Chase Utley was in attendance at Dodger Stadium on Monday night, and the fans rewarded him with a nice cheer when he was shown on the video board.
Frank Vogel, the Lakers’ coach, was at the game too. When he was shown, the fans barely stirred. As Utley and the Dodgers of the 2010s know all too well, Los Angeles is not impressed with a team that exits the playoffs after one round.
Can the 2021 Dodgers repeat as World Series champions, or might they be excused from the playoffs after one round too? You could find reasons to support either proposition in Monday’s 3-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Dodgers posted their sixth victory in seven games. They joined the San Francisco Giants as the only National League team with 40 wins.
The Dodgers still trail San Francisco by one game, but they have opened a three-game lead on the third-place San Diego Padres. The Dodgers and Padres play three games next week at Petco Park, and whatever urgency there might be in June will not be on the Dodgers’ side.
Will Smith hit a home run, and so did Chris Taylor. The Dodgers won a game in which Mookie Betts, Gavin Lux and Justin Turner were hitless and Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Corey Seager were out with injuries.
Other than the home runs, though, the Dodgers were one-hit. The Dodgers had two chances with runners in scoring position; they went 0 for 2.
Zach McKinstry, manning right field because Betts is needed in center to replace the injured Bellinger, turned the wrong way on one fly ball and had another glance off his glove as he dove for it. Neither one of those plays counted for an error, but Taylor bobbled a ground ball and was charged with an error.
The most pressing concern was Tony Gonsolin, who has made two starts this season and struggled mightily with his control in both.
In his first start, Gonsolin faced 12 batters, walking five and getting five outs. On Monday, he faced 18 batters, walking three and getting 11 outs.
Progress, to be sure, but throwing 81 pitches and failing to survive the fourth inning is problematic.
Gonsolin’s return was supposed to replace “bullpen game” in the fifth spot in the rotation, essentially vacant since Dustin May’s season-ending elbow injury.
However, in his first game, the Dodgers needed five relievers to cover 71/3 innings. On Monday, they needed six relievers to cover 51/3 innings.
In neither case did the relievers give up a run. The Dodgers won. The concerns linger, but this is still a wounded team with a .606 winning percentage and the second-best record in the NL.
Bellinger to IL?
Bellinger played four games for the Dodgers in April, three in May. He has played nine games in June, and the Dodgers are unsure when he might play his next game.
Bellinger strained a hamstring in Friday’s game. If he cannot play by Wednesday, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said the team probably would put the center fielder on the injured list.
If Bellinger cannot run at 100% by then, Roberts said, there would be no sense in taking the risk of playing him and aggravating the injury.
“You don’t want to take the chance and make it a three- to four-week thing,” Roberts said.
Bellinger got a late start to the Cactus League as he recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. In his fourth game of the season, he broke his leg.
“You feel like you get guys back and you’d like to think that now they’re going to be healthy the rest of the way,” Roberts said, “but that’s not the way it always works.”
Dodger Stadium returns to full capacity Tuesday, and the team plans to celebrate by wearing the gold-trimmed championship uniforms it donned when it opened the season April1, before an announced crowd of 20,570.
It is uncertain how close the Dodgers might come to a sellout Tuesday. As of Monday night, tickets on the field, loge and reserve levels were available.