seven innings of one-run ball, and Ellsbury hit a two-run homer. Sabathia improved to 8-10 with a 4.33 ERA.
“He’s pitched a lot better than his ERA,” Girardi said.
The Yankees needed to come in here and sweep to bolster their faint wild-card chances. They are five games out of the second spot.