Dodgers put it all together with complete team win

Taylor's putout, Freeman's HR, Thompson's decisive 2B add to dominant performance

June 23rd, 2022

CINCINNATI -- It’s been a while since the Dodgers have been pleased with their efforts in consecutive games. The lack of consistency has frustrated Los Angeles and has led to a 9-9 record in June.

But maybe a trip to Cincinnati to play the last-place Reds came at the perfect time for the Dodgers. After a 17-hit performance on Tuesday, Los Angeles stayed hot at the plate in an 8-4 win on Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.

Beating up on teams under .500 has been the expectation for the Dodgers over the last decade, but L.A. has struggled to “put it on teams” as backup catcher Austin Barnes said last week. On Wednesday, there were three plays that show what the Dodgers are capable of when they’re at their best.

Taylor’s defense swings momentum
Win probability before the play: 31.9%
Win probability after the play: 50.0%

Chris Taylor underwent offseason surgery on his right elbow, which naturally affected his arm strength to start the season. But Taylor showed that he’s fully healthy with his best throw of the season.

With the game tied at 4 in the fifth inning and momentum on the Reds’ side, Tommy Pham hit a shallow fly ball to Taylor in left field. Taylor took a few steps toward home plate after catching the ball and fired a perfect 89 mph one-hopper to Will Smith, who applied the tag on Jonathan India at the plate.

“He made a heck of a throw,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “He’s been building up his arm all year. Today was one of the first times -- last week I saw make a couple of throws that are more like him. And today it was just a great throw. Just a really good baseball play.”

The throw ended the inning and prevented the Dodgers from playing from behind in the latter innings, surely changing the Reds’ bullpen usage. Taylor’s throw also showed why the Dodgers have preferred keeping him in left field in Mookie Betts’ absence. Gavin Lux will get the start in left field on Thursday, but he doesn’t have the arm strength in the outfield that Taylor possesses.

“That was awesome,” said Dodgers starter Tyler Anderson. “It’s just textbook. He’s a very textbook player and that was a very textbook play.”

Freeman’s power surge continues to lead the way
Win probability before homer: 50.0%
Win probability after homer: 70.0%

Everyone is aware that Freddie Freeman will be making his return to Atlanta this weekend and the 2020 NL MVP is getting hot at the right time for the Dodgers. With the game tied at 4 in the seventh, Freeman smacked a solo homer over the right-center-field wall. It was yet another sign that Freeman, who prefers to go the other way, is beginning to pull balls in order to produce some more power.

“I think the hit tool he has, the big part of the field, left field in particular, is always there,” Roberts said. “But just to keep pitchers honest, that he can clear them out at times, I think it makes him a better hitter, a more dangerous hitter. And I don’t mind the pull-side homers, either.”

After his two-hit game, Freeman is 22-for-65 with three homers over his last 16 games. With Betts out of the lineup, the Dodgers are going to lean on Freeman more. Last season, Freeman experienced the same responsibility after Ronald Acuna Jr. went down with injury.

“No one’s going to replace what Mookie’s done this whole season,” Freeman said. “We’ve just got to step up and carry it, and hopefully he can get back soon.”

Welcome back, Trayce
Win probability before double: 83.1%
Win probability after double: 95.2%

When Betts went down, the Dodgers had to scramble to find a right-handed-hitting outfielder. They made a deal with the Tigers to get Trayce Thompson, who is in his second stint with the Dodgers after a promising start to his career in 2016-17.

Thompson’s role is to play against left-handed pitching, but in the eighth inning, the outfielder came through with the dagger, a two-run double against right-hander Joel Kuhnel to give Los Angeles some breathing room.

It was Thompson’s first extra-base hit in the Majors since hitting a double on Oct. 2, 2021, with the Cubs.

“That was a key at-bat,” Roberts said. “He took a big at-bat, big double, extended the inning and I know it made him feel good. The guys on the bench were pretty excited for him.”