Puig has career game with 3 homers, 7 RBIs
After going deep twice on Friday, right fielder has 5 long balls in series
ST. LOUIS -- Yasiel Puig was hot coming into the Dodgers' game Saturday in St. Louis. Now he's sizzling.
Puig had the first three-homer game of his career as the Dodgers pummeled the Cardinals, 17-4, at Busch Stadium. Puig's drives, against three different pitchers, traveled a combined 1,225 feet, according to Statcast™.
It was an historic performance for Puig, whose seven RBIs also established a career high. Puig is 6-for-11 with five homers and nine RBIs in the first three games of the series, all of them victories for the Dodgers. He has five homers in the last two games.
"I feel good at the plate," said Puig, batting .272 with 21 homers and 58 RBIs. "I'm looking for good pitches to hit and trying to hit the ball in the air like all of my teammates and coaches talk to me about every day. They tell me, 'Hit the ball in the air and stop hitting ground balls.' God blessed me with these two games."
Puig became the first Dodger to hit five homers in two games since Shawn Green in 2002.
Puig's second homer, a line drive to left against Mike Mayers in the fifth, was the hardest hit by a Dodger at 114.3 mph since Statcast™ started tracking in 2015. Previously, that distinction belonged to Joc Pederson at 113.9 mph with a home run July 3 against Pittsburgh.
J.D. Martinez, then with the D-backs, was the most recent player to hit five home runs in two games -- one in the first game, four in the second -- on Sept. 2 and Sept. 4, 2017. Boston's Mookie Betts on May 31-June 1, '16, was the most recent player to hit five homers in two games, with multiple homers in both games.
"He's focused and he understands the importance of every pitch," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. "When he does that, he's as good as anybody in baseball. For him to be as productive, have that day, get us on the board and get some space with the score, we needed every bit of it today. Guys fed off his energy."
Puig hit a bases-empty homer to left-center off John Gant to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
In the fifth, Puig smashed a three-run homer to make it 8-4. His final homer, another three-run blast, was a towering drive to left against Luke Weaver that made it 13-4.
"I don't try too much," Puig said of what's going right when he goes on one of his tears. "I try to look for something good to hit and put the ball in play. I'm trying to [swing] easy at home plate. Thank God, I'm hitting everything right now. It was a good day for me, and I'm so happy."
Puig, who has seven multihomer games in his career, doesn't necessarily endorse Roberts' theory that Puig is more focused as competition for playing time exists on a talented and deep Dodgers team.
"It's the same," Puig said. "We play hard every day and we want to be back in the playoffs, like every year. We need to play like a team, like family, hard every day, every pitch and every situation. The best team on the field is going to win the division."
Puig's teammates marvel at the outfielder when he's playing at a level that carries the team.
"This is as hot as I've seen him," winning pitcher Rich Hill said. "Just the confidence that he has in the box. ... He's been very patient, too, especially with that third home run. It was an 0-2 count, and he just waited for his pitch. That shows a lot of poise."
Third baseman Justin Turner, who had three hits along with Puig, Pederson and Cody Bellinger, said Puig is playing at a different level.
"We all know the talent that he has," Turner said. "He puts in the work and gets good results. He's been great for us all year. He's done a great job staying in the zone and swinging at good pitches. He had the right approach, and it turned into three homers."
Bellinger, who had a home run and a career-best six RBIs, normally would have been the talk of the game. Not on this day, and he was OK with Puig in the spotlight.
"Look at him. He's a specimen," Bellinger said. "Once he can do what he knows he can do, consistently, it's going to be pretty scary."