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Reds looking for offense as Dodgers seek consistency

Sportsnaut
Apr 14, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) hits a single against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ quest for offensive balance will continue Friday night with a home meeting against the Cincinnati Reds on Jackie Robinson Day.

The Dodgers earned a 9-3 victory in their 2022 home opener against the Reds on Thursday, but the production was limited to three runs in the first inning and six in the eighth.

It was shades of Wednesday at Minnesota, a game better known for Clayton Kershaw’s seven perfect innings, when the Dodgers scored three runs in the first two innings and four more in the final two frames.

“(The offense) is pretty special, but I wish we would spread it over more than a couple of innings here and there,” said Freddie Freeman, who had two hits and scored the go-ahead run in his Dodgers home debut. “Getting three runs and shutting it down for the next six (innings) isn’t ideal, but you can see what we’re capable of.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts tweaked the lineup Thursday. Gavin Lux began the home opener on the bench, even though he led the team over the first five games in batting average (.353) and RBIs (five).

The Dodgers rotated their assets, giving infielder Hanser Alberto his first start of the season at third base and moving Justin Turner to designated hitter, while Max Muncy received a turn at second base. Lux opened with four starts at second and one in left field.

“It’s hard in a vacuum, but looking at what the buildup was, (Lux) has got to have a day off at some point,” Roberts said. “To get Hanser in there, to get Gavin through this series and through the (upcoming Atlanta) Braves series, it’s good.”

The Dodgers will send right-hander Tony Gonsolin (0-0, 3.00 ERA) to the mound on Friday. Gonsolin has faced the Reds just once, a 2 1/3-inning relief appearance last season, when he gave up three earned runs.

The Reds will counter with right-hander Vladimir Gutierrez (0-1, 4.15), who will face the Dodgers for the first time. While his Reds teammate Jonathan India won the National League Rookie of the Year Award last season, Gutierrez finished eighth in the voting after a 9-6 record and an 4.74 ERA in 22 starts.

India might have a chance to play behind Gutierrez. He left Thursday’s game in the fifth inning because of a right-hamstring injury, but manager David Bell said he didn’t expect India to be sidelined long. India had two hits over his first three at-bats Thursday after just five hits over his first six games.

India wasn’t the only one struggling during the opening week. Cincinnati entered the series at Los Angeles with a .198 team batting average and a .268 on-base percentage.

On Thursday, the Reds rebounded to tie the Dodgers at 3 on a two-run home run by Aristides Aquino and a solo shot by Brandon Drury, who replaced India. It all fell apart when the Dodgers came to life in the eighth inning.

After seven games, Reds manager David Bell is not about to pass judgment on his offense.

“It’s not even early yet,” Bell said. “A start is like the first month or two. We feel great about it. We’ve gone up against really good pitching. We liked how we’ve come back. It’s really not fair to really think about that yet.”

–Field Level Media