The Dodgers made franchise history in the first inning on Thursday night.
After that they hardly did anything of note.
In one 14-5 defeat for the Colorado Rockies At Coors Field, the only bright spot was a first-inning home run by JD Martinez. The two-run blast not only opened the scoring, but also gave Martinez 100 RBIs on the season.
Along with Mookie Betts, Max Muncy and Freddie Freeman, the Dodgers now have four players with over 100 RBIs this year, the most the team has had in a single season.
“It’s really impressive,” manager Dave Roberts said. “It just shows how talented these guys are.”
The early lead didn’t last. After a week of strong pitching in the first three games of the series, the Dodgers finally succumbed to the call of Coors Field’s hitters. Starter Ryan Yarbrough gave up a run in the bottom of the first, two more in the second – tying the score at 3-3 after a solo strike by Kiké Hernández in the top half – then four in a rally in the third inning that tied the game Pair included home runs.
“It was an extremely difficult day,” said Yarbrough, the left-hander who was acquired at the trade deadline and will move into the bulk-inning role as the playoffs begin. “When you get an early lead like that and then basically let it slip through your fingers and give it right back to them, it hits you hard.”
Another left-hander, Caleb Ferguson, wasn’t much better, giving up four runs of his own in the bottom of the seventh.
Ferguson has been the team’s best bullpen left-hander for most of the year, giving up eight runs in his last 4 2/3 innings.
Is it a cause for concern for the Dodgers?
“I think it’s about not thinking too much about the topicality and instead looking at the whole work,” Roberts said. “I know he’s frustrated. So we will have time for these conversations. But for me it’s just about finding an opportunity to get him back out there and put up a clean sheet.”
Because of the loss, the Dodgers (who are 98-61 and already locked in as the No. 2 seed in the National League for the postseason) must win at least two of their last three games against the San Francisco Giants this weekend to reach 100 wins.
For Thursday, her 100-RBI history should suffice.
While Martinez has had four 100-RBI seasons in his career, none have been as improbable as this year’s.
Last offseason, the 36-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers in hopes of rebuilding his stock after a poor finish in 2022. While having a resurgent season in LA, he hit 32 home runs (his most since 2019). ) and a batting average of .274, Thursday was only his 110th game of the season after two stints on the injured list combined to cost him more than a month.
“Analysts don’t value RBI as much as they used to,” Martinez said. “It used to be one of those things where you drive at 100km/h and get paid. The boys used to fight with all their might to score these runs. Nowadays it’s more of a casual thing than an approach thing.
“But I grew up in a time where there was a guy in the third or second position, you have to bring that guy in. You have to do whatever you have to do to get this guy into something. You may look stupid swinging on something in the dirt, but it’s part of it. I appreciate my bat-to-ball skills in driving this guy and I’m very proud of that.”
In fact, reaching the century mark required an outstanding situational performance from the six-time All-Star.
Thursday’s highlight was Martinez’s 15th home run and 53rd RBI with two outs this season. He leads the majors in RBIs with two outs and trails only Matt Olson in home runs with two outs.
Martinez is also batting .325 with runners in scoring position this year, the third-best mark on the team behind Freeman and Betts.
That makes Martinez, who will be the club’s everyday hitter in the playoffs, a key factor in the Dodgers’ fate in October. His 100th RBI wasn’t enough to lead the team to victory on Thursday. But his running performance could be crucial to a good postseason run.
“For me, that’s everything,” Martinez said of the possibility of making runs in the playoffs. “You have to score to win. You can have a lot of people on base, but if you don’t have a lot of people driving them in, it’s just people on base. For me that is a very valuable quality.”