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AJ is A-OK as Dodgers do damage in desert

Pollock delivers 2-run HR; Seager, Muncy also go deep
@kengurnick
July 31, 2020

Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger are homerless, a pair of MVPs batting a combined .185. But seven games into the season and the Dodgers are fine. In fact, they’re on fire. The win streak reached three with a 6-3 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field on Thursday night as

Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger are homerless, a pair of MVPs batting a combined .185. But seven games into the season and the Dodgers are fine. In fact, they’re on fire.

The win streak reached three with a 6-3 victory over the D-backs at Chase Field on Thursday night as home runs by AJ Pollock, Corey Seager and Max Muncy showed what a nightmare the Dodgers’ lineup is to opposing pitchers, even when their MVPs start slow.

Box score

“That’s the nice thing about having length to the lineup,” said manager Dave Roberts. “Where Cody and Mookie haven’t gotten untracked yet, and we can still be up there in the leaders for runs scored. We’re still being productive, but certainly getting those guys going is going to be a lot of fun.”

In the meantime, Pollock has mostly overcome the angst of his daughter’s premature birth and his case of coronavirus to help carry the offense. Returning to his family and home state after the Houston adventure, against his former team, he slugged a two-run homer in a three-run first inning and added a double and run in the fifth.

“To get here, it’s been a journey,” said Pollock, who is batting .471 (8-for-17). “I showed up late to Summer Camp, just going with the flow, I got coronavirus and all the stuff I had to go through to be able to play. And now that we’re playing, I’m happy to be here and be with the guys.

“I’ve had injuries and you’re fighting to get back and it’s kind of a similar situation with my daughter and getting her out of the hospital and my wife is frustrated day after day, but I think I’ve gotten much better taking it day to day. I’m getting my work done, not dwelling on stuff. The situation I’ve been in has forced me to put things behind me pretty quick. I’ve learned a lot.”

This comes in the wake of last season, when Pollock signed as a free agent, struggled while admittedly pressing, developed an elbow infection that sidelined him for two months, healed to have one of the hottest second halves on the club, then suffered through one of the worst postseason series on record.

Add it all up and his teammates are just as happy for him.

“My gosh, our lineup is so stacked -- you think about AJ Pollock there hitting toward the bottom end of the lineup, it’s just incredible,” said starting pitcher Ross Stripling, 2-0 after allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings. “How good he was here as a Diamondback, and the year he had last year with the infection, now to come back and have a great start after a stressful quarantine and a baby in 20 weeks, it’s awesome. AJ’s such a good dude and locker room guy, to see him living up to what we’re used to seeing is definitely fun to see.”

The Dodgers built their lead by patiently waiting for D-backs starter Robbie Ray to walk six in 4 2/3 innings, with Seager and Muncy homering in the second and sixth innings, respectively. Seager, who also homered on Wednesday night, came into the game 5-for-32 with 16 strikeouts against Ray.

"Hitting is contagious, when you can do that from the top down that's a tough night for a pitcher,” Seager said.

Seager's hot start is one to watch

Joe Kelly made his first appearance while on appeal from an eight-game suspension after the Houston incident and threw a 1-2-3 seventh inning. With both Kenley Jansen and Blake Treinen having pitched the previous two games, Pedro Báez earned his second career save.

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