Welcome back, Brandon McCarthy.
The veteran right-hander was brilliant in his return from Tommy John surgery, throwing five shutout innings as the Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Colorado Rockies 4-1 on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
McCarthy (1-0) made his first MLB start since April 25, 2015 and picked up right where he left off, as he remains unbeaten as a Dodger, earning his first victory of the season, and the ninth in a row for the Dodgers at home.
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"I felt surprisingly normal. Weirdly, it felt like I had just taken a week off from last year and was a continuation," McCarthy said of his start. "In the past I've come off rehab and felt like a hyped up rookie. Today I was able to stay calm."
The lanky, 6-foot-7-inch starter became the 11th different Dodger starting pitcher this season after he allowed no runs on two hits with eight strikeouts in five scoreless innings, piggy-backing off Bud Norris and Scott Kazmir, his predecessors, who also had scoreless outings in the series.
"All the guys they've really taken it, embraced it and stepped up," Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said of the rotation in light of losing Clayton Kershaw to the disabled list. "The momentum is the next day's starter and so we're enjoying a lot of good things in this series and are looking forward to Julio making a good start for us tomorrow."
The Dodgers gave McCarthy a three-run lead when they scored three runs in the second inning off Rockies' starter Jon Gray. After a surrendering a solo home run to Trayce Thompson, Gray went wild, walking three straight batters and hitting another as LA took a 3-0 lead into the third inning.
"He threw a lot of fastballs, I wasn't trying to do to much, but I got the barrel on it and the ball travels well here during the day," Thompson said of his home run. "I was just trying to do what I can to help the team win."
Gray (5-4) took the loss, allowing three runs on six hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five innings of work for the Rockies. It was just Gray's second loss in his last eight starts overall.
Both teams exchanged alternating solo shots in the seventh inning as Daniel Descalso put Colorado on the scoreboard with his second home run of the season.
Ironically, both Descalso's home runs this year have come at Dodger stadium in late innings against the Dodgers' bullpen. The former St. Louis Cardinal must love hitting at Chavez Ravine as he's batting .438 with a double, three homers and nine RBI here.
Yasmani Grandal got the run right back for the boys in blue in the bottom half of the seventh inning as he took Rockies reliever, Chad Qualls, deep for his eighth home run of the season. Seven of the eight have come at home.
"I like playing here better than I like playing anywhere else," Grandal said of his power surge at Dodger Stadium. "I'm not sure why I have so many home runs here compared to anywhere else, but I can tell you one thing, I'd rather hit here then in Colorado and not a lot of people would say that."
Corey Seager extended his season-high hitting-streak to 16 games with a single in the first inning. The rookie shortstop, now has the longest active streak in the Major Leagues.
"Nothing really changes, I'm just grinding out at-bats," Seager said of the streak. "I'm just trying to get good pitches, put good swings on it, and thankfully I'm not missing right now."
Things got crazy as multiple protestors ran on the field in the middle of the ninth inning, but security quickly tackled the interrupters and dragged them off the field.
"When I see people do that, for me as a player, especially in the ninth inning with my closer in there, the last thing I want is for him to have to stop," Grandal said of the protesters. "I can't say it didn't go through my head that it would affect his rhythm, but we have a lot of confidence in Kenley."
"In today's day, there's so many different ways to let people know what you believe in, but to do it at a baseball game it's not worth it. First of all, you're gonna get hit hard. Second of all, you're gonna get fined, third of all you're probably going to jail, and finally, you never get to come to Dodger Stadium again," concluded Grandal.
Dodgers' closer Kenley Jansen didn't seem bothered by the disturbance, as he struck out Nolan Arenado on the next pitch, en route to a scoreless ninth inning for his 24th save of the season.
LA is now a season-high 10 games over .500 after their fifth series sweep of the season.
"We haven't even reached the top, not yet," Grandal said of the surging Dodgers. "We're definitely getting there. It seems like we're getting much better at-bats, the hard hits are going through, we're executing with two strikes, we're getting runs with two outs, all that is coming around and we're coming together at the perfect time."
Meanwhile, the Rockies are reeling with their fifth loss in a row.
Players of the Game:
Brandon McCarthy: No runs on 2 hits with 8 strikeouts in 5 IP.
Trayce Thompson: Solo home run.
Yasmani Grandal: Solo home run.
1. There's No Place Like Home: The Los Angeles Dodgers have now won a season-high nine consecutive games at Dodger Stadium. The nine-game winning streak at home is the longest since April 13 thru May 6 of 2009 when they won 13 consecutive games at Chavez Ravine.
2. Let's Go Streaking: Corey Seager's 16-game hitting streak is not only the longest active streak in the Major Leagues, but it is tied for the third longest streak by a rookie in Dodgers franchise history with Steve Sax and Andre Ethier.
The Corey Seager hit streak is longest in the NL this year. And it's tied with Ethier and Sax for 3rd longest by a Dodgers rookie. — Doug Padilla (@DougPadilla) July 3, 2016
3. The Reliever: Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher, Adam Liberatore, pitched s scoreless sixth inning, bringing his scoreless innings streak to 16 in 21 games this season. Liberatore is now two games shy of the franchise record of 23 scoreless games by a reliever set by John Candalaria in 1991. Candelaria accomplished the streak in just 15.1 innings, a mark that Liberatore has already surpassed during his streak.
Rockies (37-44): Colorado heads to the bay to take on the San Francisco Giants on Monday.
Dodgers (47-37): LA will look to keep rolling at home as they take on the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles on Monday, Fourth of July. 19-year-old Julio Urias will take the mound at 6:10PM PST.