Betts in IL return: HR, must-see grab at 2B

Pujols caps strong series with key RBI double; Urías turns in scoreless start

August 2nd, 2021

PHOENIX -- As Dodgers manager Dave Roberts fills out his lineup card these days, he has a lot more options to choose from than he did in recent weeks. Not only because of the team’s Trade Deadline acquisitions, either.

and are back from injuries. Mainstays such as and have been reliable. Future Hall of Famer is available off the bench or to start in enticing matchups against left-handers. And soon, Roberts will have to figure out how to work Trea Turner into the mix.

It can be fun for Roberts and Dodgers fans to watch the offensive potential realized, such as on days like Sunday, when L.A.’s bats continued their outburst with a 13-0 rout of Arizona at Chase Field. The Dodgers scored 21 runs over the final two games to secure a series victory.

Here are three takeaways from the finale of Los Angeles’ 3-3 road trip.

1. Betts is back and ready to provide a boost
Roberts didn’t want Betts to have to spend a lot of time on artificial turf in his first game back, considering he missed the previous 12 days due to right hip inflammation. So Roberts made the decision to put his usual starting right fielder at second base, marking only the second time Betts had started there since 2014, and his second appearance there this season.

It didn’t take long for Betts to make a big play -- and to show that he’s capable of providing stellar defense wherever the Dodgers put him. Betts made an impressive over-the-shoulder grab in shallow left-center field in the first inning, hauling in a flare off the bat of Drew Ellis.

“He impacted really quickly,” Roberts said. “Made a couple other nice plays, the unassisted double play [in the eighth], just a lot of good things, took some good at-bats. Across the board, it was good to have him back, first and foremost.”

Betts returned to his spot atop the batting order and went 2-for-5, including a solo home run off the left-field foul pole in the ninth against D-backs catcher Bryan Holaday, who took the mound with the game out of hand. Betts also walked to open the game and singled in the seventh, when he later scored on Turner’s three-run homer.

Before getting activated from the IL, Betts had discussed how it’s been a tough year due to numerous nagging injuries. It felt good for him to get back so he can contribute, he said.

“That’s huge, just for my mental,” Betts said. “I haven’t played in a while, so being able to come back and do something is always a huge plus. And then being able to have a game like today makes it to where I’m super ready for tomorrow.”

2. Pujols showcases depth of lineup, bench
Los Angeles had many impressive showings behind Betts in the lineup, too. Seager doubled and scored two runs in his third game off the IL. Turner drove in four runs and homered for the second straight game. Pollock had four hits and two RBIs while extending his hitting streak to 11 games and his on-base streak to 20 games.

But it was Pujols who broke the game open during the five-run second, capping an impressive weekend for the 41-year-old. Starting at first base with Arizona sending left-hander Caleb Smith to the mound, Pujols delivered a key three-run double, his fourth RBI hit of the series.

“The infusion of Albert a couple months ago was huge for us, impacting us in the clubhouse, on the field,” Roberts said. “Today, that two-out double was a backbreaker.”

Pujols may not be the same power slugger he once was, but he’s showing he can be valuable to the Dodgers in their pursuit of another deep run through October.

3. Don’t forget about Urías on stacked staff
There’s been a lot of attention on the Dodgers adding Max Scherzer and Danny Duffy to a roster that already included Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. That’s a lot of star power atop the pitching staff.

But left-hander is having a tremendous season that can’t be overlooked. He tossed five scoreless innings on Sunday to notch his 13th win -- tied with Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks for the most in MLB -- scattering four hits and striking out seven.

Urías improved to 4-0 with a 2.16 ERA over his past seven starts.

“I feel good, I feel strong, I’m going out there and doing whatever I can to help the team win and to give them as much as I can,” Urías said through an interpreter. “I’m looking forward to what comes next. Obviously, I feel strong and healthy.”

It was a needed outing after the Dodgers’ bullpen covered 7 1/3 innings on Friday and the team went with all relievers on Saturday. Urías continues to be reliable when called upon this year.

Now, the Dodgers can turn to Buehler and Scherzer for their two-game series against the Astros, a 2017 World Series rematch at Dodger Stadium that begins Tuesday. And with things trending upward for Los Angeles, there’s the potential for the good feelings coming out of the Trade Deadline and for the momentum to continue building.