A few hours before his Dodgers set another home run record, manager Dave Roberts was asked about the possibility that spacious Globe Life Field in Arlington would be a postseason bubble site, and how that might hamper a team so reliant on the long ball.
Even before three more home runs led to a 7-2 win over the Rangers -- the 11,000th regular-season victory in franchise history, dating back to its founding in Brooklyn in 1884 -- Roberts was diplomatic, but didn’t sound concerned that this -- or any -- ballpark can contain his sluggers.
“It’s a level playing field for both clubs,” Roberts said. “As far as the bubble, if that’s what’s put in front of us, I’m all for it. And if it’s playing games here in the World Series, I’m all for it, too, and we should find a way to beat that opponent and not the ballpark.”
They found their usual way on Sunday, riding home runs from Corey Seager, Will Smith and Cody Bellinger to set a National League record for home runs in a calendar month with 57. It should be noted, however, that this is the first year the NL has had a designated hitter. The Major League record is 74, set by the Yankees last August.
“We’re having fun, and I think we’re all now used to this season,” Bellinger said. “It took a while for a lot of people to get used to it, but it feels normal now and we’re playing like we thought we would.”
The victory allowed the Dodgers to win the rubber match of a three-game series after losing the opener for the second consecutive time, keeping intact their streak of not losing a series all season. They went 4-2 on the trip, are 10-2 in Interleague Play and have won 15 of the last 18.
“I think it speaks to the mindset, regardless of losing the first game of a series, [that] there’s no panic in the clubhouse,” Roberts said of the series streak. “We really take pride in how we play the game, and with the talent, we’ll win a lot of games.”
It was the ninth home run for Seager, who has five in the last 13 games. It was the fourth for Smith and 10th for Bellinger, who has six in his last 11 games.
The home runs provided plenty of support, even though rookie Tony Gonsolin had the shortest start of four this year. Gonsolin was shaky enough to walk three in only three innings with a wild pitch that allowed a run, but he also limited the damage of a 39-pitch third inning. He had the bases loaded and none out, but after the wild pitch battled back to leave them loaded when Joey Gallo was called out on strikes by plate umpire Marvin Hudson and Todd Frazier fanned on a slider, the 11th pitch of the at-bat.
“I probably felt the best of the whole outing in that at-bat,” Gonsolin said of the Frazier strikeout. “The adrenaline and [competitiveness] took over. I felt more convicted in my throws to Frazier. I’ve got to figure out how to get that momentum pitching to everyone.”
The Dodgers have optioned Gonsolin following two of his starts this year, but Roberts said “that’s not the plan right now,” even though the club is expecting Walker Buehler to come off the injured list shortly after Monday’s day off. Roberts was vague as to when Gonsolin actually would pitch again, but saw the bright side in his Sunday start.
“He could have come out a little more aggressive, but he didn’t have command of the split-change,” Roberts said. “Tony in that third inning, a lot of stress there, to get out of there with [one] run, I think he grew a lot today and he’ll make his next start. To find a way to make pitches after they spoil good pitches -- that Frazier at-bat was one of the best battles I’ve seen all year. For our guy not to give in was big for his confidence and growth going forward.”
Dodgers starters have lasted fewer than five innings in 12 of the last 22 games. Rookie Victor González was first in a line of four relievers, and allowed one run in 1 2/3 innings while striking out one.
“Victor continues to pound the strike zone, being aggressive,” Roberts said of González. “There was soft contact in there, I thought he pitched great. Swing-and-miss stuff. The moment can’t get too big for him. All the guys did a great job with a handful of guys down today.”