Dodgers sweep on Betts' first walk-off hit with LA

NL West lead increases to 6 games at halfway point of the season

July 7th, 2022

LOS ANGELES – The Dodgers wrapped up the halfway mark of the season with a bang.

Dodgers’ superstar Mookie Betts hit a walk-off single that bounced over the mound in the ninth inning to secure the Dodgers’ 2-1 win over the Rockies on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium. It’s the Dodgers’ second walk-off hit of the season and Betts’ first since joining the team in 2020.

Betts’ infield single against a five-man Rockies infield had an exit velocity of 74.3 mph and an expected batting average of .140.

“He’s a tough at-bat,” Betts said of Rockies reliever Daniel Bard. “It didn’t look pretty, but the job got done.”

The Dodgers have definitely gotten the job done through their first 81 games of the season. With the win, the Dodgers improved to a 52-29 record halfway through the 162-game season. By comparison, the Dodgers were 50-31 at this point last season and won 106 games. Los Angeles still believes its best baseball is ahead of it, but that hasn’t stopped the team from building a six-game lead over the Padres in the National League West.

“I think we’ve played all right,” Betts said. “We haven’t really gotten hot like we’re capable of. … In the end, hopefully we can get on a run and really make a bigger gap [in the division], but until then, we just need to take it one game at a time.”

Still more offense left in the tank?

Before the season started, the Dodgers’ offense was drawing comparisons to some of the best lineups in the history of the game. Some truly wondered if the 2022 Dodgers lineup, with the addition of Freddie Freeman, would ultimately become the best ever.

Those expectations were always going to be hard to reach. But as Betts said, the Dodgers haven’t gotten red-hot at any point this season, yet rank near the top in almost every offensive category. The 405 runs scored by the Dodgers are the most in the NL and second in the Majors behind the Yankees, who have 421 through 82 games.

Trea Turner, Will Smith, Freeman and Betts have led the way offensively. But over the last two weeks, Justin Turner, Max Muncy and Cody Bellinger have shown signs of life at the plate, giving the Dodgers the dangerous length they’ve been searching for all season. Gavin Lux has also played a key role in the team’s success, mostly in the nine-hole. On Wednesday, Lux, Bellinger and Justin Turner combined for seven hits.

“I think we’re finally starting to play good all-around baseball,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “I think finally our offense is playing for one another and doing more of what we’re capable of. I get we only scored two runs tonight, but how we’re going about it is considerably better.”

Pitching leads the way

Back in November, president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the team’s pitching staff needed to survive the first half of the season until reinforcements, like Dustin May, Danny Duffy and Tommy Kahnle, returned from long-term injuries. Granted, the Dodgers hadn’t re-signed Clayton Kershaw and the rest of the starting rotation was a mystery.

Since then, the Dodgers have lost Walker Buehler and Andrew Heaney for a large chunk of the first half, but still own the best starters’ ERA in the Majors by a good margin. Tony Gonsolin has been a revelation and is in serious consideration to start the All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium in two weeks. Julio Urías can also make a case for the honor. When healthy, Kershaw has been as good as any pitcher in the NL. So far in July, Dodgers starters have allowed four earned runs over 37 2/3 innings.

“That’s the reason we’ve been able to win ballgames,” Betts said of the rotation. “Starters have been going deep into ballgames and if they haven’t, our bullpen has definitely picked them up. Our pitching has been great. We just need to continue to score runs and we’ll be all right.”

On Wednesday, the Dodgers continued to lean on the staff. Mitch White filled in for Heaney once again and didn’t allow a hit until the sixth inning. He gave up one unearned run over 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts. He then passed it off to a bullpen that has lost Daniel Hudson for the season and Blake Treinen for the majority of the first half. That hasn’t stopped the relievers from producing; they held the Rockies without a hit over 3 1/3 innings on Wednesday.

Overall, the Dodgers are still waiting to get fully healthy. They’re hoping that happens at some point in the second half. But even if it doesn’t, the Dodgers are confident their best baseball is ahead of them. A scary sight for teams considering they’re on a 104-win pace without getting “hot.”