Dodgers set home run record, beat Rangers in the park that might host World Series
The Dodgers defeated the Texas Rangers 7-2 Sunday to take a three-game series from a floundering club poised to sell players before Monday’s trade deadline. The result extended the Dodgers’ unbeaten series streak to 12 to begin the season. They’re the only team in the majors without a series loss in 2020.
Winning the next one they play at Globe Life Field could be far more important. Major League Baseball is considering staging the postseason in bubbles to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak. One possibility is holding the American League playoffs in Southern California’s three big league ballparks and the National League side in Texas’ two stadiums. Globe Life Field, a domed behemoth that opened this year, could host the World Series.
The Dodgers, owners of the best record in baseball, wouldn’t receive much of a reward for finishing as the National League top seed if MLB decides to hold the playoffs in bubbles. Even if they play at Dodger Stadium in October, home-field advantage would be negligible without fans in attendance. The likelier scenario is they play neutral-site games in Arlington’s Globe Life Field and Houston’s Minute Maid Park. The first round will be a three-game series against the eighth seed wherever the games are played.
The Dodgers (26-10) got acquainted with the potential surroundings this weekend and one thing stood out: Globe Life Field is big. Really big. Teams have combined to hit about 1.5 home runs per game at the stadium this season — half the number hit per game at Rangers’ old home across the street in 2019.
The Dodgers got to possible trade target Lance Lynn in defeating the Rangers 7-4 and picking up their 25th win two days before the MLB trade deadline.
“We’ve definitely noticed how big this park is,” infielder Max Muncy said after the Dodgers’ win Saturday. “It’s almost a little bit of a joke how big it is.”
The Dodgers entered the weekend leading the majors in runs per game and homers, and the dimensions didn’t hold Muncy back. He slugged one of the two home runs the Dodgers tallied Saturday. On Sunday, they made history.
The Dodgers clubbed a home run in each of the first three innings to set the National League record for home runs in a calendar month. Corey Seager lined a solo shot in the first. Will Smith blasted a solo homer in the second to tie the one-month NL mark set by the Atlanta Braves in June of last year. Cody Bellinger broke the record with a two-run home run off Rangers starter Kyle Gibson in the third inning. It was the Dodgers’ 57th homer in August.
Highlights from the Dodgers’ 7-2 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday.
The surge afforded Tony Gonsolin a quick lead, which spelled trouble for Texas. The 26-year-old right-hander, recalled Sunday for the start, had been nearly flawless in his first three outings this season. He touched 98 mph. His split-changeup was overwhelming. He didn’t give up a run across 14 2/3 innings.
The performances, executed around two options to the Dodgers’ alternate training site, vaulted his status within the organization. The Dodgers see him as a potential starter, somewhere behind Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, in October. If he’s not an answer to the questions beyond the top two spots, or if the Dodgers address them with a trade before Monday’s deadline, he’ll land in the bullpen.
But Gonsolin wasn’t nearly as sharp Sunday. His scoreless innings streak, dating back to last season, ended at 19 2/3 innings in the third frame when Gonsolin lost his command. He walked two batters — matching the total from his first two outings — and allowed a runner to reach third base for the first time this season. The runner scored on a wild pitch.
The Rangers (12-21) loaded the bases with no outs for the heart of their lineup, but Gonsolin escaped allowing just one run. He struck out Todd Frazier with his 39th pitch of the inning. His day ended there after just three innings. Manager DaveRoberts said Gonsolin will remain in the rotation.
“It’s definitely something that I can learn from,” Gonsolin said, “and take into my next outing.”
The next time Gonsolin pitches at Globe Life Field, where the Dodgers improved to 15-5 on the road this season, might be in October. This weekend’s experience could prove valuable for the entire team.
Roberts agreed that the stadium “suppresses” offense and wondered how long it would take for the organization to move the fences in as the San Francisco Giants did with Oracle Park this season. But modifying the dimensions won’t happen before October. The Dodgers and other NL playoff teams may end up tasked to manufacture enough runs at the cavernous ballpark to survive and advance. It would be a fitting final chapter to a bizarre season.
“The goal is to keep winning series,” Roberts said, “and do that indefinitely.”
Roberts said Buehler threw about 35 pitches in a bullpen session Saturday with the blister on his right hand uncovered and “came out of it really well.” Buehler was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday. …Roberts said the “best-case scenario” for Justin Turner is he returns from his hamstring injury as the club’s designated hitter Tuesday. Turner hasn’t played since exiting Friday’s game. …Reliever Pedro Báez is “a ways away” from returning from a groin injury, according to Roberts. Báez went on the injured list Aug. 20. . . . AJ Ramos signed with the Chicago Cubs on Sunday after the Dodgers granted the veteran reliever his release last week. Ramos signed a minor league contract with the Dodgers at the beginning of training camp and spent the season at their alternate training site at USC.
1. Four Dodgers relievers combined to allow one run and four hits without a walk in six scoreless innings after Gonsolin’s early departure. The Dodgers entered Sunday with the second-best bullpen earned-run average (2.06) in the majors, trailing only the Oakland Athletics’ 1.87.
2. The Dodgers managed to score seven runs despite striking out 14 times. AJ Pollock and Chris Taylor each had three strikeouts.
3. Mookie Betts was the Dodgers’ designated hitter and went two for three with two RBI and a walk to raise his batting average to .298. He finished the series four for nine with five walks.
Castillo reported from Los Angeles.
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