Zach McKinstry and Tyler Anderson power Dodgers past Mets

As of this weekend, Zach McKinstry had made four trips to and from Oklahoma City this season but only one trip to the plate in a big league game.

When he was pushed back and forth by the Dodgers’ Triple-A partner, the utility player was usually only needed by them as a warm body on the bench, staying there for a few days before rejoining the minors once the team it figured out longer-term rosters.

On Friday, however, the Dodgers lacked alternatives.

The day after it was announced that Kevin Pillar had fractured his left shoulder, the team put Edwin Ríos on the injured list with a torn right hamstring. Eddy Alvarez was called up but only arrived at the stadium just before the first pitch.

With the New York Mets starting right-hander Chris Bassitt on the mound, McKinstry was the only left-hander left in the Dodgers’ clubhouse. They made him batsman-designate and placed him eighth in the batting order.

Then in the fourth inning they watched as a sell-out crowd of 52,505 erupted in celebration when he lined a two-run home run into the pavilion at right field, a crucial hit in a game the Dodgers won 6-1.

“It’s a great feeling to be back,” said a smiling McKinstry after the game. “This is a big step forward.”

McKinstry’s cracker wasn’t the only standout performance on Friday night.

Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson pulled off the heaviest lift and extended his scoreless innings streak to 26 last month by scoring six more zeros against the second-highest scoring club in the major leagues.

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Anderson delivers during the first inning against the Mets.

Dodgers starting pitcher Tyler Anderson delivers during the first inning against the Mets.

(John McCoy/Associated Press)

“Looking back, he’s had all these scoreless innings,” said manager Dave Roberts, “but he’s good at staying in the moment.”

The left-hander once again relied heavily on a switch that Roberts joked had “parachute, bugs bunny” qualities, giving up just three hits, not giving up a single walk and slamming five while again hitting the zone 57 filled out of 81 pitches.

“We’re doing a good job of moving forward and planning the players,” Anderson said.

Cody Bellinger and Chris Taylor hit their sixth home runs and Trea Turner extended his hitting streak to 26 games by winning with an RBI two for four. Amid a Pride Night celebration in which the Dodgers wore caps with rainbow-themed logos for the first time in club history — they also recognized the family of the late Glenn Burke, a former Dodger who became MLB’s first openly gay former player — drew the team a game ahead of the Mets for the league’s best record, which improved to 35-17.

With a sudden wave of injuries, contributions from deep players like McKinstry could be what the Dodgers need most in the coming weeks. While Pillar was placed on Friday’s 60-day injured list, Roberts said Ríos will be out for at least “a handful of weeks” after “some of the tendon or muscle detached from the bone” while he was trying to beat out a doubles game on Thursday night.

“I’m really down for Eddy,” Roberts said of Ríos, who was given extra playing time last week after Max Muncy was placed on the injured list. “He’s had such a good start so I feel sorry for him to miss a couple of weeks now, to put his season on hold.”

McKinstry jumped at the chance and looked more like the rookie sensation who hit nearly 300 last April than the hesitant hitter who collapsed after returning from an oblique strain in the summer, struggles that sent McKinstry to the minors was demoted to end the season.

“He got a little too passive for me,” Roberts said on Friday. “He was very dynamic early on, aggressive in the impact zone. Then I think he hit a little lull. And often when guys start fighting they become passive.”

Justin Turner, left, greets Dodgers teammate Cody Bellinger after Bellinger hit a two-run, second-inning homer on June 3, 2022.

Justin Turner, left, greets Dodgers teammate Cody Bellinger after Bellinger hit a two-barrel homer in the second inning.

(John McCoy/Associated Press)

McKinstry bounced back this season with a strong start in Triple A, one of several Oklahoma City hitters who have been swinging a hot bat lately.

It’s that group — which, in addition to Alvarez, also includes veterans Jake Lamb, Stefen Romero, Jason Martin and Andy Burns, as well as prospects Miguel Vargas and Michael Busch — that gave Roberts confidence on Friday that the Dodgers were feeling their newfound insecurity in the roster could survive.

Blake Treinen’s injury update

Blake Treinen played catch for the first time since his shoulder injury in April on Friday afternoon. It was an easy session – Treinen wasn’t anywhere near 100% intense and only threw for around five minutes – but the right-hander said he was feeling good afterwards and will throw more regularly as he continues his recovery. Zach McKinstry and Tyler Anderson power Dodgers past Mets

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