LOS ANGELES -- A player can sign a four-year, $55 million free-agent contract and press to prove his worth, sometimes with irreversibly negative consequences. So, A.J. Pollock's .412 batting average, 1.206 OPS and six RBIs one series into his Dodgers career? That’ll work.
“If you can draw it up, you want to get off to a good start,” said Pollock, after he delivered a crucial two-run double in an eighth-inning comeback and 8-7 Dodgers win over his former club, the D-backs, at Dodger Stadium on Sunday.
“It does feel good to get off to a good start here. The beginning of the year is a little weird, getting the first hit and first win and that out of the way.”
That hasn’t always happened in the history of Dodgers free agents. Remember Andruw Jones?
Anyway, Pollock won’t soon forget the three wins in four games out of the gate against his old friends, as his new friends set a Los Angeles record of 42 runs in a four-game series, two shy of the 1953 franchise record.
The series exceeded its share of oddities, from a pair of catchers pitching, to an umpire leaving with whiplash to a six-hour, five-minute marathon and five Dodgers hit batters (continuing a trend against Arizona).
“Not normal,” Pollock said of the series. “The first three games were crazy and the comeback today was great.”
Then there are the sheer offensive numbers. In four games, the Dodgers are batting .327 with a 1.086 OPS and an average of 10.5 runs per game. They have 27 walks in 40 innings.
Pollock singled and scored in the Dodgers’ three-run first inning, but the double was pivotal and, as Pollock indicated, lucky, which can be said for the entire inning.
Justin Turner led off with a bouncer to the hole that shortstop Nick Ahmed couldn’t backhand, drawing an error. With one out, Bellinger legged out an infield single on a 3-2 pitch. On a 1-1 pitch from Yoshihisa Hirano away, Pollock jabbed at the ball and sent it just inside first base and down the line.
“To be honest, I was focused on how quick he was to the plate and it was messing up my timing,” Pollock said. “I’d love to take credit for a great swing, but a little bit of luck was involved. It wasn’t the prettiest swing, but it worked out.”
The ball wasn’t hit hard enough to get to right fielder Adam Jones, who tried to pick it up when it stopped, but dropped it. Pollock, running through the second-base bag, hustled to third as the go-ahead run. He scored on Max Muncy's sharp sacrifice fly to center.
“To be on third base was just as big [as the hit],” said manager Dave Roberts.
Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen picked up his first save of the year by pitching a perfect ninth inning, which didn’t seem likely after starter Walker Buehler couldn’t protect a four-run lead and couldn’t get an out in the fourth inning. He was followed by Pedro Baez, who allowed a two-run homer to opposing pitcher Luke Weaver, the centerpiece in Arizona’s much-talked-about Paul Goldschmidt trade with St. Louis.
Buehler made only one spring start because his right arm “didn’t feel right,” then was rushed into the season-opening starting rotation. But he rejected the suggestion that the disrupted Spring Training led to his inability to put away hitters in the fourth-inning debacle.
“I wouldn’t put too much into the spring, I got my work in,” said Buehler.