Shohei Ohtani hits his first home run for Dodgers in sweep of Giants

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The official folks in the yellow windbreakers scrambled into the right field pavilion — high and deep into the pavilion, following the arc of the ball. Shohei Ohtani had his first home run as a Dodger, and Team Yellow Windbreaker was on a mission to secure the milestone ball.

After eight games on two continents without a home run, the $700-million man — the one who led the American League in home runs last year — hit his first home run Wednesday, in the seventh inning, in his 37th at-bat this season. Not to say Los Angeles had been anxious or anything, but Miguel Rojas had hit his second home run of the season earlier in the game.

The home runs — the 430-foot one from the designated slugger, and the one from the light-hitting shortstop — highlighted the Dodgers’ 5-4 victory over the San Francisco Giants. The Dodgers completed a three-game sweep of the Giants, and their record stands at 7-2, atop the National League West as usual.

So here we go again: The Dodgers are on pace to win 126 games!

This is what we do this time of year, every year. The hapless Colorado Rockies have played seven games, and already they are five games out of first place.

The Dodgers have started the season 7-2 in three of the last four non-pandemic seasons. They won 111 games in one of those three seasons, 106 in each of the other two. This is what they do.

“There have been times I can remember, four years ago in May, we were really terrible,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We were right around .500. It’s just more of continuing to play and try to win that day. … We’re not trying to get to the postseason today. We’re trying to just win. Win or lose, we do it the next day. I think that’s the secret sauce.”

In none of those big three seasons — the 111-win one, and the two 106-win ones — did the Dodgers advance to the World Series.

“When you get kicked in the teeth a couple years and underachieve,” Roberts said, “as far as not winning the World Series, you have talent, and then you have guys that are obsessed and hungry, and being the aggressor, that’s a good thing.

“Not that there was complacency, but there is a different sort of fire with our guys.”

Journeyman Dinelson Lamet, 31, the fourth Dodgers pitcher, worked a scoreless ninth for his first major league save.

The victory went to Tyler Glasnow (2-0) in an intriguing quality start.

For all the protective measures the Dodgers enforce to try to take care of their pitchers — inning limits, pitch counts, extra days between starts, generous use of the injured lists — they did not enforce a fundamental principle of in-game analytics.

The principle is easily said and understood: Don’t let your starting pitcher face opposing hitters for a third time. That principle is a foundation for the five-inning starter, and the 13-man pitching staff.

Generally, the statistics bear that out, as a pitcher’s performance tends to wane on a third trip through the lineup. But the Dodgers did not pay Glasnow $136.5 million to be just another arm.

They paid him to be an ace, with a power arm that could propel him through that third trip. Glasnow did not prosper that way last season with the Tampa Bay Rays, when his strikeout-to-walk ratio fell from 5.5 to 2.5 from his second time through the lineup to the third, and the opposing OPS jumped from .571 to .696.

In his Dodgers debut, Glasnow faced two batters on the third time through the order. He retired them both.

In his second start, he faced four batters on the third time through the order. He retired them all.

On Wednesday, in his third start, Glasnow took a 4-1 lead into the sixth inning, and into his third trip through the San Francisco lineup. He got the first out, but then LeMonte Wade Jr. walked, Jorge Soler doubled, and Michael Conforto singled home both runners to narrow the Dodgers’ lead to one.

Glasnow completed the inning, but he threw 28 pitches in the inning and 100 in all. He has not thrown more than 103 in a game since 2021.

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