NEW YORK -- Despite coming into Sunday’s matchup four games behind the Giants in the National League West, some projections still have the Dodgers as the team to beat in the division.
Fangraphs gives the Dodgers a 57.4 percent chance of taking the division and a whopping 20.9 percent chance of winning the World Series, by far the most of any team. Los Angeles is also the betting favorite to secure back-to-back titles.
The games, however, aren’t played on a computer or through simulations. The reality is that the Dodgers need to make up ground over the final 44 games of the regular season. But after securing a three-game sweep with a 14-4 win over the Mets on Sunday at Citi Field, L.A. showed exactly why it is one of the favorites in the NL.
“We have to worry about ourselves,” said Dodgers first baseman Max Muncy. “These two teams that we played [the Phillies and Mets] are fighting for first place, and they’re pretty hostile environments on top of that. It was just nice to win a bunch of games and go home on a happy note.”
After two close games against the Mets, the Dodgers took care of business right from the jump on Sunday. Justin Turner, who said Friday that he still enjoys proving his old team wrong for cutting him loose, got the scoring started with a first-inning two-run homer off New York starter Carlos Carrasco. Two batters later, Will Smith continued his dominance against the Mets, launching a solo homer -- his third of the series -- to give the Dodgers a quick 3-0 lead.
In the second, the loud noises continued against Carrasco. Trea Turner doubled in a run and Muncy launched the first of his two homers, a two-run blast to give the Dodgers a 6-0 lead. Six of the first nine balls put in play by Los Angeles had an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher. Muncy would later add another two-run blast to cap off a three-run sixth inning.
The 14 runs were plenty of support for Max Scherzer, who once again showed why the Dodgers went out and got him before the July 30 Trade Deadline. Scherzer navigated through some early traffic, but he allowed just two runs on four hits and struck out seven over six innings. The future Hall of Famer also chipped in at the plate with a sac fly.
With Scherzer and Walker Buehler leading the way, the Dodgers’ pitching staff dominated a subpar Mets offense. Outside of a four-run seventh inning on Friday, Los Angeles limited New York’s offense to six runs (five earned) in the other 28 innings this weekend.
“He picked us up time and time again tonight and found his way in some stress and pitched out of it and limited damage,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But for him, he didn’t bat an eye, and that’s what makes him so great. I can’t say enough about him, and we needed that outing, but I think we made it a little bit more difficult than it should’ve been.”
The Dodgers did make it more difficult for Scherzer due to some shaky infield defense. It’s something L.A. will have to improve over the next five weeks, and it has been the most inconsistent part of the club this season. The glovework was particularly ugly early on Sunday, especially for Trea Turner, who is still getting comfortable with the transition to second base.
“Today, we just have to wash that one,” Roberts said. “Fortunately, on the offensive side, we were able to overcome it.”
Coming into the six-game East Coast trip, the Dodgers knew they had to play well in order to prevent falling further back in the standings. Though it wasn’t able to make up any ground on San Francisco, Los Angeles ended the trip with a 5-1 record.
“Obviously we would’ve loved to [make up ground on the Giants],” Roberts said. “But we can’t control what they do, so we just have to keep winning baseball games.”