MCT Los Angeles
It was a challenge for Josh Reddick to get to Dodger Stadium for his first home game with his new team after the right fielder was acquired with pitcher Rich Hill from Oakland on Monday.
What would normally be a 20-minute drive from Glendale to Chavez Ravine took an hour for Reddick, a self-described “Southern guy from Georgia who is not used to traffic at all.” Even with the stadium in sight, Reddick said, “It took four entrances and three wrong-way turns to get in here.”
Reddick looked just as lost at the plate against Boston Red Sox knuckleballer Steven Wright, but his misery had plenty of company.
Wright’s tantalizingly slow pitches, which ranged from 63-77 mph, dipped and darted all over the strike zone and left the Dodgers baffled and bewildered.
Wright, who went to high school in Moreno Valley, held the Dodgers to three hits, struck out nine and walked one in a complete-game effort that led the Red Sox to a 9-0 victory.
Boston catcher Sandy Leon drove in four runs, two on a fourth-inning homer off Dodgers starter Scott Kazmir, and the Red Sox blew the game open with a five-run, five-hit, one-error eighth inning off relievers Jesse Chavez and J.P. Howell.
There are so few knuckleball pitchers that it’s difficult to prepare for them, especially one you might see once every three years or so in interleague play.
Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts had third base coach Chris Woodward, “our in-house knuckleballer,” float a few pitches to hitters in the batting cage, but a facsimile of Wright, an All-Star this season, Woodward is not.
“I think you have to take an old-school approach,” Roberts said. “If you see it high, let it fly.”
The other half of that adage is “if it’s low, let it go,” but it didn’t really matter that Roberts omitted it. Wright’s pitches moved all over the zone – high, low, inside, outside – and the Dodgers did almost nothing with them.
They tried swinging hard. That didn’t work. They swung soft. Nothing. Joc Pederson even let a pitch hit him in the front knee in the eighth inning, but umpire Jim Wolf did not reward Pederson first base, ruling the batter made no attempt to get out of the way. After Justin Turner’s one-out double to right in the first inning, Wright (13-5) retired 19 of the next 20 batters, his only blemish a third-inning walk to Pederson. Of his 119 pitches, 78 were strikes.
Reddick was the only Dodger to have faced Wright before, and he had four hits in six previous at-bats against him. He drove a fly ball to the warning track in the first but struck out swinging on a 66-mph pitch in the fourth and looking at a 72-mph floater in the seventh. He popped to short to end the game.
Kazmir had to be nearly perfect to match Wright, and he wasn’t despite breezing through a scoreless, 12-pitch first inning, no small feat for a guy who yielded an 8.14 earned-run average and .917 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in the opening inning of his first 21 starts.
The left-hander also subdued nemesis Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox second baseman who entered with a career .519 average (22 for 43) and two homers against Kazmir.
Pedroia grounded into a double play in the first inning and grounded out in the third before departing in the fourth because of a left-shin contusion suffered when he fouled a pitch off his front leg in his second at-bat.
But Kazmir could not keep Boston off the board in the second, third and fourth innings, his trouble starting with a leadoff walk to Hanley Ramirez in the second, Kazmir’s first free pass in four games.
Jackie Bradley grounded into a fielder’s choice, took third on Aaron Hill’s single and scored on Leon’s sacrifice fly to left for a 1-0 lead. Mookie Betts lined a 78-mph Kazmir changeup for a solo homer to left and a 2-0 Red Sox lead in the third. Kazmir retired the first two batters of the fourth before walking Hill.
Indians 7 Yankees 13
Reds 2 Pirates 3
Giants 1 Nationals 5
Twins 6 Rays 2
Mets 3 Tigers 4
Rangers 0 Astros 5
Orioles 7 White Sox 5
Braves 0 Cardinals 1
Blue Jays 4 Royals 3
Marlins 5 Rockies 3
Brewers 2 Diamondbacks 3
Cubs 7 Athletics 2
Angels 4 Mariners 6
Red Sox 9 Dodgers 0
Phillies 5 Padres 4
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