The Dodgers made franchise history in the first inning Thursday night.
They did little else of note after that.
In a 14-5 loss to the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, the only silver lining was a first-inning home run from J.D. Martinez. The two-run blast not only opened the scoring, but it gave Martinez 100 RBIs on the season.
Along with Mookie Betts, Max Muncy and Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers now have four players with 100-plus RBIs this year — the most the team has had in a single season.
“It’s really impressive,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It just speaks to how talented these guys are.”
The early lead didn’t last. After a week of strong pitching during the first three games of the series, the Dodgers finally succumbed to Coors Field’s hitter-friendly reputation. Starter Ryan Yarbrough gave up one run in the bottom of the first, two more in the second — tying the score at 3-3 after a Kiké Hernández solo blast in the top half — then four in a third-inning rally that included a pair of home runs.
“It was an extremely difficult day,” said Yarbrough, the left-handed trade-deadline acquisition who will shift into a bulk-inning relief role when the playoffs begin. “When you get an early lead like that and then basically let it fall through your fingers and give it right back to them, it hits hard with you.”
Another left-hander, Caleb Ferguson, wasn’t much better, giving up four runs of his own in the bottom of the seventh.
The team’s top bullpen lefty for much of the year, Ferguson has given up eight runs in his last 4 2/3 innings.
Is it a cause of concern for the Dodgers?
“I think it’s trying not to think too much of the recency, and look at the body of work,” Roberts said. “I know he’s frustrated. So we’ll have time for those conversations. But for me, it’s just trying to find an opportunity to get him back out there and put up a zero.”
With the loss, the Dodgers (who are 98-61 and already locked in as the No. 2 seed in the National League for the postseason) will need to win at least two of their final three games against the San Francisco Giants this weekend to reach 100 wins.
For Thursday, their 100-RBI history would have to do.
While Martinez had four 100-RBI seasons before in his career, none was as unlikely as this year’s.
Last offseason, the 36-year-old signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers, hoping to rebuild his stock after a poor finish to 2022. While he has authored a resurgent season in L.A., launching 32 home runs (his most since 2019) and batting .274, Thursday was only his 110th game of the season after two stints on the injured list cost him more than a month combined.
“The analytics really don’t value the RBI as much as they used to,” Martinez said. “Before it was one of those things where you drive in 100 and you got paid. Guys used to fight tooth and nail for that to drive those runs in. Nowadays it’s more an opportunity thing than it is an approach-type thing.
“But I grew up in that era where there’s a guy on third or a guy on second, you gotta get that guy in. You have to do whatever you gotta do to get that guy in. Sometimes you might look stupid chasing a pitch or something. You might look dumb swinging at something in the dirt, but it’s part of it. I value my bat-to-ball skills with driving that guy in and that’s something I take a lot of pride in.”
Indeed, getting to the century mark required standout situational production from the six-time All-Star.
Thursday’s blast was Martinez’s 15th home run and 53rd RBI with two outs this season. He leads the majors in two-out RBIs and trails only Matt Olson in two-out homers.
Martinez is also batting .325 with runners in scoring position this year, the third-best mark on the team behind Freeman and Betts.
It makes Martinez, who is set to be the club’s everyday designated hitter in the playoffs, a key factor in the Dodgers’ October fate. His 100th RBI was not enough to lift the team to a win Thursday. But his run production could be crucial in making a deep postseason run.
“For me, I think it’s everything,” Martinez said of being able to drive in runs in the playoffs. “You have to score to win. You can get a bunch of guys on base, but if you don’t have a lot of guys to drive them in, it’s just guys on base. To me it’s a very valuable trait.”