It wasn’t Yu Darvish’s worst outing on the hill at Dodger Stadium.
But when the right-hander was rocked by his old team on Saturday afternoon, it sure looked like a certain November night in 2017.
In the first inning of their 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers tattooed three home runs against Darvish.
Freddie Freeman launched a rocket to the right. Will Smith raised a moon shot to center. Justin Turner poked a line drive to the left.
Each was greeted by a louder roar from the crowd of 47,061 and an increasingly enthusiastic reception in the dugout.
“The guys on the bench were waiting for someone to do something offensive,” manager Dave Roberts said. “There was this energy, this mindset of ‘I want to be the next one to do something to help the ball club.’ ”
The sequence was reminiscent of the 2017 World Series when Darvish was mugged early in the Dodgers’ Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros.
Only this time, it was the Padres (46-34) who suffered a sudden decline and the Dodgers (49-28) who drove to their fourth straight overall win and 14th place in their last 15 against the Padres.
After the breakout in the first inning, the Dodgers quickly extended their lead to put the game out of reach.
With two outs in the second leg, Padres right fielder José Azocar dropped a line drive, allowing Gavin Lux to hit second base with a double. He scored on Trea Turner’s single in the next at-bat.
Again with two outs in the third, Jake Lamb threw an RBI double to the left, just behind a dive attempt by Jurickson Profar. The goal led to 5:0.
After Tyler Anderson hit a 6⅓ inning one-run start, the Dodgers backed a couple of late insurance runs with two sacrifice flies in the seventh.
“The abilities of this lineup are pretty special,” said Justin Turner.
The Dodgers’ offensive could soon get a boost, too.
After the game, Roberts said Mookie Betts is likely to return from the injured list and play at right field on Sunday after Betts was feeling good after a live batting practice Saturday afternoon.
Betts had been out since June 15 with a broken rib and initially planned to return at second base to avoid long throws, which he said still made him uncomfortable although there was no risk of further injury.
After Chris Taylor left Saturday’s game early because of a bruised left foot — Roberts said an X-ray on Taylor’s foot was negative but he is unlikely to play on Sunday — the Dodgers now plan to put Betts back in his usual corner outfield.
“I’m feeling good,” Betts said. “I’m ready to get back out there.”
Where Betts will be in the batting order is another question.
Despite hitting Betts leadoff in all 59 of his starts this season, Roberts said he’s still deciding whether to bring Betts back to the lead or keep Trea Turner there.
In Betts’ absence, Turner started at .339 Sunday, with a .891 percent on-base plus slugging percentage since slipping into the leadoff role.
“I’m going to have a chat with Mookie to make sure we’re on the same page,” Roberts said. “Obviously, Trea performed well on the leadoff spot. But I don’t know, we’re going to continue those talks.”
Wherever he returns, Betts will rejoin a Dodgers team that has begun to rediscover his stride.
Saturday’s win was the Dodgers’ 12th in the last 17. They extended their divisional lead over the second-placed Padres to 4½ games, their widest of the season.
“Of course you want to play well against division opponents, especially against the team that was right behind you,” Freeman said. “Nobody here looks at the tables, it’s much too early for that. But … it’s just nice to put this series together.”
This weekend was about both dominant pitching and explosive offense.
Anderson turned the Dodgers’ latest gem on Saturday, bringing his season ERA down to 3.09 while becoming the third straight Dodgers starter to give up just one run against the Padres’ slumping lineup.
“As a rotation, you want to keep the ball rolling,” Anderson said. “You want to take the ball and try to keep up with the guy from the day before.”
Darvish, who had performed well in three previous games at Dodger Stadium in the three years since leaving the team, eventually found his own groove and went through six innings overall without giving up another run.
All of that early damage, however, proved more than crucial.
Again he suffered a defeat at Dodger Stadium.
This time the hosts were happy to be on the other side.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/dodgers/story/2022-07-02/dodgers-beat-padres-three-first-inning-homers-mookie-betts-to-return Homers help Dodgers beat Padres; Mookie Betts likely back Sunday