Tyler Glasnow dominates and Shohei Ohtani homers as Dodgers blow out Mets

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 21, 2024: Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow.

There are no must-win games in April, but there are games in which you need to stop the bleeding.

The Dodgers found themselves in such a situation on Sunday, the supposed super team with the $308-million payroll having lost six of eight and in danger of getting swept in a three-game home series by the New York Mets for the first time since 1989.

Lucky for them, they had a human tourniquet in the form of Tyler Glasnow, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound right-hander who blanked the Mets on seven hits, struck out 10 and walked none over eight innings in what the Dodgers hoped was a momentum-shifting 10-0 victory in front of a crowd of 49,287 in Chavez Ravine.

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Shohei Ohtani hit his 176th career homer, a 423-foot, two-run shot to right field in the third inning, to break Hideki Matsui’s record for most home runs by a Japanese-born major leaguer, and the Dodgers broke the game open with an eight-run, six-hit, fifth-inning rally that was capped by Andy Pages’ three-run homer, the first of his career.

"You know what? That was the first complete baseball game I can recall,” manager Dave Roberts said. “We were clean defensively. I thought the at-bats throughout the game were really good, especially the guys at the bottom of the order. And then, obviously, what Tyler did.”

Glasnow rebounded from his worst start of the season, a five-inning, six-run, eight-hit effort in last Monday night’s 6-4 loss to Washington, with a dominant start in which he allowed only one runner to reach third base. Of his 101 pitches, 70 were strikes.

He relied mostly on a fastball that averaged 96.3 mph and a big-breaking, 84.6-mph curve, inducing 12 swinging strikes and getting 21 called strikes.

“The fastball obviously played, but the curveball was so good today,” Roberts said. “In the strike zone, down below [the zone] when he needed to, and it just kept them off balance. They didn't square up too many balls, and he was efficient. And 10 strikeouts versus no walks … another solid performance for Tyler.”

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers during the second inning of a 10-0 win over the Mets on Sunday.
Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow delivers during the second inning of a 10-0 win over the Mets on Sunday. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Glasnow became the first Dodgers starter to pitch into the eighth inning this season, and though he wobbled as he neared the finish line, allowing two hits and a walk in the eighth, he blew a 96-mph fastball by Tyrone Taylor for strike three with his final pitch, punctuating the whiff with a violent fist pump as he walked off the mound.

“I think if I were to give up runs in the last inning, it leaves a bad taste in your mouth,” Glasnow said. “So I was just glad I got through it.”

Roberts thought it was important for Glasnow to “set the tone” for the day by “going out there and putting up a zero in the first inning.” Glasnow did just that, striking out two of the first three batters he faced, and he followed that with scoreless second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings to improve to 4-1 with a 2.92 ERA.

Ohtani staked Glasnow to a 2-0 lead with his fifth homer of the season and first since April 12, a span of 29 at-bats.

“Honestly, I’m just happy and relieved,” Ohtani, speaking through translator Will Ireton, said of passing Matsui, one of his boyhood idols. “It took a while to get to this point, since my last home run.”

Shohei Ohtani, right, is congratulated by Freddie Freeman after hitting a two-run home run.

Ohtani, the American League most valuable player in 2021 and 2023, is superior to Matsui in almost every facet of the game, but until Ohtani achieves some kind of success in October, Matsui will hold a massive edge over the two-way phenom in the “playoff performer” department.

Matsui did some of his best work in October, batting .312 with 10 homers, 15 doubles and 39 RBIs in 56 career postseason games, and he hit .615 (eight for 13) with three homers and eight RBIs to win World Series MVP honors and lead the New York Yankees to the 2009 title over the Philadelphia Phillies.

Ohtani failed to reach the playoffs — or even experience a winning season — in his six years with the Angels, but is expected to get his first taste of the October stage with the Dodgers this season.

“Before that,” Ohtani said of building a Matsui-like playoff resume, “I want to break my manager’s record.”

Roberts, whose mother is Japanese, actually hit seven homers as a speedy leadoff man for the Dodgers from 2002 to 2004.

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“He said he's coming after me next — it was a good run,” Roberts said. “Hideki Matsui was a great ballplayer, a great home run hitter, a world champion, and I know that Shohei admired him. So for him to eclipse that mark, it's a big deal.”

So was Pages’ first homer, which put the finishing touches on a rally that the Cuban native sparked with a leadoff double to left off Mets starter Adrian Houser in the fifth.

Gavin Lux walked and Mookie Betts lined an RBI single to center for a 3-0 lead. Ohtani’s infield single loaded the bases for Freddie Freeman, who poked a two-run double just beyond the reach of diving right fielder Starling Marte for a 5-0 lead.

Will Smith followed with a two-run double to left for a 7-0 lead. Mets reliever Grant Hartwig walked Max Muncy before recording two outs, but Pages crushed a 413-foot homer to center to make it 10-0.

“It’s very exciting to hit a home run against the best players in the world,” Pages said through an interpreter. “It’s very special.”

The Dodgers went five for seven with runners in scoring position in the fifth inning and five for 11 in the game, and they struck out only five times, their ability to hit in the clutch and to make more consistent contact reversing two troubling trends.

Teoscar Hernandez, right, throws sunflower seeds at Andy Pages after the rookie hit a three-run home run.

The Dodgers entered Sunday ranked among baseball’s top five teams in batting average, on-base-plus-slugging percentage, home runs and walks, but they were also tied with the Boston Red Sox for the league lead with 221 strikeouts.

They also had a .244 average (55 for 255) with runners in scoring position and a .130 average (three for 23) with the bases loaded, their 69 strikeouts with runners in scoring position and 12 whiffs with the bases loaded — six of them coming in Saturday’s 6-4 loss to the Mets — leading the league.

“I think we all know how talented our team is,” Glasnow said. “I was never too worried about us not hitting for the rest of the year. I knew it was going to come back eventually.”

Short hops

Left-hander James Paxton and right-handers Landon Knack and Yoshinobu Yamamoto are scheduled to start a three-game series beginning Tuesday in Washington, which will give Paxton, who pitched better with extra rest for Boston last season, eight days between starts and Yamamoto, who pitched once a week in Japan, five days between starts. … Walker Buehler, who is recovering from a second Tommy John surgery, will make his fifth minor league rehabilitation start — this one for triple-A Oklahoma City — on Wednesday in Albuquerque.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.