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Dodgers Dugout: Dodgers continue to roll to open the season

Cody Bellinger celebrates with Justin Turner and Max Muncy after hitting a three-run home run Sunday.
(Mike McGinnis / Associated Press)
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Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and beating the Padres is a good feeling for Dodgers fans.

It amazes me every year (and this has been going on since at least the late 1970s) that the Padres and most of their fans treat every game against the Dodgers as if it were the seventh game of the World Series. The “Beat L.A.!” chants start early and often. The sadness when the Dodgers invariably win is palpable. Most fans are probably calling in sick to work today because the Dodgers won two of three. (I say this because I enjoy getting angry emails from Padres fans).

Even the Padres players seem especially hyped up to beat the Dodgers. I don’t think it’s a total coincidence that the Padres began to fade last season after they seemed to put all of their emotions into beating the Dodgers during a series in mid-June. They were 45-32 after they swept that series. They went 34-51 after that. Maybe they should try treating Dodgers games like any others.

I will say that whenever I go to a Padres-Dodgers game at Petco Park it’s a good experience. Padres fans are mostly good-natured, though there was attention focused on the idiot who threw a beer at Cody Bellinger, and the one fight in the stands. The fact is there also are some idiot Dodgers fans who seem to think every game is life and death and if you are against their team you are the enemy.

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Bellinger is hitting .273/.333/.582 with four home runs. Max Muncy is hitting .140/.317/.300. I think I see the potential there for a “Freaky Friday” sequel.

I have to give the devil his due. Manny Machado made a play during Sunday’s game that was amazing. Trea Turner hit a grounder up the third-base line. Machado fielded it, and his momentum took him into foul territory. He basically just flicked his wrist and threw a laser to first, chest-high and beat Turner by a step. If a non-baseball player makes that thrown, they dislocate their shoulder. Heck, most current major league third baseman couldn’t make that throw.

It reminds me of sitting in the third-base seats and watching Adrián Beltré field slow rollers up third base. He would just flick his wrist and throw a perfect strike. And make it look effortless. It’s so easy to forget these guys are the best in the world at what they do. It’s so easy to get mad when they kick a ball that is hit at them at about 120 mph. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and be appreciative of what these guys can do.

It doesn’t feel as if the Dodgers are playing their best baseball yet, but they are still 11-4 and have the best record in the majors. And they are headed to Arizona to face the Diamondbacks, who have the worst offense in baseball. The way the sports works, that probably means the Diamondbacks will sweep.

Jessica Mendoza made her debut on the Dodgers telecast with Joe Davis during the Padres series. She sounded really nervous during the first game but seemed to settle in by the third game and did a good job. Mendoza and Eric Karros don’t have the camaraderie Orel Hershiser has with Davis, but that should grow over time.

And for the boneheads who wrote in to tell me women shouldn’t be broadcasting sports, Mendoza won a gold medal as part of the 2004 Olympic softball team, was MVP of the softball and basketball teams at Camarillo High and won several honors while playing softball at Stanford. In 2020, she became the first female World Series analyst on any national broadcast platform while working for ESPN radio. So if you still think women shouldn’t be broadcasting sports, the unsubscribe button is at the bottom.

Transactions

You have to enjoy the wacky world of baseball transactions. On Sunday, the Dodgers selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Reyes Moronta from Oklahoma City and optioned infielder/outfielder Zach McKinstry. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Dodgers designated left-handed pitcher Darien Núñez for assignment. Then, the Dodgers recalled McKinstry and put left-handed pitcher David Price on the injured list. Price tested positive for COVID-19. He is vaccinated.

Moronta, 29 and right-handed, made six appearances for triple-A Oklahoma City this season, with a 1.50 ERA and 10 strikeouts in six innings. He spent parts of the last four seasons with the San Francisco Giants.

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These names seems familiar

A look at how players who were with the Dodgers last season are doing this season for other teams (through Sunday):

Scott Alexander, currently a free agent

Matt Beaty, Padres, .125/.125/.250, 35 OPS+

Neftali Feliz, pitching in the Mexican League

Josiah Gray, Nationals, 2-1, 3.14 ERA, 14.1 IP, 12 hits, 7 walks, 18 K’s

Connor Greene, Orioles, in the minors

Kenley Jansen, Braves, 4.50 ERA, 6 IP, 3 hits, 2 walks, 8 K’s, 4 saves

Nate Jones, retired

Joe Kelly, White Sox, on the IL

Mike Kickham, currently a free agent

Corey Knebel, Phillies, 0-1, 1.29 ERA, 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 6 K’s, 3 saves

Billy McKinney, A’s, .108/.195/.189, 19 OPS+

Sheldon Neuse, A’s, .313/.389/.396, 143 OPS+

Kevin Quackenbush, pitching in the Mexican League

DJ Peters, with Lotte Giants in Korea

AJ Pollock, White Sox, on the IL

Albert Pujols, Cardinals, .269/.345/.548, 152 OPS+

Luke Raley, Rays, in the minors

Jake Reed, Mets, in the minors

Zach Reks, Rangers, in the minors

Keibert Ruiz, Nationals, .264/.273/.340, 84 OPS+

Dennis Santana, Rangers, 0-1, 2.08 ERA, 4.1 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 1 K

Max Scherzer, Mets, 3-0, 2.50 ERA, 18 IP, 9 hits, 7 walks, 23 K’s

Corey Seager, Rangers, .241/.286/.310, 79 OPS+

James Sherfy, playing in the independent Atlantic League

Steven Souza Jr., Mariners, in the minors

Yoshi Tsutsugo, Pirates, .191/.293/.213, 53 OPS+

Edwin Uceta, Diamondbacks, 10.80 ERA, 1.2 IP, 1 hit, 2 walks

Andrew Vasquez, Blue Jays, in the minors

Up next

Tonight: Dodgers (Walker Buehler, 1-1, 4.02 ERA) at Arizona (Merrill Kelly, 1-0, 0.59 ERA), 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Tuesday: Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin, 1-0, 0.69 ERA) at Arizona (Zach Davies, 1-1, 5.02 ERA), 6:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

Wednesday: Dodgers (*Julio Urías, 1-1, 3.00 ERA) at Arizona (Zac Gallen, 0-0, 1.00 ERA), 12:30 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570, KTNQ 1020

*-left-handed

Stories you might have missed

Freshman Brady Ebel, son of the Dodgers’ Dino Ebel, ‘has been phenomenal’ for Etiwanda

And finally

Fernando Valenzuela pitches a no-hitter. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter? Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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