The Dodgers make a statement: 3 takeaways from the Giants sweep

Ask around the tax evaders clubhouse and you will get different answers.

For some players, like Mookie Betts, games against the San Francisco Giants are like any other.

“We play the Giants the same way we play anyone else,” said Betts. “It’s just another game.”

For others, including Chris Taylor, the meeting added meaning, especially after teams battled for the National League West title last year before meeting in NL division series.

“We know they will likely be on top or in contention at the end of the year,” Taylor said. “So yeah, these games are important.”

One thing everyone in a Dodgers jersey agrees on: performances like this week’s two-game series and In particular the 9-1 victory on Wednesday, should be the standard for this year’s team. Doing it against the Giants made an even more sensational early-season statement.

“I definitely think they have to bring out the best in us, in a way they always do,” said manager Dave Roberts. “It’s a great ballclub over there. I’m just happy that we drew well this week, this series and played well. “

Here are three takeaways from the series.

The lineup finally clicks

The Dodgers entered on Wednesday as one of the highest scoring teams in baseball, finishing third in races per game. But they weren’t one of the most powerful in the league at the pot.

They only ranked 12th in the batting average, 11th in the hit rate and 15th in home runs. Only three of their batters had a hit rate on base plus .720. And many of their biggest stars, including Justin Turner, Max Muncy, and Trea Turner, faced their early season fights.

After scoring only three points in the victory on Tuesday, however, the group finally looked as advertised on Wednesday. They scored nine points out of 11 hits. They drew four walks and scored two home runs. And they scored both consistently and in clusters, producing one run in four different innings and scoring four in the seventh alone.

“As for taking walks when it was needed, using the entire court, hitting the ball on a line, running on bases – just a well-played offensive game,” said Roberts.

His players agreed.

A Giants player reaches the ball in vain after a home run.

Giants center fielder Mike Yastrzemski fails to take hold as Mookie Betts hits a solo home run in the sixth inning on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Betts called it the kind of performance the Dodgers expect from themselves every night. Bellinger credited the team’s ability to scratch three points against Giants star Alex Wood before busting six against the San Francisco bullpen.

“We did a good job getting to the bullpen,” said Bellinger, “and getting to those guys.”

During the opening month, such thorough offensive performances were all too often overlooked by the Dodgers, who instead relied more on timely strikes, the occasional big offensive inning and strong all-round throws for a 16-7 start.

They will hope that Wednesday was the start of a new phase for their lineup, that their best game will continue to resonate in the coming weeks.

“We just ripped off,” Roberts said. “Attacking late was important.”

Muncy gets results

Before Wednesday, Muncy had one of the weirdest stats in baseball.

His .130 batting average finished next to last in the majors among qualified hitters. Yet his 19.5% walking rate was better than anyone else. All in all mediocre, if not entirely unnecessary overall results, with Muncy owning a 70 OPS + entering on Wednesday, meaning he had been around 30% less productive than an average hitter in the league.

“If I’m not helping the team win, then I have to take a look at myself,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “But right now, I just have to continue with the process, keep being good with the bats and eventually it will change.”

Wednesday night, it finally happened. In the seventh inning, Muncy performed a line drive to the right court which fell right in front of the outside, snapping a 0 of 16 slip.

“I thought for sure he was caught,” he joked afterwards.

In his next serve, he pulled a home run on the other side, his third long pitch of the season.

“I know it was a relief for him to see some results,” Roberts said.

After the game, Muncy refused to be interviewed on camera. He cited the superstition, saying that the last time he spoke after the game, after a two-game performance in San Diego on April 22, he immediately slipped back into a crisis, only going two of 27 in eight games. following.

Post-match interview or not, Roberts hopes such a decline isn’t imminent again.

“It’s grinding,” Roberts said. “I just thought that the swings she took tonight, the baseline hit she landed, was more of a flat swing. Even the home run, it went deep, but I thought the swing, it wasn’t under it, [it had] the right trajectory “.

NL West looks tough

While the Dodgers moved into exclusive possession of first place on Wednesday, getting one game ahead on the San Diego Padres and 2½ on the Giants, they have yet to create plenty of breathing room in what promises to be a tough NL West.

The Giants were without several key members of their lineup during the opening month – including Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Mike Yastrzemski, the latter of whom only returned Wednesday from the COVID-19 list – but they got off to a good start behind their deep and talented throwing staff, which ranks in the top 10 in MLB on the ERA team.

The Padres missed shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. and several important parts of their early rotation, including Blake Snell and Mike Clevinger, who returned from Tommy John’s surgery on Wednesday but continue to win games with a balanced lineup at flat, helping rank them in the top five in the score.

Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks also started the season well. The Rockies are 14-10, thanks in large part to a 10-5 score at Coors Field which includes a series win over the Dodgers. The Diamondbacks are 13-13, up lately with a recent 7-3 run that started with their own streak against the Dodgers.

NL West is currently the only baseball division without a team below .500.

“It wouldn’t be fun if we ran away with the division,” Betts joked ahead of this week’s series.

Even with the Dodgers’ good start to the season, there doesn’t seem to be any concern for that right now.