The Boys of August kept on rolling Wednesday night.
They’ve won all nine series they’ve played in the month. Wednesday clinched their fifth series sweep in that stretch. And, with one more August contest to go in Thursday night’s series opener against the MLB-best Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers (83-49) have a chance at franchise history, on the verge of winning 25 games in a single month for only the third time in franchise history.
With 24 wins this month, they’ve already toppled a Los Angeles team high.
“It’s just good all-around baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said. “I think a lot of times teams talk about when you have the hitting, you’re not pitching, and vice versa. But I think right now we’ve had both every night.”
Wednesday was one of the Dodgers most emphatic August wins.
They jumped ahead of Arizona (69-65) early, after Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward hit two-run homers in the bottom of the third.
They kept piling on from there, getting a two-run double in the fourth and RBI single in the sixth from Max Muncy.
They dominated behind a clinical one-two pitching combination, as well, with Ryan Pepiot tossing five scoreless innings in his start and Ryan Yarbrough following with four innings of relief to earn a save.
“Just a bunch of team wins,” said Muncy, who finished with two hits and a walk to stretch his hitting streak to nine games. “The pitching was great. Pep and Yarbs tonight were unbelievable. It was just a good series.”
The Dodgers now have a plus-80 run differential in August. They’ve stretched their division lead from two games to an all-but-insurmountable 14 ½.
And suddenly, a club that spent much of the first half trying to stay in a playoff spot has a chance to close in on the top National League seed this weekend, entering their marquee four-game matchup with the Braves only four games back in the loss column.
“These guys have been the best team, the class of baseball, from the get-go,” Roberts said of Atlanta. “They can pitch. Their bullpen is solid. Their position players are as good as anybody in baseball. So it’s going to be a fun series.”
It could also serve as a de facto playoff preview, giving the Dodgers an early taste of what could be to come in October — a month they’ve been far more susceptible during their decade-long run of regular season success.
“You still have to play the game, whether you’re the top seed or the last seed in,” Muncy said. “The only thing that matters is making it and that’s kind of all we’re focused on. If we’re focused on the game that night, then when the end of the season comes we’ll see where we’re at.”
For now, though, they’ll get one last day to bask in the glory of their historic August performance.
“No, it doesn’t,” Roberts said with a smile when asked if all the team’s recent winning has gotten old. “It’s a byproduct of preparation and playing good baseball. I think for us, it’s keeping the blinders on and not getting caught up on who we’re playing, where we’re playing and certain circumstances that we can’t control. We’re just playing good baseball.”
J.D. Martinez (groin) has a target date for his return from the injured list, with Roberts announcing Wednesday that the designated hitter could be back by next week’s road trip to Washington against the Nationals.
Martinez, who has missed 24 total games since late July (and nine since going on the injured list last week), swung a bat Wednesday and will take batting practice Thursday. Then, Roberts said Martinez will spend a couple days with the club’s triple A Oklahoma City affiliate on a rehab assignment.
Relief pitcher Shelby Miller (neck) also returned to Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night and is expected to be activated in the coming days.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.