Dodgers look flat on Shohei Ohtani bobblehead night

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Long lines snaked out from Dodger Stadium entrances a good three hours before Thursday night’s game, and most of the 53,527 fans in attendance were in their seats well before first pitch, a rarity for the notoriously late-arriving Chavez Ravine crowds.

The draw? It was Shohei Ohtani bobblehead night, the two-way star’s first as a Dodger since signing a 10-year, $700-million deal in December, with a doll of the slugger in his batting stance given to the first 40,000 fans through the turnstiles.

“It’s great for Shohei, it’s good for the Dodgers,” manager Dave Roberts said before the game against the Cincinnati Reds. “I mean, it’s gonna be a hot-ticket item for fans lucky enough to grab one of those.”

There were plenty of Ohtani bobbleheads on eBay Thursday night, with asking prices as high as $5,000.

For those who arrived too late to get an Ohtani bobblehead, the Dodgers can commiserate. They, too, left Chavez Ravine empty handed, managing only four singles–one a bloop, one that didn’t leave the infield–against seven pitchers in a 7-2 loss to a struggling Reds team that had lost 15 of its previous 19 games. It’s the first time since 2018 that Dodgers have gone without an extra base hit in two straight games.

Cincinnati shortstop Elly De La Cruz had four hits, a walk, an RBI and a career-high four stolen bases, and Dodgers ace Tyler Glasnow was roughed up for four runs and six hits in five innings, as the Dodgers lost their second straight game, their first such streak since they lost three in a row to Washington and the New York Mets on April 17-20.

“It’s fun to watch him,” Roberts said of De La Cruz, the 22-year-old switch-hitter who leads the major leagues with 30 stolen bases. “He’s that classic five-tool player, and there’s nothing on the baseball field he can’t do. You try to keep guys like that at bay, but you get caught up at times admiring the talent.”

The loss was particularly disappointing for Ohtani, who walked, popped out to the catcher and struck out on a night he hosted the family of Albert Lee, a 13-year-old UCLA Health pediatric patient who has survived three open-heart surgeries, one as an infant, in his private stadium suite.

Ohtani gave Lee, a San Bernardino resident and youth league slugger who will graduate from middle school this month, a jersey in a pregame meeting, and Lee threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Ohtani.

“Ideally, we wanted to win today’s game,” Ohtani said through interpreter Will Ireton, “but I hope the person who threw out the ceremonial pitch enjoyed the game.”

Asked how special it is to share these kinds of moments with young fans, especially those going through challenging health situations, Ohtani said, “If I was a child, I would be very happy as well. It’s something that I kind of wanted to return.”

The Reds used three pitchers to cover the first two innings before turning to right-hander Nick Martinez, who entered to start the third and threw five one-hit innings, striking out four and walking none, to earn the victory.

Cincinnati broke open a 4-0 game with three runs in the ninth off reliever Nick Ramirez for a 7-0 lead to snap the Dodgers’ string of 22 games in which they had held an opponent to four runs or less since April 21, a franchise record.

The Dodgers avoided the shutout when Gavin Lux grounded a bases-loaded, two-out, two-run single to right field in the bottom of the ninth.

Glasnow was nearly untouchable in his previous four starts, going 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA, striking out 39 and walking six in 28 innings and yielding a .158 average (15 for 95), but Thursday night was more of a grind.

The right-hander needed 92 pitches to complete five innings. Though he struck out eight and walked one, the Reds fouled off 22 of his pitches, including 13 of his 43 four-seam fastballs, a pitch that induced only three swinging strikes.

“You could see he didn’t have the command or the feel that he’s had during this run, but give those guys credit,” Roberts said. “They took good at-bats early, they got the pitch count up, and they spoiled a lot of fastballs. You could tell they were on the fastball early, and he couldn’t land or get swing-and-miss early with his breaking ball.”

Reds leadoff man Will Benson opened the game with a 439-foot home run to right field. De La Cruz followed with a single to center and stole second, and he scored on Tyler Stephenson’s two-out RBI double to left for a 2-0 lead.

De La Cruz led off the third with a ground-rule double to left and swiped third. Glasnow struck out Mike Ford with an 84-mph curveball and Spencer Steer with a 96-mph fastball, but Stephenson dunked a two-out, broken-bat RBI single into right-center for a 3-0 Cincinnati lead.

De La Cruz generated another run with his speed in the fifth when he drew a one-out walk and stole second and third. Ford struck out looking at an 88-mph slider, and Steer struck out on a nasty 90-mph slider in the dirt, but the pitch bounced past catcher Austin Barnes and to the backstop, allowing De La Cruz to score for a 4-0 lead.

“Yeah, just not a lot of rhythm, just kind of stiff today,” Glasnow said. “I think as the game went on later, I started to feel a little better. I just think it was leaving stuff out over the heart of the zone.”

According to ESPN Stats & Info, De La Cruz’s 30 stolen bases is the most through a team’s first 44 games since Kenny Lofton swiped 41 bags in that same span in 1996.

Lofton finished with 75 stolen bases that season; De La Cruz, who has more stolen bases than 18 of 30 major league teams, is on pace for 110 stolen bases.

In what amounted to a Pyrrhic victory for the Dodgers, Barnes threw out De La Cruz attempting to steal second base to end the seventh inning, only the fifth time this season the Reds speedster has been caught stealing.

“He’s a really good player,” Ohtani said of De La Cruz. “I do believe the team really rallied around him today. It was a very impressive performance tonight.”

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