The Sports Report: Dodgers lose another one

The Sports Report: Dodgers lose another one

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: Close games, for a variety of reasons, have tormented the Dodgers this season. The offense flops or the defense falters or the bullpen implodes. Most times it’s a combination that ends with disappointment in extra innings. It’s been a maddening wrinkle since the middle of April for the defending champions.

On Wednesday, all those ingredients produced a numbing loss amidst a brutal stretch of stunning defeats. The Dodgers cracked in all departments and blew four leads in a 6-5, 11-inning loss to the Chicago Cubs on Anthony Rizzo’s two-out walk-off single.

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They were swept out of Wrigley Field and traveled to Southern California 1-6 after two legs of their three-city, 10-game road trip, which continues in Anaheim on Friday. They’re 4-13 – the second-worst record in the majors during the stretch – after starting the season a major-league-best 13-2.

The Dodgers (17-15) fell to 4-9 in one-run games and 1-6 in extra-inning contests. They’ve dropped three extra-inning games on this trip despite being one out from a win in all three.

“We’re absolutely frustrated,” said first baseman Max Muncy, who went 2 for 4 with a home run and a double. “We’re way better than this. Period.”

Those tuning into the Dodgers’ television or radio broadcasts Wednesday not only heard the play-by-play announcers and color analysts calling the game from an empty Dodger Stadium, but a Los Angeles Fire Department awards banquet held on the field for most of the game. Mayor Eric Garcetti’s speech was audible. It was an unusual, and distracting, background whirr.

More than 2,000 miles away, the Dodgers were dealing with their own fire primarily ignited by a lack of offense. They scored three or fewer runs in 10 of their previous 16 games and four total runs in two losses to the Cubs (15-16) on Tuesday.

“Ultimately, we’ve lost the games in extra innings, but I don’t think that’s the reason we’re losing baseball games,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There’s a lot of things that lead to getting into extra innings. So, it’s just playing all-around better baseball, in every facet of the game.”

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LAKERS-CLIPPERS

Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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Andrew Greif on the Clippers: Coaches riding a three-game losing streak rarely appear as upbeat as Tyronn Lue did Tuesday.

The Clippers’ coach had good reason, having begun his pregame videoconference with a statement he hadn’t been able to say since April 11 — guard Patrick Beverley was healthy enough to play that evening. That return followed All-Star Kawhi Leonard’s own, three nights earlier, after a foot injury had cost him two weeks. The team’s other All-Star, Paul George, was coming off his best month of the season after learning how to manage persistent pain in a bruised toe bone.

“I think the vibe of the team is we’re happy we’re starting to get healthy,” Lue said.

Afforded only two weeks before the postseason to test long-anticipated lineups delayed by injuries, Lue’s position isn’t exactly enviable. To some of his peers, however, even that much time with a mostly healthy roster this late in the season feels like a luxury.

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“He ought to be pretty happy,” Toronto’s Nick Nurse said. “Everybody that plays has multiple, multiple impact players out.”

Case in point: The Clippers’ opponent Thursday — and potentially in the first round of the playoffs too.

The Lakers’ inability to stay healthy has left them fighting to stay out of the NBA’s play-in tournament while creating a scenario that is the inverse of last season, where the Lakers progressively got stronger as the Clippers’ case for championship contention weakened.

During the Lakers’ 21-6 start, Dennis Schroder, LeBron James and Anthony Davis played 442 minutes together, outscoring opponents by 130 points.

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In 38 games since, a span that saw Davis miss 30 games with a calf strain and tendinosis, that trio has shared just 26 minutes together.

The 544 minutes James and Davis have shared during just 25 games this season make the Clippers’ struggles to keep their star pairing of Leonard and George healthy almost pale in comparison; that duo has played 929 minutes together in 39 games.

James will miss Thursday’s matchup and will be day-to-day going forward, coach Frank Vogel said, after his return from a serious ankle injury was cut short after two games. Schroder, their other primary ballhandler, is unavailable after entering the league’s health and safety protocols. Talen Horton-Tucker, who has averaged 11.2 points and 3.4 assists since April 1, is questionable to face the Clippers because of a strained calf.

KINGS

Anze Kopitar

Anze Kopitar

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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Anze Kopitar had an assist to reach 1,000 career points, Gabriel Vilardi scored twice and the Kings eliminated the Arizona Coyotes from playoff contention with a 4-2 win.

The Kings ended Arizona’s hopes and bolstered their own longshot chances in the Coyotes’ home season finale.

Kopitar, who had a goal and an assist Monday, became the fourth Los Angeles player to reach 1,000 career points on Sean Walker’s empty-net goal. Cal Petersen had 28 saves and Jaret Anderson-Dolan also scored for Los Angeles, which trails the Blues by eight points but has five games left.

ANGELS

Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani works the first inning against the Texas Rangers.

Shohei Ohtani

(ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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Mike DiGiovanna on the Angels: Now you see it, now you don’t. That is Shohei Ohtani’s split-fingered fastball in a nutshell, the Angels right-hander using his trademark disappearing pitch to disarm the Tampa Bay Rays for five scoreless innings in Angel Stadium Wednesday night.

Then what initially seemed like a questionable move by manager Joe Maddon and another bullpen meltdown laid Ohtani’s splendid start to waste, the Rays storming back for a 3-1 victory that sent the Angels to their fourth straight loss and 10th loss in 14 games.

Ohtani gave up one hit in five scoreless innings, striking out seven—five with his splitter—and walking six, before wobbling in the sixth, when he walked Yandy Diaz and Joey Wendle to open the inning.

