That game that didn’t count for much, that mid-summer game against another overwhelmed and underfunded opponent, was also a statement game.
The Dodgers didn’t just beat the Miami Marlins at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. You beat the best pitcher in baseball. They beat Sandy Alcantara.
And they didn’t just beat Alcantara. They absolutely pulverized him.
The Dodgers presented their most compelling proof yet of why they should win the World Series this year by pole-axing Alcantara in the first 3 2/3 innings of a 10-3 win.
The damage: six earned runs and 10 hits, including a home run by Cody Bellinger.
“You’re going to see a guy like this in the postseason,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Beating a guy like that says a lot about how good we can be.”
The destruction of Alcantara was no aberration, the high-scoring presentation part of a seasonal trend. The Dodgers are serving well. They’re reaching the caliber of pitching they’ll face in the National League Division Series and beyond.
Three days earlier, they knocked out reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes in the sixth inning of a game in Milwaukee. They beat Dylan Cease, Carlos Rodón, Logan Webb and Joe Musgrove. They have two wins over Yu Darvish and three over Merrill Kelly.
Who knows if the Dodgers can figure out their own pitching, but when the playoffs come around, they shouldn’t suddenly stop batting like many of their previous teams did.
Alcantara started the game with a 1.92 earned run average, which was the best in the majors. His 173 innings was also the most in baseball, the pitcher closest to him was more than 25 innings behind.
The Dodgers abused him.
“I don’t know what happened,” Alcantara said.
Alcantara was averaging just 14.2 pitches per inning prior to Sunday. The Dodgers let him throw 27 pitches in the first inning alone.
Will Smith’s single drove into Mookie Betts to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but just as destructive were long attacks from Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy. Freeman’s at-bat lasted 11 pitches, Muncy’s seven.
While Freeman and Muncy’s punches led to outs, they gave pause to the typically assertive Alcantara, who wondered if he was tilting his pitches.
“I think they have a lot of stuff to look for something for pitchers,” Alcantara said of the Dodgers.
The Dodgers scored in each of the four innings that Alcantara was in, Smith putting him out of his misery with a run-scoring, ground-rule double in the fourth.
“You have to keep pitching, and not just to one or two guys,” said Marlins manager Don Mattingly. “This lineup lets you pitch all the way through. So no air to breathe. That’s how they get you with a mass attack. A good pitcher, you have to keep making pitches.”
To get Mattingly straight to the point, the Dodgers’ home runs came from the team’s No. 5 hitter Muncy and No. 9 hitter Bellinger. The previously dipping Muncy has seven home runs this month.
But what makes these Dodgers postseason threats are the hitters at the top of their lineup: Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freeman.
You hit a good pitching.
“When you get to the playoffs there are only a few guys on the team who scored well [stuff] all the time,” Mattingly said. “That [Max] joker, [Jacob] deGroms of the world, there are few guys that can beat these guys.”
Mattingly, who previously managed the Dodgers, said his former team’s lineup reminded him of some of the top-flight New York Yankees teams he was a hitting coach for in the mid-2000s.
“You have to attack them,” Mattingly said. “You can’t throw like you’re scared. You have to get her out. You have to get into the attacking zone early, you have to attack and get them out quickly. You start messing around, they don’t hunt, you put yourself in bad numbers.”
According to Mattingly, the Angels led by Mike Scioscia used to do well against the Yankees led by Joe Torre. The Angels eliminated the Yankees from the playoffs in 2002 and 2005.
“You get really good players, they know how to put them up when the guys aren’t attacking them,” Mattingly said. “When you attack them, it’s different. You must respect the fact that you are attempting to throw strikes. You have a better chance of getting some swings and placing them in bad places. If you keep letting them off the hook and getting them into good numbers, they will kill you.
In late July, the Marlins were swept at home by the New York Mets. Mattingly said he considers the Dodgers and the Mets to be the class of the NL.
If the Dodgers and Mets played a seven-game series in October, which team would Mattingly bet his money on?
“It’s not legal to bet in baseball,” Mattingly said, laughing.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-08-21/dodgers-marlins-hitting-offense-pitching-mlb-playoffs Dodgers’ destruction of Marlins’ Sandy Alcantara isn’t a fluke