The Dodgers entered tonight winners of four of their last five and both of their last two series, but surely wanted more as they were seeking a clean sweep of a quality Braves team and that’s exactly what they got in a 9-4 victory.
Despite things not exactly all going right for the Dodgers in 2019, they are now tied on games with the Twins for the best record in baseball, though they are behind on winning percentage.
The Boys In Blue struck first with a two-out rally in the 2nd, as Alex Verdugo singled sharply up the middle and Enrique Hernandez made Mike Foltynewicz pay for trying to double up on curves by rifling his 7th dong of the year over the left-field wall for a 2-0 lead.
The Dodgers added on in the 3rd behind the long ball, with Max Muncy drilling his 8th of the season to make it 3-0, a towering dong to right-center.
Clayton Kershaw was tasked with following Hyun-Jin Ryu‘s Maddux, but with all the talk about his decline, it’s important to remember that what he was taking a step back from was one of the best pitchers ever.
Tonight he generally cruised through the first three frames, not seeing any significant threat. However, he immediately ran into trouble in the 4th against two of the best hitters in baseball. Freddie Freeman started things with a ringing double to right-center and Ronald Acuna Jr. followed by absolutely demolishing a homer to right-center to cut the lead to 3-2.
The bats struck back in the 5th behind an Austin Barnes lead-off double. After a one-out walk to Joc Pederson, Muncy capitalized on a poor 0-2 pitch from Folty in the middle of the zone to single into right and score Barnes to make it 4-2.
After the second out of the inning left runners at the corners, a wild pitch ended up providing insurance as Joc raced home from third to give the Dodgers a three-run advantage at 5-2.
Meanwhile, Kershaw continued to cruise outside of that two-batter blip, but ran into trouble again in the 7th thanks to quite a bit of terrible luck. After retiring the first two batters of the inning, back-to-back hitters reached on swinging infield bunts to JT at third, then Josh Donaldson knocked Kershaw out of the game with a ground-ball single past Corey Seager at short to cut the lead to 5-3.
Scott Alexander entered in relief, but Freeman dunked a single into left to plate another run, and all of a sudden it was 5-4. That led to Dave Roberts summoning Dylan Floro and his 0.00 ERA to face Acuna, and thankfully he got him to ground to short on a 2-0 pitch to end the threat. Kershaw ended up surrendering the four runs on nine hits and a walk in 6.2 innings, striking out four in his 100 pitches on the night.
So that put the pressure back on the Dodgers and they thankfully rallied immediately off reliever A.J. Minter. Chris Taylor walked and Muncy singled to put runners on the corners, but then he stole second as well. Yes, really.
Justin Turner followed by smacking a ball up the middle but was robbed by Dansby Swanson. After an intentional walk to Cody Bellinger, Seager stepped up and … rolled one in front of home for a run-scoring single, and Verdugo immediately followed with a single of his own to plate another and make it 7-4.
Floro continued in the 8th, allowing just an infield single before notching his first strikeout of the night to end the frame and his scoreless, four-out appearance.
The Dodgers continued to add to their lead in the 9th. After David Freese drew a lead-off walk, JT did it again with a two-out, two-run bomb to left, his fifth of the season to make it 9-4.
That was a big enough lead to entrust to Joe Kelly, who shockingly dominated, striking out two batters in a miracle 1-2-3 frame to end it.
Max Muncy did this, somehow.
They are now 25-14 (104-win pace) overall and a comical 15-4 at Dodger Stadium. Their NL West lead over the Diamondbacks is at 3 games.
Tomorrow the Dodgers start a four-game set against the Nationals at 4:10 PM HST/7:10 PM PST/10:10 PM EST, with the matchup being Rich Hill against Patrick Corbin.