LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers hosted their first fireworks night at the ballpark since 2019 on Friday, but it was the L.A. offense that stole the show with five homers in the 12-1 win over the Rangers at Dodger Stadium.
As he has most of the season, Max Muncy got the Dodgers’ offense going early, delivering a thunderous two-run homer off right-hander Mike Foltynewicz. It was Muncy’s team-leading 14th homer of the season and it traveled a projected 428 feet.
Once Muncy got the Dodgers on the board, the rest of the offense followed. Justin Turner went back-to-back with Muncy, hitting his 12th homer of the season. A few batters later, Gavin Lux delivered the big blow, launching a three-run homer off Foltynewicz to give the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.
“I’m just seeing the ball better,” Lux said. “Staying as relaxed and smooth and easy as possible and trying not to do too much and kind of just letting the game [provide the] adrenaline and using that instead of trying to overswing or trying to do more. Just trying to stay as smooth as possible and that’s really been about it.”
Most of the damage came in the first, but the Dodgers didn’t stop there, scoring two runs each in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Albert Pujols launched his 672nd career homer in the fourth, a 417-foot blast well over the left-field wall. Pujols has five homers with the Dodgers and 10 on the season. It’s the 20th time Pujols has recorded at least 10 homers in a season.
“He’s been so productive, on the field, in the clubhouse,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts of Pujols. “You just never know what you’re going to get, but I think a guy that’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer, who is motivated and excited to be here, I think that’s a good start. The production has been really good for all of us.”
Will Smith also chipped in with a solo homer in the fourth to extend the lead. The five homers on Friday were a season high for Los Angeles.
That was plenty of run support for Clayton Kershaw, who bounced back from two consecutive tough outings, allowing one run (none earned) and striking out nine over six stellar innings. The future Hall of Famer has 36 games with nine or more strikeouts and no walks. That’s the second-most in MLB history behind just Randy Johnson, who accomplished it 41 times.
“I think it was a little better. My fastball command was probably the biggest improvement and something I worked on in-between starts and I felt like I actually knew where that was going today for the most part, so that’s a good improvement,” Kershaw said. “I feel like I’ve been pitching on the right day a lot this year, guys have been giving me a ton of run support.”
Kershaw also chipped in to that offensive outburst, going 2-for-3 with an RBI, raising his season batting average to .286.
“I’m just trying to keep up with Julio [Urías] and Walker [Buehler]. They’re raking right now,” Kershaw said. “So I need to get back on the board.”
Over the last few weeks, the Dodgers have shown just how quickly their offense can strike. They erupted for 11 runs in the first inning in a game against the Cardinals, scored eight in an inning against the Braves and put up a six-spot in the first inning Friday. They have now recorded 15 or more hits in five games this season.
L.A. will have to continue to monitor the health of Cody Bellinger and Muncy, who both left Friday’s game with injuries. They’re also waiting for Corey Seager to return at some point next month. With a healthy lineup, the sky’s the limit for a Dodgers lineup that is looking for consistency, but still leads the National League in runs.
They showed off their prowess again on Friday.
"Our offense is getting close, man,” Kershaw said. “That lineup tonight is a pretty tough lineup. Hopefully tonight, Muncy and Belli are OK -- I don’t know anything yet about that -- but hopefully they’re OK and we can keep that momentum going.”