Some night, Kenta Maeda will come back to Earth. Earth has this relentless habit of knocking its residents down. I don’t know why Earth is hostile like this. Maybe it feels unappreciated.
Or maybe Earth is just testing us. Because tonight, just when terra firma was ready to terra new one in Maeda, Maeda shook loose and soared again.
Maeda walked two of the first four batters he faced and went 3-0 in the count to the fifth, but recovered to complete seven superb innings in the National League West-leading Dodgers’ 3-1 victory over San Francisco.
Coming back (not unexpectedly) from Saturday’s disappointment, Joc Pederson hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the fifth to put Maeda and the Dodgers ahead, and Yasiel Puig added an insurance run in the seventh with a single, stolen base and mad dash home on Yasmani Grandal’s RBI hit.
Grandal, by the way, went 4 for 5 with three walks and two doubles this weekend in his first back-to-back starts of 2016. Pederson now has a .514 slugging percentage and .830 OPS this season.
Maeda’s career-opening scoreless streak ended in his 15th MLB inning with a third-inning Joe Panik home run, leaving him just shy of Dave Stewart’s Los Angeles Dodger record of 18 1/3. But after using 24 pitches in his first inning, Maeda needed only 74 more to reach a season-high seven innings.
He faced the minimum nine batters over his final three innings, capping his outing by starting a 1-6-4 double play when Giants starter Jeff Samadzija remained in the game to bunt.
In 19 innings as a Dodger, Maeda has a 0.47 ERA with 15 strikeouts against 18 baserunners. With runners in scoring position, opponents are 0 for 14 against Maeda.