Dodgers aim to regain momentum in home opener vs. Nationals

MLB

The last two World Series winners meet when the Washington Nationals visit the Los Angeles Dodgers for a weekend series beginning Friday.

The teams haven’t met since the 2019 NL Division Series, which Washington won three games to two.

The Dodgers, who have won five of seven as they enter their home opener, are hitting .310 as a team, led by Corey Seager (.423), Max Muncy (.375) and Chris Taylor (.357). Catcher Will Smith has two of L.A.’s seven home runs.

Dodgers right-hander Walker Buehler makes his second start. He allowed two runs over six innings, while striking out four, in a no-decision against the Rockies on April 3.

“I felt good,” Buehler said. “The velocity is not kind of where we want it, but adrenaline and all that will help. Overall, pretty good. I kind of battled through it a little bit, I guess. Get back to work and keep going.”

Buehler is 0-1 with a 3.38 ERA in three regular-season games (two starts) versus Washington. But in the 2019 Division Series, he went 1-0 with 0.71 ERA in two starts, including 6 2/3 innings of one-run pitching in the Game 5 loss.

The Dodgers were on the verge of winning their sixth straight game on Wednesday, but Oakland got a run off of closer Kenley Jansen to tie it in the ninth and won it in the 10th. Jansen, pitching on consecutive days for the first time this season, struggled with his control.

“That’s just uncharacteristic for him to not have the command like that,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There were some misfires in there, some spiked fastballs that typically doesn’t happen with him. We’ll dig into it.”

The Dodgers played without Cody Bellinger, who was spiked in the calf Monday in Oakland, and Mookie Betts (stiff lower back). Bellinger may be headed for the injured list, but Betts could play Friday.

Washington remains without pitchers Patrick Corbin, Jon Lester and Brad Hand, catchers Yan Gomes and Alex Avila, infielders Josh Bell, Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer, and outfielder Kyle Schwarber. They were placed on the injured list to start the season following a COVID-19 outbreak last week. Four players tested positive, and others were close contacts.

Before Wednesday’s doubleheader loss to the Braves, manager Dave Martinez said some of the quarantined players could return this weekend, depending on the logistics.

“It’s a possibility, it really is,” Martinez said. “The good news is these guys are testing negative with the nasal swab and the saliva test. They have been, so that’s encouraging for us.”

Martinez has been forced to rely on players from the Nationals’ alternative site to fill some of the gaps.

Infielder Hernan Perez started all three games against the Braves, catcher Tres Barrera made his first major-league start, pitchers Sam Clay and Cody Wilson made their debuts. Prospect Carter Kieboom, who was sent down at the end of spring training, returned.

“Regardless of what you want to say, they’re a big part of our club,” Martinez said. “And they’re going to help us. It just so happened that they had to come up here and help us now. But I see these guys coming up here and helping us throughout the whole year.”

Right-hander Joe Ross makes his first start since 2019 after opting to sit out the 2020 season. He’s 0-2 with a 7.02 ERA in four games (two starts) against the Dodgers.

–Field Level Media

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