Mookie barrels one as Dodgers swing heavy bats against Bucs

June 7th, 2024

PITTSBURGH -- Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has remained steadfast in his belief that when you have the caliber of hitters that he has in his lineup, it's best to continue running them out there even when things aren't going well at the plate.

It turns out he was right.

Following a recent stretch of struggles for the top of the Dodgers’ lineup, it was only a matter of time until the group had a night like they did in Thursday night’s series finale. After striking for six runs in a losing effort on Wednesday, Los Angeles racked up 14 hits in an 11-7 win to avoid a sweep in Pittsburgh, which would have been the team’s first at PNC Park since 2015.

The Dodgers’ 11 runs marked the most they’ve scored in a game since April 26 (12-2 win over the Blue Jays), and was much needed with struggles both on the mound and in the field. The offense was enough to make up for a short outing (three innings) by starting pitcher Walker Buehler, along with three errors, in what Roberts referred to as the team’s worst defensive game of the season.

The top four in the Dodgers’ lineup, consisting of Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani, Freddie Freeman and Teoscar Hernández, combined to go 7-for-19 with seven RBIs and seven runs scored. On top of that, every member of the starting lineup recorded at least one hit.

It was a complete team victory that the Dodgers hope will provide some much-needed momentum as they get set to clash with the Yankees in a three-game series starting on Friday night in the Bronx.

“Offensively, I thought we were really good up and down the lineup,” Roberts said. “Mookie came to life, [Teoscar Hernández] finally got some results, which was good for him. I thought Shohei swung the bat well today. And obviously, [Miguel Rojas] continues to swing a hot bat, too.”

The Dodgers chased Pirates starting pitcher Bailey Falter after just four-plus innings, charging him with five runs on eight hits and two walks. The group didn't waste any time getting started, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning via a three-run homer by Freeman that left the bat at 109.7 mph, according to Statcast, followed three batters later by an RBI single from Rojas.

Los Angeles then used five hits to strike for six runs in the top of the fifth. Teoscar Hernández led off with a home run before Enrique Hernández doubled in a run, and Betts put the game out of reach with a three-run blast to center field that traveled 410 feet, per Statcast.

Teoscar Hernández, who slugged his first home run since May 24, finished 3-for-5 with three runs scored. For Rojas, it was his second game this season with three or more hits -- both coming in the last week. The infielder is now batting .302 with six RBIs in his last 15 games.

Betts, who entered the series finale slashing just .103/.212/.207 in his previous seven games, recorded his first multi-hit game since May 28.

“For him to catch a barrel and go deep to center field, that was a really good sign,” Roberts said. “I thought tonight, he was on time and taking really good swings. Whatever they’ve been working on, clearly it was good to see it pay off tonight.”

Despite feeling like his swing is back to where it was at the beginning of the season, Betts was quick to point out that just one good game isn't reason enough to get complacent.

Betts said he’ll need to continue stacking productive days at the plate to truly feel like he’s out of his slump.

“It’s just one game,” he said. “Anything can happen in one game. We just have to put some games together. So, we’ll know in a couple days.”