The Dodgers have pooled strength and patience all season, ranking second in baseball for home runs and walks, but they’re starting to complement their slug-and-chug offense with a newfound killer instinct that came into full play again in 2019 Saturday 16:3 fight of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field.
After closing an early deficit with a three-run home run in the second inning, the Dodgers hit two solo home runs from Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy in the third inning and hit five more runs in the fourth inning, thanks to Freeman’s two-run home run and JD Martinez’s three-run throw.
From the last three innings of Friday night’s 11-5 win over the Rangers through the first four innings of Saturday’s win, the Dodgers hit 17 runs with 16 hits, including three home runs and four doubles, and pulled nine walks.
After a three-inning break to rest their weary arms, the Dodgers put down three more runs in the eighth and three in the ninth after Jonny DeLuca hit a three-run home run against Rangers utility man Brad Miller, who was making his big-league debut as a pitcher.
The Dodgers (57-40) had 27 runs and 31 hits, including five home runs and seven doubles, caught 15 walks and had 12 runs to 28 in both games with runners in the scoring position. They also interspersed aggressive and opportunistic baserunning, going from first to third base on multiple singles, and capturing extra bases on defensive errors.
“We’re not going to stop,” leadoff man Mookie Betts said of the Dodgers’ relentlessness. “You’re going to play 27 outs. That’s it. The game is over when the game is over. But in the meantime, we won’t stop pressuring you.”
The Dodgers’ 18th win in 25 games secured them their third win in the series on a grueling nine-game trip after the All-Star break to New York (Mets), where Baltimore were at the top of the American League East and Texas at the top of the AL West.
The beneficiary of Saturday’s early breakout was rookie right-hander Bobby Miller, who gave up three runs and seven hits in six innings, notched six strikeouts and caught no walks to improve to 6-1 with a 4.38 ERA in ten starts.
Miller’s job seemed a little easier when Rangers’ top hitter, shortstop Corey Seager, was put on the 10-day injury list before the game with a sprained right thumb, an injury the former Dodgers star picked up Friday night when he slid headlong into second base in the eighth inning.
An MRI showed no structural damage and Seager, who hits .350 with an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1,044, 15 homers and 58 RBIs, is expected to be out for several weeks.
But they don’t lead the major leagues in runs (569), hits (934), and average (.273), and they don’t rank second in OPS (.804) on a hitter’s shoulders.
That was evident when top Texas player Marcus Semien hit Miller’s second pitch of the game, a 97-mile sinker, 422 feet into left field pitches for his 14th home run of the season and 200th of his career.
But Miller knocked out Travis Jankowski and Nathaniel Lowe with curveballs and got Adolis Garcia to take out Freeman, who dived towards the first base line. He then avoided a two-for-one in the second by taking Ezequiel Duran to a 4-6-3 doubles.
Despite a drop in speed on a four-seam fastball that averaged 97.6 mph on Saturday — well below his season average of 99.1 mph — Miller outplayed the Rangers in the third and fourth innings (58-41) before giving up Lowe’s two-run triple in the fifth.
At this point, the Dodgers had a huge cushion thanks to another big game from Freeman, who added two singles with his 19th career multi-homer game and hit .419 (13 for 31) with three homers, four doubles, a 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 home run, a double, two RBIs and four runs, and Martinez hit four runs on his 24th home run and a sacrifice fly.