Dodgers’ big 3 daunting as advertised in SF Giants’ defeat to archrivals

LOS ANGELES — Some things need to be witnessed in-person to comprehend their sheer scale and magnitude. The Grand Canyon. One World Trade Center. A stop on Taylor Swift’s “Eras” tour. Other wonders can be captured on a piece of paper, say the size of a lineup card.

All it takes is a glance at the slip of paper Dave Roberts fills out each day to comprehend the challenge of going up against this mighty Dodgers squad, a 100-win team that only got better this winter. They spent a billion dollars and brought in baseball’s biggest star to an already well-oiled operation that has had its grip on the National League West for the better part of the past decade.

And yes, facing Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman in succession proved to be as difficult as it looked on paper.

Making his first start of the season in Monday’s series opener at Dodger Stadium, Keaton Winn pitched well but wasn’t able to contain the big three in Los Angeles’ lineup, who powered their vaunted squad to an 8-3 win over the Giants in the first of 13 meetings between the archrivals this season.

“That’s a lot of high-powered guys, for sure,” Winn said. “You’ve really got to focus up and make pitches, especially the first five guys.”

Some combination of Betts, Ohtani and Freeman played a role in six of the Dodgers’ eight runs. The trio combined for six hits — four for extra bases — in 11 at-bats, scoring six runs and driving in three more. Catcher Will Smith, their cleanup hitter, also reached base three times and drove in a pair of runs.

“It is what it is, right? They have a good team,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Top of the lineup is about as good as any in baseball. We’ve just got to try to navigate it better.”

The rest of the lineup went 1-for-19, the one hit being a three-run homer from Teoscar Hernandez, which drove in Smith and Freeman, sending a slider from Tyler Rogers deep into the left field seats to break the game open, widening the Dodgers’ advantage to 6-1 in the sixth inning.

The 33 runs allowed by the Giants are their most through the first five games of any season, and 19 have come against their relievers.

“We had some guys on base when Tyler came in and the big swing was from Teosar,” Melvin said. “We can do better.”

After being slowed to start spring by elbow soreness, Winn only made two Cactus League starts prior to his first in the regular season Monday. The late start limited his workload, but he showed no signs of rust, racking up six strikeouts over his five innings.

The Dodgers swung and missed on 14 of Winn’s 89 pitches, the most whiffs any pitcher has totaled against the powerful lineup so far this season. His splitter was particularly lethal, using it to finish off four of his strikeouts, including one placed on the inside corner to ring up Freeman, but it was his slider that he threw 20 times that he was most encouraged by.

“I had to have thrown more sliders today than I threw all of last year combined,” Winn said, coming close (he threw 21 total last season). “Definitely going to build off the slider and the slider feel. It was the most I’ve ever thrown the pitch in a game. I thought I did pretty good with it. … Mainly it got guys off the split and fastball. That’s kind of what I fell into last year.”

The one walk issued by Winn, to Betts with one out in the third, came around to score when Ohtani ripped a double off the bag at first base and Freeman followed with a line drive single that screamed through the Giants infield playing on the cut of the grass with runners on second and third.

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