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Here's why LA is dangerous -- 3 games, 13 HRs

Dodgers hit 4 more home runs in 18-run outburst vs. D-backs
@kengurnick
March 31, 2019

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers played Saturday night like it was Opening Day again. They routed the D-backs, 18-5, slugging four more home runs, two by Cody Bellinger, who went 4-for-6 with six RBIs. Justin Turner went 3-for-5 with five RBIs, while Joc Pederson and Austin Barnes also homered. The

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers played Saturday night like it was Opening Day again.

They routed the D-backs, 18-5, slugging four more home runs, two by Cody Bellinger, who went 4-for-6 with six RBIs. Justin Turner went 3-for-5 with five RBIs, while Joc Pederson and Austin Barnes also homered.

The game got so out of hand that Arizona catcher John Ryan Murphy made his pitching debut and tossed the last two innings to rest his team's bullpen (he allowed seven runs). Fellow catcher Russell Martin pitched the ninth inning for the Dodgers in his mound debut, retiring all three batters he faced.

The Dodgers, who hit an MLB-record eight Opening Day homers and have 13 through three games, orchestrated a four-run third inning, a five-run sixth and a seven-run eighth. The club record for home runs in a four-game series is 15, set last year.

After stranding 17 runners in Friday night’s 13-inning marathon loss, the Dodgers went 9-for-14 with runners in scoring position, and eight of those hits were singles.

“This is something we’ve been talking about since the winter,” manager Dave Roberts said of his offense’s newly minted approach to augment slugging with situational hitting. “Our guys are doing a lot of work to attack individual pitches the right way and using the whole field, having a two-strike approach. To get rewarded only adds conviction and confidence to the players."

In addition to their early slugging, the Dodgers also have 21 walks and a 1.170 OPS in three games.

“The idea of scaring pitchers out of the strike zone is something we believe in," Bellinger said. "You earn good pitches. When they’re afraid to throw to the white part of the plate, you’re going to get your walks. And when you do, you can slug them and hit good pitches, which makes you dangerous. It’s tough to navigate our lineup."

Martin's pitching debut

Martin induced a pair of groundouts and a flyout in his perfect ninth-inning appearance.

“He was our most effective pitcher these three games,” deadpanned Roberts.

Martin said he last pitched “probably close to 20 years” ago and said it felt like Little League again. He made 10 pitches, eight for strikes, with a top velocity of 83.7 mph. He forgot what to do after the final out, heading toward second base before David Freese reminded him that he first needed to shake hands with his catcher, Barnes.

“They just asked me if I had pitched before and I told them, ‘Yeah,’ and they asked if I wanted to and I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Martin said after adding to the organization’s relief depth. “The next thing you know, I was on the bump at Dodger Stadium. I didn’t have time to get nervous.

“Good WHIP, good ERA, good everything. I threw extra-BP speed and like a slurvy pitch, but I want to know what my spin rate is like. Everybody’s talking about spin rate and I want to know.”

Maeda's season debut

Dodgers starter Kenta Maeda allowed three solo homers, but otherwise pitched 6 2/3 solid innings with six strikeouts to earn the win. The right-hander threw 106 pitches, giving a breather to a bullpen that toiled for 7 2/3 innings the night before and leaving to a standing ovation.

“Kenta set the tone, because we needed length,” Roberts said. “He gave us exactly what we needed to get our bullpen back in line.”

Dodger Stadium history

Both teams started the game with leadoff homers, as Arizona's Jarrod Dyson opened the top of the first with a homer and Pederson answered with a leadoff blast in the bottom of the inning. That marked the first time in Dodger Stadium history that both teams opened with leadoff home runs.

Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers for MLB.com since 2001.