Put this man in pictures. Kansas City Royals substitute Josh Staumont entered an unspoiled game in the seventh inning, and the Dodgers immediately lit him up with four hits and a walk on his way to an 8-3 win on Friday night.
Staumont hasn’t retired anyone and all five runners haven’t scored, wrapping him in an ERA that’s pure Buzz Lightyear: To Infinity and Beyond!
Dodgers starting player Tony Gonsolin reached the stars with an excellent play in the sixth half and a hit-and-miss play in the seventh. His first shot was retired on the seventh inning, but surrendered two strokes and a run before being lifted after making his third walk in two strokes.
Still, Gonsolin climbed to a pretty remarkable 14-1, with the Dodgers winning Game 11 while his ERA dropped to 2.24. The right-handed player took a 1.62 ERA in the All-Star Game, but has since scored 12 won runs in his first three starts before hitting five goalless hits in his final start. Looks like he’s back in form.
“I felt like I was hitting too much early on all my shots, which was fine,” Gonsolin said. “They were rocking a lot, so I kept counting steps and made some soft contact and the guys put out some good plays.”
In his third year graduating from Azusa Pacific University and La Habra High School, Staumont is normally one of Kansas City’s most trusted bailouts. But he was greeted by singles Gavin Lux and Trayce Thompson, who hit the pincers. After walking Mookie Betts, Trea Turner put the Dodgers on the leaderboard with a two-point single, and Freddie Freeman followed up with an RBI double.
Two innings before Turner, Freeman and Will Smith came in with loaded bases and failed to deliver.
“It was nice to come in and finish the job after a few hits,” Turner said. “The first time in this situation it smells bad but you have to keep your head up because you know you’ll be there again in the same situation in a day or two.”
Exit Staumont. Turner was scored by Luke Weaver on a wild field and Freeman scored in Justin Turner’s sacrifice flight. In the eighth round, Thompson’s home run by three — his third inning — put the game aside.
“He’s trying to rewrite the Scout report on himself,” said coach Dave Roberts of Thompson. “There’s a real belief and intent to blow up baseball and make solid contact… He always had the power but the hit and miss was there. He did a lot to clear that up.”
The Royals started six rookies against the veteran Dodgers and the contrast in approach was evident early on.
Baseball etiquette prohibits anyone from speaking to the starting pitcher before a game. It goes to the idea that I have to completely focus it. Kansas City is a little too friendly for that.
A few hours before the game, a security guard spotted a shaggy-haired young man wearing a backpack over a t-shirt walking through a door about 40 meters away. The guard said, “Hey Daniel! . . . go get them!” The young man smiled, gave the guard a thumbs up and entered the stadium.
The relaxed approach worked for Royals starting player Daniel Lynch, a 6-foot left-hander who scored five goalless hits before a high pitch count forced him to leave.
Meanwhile, Gonsolin’s pre-game ritual was a stark contrast. Wearing earphone-sized earplugs, he walked for 90 minutes, circled the clubhouse and dining room without making eye contact, then took brisk walks through the long tunnel outside the clubhouse to the weight room and back.
“It’s just part of my process, it’s part of my game,” he said.
Gonsolin’s split-finger fastball dive-bombed his strike zone, his slider was sharp, and he commanded his fastball well in five hits. But with a seventh-place win, Vinnie Pasquantino hit a hard single right to end the hit bid.
Shot planted Kershaw in October
Clayton Kershaw was almost dizzy with pleasure after shooting a few hours before the game. His back didn’t hurt, and he said he expects to keep throwing every day and throwing from a bullring mound within a week.
The epidural steroid injection he received on August 6 eased the pain he felt when he emerged from the game against the San Francisco Giants on August 4.
“I didn’t really know what to expect, and I’ve been feeling better for the past three to five days after getting the epidural,” Kershaw said. “It bounces back pretty well.”
The Dodgers lead 16 games over the San Diego Padres in the National League West – losing Fernando Tatis Jr. to an 80-game suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug – ensuring Kershaw and other Dodgers shooters recover from injuries by being methodical in their recovery.
Nobody is rushed. Not Dustin May. Not Walker Buehler. Not Blake Treinen. And not Kershaw.
“It’s definitely a luxury,” Roberts said. “I don’t think we’re going to do it much differently because the health of the players is paramount. But yes, if you can be extra cautious, that’s a plus.”
First, Kershaw has his eye on the postseason.
“I know what I need to do to be ready for October, and I definitely feel we have enough time to achieve all this, which is great,” he said.
Roberts was delighted to see Kershaw so cheerful.
“As you watch him move and talk, Clayton is in some ways an easy book to read,” he said. “He’s talkative and cheerful, and I think that’s a good thing.”
Short jumps: The Dodgers put catcher Austin Barnes on the family emergency list, meaning he’ll be inactive for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days. Tony Wolters was called from the triple A. Wolters, 30, has six years of major league experience and was the Colorado Rockies’ 2019 starting catcher. . . . The wound to his right hand that caused Max Muncy to leave Wednesday’s Minnesota Twins game has healed sufficiently. He served as the designated hitter on Friday, and Roberts said Muncy is scheduled to play third base on Saturday. . . . The Dodgers will tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum on Saturday morning, followed by a Hail to the Negro Leagues event prior to the game at Kauffman Stadium. Buck O’Neil’s Hall of Fame plaque will be displayed publicly during the match. A Kansas citizen for most of his life, O’Neil played in the Negro Leagues from 1937 to 1948, becoming the first Black coach in the National or American leagues in 1962. The Dodgers plan to wear Brooklyn jerseys and caps.
This story was originally published in the Los Angeles Times.