Another Miguel Rojas hit means another Dodgers win in shutout versus White Sox


The panel was stumped Monday night, with no one in the Dodgers’ clubhouse able to explain one of baseball’s most peculiar streaks, one that was extended in a 3-0 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Though Miguel Rojas is having a strong season by his standards, batting .284 with three homers, 11 doubles and 15 RBIs in 49 games, the veteran infielder is hardly the straw that stirs the drink in a lineup that features Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith, Teoscar Hernández and —before they were hurt — Mookie Betts and Max Muncy.

But the Dodgers are now 23-0 in games in which Rojas gets a hit, and he had two more of them Monday, none bigger than his leadoff double to spark a two-run seventh-inning rally in a scoreless game against the woeful White Sox.

“I don’t think there’s any rationale behind it, but I guess you gotta keep betting on it, right?” manager Dave Roberts said. “It’s one of those things where if it keeps hitting red [in roulette], you gotta keep hitting red or black. I’ll take it. As long as he keeps getting hits, I know he’s happy and we win baseball games.”

Kiké Hernández, who drove in Rojas with a double to left field in the seventh, looked befuddled when asked about the streak.

“I don’t know — I can’t explain that [stuff],” Hernández said. “But numbers don’t lie. When he gets a hit, we win. Everybody knows what he brings on defense, and he puts up a quality, professional at-bat each and every time. He’s finding grass, finding hits. He’s been huge for us.”

Even Rojas, who has transitioned from a part-time utility role to more of a full-time shortstop after Betts suffered a left-hand fracture when he was hit by a pitch on June 16, struggled to explain his streak.

“I don’t know — I just feel like whatever this is, I’m just trying to do my job, which is trying to get on base, trying to get hits,” Rojas said. “And, I mean, it’s been great. I’m just gonna enjoy it and ride it out until we’re like 40-0.”

Rojas was first made aware of the streak during a June 7-9 series at Yankee Stadium, but the streak gained an almost mythical quality on June 18, when the Dodgers scored seven runs in the ninth inning of an 11-9 win at Colorado. Rojas was hitless in three at-bats before he followed an Andy Pages walk with a single in the ninth.

“It was kind of scary in Colorado because I was 0 for 3 until the last inning, when we were down by five and I decided to get a hit,” Rojas said. “As soon as I got the hit, I told [first base coach] Clayton McCullough, ‘Be ready, because we’re gonna win this game.’ ”

Before the Dodgers rallied for Monday night’s win, they had to outlast White Sox left-hander Garrett Crochet, who runs his four-seam fastball up to 99 mph and complements it with a nifty 92.5-mph cutter, a two-pitch mix that he has used to go 6-6 with a 3.05 ERA and a major league-leading 130 strikeouts in 17 starts this season.

Crochet, who is expected to be one of the best starting pitchers on the market before the July 30 trade deadline, was dominant in 5 ⅔ scoreless innings Monday night, giving up five hits, striking out six and walking none, and he is 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA, 90 strikeouts, 12 walks and a .179 opponents average over his last 11 starts.

He shut down baseball’s hottest hitter, the newly crowned National League player of the week, by striking out Ohtani swinging at a 91-mph cutter in the first inning, inducing a grounder to shortstop in the third and blowing a 98-mph fastball by him for a called third strike in the fifth.

He escaped a two-on, two-out jam by getting Rojas to ground out to second and a first-and-third, two-out jam by getting Andy Pages to ground out to third in the third.

“He’s really good,” Hernández said. “He was mainly a two-pitch pitcher throughout the night, mixed in some changeups, but he throws really fast.”

Dodgers left-hander James Paxton doesn’t throw nearly as hard as Crochet, but he was just as effective, relying almost exclusively on his four-seam fastball and knuckle-curve to blank the White Sox on three hits through five innings, striking out six and walking three.

Though he needed 91 pitches to complete five innings, Paxton induced a season-high 18 swinging strikes. He induced 15 swinging strikes in his previous start at Colorado.

“Just executing the curveball better, getting it down in the zone, bouncing it when I want to,” Paxton said. “I feel like before, I was leaving it in the zone and wasn’t bouncing it. That doesn’t get you swing and miss. … I was able to get the fastball up in the zone where I wanted it. Got some outs there too.”

The Dodgers finally broke through against reliever Steven Wilson in the seventh. Rojas doubled and took third on pinch-hitter Gavin Lux’s grounder to first base. Hernández looped an RBI double to left for a 1-0 lead.

Chris Taylor followed with a slow roller to shortstop Paul DeJong, who threw wildly past first base for an error that allowed Hernández to score for a 2-0 lead and Taylor to take second.

Left-hander Tanner Banks replaced Wilson and got Jason Heyward to pop out to third. Ohtani walked to put two on, and with Will Smith up, the skies opened up, a sudden downpour causing a 30-minute rain delay.

Play resumed with a flash of lightning and a bolt of thunder, and after Smith walked to load the bases, Freddie Freeman flied out to deep left to end the inning.

The Dodgers tacked on an insurance run in the ninth when Taylor singled, took second on a wild pitch, third on Heyward’s grounder to second base and scored on Ohtani’s sacrifice fly to center for a 3-0 lead.

Daniel Hudson, Yohan Ramirez, Evan Phillips and Alex Vesia threw scoreless innings in relief of Paxton, Vesia retiring the side in order in the ninth for his fourth save.

Pages raced in from center field to make a nice sliding catch of a Danny Mendick flare in the seventh and went to the wall for DeJong’s drive with a runner on second to end the eighth.



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