PHOENIX – With Dodgers manager Dave Roberts filling out his lineup card these days, he has a lot more options to choose from than he has in the past few weeks. Not just because of the team’s trade deadline acquisitions.
Mookie Betts and Corey Seager are back from their injuries. Legs like Justin Turner and AJ Pollock were reliable. Future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols is available from the bench or to start tempting matchups against left-handers. And soon Roberts has to figure out how to bring Trea Turner into the mix.
It can be fun for Roberts and Dodgers fans to see the offensive potential realized on days like Sunday, for example, when the LA bats continued their outbreak with a 13-0 win over Arizona at Chase Field. The Dodgers scored 21 runs in their last two games, securing a series win.
Here are three takeaways from the finale of the 3: 3 road trip in Los Angeles.
1. Betts is back and ready to give a boost
Roberts didn’t want Betts to have to spend a lot of time on artificial turf in his first game back, considering he’d missed the last 12 days due to an infection in his right hip. So Roberts made the decision to put his usual right-wing starter on second base, which was only the second time Betts had started there since 2014, and his second appearance there this season.
It wasn’t long before Betts made a big game – showing that he was capable of providing excellent defense wherever the Dodgers put him. Betts made an impressive over-the-shoulder dig in flat left midfield in the first inning, bringing a torch down from Drew Ellis’s bat.
“It took off very quickly,” said Roberts. “Made a couple of other nice pieces, the double play without help [in the eighth], just a lot of good things, took some good bats. All along the line, it was primarily good to have him back. “
Returning to his place at the top of the hit sequence, Betts went 2 for 5, including a solo home run from the left foul pole in the ninth against D-Backs catcher Bryan Holaday, who took the hill out of hand with play. Betts also left to open the game, scoring in the seventh when he later faced Turner’s triple homer.
Before he was activated by the IL, Betts had discussed that it had been a rough year due to numerous gnawing injuries. It felt good for him to come back so he can make a contribution, he said.
“This is huge, just for my mental one,” said Betts. “I haven’t played in a while so being able to come back and do something is always a big plus. And when I can have a game like today, I’ll be super ready for tomorrow. “
2. Pujols shows the depth of the lineup, bench
Los Angeles also had many impressive appearances behind Betts on the lineup. Seager doubled up and scored two runs in his third game before the IL. Turner drove in four runs and homered for the second game in a row. Pollock had four hits and two RBIs while expanding his hitting streak to 11 games and his on-base streak to 20 games.
But it was Pujols who opened the game during the second half of five runs and crowned an impressive weekend for the 41-year-old. Starting at base one when Arizona sent left-handed Caleb Smith up the hill, Pujols delivered a major three-run double, his fourth RBI hit in the series.
“The infusion from Albert a few months ago was huge for us and had an impact on us in the clubhouse, on the field,” said Roberts. “Today that two-pair was a backbreaker.”
Pujols may no longer be the power fighter he once was, but it shows he can be of value to the Dodgers as they pursue another deep run in October.
3. Don’t forget Urías with stacked employees
The Dodgers have drawn a lot of attention by adding Max Scherzer and Danny Duffy to a roster that already included Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw. That’s a lot of star power at the head of the pitching team.
But left-handed Julio Urías is having a great season that cannot be missed. He threw five goalless innings on Sunday to score his 13th win – tied with Cubs righty Kyle Hendricks for most in MLB – with four hits and seven hits.
Urias improved to 4-0 with 2.16 ERA in his last seven starts.
“I feel good, I feel strong, I’m going out and doing everything I can to help the team win and give them as much as possible,” said Urías through an interpreter. “I’m looking forward to what’s next. Of course I feel strong and healthy. “
It was a necessary outing after the Dodgers’ bullpen covered 7 1/3 innings on Friday and the team left with all the auxiliaries on Saturday. Urias will be reliable again this year if he is called.
Now the Dodgers can turn to Buehler and Scherzer for their two-game series against the Astros, a rematch of the 2017 World Series at Dodger Stadium, which begins Tuesday. And as things are trending up for Los Angeles, there is potential for the good feelings that come from the trading deadline and the momentum continues to build.