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Ohtani To The Rescue

Shohei Ohtani ended the Reds-Dodgers weekend series in LA with his first Dodgers walk-off hit - Image Credit: Emma Sharon/Latino Sports

LOS ANGELES, CA — On another beautiful afternoon in Southern California, the 31-17 Dodgers find themselves atop the N.L. West, 7.5 games ahead of the Padres. With San Diego in Atlanta today and L.A. facing the 19-27 Reds, they could distance themselves more in this early part of the baseball season. They will face 6′ 5″/242 24-year-old righty Hunter Greene, who grew up in the shadows of Dodger Stadium, where he attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks. The same High School that has given us Giancarlo Stanton. He could pause the Dodger’s plans to pull further away from the rest of the N.L. West.

Greene, a formidable opponent, comes into the game at 2-2 with an ERA of 3.27 and 58 strikeouts. He was the number two pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, signing for $7.2 million, and is now under contract with the Reds for six years at $53 million. His arsenal includes 99-98 mph fastballs, 87 mph splitters, 88 mph sliders, 91 mph changeups, and 81 mph curves. The Dodger hitters, undeterred by his reputation, saw a mix of fastballs and breaking ball off-speed pitches to the top of their heavy hitter lineup and a barrage of 98-99-100 mph fastballs to the weaker bottom of the Dodger order.

That, my friends, is good pitching. But the Dodgers were resilient. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Freddie Freeman led off with a sharp single to right, and two batters later, Andy Pages, Habana Cuba, hit the first pitch he saw, an 87 slider into the left field seats to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.

Greene finished with a line of 6.1 innings pitched, two runs, two walks, eight strikeouts, and one home run. He threw 105 pitches, 72 for strikes. A performance worthy of a win. It didn’t help Green that Dominican and Latino Sports MVP Rookie of the Year, Elly De La Cruz, went 0-5 with four strikeouts, three times with runners in scoring position. It happens.

The Dodgers started rookie righty Landon Knack, who was called up today. Knack matched Green for the first four innings, working the entire strike zone, up, down, in, and out, consistently changing speeds on all of his pitches.

But in the top of the fifth inning, Stuart Fairchild and Santiago Espinal, Santiago, Dominican Republic, touched him with back-to-back doubles to make it a one-run game, where he was removed after striking out Luke Maile for the second out. In the top of the seventh inning, Dodger reliever Ryan Yarborough inexplicably threw to an empty first base on a bunt and followed that with an intentional walk to load the bases. Alex Vesia relieved Yarbrough and then walked in the tying run.

The game reached its climax in the bottom of the tenth inning when the Dodgers, with their backs against the wall, emerged victorious. With nerves of steel, Shohei Ohtani delivered a two-out single to score the ghost “free” runner, Jason Heyward, sealing a thrilling 3-2 win for L.A.

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