DENVER — The pundits were right — adding a left-handed hitting right fielder before the trade deadline really can have an impact.
James Outman — who was still at Cal State Sacramento when Juan Soto hit his first big-league home run — made his first major-league start Sunday afternoon and hit a two-run home run in his first big-league plate appearance, starting the Dodgers on their way to a 7-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
The win finished one of the most successful July runs in MLB history.
The Dodgers finished the month of July 21-5, the best record in baseball during the month and their best winning percentage (.808) in July since the 2017 team went 20-3 (.870). The 21 wins tie the franchise record for July (also done in 1963 and 2004) and the .808 winning percentage is the fourth-best July in MLB history (since 1900).
Promoted from Triple-A to balance the Dodgers’ roster after they traded a position player (Zach McKinstry) for a pitcher (Chris Martin), Outman hit the third pitch he saw in a major-league game 405 feet into the Rockies’ bullpen beyond the right-field wall.
He also had a single that left the bat at 109.5 mph (the hardest-hit ball of the game) and an RBI double in four at-bats, becoming the first Dodgers rookie to have three or more hits in his MLB debut since Mike Piazza on Sept. 1, 1992. Only two other Dodgers — Jose Offerman in 1990 and Ernie Koy in 1938 — had a three-hit game that included a home run in their first career game. Only one other rookie in franchise history (Packy Rogers in 1938) had three hits and three RBI in his first MLB game.
The third-inning homer, against Rockies right-hander Germán Marquez, made Outman the eighth player in Dodgers history to hit a home run in his first plate appearance, the fourth to do it since the team moved to Los Angeles. He joins Keibert Ruiz (2020), Garey Ingram (1994) and Offerman.
The Dodgers needed another two-run inning in the fourth to take the lead for good. A pair of walks set up Cody Bellinger for an RBI double. A second run scored when right fielder Randal Grichuk bobbled the ball — one of seven Rockies errors in this four-game series.
That regained the lead for Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin, who has started to show the slightest signs of regression as he enters uncharted waters (for him) past the 100-inning mark.
Gonsolin lasted just five innings for the second time in his past three starts and gave up three runs or more for the third consecutive start after doing that just once in his first 16 starts this season.
Over his past three starts, Gonsolin has a 6.75 ERA and 1.50 WHIP after carrying a 1.62 ERA and 0.83 WHIP into mid-July.
The Rockies got to him for all three of their runs in the third inning. Brian Serven led off with a home run and the Rockies loaded the bases with one out thanks to a hit batter, a walk and a dribbler down the third-base line that stayed fair only with a final, slight rotation of the ball before Gonsolin could pick it up.
Grichuk followed that with a two-run single to right field, part of a 7-for-16, 8-RBI series for the former Angels first-round draft pick.
Gonsolin got a double-play ball to escape further damage, but his pitch count had reached 63 after just three innings, foretelling his shortened start.
The Dodgers’ bullpen shut out the Rockies over the final four innings while the offense gave them more Coors Field cushion by adding single runs in the sixth (Jake Lamb’s leadoff double cashed in on a Max Muncy sacrifice fly), seventh (an RBI double by Freddie Freeman) and eighth (Outman’s double).