MLB: Dodgers’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto makes first appearance vs. Giants

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The banged-up San Francisco Giants will get their first look at one of their primary offseason targets, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, when they open a three-game home series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night.

Neither Yamamoto (4-1, 2.79 ERA) nor the Giants’ scheduled starter Monday, Jordan Hicks (3-1, 2.30), pitched when the rivals met in Los Angeles in the first week of the season. The Dodgers swept that three-game set, taking the last two games by identical 5-4 counts.

Before spending big money on Blake Snell during training camp, the Giants were among the teams in the bidding for Yamamoto, a five-time All-Star and three-time Pacific League Most Valuable Player in Japan.

The Dodgers won the bidding war with a 12-year, $325 million offer.

The 25-year-old right-hander struggled in his first Major League Baseball start — that came against the San Diego Padres in the series played in South Korea — but he has been as advertised since, pitching to a 1.76 ERA with a 4-0 record in his past seven starts.

He has won his past three outings, giving up just two runs in 20 innings.

Yamamoto will see a Giants team decimated by injuries, but nonetheless on a two-game winning streak. Injury replacement Casey Schmitt was the hero of Sunday’s 6-5, 10-inning home win over the Cincinnati Reds with a walk-off double.

The Giants prevailed despite having to go without catcher Patrick Bailey, who called in sick, and for the most part without leadoff man Jung Hoo Lee, who is believed to have dislocated his left shoulder while crashing into the center-field fence in the top of the first inning. He is set to undergo an MRI on Monday.

San Francisco already was without injured Michael Conforto, Nick Ahmed, Jorge Soler and Austin Slater, as well as starting pitchers Snell, Alex Cobb and Robbie Ray.

Shortly after Luis Matos, promoted from Triple-A before the game, scampered home with the winning run Sunday, Giants manager Bob Melvin scratched his head and tried to explain how his undermanned crew had done it.

“It’s great to win a game when you have a lot of bad news during the course of it,” he insisted. “It ended up being a good day as far as win/loss.

“It’s just one of those times in the season when you’ve got to persevere. Win a game — that’s what it’s all about — and we’ll regroup tomorrow.”

The Dodgers flew into town Sunday night having lost two of three in San Diego. They scored only one run in a walk-off defeat Friday, before getting shut out Sunday.

The Dodgers elected to rest star Shohei Ohtani in the series finale after he complained of lower-back tightness Saturday. He is expected to play in the opener in San Francisco.

“I personally believe I can play, but really just taking it easy today,” he said before Sunday’s game, through an interpreter. “I was told I would be getting a day off (this week). Just earlier than I expected.”

Ohtani has faced Hicks just once in their careers, grounding into a forceout last May. Ohtani played for the Los Angeles Angels and Hicks for the St. Louis Cardinals at the time.

Hicks has dominated the Dodgers in eight previous head-to-heads, seven of which have been in relief. He’s gone 0-0 while allowing just four hits and no runs over those 9 2/3 innings with 17 strikeouts.

The right-hander’s only previous start against the Dodgers came for the Cardinals in July 2022, a game in which he allowed a hit and three walks in 1 2/3 innings, but no runs.

–Field Level Media

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