Dodgers taking it one rout at a time
Turner and others prefer not to look behind or ahead on this superb season.
NEW YORK — Justin Turner could not identify the culprit. It might have been a member of the team. It might have been a Citi Field support staffer. Turner was unsure who asked what the Dodgers’ record was after Sunday’s 8-0 victory over the New York Mets, but he was positive about the response.
“Who cares?” came the chorus inside the food room of the visitors’ clubhouse.
To be clear: The record is 79-32. It is the best in baseball. The team is on pace for 115 wins, one shy of the modern record set by the 2001 Seattle Mariners. Since 1954, only two teams have won 110 games or more. Each day, the Dodgers march toward history.
Yet, inside the day-today operations of this juggernaut, there is only calm. The players do not fixate on the consequences of their actions. They do not worry about any excessive pressure for October. They show up a few hours before each game, stage a three-hour demolition of that night’s opponent and head out, ready to repeat the process the next day.
“No one is really looking back at what we’ve already done,” Turner said. “No one is looking ahead. It’s not about trying to figure out who we’re going to match up with in the playoffs. It’s about showing up, trying to win a ballgame that day. That’s all that matters.”
In this series, which the Dodgers swept with a cumulative 21-4 score, the team displayed the depth of its talent. They received con-
tributions from every spot in the lineup, from the top of the starting rotation to the back end, from the unseen actors offering data and insight to the players.
On Friday, new arrival Yu Darvish benefited from sequencing advice given by general manager Farhan Zaidi. Two days later, the lineup seized on information from the advance scouting department and first base coach George Lombard to terrorize Mets starter Steven Matz for three stolen bases in the first inning.
“It’s a really good feeling to show up every single day — regardless of the circumstances, the opponent, the location — and expect to win,” manager Dave Roberts said. “And we’re doing that.”
The Dodgers hung three runs on Matz in the first inning and Turner supplied a two-run shot in the third. Cody Bellinger capped the scoring with a two-run blast in the eighth. Amid the flurry of run support, HyunJin Ryu (4-6) gave up one hit, a third-inning single by Travis d’Arnaud, in seven innings. No other Met reached base against him.
“Our team expects nothing but winning,” Ryu said. “As a starting pitcher, I try to put my teammates in a position where they can win.”
Like Kenta Maeda earlier in the week, Ryu appeared unfazed by Darvish’s arrival. With Darvish on the roster, it appears unlikely that Maeda or Ryu will start for the Dodgers in the playoffs. Maeda responded with seven scoreless innings the day after Darvish was acquired last week. Ryu matched that outing Sunday.
The players looked at ease before the game. On Saturday, the Mets distributed 15,000 necklaces bearing outfielder Yoenis Cespedes’ No. 52 in faux diamonds. Enrique Hernandez procured one and wore it around the clubhouse Sunday afternoon.
Across the room, Kenley Jansen pestered Alex Wood, a native of Charlotte, N.C., about asking Hornets owner Michael Jordan to sign his sneakers. In the dugout, Roberts fielded questions about Darvish pitching left-handed and Yasiel Puig planting kisses on hitting coach Turner Ward.
Amid the laughter, Lombard briefed the hitters on Matz’s troubles holding runners. The information proved vital in the first. Turner swiped second base, avoiding a tag in the process. After a walk by Bellinger, the duo executed a double steal.
“We had a lot of information on that guy, that he’s really slow, especially on guys who don’t run a whole lot, like myself,” Turner said.
The brio proved vital. Logan Forsythe threaded a two-run single up the middle. Austin Barnes banged a run-scoring double into the left-field corner. The lead would never be in danger; the Mets would not advance a runner to second base until the ninth inning.
In the third, Turner returned to torment his former employers. Before Saturday, he had gone 13 games between homers. He launched a solo shot during Saturday’s late-game fusillade. On Sunday, he hammered a 91-mph fastball for a two-run shot.
The lead expanded to five runs, and Ryu was rolling. He struck out the side in the first and six in the first three innings. He finished with eight strikeouts.
The Dodgers offense went quiet until the eighth. On the mound was Josh Smoker. Turner ripped a two-out double. Bellinger crushed a waist-high fastball for his 32nd homer.
“It’s been unreal,” Bellinger said. “Our bullpen, our pitching staff, our lineup — it’s the real deal. We’re just trying to ride it out as long as we can.”
The ride goes to Phoenix on Tuesday. The Dodgers end this three-city trip facing the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team they might see in a National League division series.
For now, the players insist, they will not allow themselves to forecast October.
“When guys even start to bring it up,” Turner said, “it gets pushed to the side right away.”