The Lux life: Phenom gives Dodgers a jolt

May 12th, 2021

LOS ANGELES -- Over the last three weeks, the Dodgers haven’t been able to get the big hit that pushes them over the top. They certainly got it on Tuesday.

With the Dodgers trailing by one with two outs in the eighth, crushed a three-run homer off right-hander Rafael Montero to send the Dodgers to a 6-4 win over the Mariners at Dodger Stadium.

It was Lux’s first regular-season homer at Chavez Ravine and, arguably, the biggest homer of his young career. The moonshot had an exit velocity of 106.5 mph and traveled a Statcast-projected 413 feet.

“Every win is important, and they all feel good, but they’re not created equal, I think,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Just the way we came back and won a ballgame and how we did it. Gavin has been grinding, and for him to get that big hit was huge for our ballclub. Very exciting for him, for all of us.”

For seven innings, it looked like the Dodgers were headed for their 11th one-run loss. The Mariners jumped out to a 4-1 lead thanks to two solo homers by Mitch Haniger and a two-run shot from Kyle Seager. It’s the first time Walker Buehler has allowed three homers at Dodger Stadium. Over the last few weeks, an outing like Buehler’s would’ve resulted in a loss for the Dodgers, given how poorly the offense has been performing.

But Tuesday was different. Max Muncy launched his sixth homer and Corey Seager chipped in with a key two-run single in the seventh to cut the deficit to one. Then, it was Lux’s turn to play the hero.

As soon as Lux made contact, he dropped his bat in front of home plate and pounded his chest three times as he screamed into the home dugout. It was the type of swing the Dodgers had been waiting for, and they hope that it’s the swing that gets them back on track.

That’s the type of emotion that could help propel the Dodgers to happier days. While they have had a pair of blowout wins over the last few weeks, an emotional comeback win like this could help the Dodgers regain their spirit. After the game, the Dodgers took part in a beer shower, a celebration that the club breaks out after good wins. Members of the team also took to social media to poke fun at Lux’s “tight pants,” which are actually Buehler’s pants that the infielder wears when the right-hander is on the mound.

It’s the type of camaraderie that might fade slightly during a losing streak. It wasn’t missing on Tuesday.

“Especially coming from behind, that might give us some momentum there. It definitely felt good to get that win,” Lux said. “Obviously, we haven’t been playing great baseball, but tonight was a clean game. Overall, it was really fun.”

While the win was a big one for the Dodgers, the moment could also be a big one for Lux. The former top prospect was given the keys to the everyday second-base job early in Spring Training, but he hasn’t quite locked it down through the first 36 games of the season. Lux got off to a hot start, then struggled and was later forced to miss 10 days with a wrist injury.

Lately, however, he has shown signs of the type of player the Dodgers hope could be a difference-maker. With a 2-for-4 night, Lux is now hitting .323 (10-for-31) in his last eight games. All the attention in the lineup goes to the likes of Mookie Betts, Justin Turner, Cody Bellinger, Seager and Muncy -- and deservedly so -- but a consistent Lux could give the Dodgers another weapon, something they’ve been lacking this season.

“I think it can be huge,” Buehler said of having Lux produce the way he has lately. “You can see the pent up emotion inside of him come out, which is a good thing and something that we want. If he keeps hitting the ball like that, he can yell and scream whatever he pleases. I think it’s big for us as a unit.”

Lux’s big swing -- and loud scream -- proved it.