Dodgers bring the brooms out
Turner, Hernandez and Pederson homer as L.A. sweeps the four-game series.
On Thursday evening, in the seventh inning of a 6-3 victory over the New York Mets, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts orchestrated an elaborate ruse. He engages in feints like this often. He often refers to them as “just a little gamesmanship,” gambits to test the thinking of the opposing manager. Rarely do they work better than this.
With two outs, two runners aboard and the Dodgers leading by one run, Roberts sent Corey Seager into the on-deck circle for pitcher Pedro Baez. In the bullpen, Sergio Romo loosened up. The path appeared clear: If Enrique Hernandez reached base, Seager would replace Baez at the plate and Romo would replace Baez on the mound. When Hernandez walked, Roberts saw his bluff called. Seager and Romo sat down.
A third baseman in the minors, Baez batted for only the third time as a big leaguer. His rust did not steady the nerves of reliever Jerry
Blevins. Blevins walked Baez on four pitches to force in a run. Another scored when Blevins walked Austin Barnes. The lead bloated to three runs, and the fourgame unraveling of the Mets was complete.
The Dodgers trounced an opponent in freefall. The fight was not even. This weekend offers a more robust challenge, as the Colorado Rockies visit Dodger Stadium for the first time since April. Trailing Colorado for most of the season, the Dodgers surged ahead in the National League West as Colorado dropped two of three to Arizona this week.
Thursday featured no spillover from Wednesday, when a well-struck and welladmired homer from Yasiel Puig incited the ire of the Mets. The team did not retaliate. They did not do much of anything, and the Dodgers won for the seventh game in a row.
The Dodgers pulled ahead after home runs in the third inning by Justin Turner and Hernandez. Hyun-Jin Ryu gave up two runs before exiting after five innings. Chris Hatcher coughed up the lead in the sixth. Joc Pederson put his team back in front an inning later with a solo homer, his team’s 15th in this series, which set a franchise record for a four-game set.
The Dodgers produced 30 runs in the first three games of this series. On Thursday, they faced Steven Matz, a brittle but talented left-handed pitcher. Unlike 2016, the Dodgers are no longer helpless against lefthanders. The team entered Thursday ranked 11th in the majors in on-base-plus-slugging percentage against lefthanders. Most of the credit goes to improved performances from right-handed hitters like Turner, Hernandez and Barnes, plus the emergence of utility man Chris Taylor.
The Mets staked Matz a one-run lead. For the second game in a row, outfielder Curtis Granderson hit a leadoff homer. Granderson turned on a 92-mph fastball from Ryu.
Hernandez helped Ryu in the second. Ryu walked first baseman Lucas Duda, and shortstop Jose Reyes singled. Duda held at third base. He tried to score on a fly ball into left-center field. Playing center, Hernandez charged the ball and threw out Duda at the plate.
Matz slipped through the Dodgers lineup in the first two innings. The third was less kind to him. Matz paid for a belt-high fastball to Turner, who smashed the pitch beyond the left-field fence for his fifth home run of the season, and his fourth in 11 games since returning from the disabled list June 9.
The Dodgers were not done. Cody Bellinger hit a ground-run double. Up came Hernandez. Matz chose a curveball as his first pitch. The ball bent toward the far edge of the plate. Hernandez reached out and powered it over the fence in right.
Ryu handed a run back in the fourth. He fed catcher Travis d’Arnaud a changeup at the waist. D’Arnaud hit a solo homer.
Ryu would not return for the sixth. Roberts removed him after 86 pitches and summoned Chris Hatcher, who walked Jay Bruce. After a flyout by d’Arnaud, Roberts elected to let Hatcher, a right-hander, pitch to the left-handed-hitting Duda. The decision backfired as Duda ripped a double into the gap in right-center field.
Hernandez threw to the cutoff man, Logan Forsythe, whose throw pulled Barnes up the first base line. Barnes dove back toward the plate, where Bruce neglected to slide, but the ball kicked away and Bruce was safe.
The game did not stay tied for long. Pederson crushed the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh.
JOC PEDERSON is greeted by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts after hitting a seventh-inning homer.