Dodgers fall to Giants, look for boost when Josiah Gray makes his debut Tuesday

San Francisco Giants' Donovan Solano, right, scores on a double by Thairo Estrada as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Will Smith waits for the ball during the seventh inning of a baseball game Monday, July 19, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
The Giants’ Donovan Solano, right, scores on a double by Thairo Estrada as Dodgers catcher Will Smith waits for the ball during the seventh inning Monday night at Dodger Stadium. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Every time a Dodgers starting pitcher is sidelined because of injury or idiocy, the same name is flagged as a potential replacement: Is Josiah Gray ready?

On Tuesday, the answer appears to be yes.

Barring a last-minute change of heart, the Dodgers’ consensus top prospect will follow an opener — a pitcher who will try to get through one or two innings — and attempt to carry the load into the late innings.

And it will occur against the San Francisco Giants, that overachieving bunch led by multiple World Series champions Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt, a cadre of no-names and a surprisingly effective pitching staff.

The Giants began a four-game series at Dodger Stadium on Monday night with the best record in the major leagues, one game ahead of the Dodgers in the National League West.

The teams also play a three-game set next week in San Francisco, so one poor game can be overcome. At least the Dodgers hope so.

The Giants broke open a close game with a four-run seventh inning to win 7-2.

Most of the damage came against left-handed reliever Victor González, who was activated from the injured list earlier in the day.

The outburst marked the first scoring since the first inning. Posey and Wilmer Flores hit back-to-back homers off Tony Gonsolin for a three-run lead in the first only to be answered by consecutive solo blasts from Max Muncy and Justin Turner off All-Star Kevin Gausman in the bottom of the inning.

It’s clear the Dodgers will need better pitching than they got in the series opener, and Tuesday promises a touch of Gray.

“Josiah’s excited to be here,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Him coming in behind an opener, we’re talking about that, yeah.”

Gray, acquired in a 2018 trade that sent Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Alex Wood and Kyle Farmer to the Cincinnati Reds, has pitched only 15-2/3 innings this year at triple A because a shoulder impingement sidelined him for two months. However, he has built back his stamina to 75 pitches.

“I think it was shoulder fatigue as much as anything,” Roberts said.

Gray’s overall minor league numbers are excellent. In 198 innings over three seasons, he is 14-5 with a 2.41 ERA and 228 strikeouts in 198 innings. He has given only 135 hits.

Dodgers' Justin Turner hits a solo home run.

The Dodgers’ Justin Turner hits a solo home run in the first inning against San Francisco on Monday night at Dodger Stadium. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Other observations:

Coreys near return

Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager drove two balls to the left-center-field gap against rehabilitating reliever Corey Knebel in a quick simulated game before batting practice began.

The Dodgers are hopeful Seager, the reigning World Series MVP, can be activated within a couple of days. Knebel won’t be back as soon, but he’s ahead of schedule.

“I don’t want to put a date exactly, but assuming [Seager] comes out OK tomorrow, Wednesday is a possibility,” Roberts said. “Knebel looked fantastic mixing his fastball and breaking balls. What he means to us the rest of the season is very important, so we’re going to make sure he’s ready.”

Whirlwind for Sherfy

It’s been a whirlwind two months for Jimmie Sherfy.

He’s been a Dodgers reliever for four days. Before that he was a Giants reliever, making 10 appearances in three weeks before being designated for assignment July 6. And before that, he was a member of Team USA headed for the Tokyo Games after winning a qualifying tournament in early June.

Sherfy was celebrating with teammates, planning travel to Japan, when the Giants called and said he had been promoted to the big leagues.

“It wasn’t even a decision,” Sherfy said. “The Olympics are a great honor, but this is the major leagues.”

Sherfy, who attended Newbury Park High, opened the season with triple-A Sacramento, and in April the Giants informed him Team USA had inquired about his availability.

Sherfy pitched in one qualifying game with USA across his chest. Now his uniform reads Dodgers, and he couldn’t be happier.

Sherfy made his second appearance Monday, taking over for Gonsolin with two on and one out in the fourth. He induced two groundouts to strand the runners and then retired the first two hitters in the fifth before departing with a runner at first.

And he became the answer to a trivia question: According to Stats LLC, Sherfy is the first pitcher to appear in games for the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers in the same season. No pitcher had appeared in games for both franchises since 1943 when Bill Sayles pitched for the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers.

Short hops

In addition to activating González, the Dodgers put infielder Gavin Lux on the IL and recalled outfielder Zach Reks. Reliever Jake Reed was sent to triple A to make room for González. … Mookie Betts was a late scratch from the lineup. Betts missed Sunday’s series finale in Colorado after tweaking his hip Saturday. He pinch-hit in the ninth inning Monday and struck out.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

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