The Dodgers have combined power and patience all season, ranking second in baseball in home runs and walks, but they’re starting to complement their slug-and-chug offense with a new killer instinct that was on full display again in Saturday’s 16-3 beating of the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field.
After erasing an early deficit with a three-run second inning, the Dodgers threw a pair of solo homers by Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy in the third and racked up another five runs in the fourth on Freeman’s two-run homer and JD Martinez’s three-run shot.
From the last three innings of Friday night’s 11-5 victory over the Rangers to the first four innings of Saturday’s victory, the Dodgers scored 17 runs on 16 hits, including three home runs and four doubles, and walked nine.
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After a three-inning break to rest their weary arms, the Dodgers added three more runs in the eighth and three in the ninth on Jonny DeLuca’s three-run homer against Rangers utility Brad Miller, who made his big league debut as a pitcher.
The Dodgers (57-40) had 27 runs and 31 hits, including five home runs and seven doubles, walked 15 times and went 12 for 28 with runners in scoring position in both games. They also sprinkled in aggressive and opportunistic base runs, going from first to third on several singles and taking extra bases on defensive errors.
“We’re not going to stop,” leader Mookie Betts said of the Dodgers’ relentlessness. “You’re going to play 27 outs. That’s it. The game is over when the game is over. But in the meantime, we’re not going to stop putting pressure on you.”
The Dodgers’ 18th win in 25 games secured them a third series win on a grueling nine-game road trip past the All-Star break in New York (Mets), American League-leading Baltimore East and Texas, leader AL West.
The beneficiary of Saturday’s early outburst was rookie right-hander Bobby Miller, who allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings, striking out six and walking none, to move to 6-1 with a 4.38 ERA in 10 starts.
Miller’s task seemed to ease a little when the Rangers’ top hitter, shortstop Corey Seager, was placed on the injured list 10 days before the game with a sprained right thumb, an injury the former Dodgers star suffered in a headfirst slide into second base in the eighth inning Friday night.
An MRI test revealed no structural damage, and Seager, who is batting .350 with 1.044 on-base plus slugging percentage, 15 home runs and 58 RBIs, is expected to be out for several weeks.
But you don’t lead the major leagues in runs (569), hits (934) and average (.273) and rank second in OPS (.804) on the shoulders of a puncher.
It was clear when Texas first-man Marcus Semien hit Miller’s second pitch of the game, a 97-mph lead, 422 feet into the left-field seats for his 14th homer of the season and 200th of his career.
But Miller hit Travis Jankowski and Nathaniel Lowe with curveballs and had Adolis Garcia line out Freeman, who dived toward the first base line. He then escaped a two-on-one jam in the second by rebounding Ezequiel Duran in a 4-6-3 double play.
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Miller, despite dropping speed on a four-seam fastball that averaged 97.6 mph on Saturday — well below his season average of 99.1 mph — shut out Rangers (58-41) in the third and fourth innings before giving up Lowe’s two-run triple in the fifth.
By then, the Dodgers had a huge cushion, thanks to another big game from Freeman, who added two singles to go along with his 19th career multi-home run game and is batting .419 (13 for 31) with three homers, four doubles, a triple and nine RBIs on the trip.
David Peralta added four hits, including two doubles and two RBIs, Muncy had three hits including his 23rd homer, a double, two RBIs and four runs, and Martinez drove in four runs with his 24th homer and a sacrificed fly.
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This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.