Tony Gonsolin flirts with perfection as Dodgers defeat Royals

Put this guy in pictures. Kansas City Royals reliever Josh Staumont entered a flawless game in the seventh inning and the Dodgers promptly lit him up with four hits and a walk en route to an 8-3 win Friday night.

Staumont eliminated no one and all five runners scored points, saddled him with an ERA that was pure Buzz Lightyear: To Infinity and Beyond!

Dodgers starter Tony Gonsolin reached for the stars himself, carrying a perfect game into the sixth inning and a no-hitter into the seventh. He pulled the first batter back in the seventh but gave up two hits and a run before being removed after spending his third walk in two innings.

Still, Gonsolin improved to a quite remarkable 14-1, his ERA dropping to 2.24. The right-hander brought a 1.62 ERA into the All-Star game but has since had 12 earned runs in his first three starts before throwing five scoreless innings in his last start. It seems that he has returned to old form.

“I felt like I was throwing a lot of strikes early with all my pitches, which was good,” Gonsolin said. “They were swinging a lot so I kept my pitch countdown down and got some soft contact and the guys made good plays.”

Staumont, a sophomore at Azusa Pacific University and La Habra High, is usually one of Kansas City’s most dependable bullpen guns. But he was greeted by singles from pinch-hitters Gavin Lux and Trayce Thompson. After leading Mookie Betts, Trea Turner put the Dodgers on the scoreboard with a two-run single, and Freddie Freeman followed with an RBI double.

Two innings earlier, Turner, Freeman and Will Smith came out with bases loaded and failed to deliver.

“It was nice to come through a few innings later and get the job done,” Turner said. “First time in this situation stinks but you have to keep your head up because you know you’re going to be in the same situation again in the next inning or two or the next day.”

Staumont exit. Turner hit on a wild pitch from Luke Weaver and Freeman hit on Justin Turner’s sacrificial fly. A triple homer in Thompson’s eighth — his third hit — took the game away.

Trayce Thompson, right, is congratulated by Gavin Lux (9) and Max Muncy.

Trayce Thompson, right, is congratulated by Gavin Lux (9) and Max Muncy after hitting a three-run home run for the Dodgers in the eighth inning on Friday.

(Colin E. Braley/Associated Press)

“He’s trying to rewrite the scouting report on himself,” manager Dave Roberts said of Thompson. “There’s a real belief and intent in shooting up the baseball and making solid contact … He always had the power, but the momentum and lack was there. He did a lot of things to clean that up.”

The Royals started six rookies against the veteran Dodgers and the contrast in approach was evident early on.

Baseball etiquette prohibits anyone from speaking to the starting pitcher before a game. I have to keep him absolutely focused, that’s the thought. Kansas City is a bit too social for that.

Several hours before the game, a security guard spotted a young man with shaggy hair wearing a backpack over a T-shirt walking through a gate about 40 meters away. The guard yelled, “Hey, Daniel! . . . Go and get her!” The young man smiled, gave the guard a thumbs-up and sauntered into the stadium.

The relaxed approach worked for Royals starter Daniel Lynch, a 6-foot-6 left-hander who pitched five scoreless innings before an elevated pitch count forced his exit.

Gonsolin’s pregame ritual was in stark contrast. Wearing headphones the size of earmuffs, he paced for 90 minutes, circling the clubhouse and dining room without eye contact, then taking brisk walks through the long tunnel in front of the clubhouse to the weight room and back.

“Just part of my process, it’s part of my game,” he said.

Gonsolin’s split-finger fastball bombed through the hitting zone, his slider was sharp and he commanded his fastball well through five innings. However, with an out in seventh place, Vinnie Pasquantino hit a hard single into right field to end the no-hit bid.

Shot has Kershaw keeping an eye on October

Clayton Kershaw was giddy with joy after throwing several hours before the game. His back didn’t hurt and he said he expects to continue throwing every day and throwing from a bullpen mound within a week.

The epidural steroid injection he received on August 6 eased the pain he felt after retiring from an August 4 game against the San Francisco Giants.

“I really didn’t know what to expect and after getting the epidural I’ve been better for the last three to five days,” Kershaw said. “It’s coming back pretty good.”

The Dodgers are enjoying a 16-game lead in the National League West over the San Diego Padres — who lost Fernando Tatis Jr. to an 80-game suspension after he tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug — giving Kershaw and Enabling other Dodgers pitchers to recover from injuries to be methodical in their recovery.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 4.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers against the San Francisco Giants on Aug. 4.

(Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

No one is pushed back too soon. Not Dustin May. Not Walker Buehler. Not Blake Treinen. And not Kershaw.

“It’s certainly a luxury,” said Roberts. “I don’t think we would do it much differently because the players’ health comes first. But yes, if you can be extra careful, that’s a plus.”

Kershaw, for example, has his sights set on the postseason.

“I know what I have to do to be ready for October and I definitely feel like we have enough time to achieve all of that, which is great,” he said.

Roberts enjoyed seeing Kershaw so lively.

“Observing the way he moves and the way he talks, Clayton is in some ways an easy book to read,” he said. “He’s talkative and cheerful, and I think that’s a good thing.”

Short jumps: The Dodgers have placed catcher Austin Barnes on the family’s emergency list, which means he will be inactive for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven. Tony Wolters was called up by Triple A. Wolters, 30, has six years of major league experience and was the Colorado Rockies’ starting catcher in 2019. . . The bruise on Max Muncy’s right hand that caused him to pull out of Wednesday’s game against the Minnesota Twins has healed sufficiently. He served as batsman-designate on Friday and Roberts said Muncy will play at third base on Saturday. . . . The Dodgers will tour the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Saturday morning and then attend a Salute to the Negro Leagues event before the game at Kauffman Stadium. Buck O’Neil’s Hall of Fame plaque will be on public display during the game. A Kansas Citizen for most of his life, O’Neil played in the Negro Leagues from 1937 to 1948 and became the first black coach in the national or American leagues in 1962. The Dodgers plan to wear Brooklyn jerseys and caps. Tony Gonsolin flirts with perfection as Dodgers defeat Royals

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