Smith's star power on display in LA's sweep of Mets

Dodgers backstop belts two jacks in finale, joins franchise's catching greats in 100-HR club

May 30th, 2024

NEW YORK -- When looking at the Dodgers, most people look at the big three of Mookie Betts, Shohei Ohtani and Freddie Freeman. That’s understandable given the fact that all three of those superstars have at least one Most Valuable Player Award under their belts.

But over the course of the past two seasons, has established himself as one of the best two-way catchers in the sport. With him in the mix, the Dodgers now possess, arguably, the most feared big four in the sport.

Smith continued to make his mark, recording his first multihomer game of the season and the second of his career to lead the Dodgers to a 10-3 win over the Mets on Wednesday afternoon, completing the three-game sweep at Citi Field.

With those two jacks, Smith joined Roy Campanella, Mike Piazza and Steve Yeager in the 100-homer club as a catcher in Dodgers history.

“Yeah. That’s really cool. [Two of them] are Hall of Famers,” Smith said. “I’m sure they hit a few more than 100. It’s a cool accomplishment, cool milestone for me. But right now, I’m just focused on winning.”

After signing a 10-year extension days before the start of the 2024 season, Smith got off to another hot start at the plate, posting a .946 OPS in March and April. That was coming off the heels of one of his best offensive seasons in ‘23, earning himself the first All-Star appearance of his career.

In May, however, things have been harder to find for Smith. Coming into Wednesday’s game, Smith had just a .669 OPS in 21 games. But despite those struggles, when the Dodgers need Smith the most, he has an ability to produce at an elite level.

It was Smith who got Los Angeles on the board first in the second game of Tuesday’s doubleheader while hitting second in place of Ohtani, who got the game off. And 24 hours later, it was Smith again who opened the scoring with a solo homer against Mets starter David Peterson to lead off the second inning.

Then, with the game tied at 3 in the eighth, Smith took right-hander Adam Ottavino deep to give the Dodgers, who scored six runs in the frame, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The homer off Ottavino was another step in the right direction for Smith, who has uncharacteristically struggled against righties this season.

Coming into the series finale, Smith had a .668 OPS against righties compared to a 1.275 clip against southpaws.

But when Smith is at his best, he’s able to do damage regardless of who’s on the mound. And when the Dodgers are at their best, their All-Star catcher is usually responsible for a lot of the offensive production.

“Felt decent,” Smith said. “Not great the past couple weeks, but not bad either. Just continue to work in the cage with the hitting coaches and stick to my approach, and go out and execute it. But yeah, a couple balls went over the fence today.”

With Smith leading the charge, the rest of the Dodgers’ offense erupted with a six-run eighth inning, a welcomed sight after being held quiet for most of the last two weeks. Miguel Vargas, who will continue to get an extended look while Max Muncy is on the injured list, hit a two-run double to give Los Angeles some breathing room in the eighth.

Ohtani, who has been affected by a right hamstring bruise, also got going, hitting his 14th homer of the season and first since May 17. Jason Heyward also got into the game late and responded with a triple and a homer.

A good showing against the Mets was much-needed for the Dodgers after losing their previous five, including a three-game sweep against the Reds in Cincinnati. They were able to salvage the road trip in New York, looking much more like themselves in the process.

“It was great. Obviously, a great series results-wise for us,” manager Dave Roberts said. “A lot of good things happened, a lot of good situational hitting, two-strike hitting. We put together a lot of good at-bats.”