Dodgers reassert dominance ... and could get better

September 4th, 2022

LOS ANGELES -- Given the way the Dodgers’ season has gone, watching them drop three in a row is almost shocking. It’s something that happens routinely to every team in the league. The Dodgers, as their record attests, have proven they’re not an ordinary team.

So how exactly do the Dodgers break out of a three-game skid, including one of their worst performances of the season on Friday? They put together one of their best all-around games on Saturday night, dominating the Padres in every way in a 12-1 rout at Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers’ magic number to win the NL West is down to 12. 

“A good night’s sleep definitely does help,” said Dodgers outfielder . “Luckily, today we came out and Julio [Urías] pitched well and we played well.”

The Dodgers didn’t take batting practice on the field on Saturday due to extreme heat warnings in the area. They made sure to get their hacks in early and often against the Padres. Eight players recorded at least one hit. The Dodgers combined for eight extra-base hits, including four homers. 

After sitting out a game Friday for the first time this season, didn’t waste any time announcing his return, smacking a two-run homer in the first inning to get the Dodgers on the board. 

In the fourth, it was Betts’ turn to take left-hander Sean Manaea deep, launching a three-run blast and setting a career high in the process with 33 homers. Quietly, Betts is making a push to be in the thick of the NL MVP conversation.

“I think if you’d ask who was going to lead our team in homers this year I don’t think Mookie would have been many people’s first choice,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “But he’s having a tremendous MVP-type season.” 

and also joined the homer party. Smith’s 20th home run of the season helped him become just the third catcher in Dodgers history to accumulate two or more seasons with 20 or more homers.

The Dodgers’ offense loves to see Manaea on the mound. L.A. has scored 22 earned runs over 12 2/3 innings in three matchups. A date with Manaea came at the perfect time for the Dodgers. 

“I truly don’t know,” Betts said, when asked about their success against Manaea. “Maybe he just gets us on the rest days.”

Urías continues to excel
The offensive outburst was more than enough for Urías, who continues to establish himself as a legitimate candidate for the NL Cy Young Award, thanks to one of the most dominant stretches of his Major League career.

Urías allowed one run over six innings, improving to 15-7 and lowering his season ERA to 2.29. The Mexican left-hander has allowed one or fewer runs in eight of his last nine starts, going 8-1 with a 1.13 during that span. 

In the last two postseasons, the Dodgers have utilized Urías in different ways. But this October, there’s no secret how the Dodgers will deploy him. Even if he won’t come out and say it, Urías has established himself as the ace of the staff. 

“There’s a lot of talent here,” Urías said in Spanish. “My focus isn’t on [October] yet. We still have a month left in the regular season, and that’s what I’m focused on. We have great talent, and I learn from my teammates every day. We have a healthy competition, and we’re all contributing.”

Boost in the bullpen
After being diagnosed with a partial tear in his right capsule,  was advised to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. Instead, the right-hander asked for other opinions and went a different route. 

That decision paid off on Saturday as Treinen made his first appearance since April 29, needing just five pitches to get through a clean seventh inning. Treinen opened his outing with a couple of 94 mph cutters before unleashing a 98 mph sinker and a 97 mph four-seamer to end his night.

“To have it clean, see some 98s, soft contact -- that’s what he does,” Roberts said. “He was really excited afterward.”

The Dodgers have been the best team in the Majors for a few months now. On Saturday, they showed exactly why they’ve been so dominant this season. And how they can get even better heading into October. That’s a scary sight for the rest of the league.