The Cincinnati Reds are one of the lowest-paid teams in baseball, one of the least efficient lineups, and the worst pitcher in the sport by ERA team metrics.
They’re so far from the playoffs that even their executives appear to be raising the white flag, announcing this week that they’ve booked a week-long TopGolf event at their home — mid-October.
So sweeping the Reds probably won’t be one of the Dodgers’ greatest accomplishments of the season.
But for a team that has struggled on the plate in recent weeks, battled injuries in the lineup and played a lot of uninspired baseball, the dominance of their three-game winning streak this week — Thursday’s 10-5 rout interrupted their feature to hit a season-high five home runs from the lineup — couldn’t be more fitting.
“We had a hard time a few weeks ago,” center fielder Cody Bellinger said. “Right now we’re hitting the ball the way we should.”
The Dodgers surged ahead early Thursday after pulling off late in the first two games of the series.
Bellinger opened the second half with a sacrifice fly ball before Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the third, the first baseman’s third in the past four games Explosion, also the eighth of the entire season.
Then Bellinger passed again in the fourth quarter. Going into a 14-0 slump and hitting eighth in the sequence for the first time since April, the slugger responded by getting the green light on a 3-and-0 count against Reds starter Hunter Green for two runs Home run pair.
“It’s always nice to join the parade of hits,” he laughs, adding two singles later to complete the three-for-four.
In fact, the Dodgers’ roster is far from over.
Max Muncy added a towering solo burst in the fifth inning to break up his own recent struggles — he had just five hits in his previous 34 at-bats, which dates back to his return from injury earlier this month. Five RBIs recovered on the roster — his first three-game winning streak of the season.
“It was a really good day,” Muncy said. “We’re doing something mechanically and trying to get back to where I need to be. That’s why today was a very productive day, where results came.”
In the end, Will Smith and Tracy Thompson added single-run homers to help the Dodgers (43-25) pull away.
“It just shows what we can do when we play team baseball,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Off the line, I just think our intentions were right.”
On the mound, Clayton Kershaw also showed encouraging signs as his return from a back injury continued to be sharp, putting his self-blame to a start with a six-inning, one-run, seven-strikeout start. The rating dropped to 2.00 — the best he’s ever had since 2016, with eight starts in a season.
Kershaw said that after his third return, he felt like he was back on his feet.
“I feel like I’m doing a good job with the number of pitches and durability right now,” he said. “All that stuff.”
Despite Phil Bickford’s disastrous seventh inning, a four-point loss to the Reds (23-46) after the game, the Dodgers still took their lead with 7 The confidence boost not seen when the score slipped at -11 left the series in Cincinnati.
Not only did they win three straight games for the first time in a month, but they scored at least eight points in three straight games for the first time in an entire season.
“I think it’s our best offensive series of the year,” Roberts said.
Not only did they have 42 hits, but they also got better performances from previously underwhelming hitters such as Muncy, Bellinger and Justin Turner, who also had 3 hits on Thursday.
“I just think all three are doing it the right way,” Roberts said. “The way, the swing was really good. They paid off. So credit goes to those three. They’ve been grinding.”
While they still missed Mookie Betts, their other two superstars delivered, with Freeman finishing the series with 10 RBIs and Trea Turner collecting his second 3-pointer in three days.
“Overall, it feels like we have a full roster,” Kershaw said. “It’s interesting.”