Reliever Chris Rodriguez needed only six pitches to bail out Ohtani, getting Kevin Kiermaier to ground into a fielder’s choice, hitting Francisco Mejia with a pitch to load the bases and inducing an inning-ending double-play grounder from Yoshi Tsutsugo to preserve a 1-0 lead.

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But instead of sticking with the hard-throwing Rodriguez to start the seventh, Maddon handed the ball to Junior Guerra, who walked Brett Phillips and gave up a bloop single to Willy Adames before Brandon Lowe crushed a three-run homer to center to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead.

Maddon revealed afterward that Rodriguez departed because of an injury.

“He had a little bit of a shoulder irritation, so I had to get him out,” Maddon said. “The plan was to have him go back out. He complained of a shoulder.”

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DUCKS

Troy Terry scored the shootout winner in the Ducks’ 3-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night.

Haydn Fleury and Max Jones scored in regulation for the Ducks. Anthony Stolarz made 25 saves and stopped all three attempts in the shootout.

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Terry beat Jordan Binnington with a forehand-backhand combination in the second round of the shootout. Stolarz stopped Ryan O’Reilly in the next round to secure the win.

“Our guys came to play,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “We were able to skate and compete against the very good, very structured team. The guys were real upbeat on the bench, really supporting each other, and we obviously got the outcome that we want.”

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1895 — African American jockey James “Soup” Perkins guides Halma to a wire-to-wire victory in the Kentucky Derby. The 15-year-old joins fellow African American jockey Alonzo Clayton as the youngest jockey to ride a Derby winner.

1917 — Bob Groom of the Browns duplicates teammate Ernie Koob’s feat of the previous day by pitching a 3-0 no-hit victory against the Chicago White Sox in the second game of a doubleheader in St. Louis.

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1944 — Pensive, ridden by Conn McCreary, wins the Kentucky Derby going away by four and a half lengths ahead of Broadcloth. Pensive, who clocks 2:04.2, is third entering the stretch and wears down Broadcloth and Stir Up.

1973 — The New England Whalers beat the Winnipeg Jets 9-6 to win the first World Hockey Association championship.

1976 — Philadelphia’s Reggie Leach ties an NHL playoff record, scoring five goals in the Flyers’ 6-3 win over the Boston Bruins. Maurice Richard and Darryl Sittler also accomplished the feat.

1978 — Affirmed, ridden by Steve Cauthen, holds off Alydar’s late charge for a 1½-length victory in the Kentucky Derby. This is Affirmed’s easiest race against Alydar en route to the Triple Crown. aA1988 — Rick Stiner is 6-for-8 with 11 RBIs and three home runs and Matt Hyde is 6-for-9 with two homers and seven RBIs as Grand Canyon College sets a college scoring record with a 45-15 victory over Denver.

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1991 — Sergei Bubka of the Soviet Union breaks his world outdoor pole vault record and Seppo Raty of Finland smashes the world javelin record during the Toto International Super Track and Field Meet in Japan. Bubka clears 19 feet, 11 inches, breaking his outdoor record of 19-10½. Raty hurls the javelin 301 feet, 9 inches, breaking the world record of 298-6 set.

1998 — Rookie Kerry Wood ties the major league record with 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game, pitching a one-hitter to lead the Chicago Cubs over the Houston Astros 2-0.

2000 — Fusaichi Pegasus, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, is the first favorite to win Kentucky Derby since 1979. Fusaichi Pegasus pays $6.60, becoming the first favorite to win the race since Spectacular Bid.

2001 — Scott Dixon, a 20-year-old rookie, becomes the youngest winner in major open-wheel racing when he holds off Kenny Brack by 0.366 seconds to capture the CART Lehigh Valley Grand Prix.

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2006 — Barbaro storms into the lead at the top of the stretch and wins the Kentucky Derby victory convincingly. Barbaro, ridden by Edgar Prado, wins his sixth consecutive race 6½ lengths ahead of Bluegrass Cat and is the sixth undefeated winner of the Derby.

2006 — Phoenix is the eighth team in NBA history to win a series after trailing 3-1 with a 121-90 victory over the Lakers in Game 7 of its Western Conference opening-round series.

2010 — Johan Franzen scores a natural hat trick in a 3:26 span of the first period, scores a fourth goal in the third, and sets a Red Wings playoff record with six points as Detroit stays alive with a 7-1 rout of the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals.

2011 — James Hylton, at age 76, becomes the oldest driver to make the field in NASCAR’s top three series by qualifying for the Nationwide event at Darlington Raceway. Hylton surpasses his own mark for racing longevity set three years ago when the then-73-year-old started the Nationwide event at Daytona.

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2012 — Dustin Brown scores two goals and the eighth-seeded Kings finish an improbable four-game sweep of the St. Louis Blues with a 3-1 victory, advancing to the conference finals. The Kings become the first No. 8 seed in NHL history to eliminate their conference’s top two seeds in the same postseason. After steamrolling past top-seeded Vancouver and second-seeded St. Louis with eight wins in nine games.

2018 — Marc-Andre Fleury makes 28 saves in his fourth shutout of the playoffs and the expansion Vegas Golden Knights are headed to the Western Conference Final in their inaugural season after beating the San Jose Sharks 3-0 in Game 6 of their second-round series. Vegas becomes the third team in NHL history to win multiple series in its first season.

And finally

Affirmed wins the Kentucky Derby. Watch it here.

Until next time…

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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