The Dodgers have combined power and patience all season, ranking second in baseball in home runs and walks, but they’re beginning to supplement their slug-and-chug attack with a new-found killer instinct that was on full display again in Saturday’s 16-3 thrashing of the Texas Rangers in Globe Life Field.
After erasing an early deficit with a three-run second inning, the Dodgers cranked a pair of solo homers by Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy in the third and piled on with five more runs in the fourth on Freeman’s two-run homer and J.D. Martinez’s three-run shot.
From the final three innings of Friday night’s 11-5 victory over the Rangers through the first four innings of Saturday’s win, the Dodgers scored 17 runs on 16 hits, including three homers and four doubles, and drew nine walks.
After a three-inning break to rest their tired arms, the Dodgers tacked on three more runs in the eighth and three in the ninth on Jonny DeLuca’s three-run homer off Rangers utility man Brad Miller, who made his big league debut as a pitcher.
The Dodgers (57-40) amassed 27 runs and 31 hits, including five homers and seven doubles, walked 15 times and went 12 for 28 with runners in scoring position in the two games. They also sprinkled in some aggressive and opportunistic baserunning, going first to third on several singles and taking extra bases on defensive miscues.
“We’re not gonna stop,” leadoff man Mookie Betts said of the Dodgers’ relentlessness. “You’re gonna play 27 outs. That’s it. The game’s over when the game’s over. But in the meantime, we’re not going to stop putting pressure on you.”
The Dodgers’ 18th victory in 25 games assured them of a third series win on a grueling, post-All-Star-break, nine-game trip to New York (Mets), American League East-leading Baltimore and AL West-leading Texas.
The beneficiary of Saturday’s early outburst was rookie right-hander Bobby Miller, who gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, striking out six and walking none, to improve to 6-1 with a 4.38 ERA in 10 starts.
Miller’s task appeared to ease a bit when the Rangers’ best hitter, shortstop Corey Seager, was placed on the 10-day injured list before the game because of a right-thumb sprain, an injury the former Dodgers star suffered on a head-first slide into second base in the eighth inning Friday night.
An MRI test revealed no structural damage, and Seager, who is batting .350 with a 1.044 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 15 homers and 58 RBIs, is expected to be out for several weeks.
But you don’t lead the major leagues in runs (569), hits (934) and average (.273) and rank second in OPS (.804) on the shoulders of one slugger.
That was clear when Texas leadoff man Marcus Semien smacked Miller’s second pitch of the game, a 97-mph sinker, 422 feet into the left-field seats for his 14th homer of the season and 200th of his career.
But Miller struck out Travis Jankowski and Nathaniel Lowe with curveballs and got Adolis Garcia to line out Freeman, who made a diving grab toward the first-base line. He then escaped a two-on, one-out jam in the second by getting Ezequiel Duran to bounce into a 4-6-3 double play.
Miller, despite a velocity dip on a four-seam fastball that averaged 97.6 mph on Saturday–well below his season average of 99.1 mph–blanked the Rangers (58-41) in the third and fourth innings before giving up Lowe’s two-run triple in the fifth.
By then, the Dodgers had a huge cushion, thanks to another big game by Freeman, who added two singles to go with his 19th career multi-homer game and is batting .419 (13 for 31) with three homers, four doubles, one triple and nine RBIs on the trip.
David Peralta added four hits, including two doubles, and two RBIs, Muncy had three hits, including his 23rd homer, a double, two RBIs and four runs, and Martinez drove in four runs with his 24th homer and a sacrifice fly.