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The Sports Report: Dodgers continue to coast to the NL West title

Dodgers catcher Will Smith bats during a game against the Colorado Rockies on June 23.
Will Smith
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Howdy, my name is Houston Mitchell. If the Dodgers went 20-21 in their remaining 41 games, the second-place Diamondbacks would have to go 40-3 to tie them.

Dodgers

The Dodgers, who are cruising to another NL West title, cruised past the Miami Marlins on Tuesday in a 15-1 rout.

Will Smith homered twice to hike his total to nine in 23 games — the most in franchise history in that span. Justin Turner and Cody Bellinger slammed back-to-back home runs in the Dodgers’ four-run seventh inning. It was Turner’s 20th — giving him his third career 20-home-run season — and Bellinger’s 39th. He’s tied for the major league lead with Christian Yelich and Mike Trout.

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Matt Beaty topped off the home run frenzy with a solo swat in the eighth inning before contributing a three-run triple in the ninth. The Dodgers’ six home runs set a Marlins Park record. They added six doubles, including three by A.J. Pollock, and one single. The 13 extra-base knocks matched a franchise record.

“It was as good of a night as we’ve had all year,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, “and that’s saying a lot.”

Dustin May gave up one run, three hits and a walk across 5 2/3 innings to earn his first win. The 21-year-old prospect has given up five earned runs in 17 innings across three starts in the majors since being promoted.

“They’re just normal people, too,” May said. “They get out just like everybody else. The only difference is they hit the mistakes a little harder than the other guys do.”

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Continuing our look back at the 1994 baseball strike, Jorge Castillo looks at the Dodgers’ situation back then:

“Five days before the longest work stoppage in Major League Baseball history, Orel Hershiser took the mound at Mile High Stadium, in front of an announced sellout crowd of 70,372, understanding it might have stamped the end of an era.

“When I pitched at home last time I was wondering if that could be the last time I pitch in Dodger Stadium,” Hershiser said that day. “And today I wondered if it would be the last time I pitched as a Dodger, period. I thought, ‘This is odd. This could be it.’”

It was Aug. 7, 1994. Hershiser held the Colorado Rockies to one run and two hits over six innings. He was 35 years old and would be a free agent at the end of the season. When exactly the season would end was unknown.

Hershiser was involved in negotiations on behalf of the players.

“I knew about the labor strife coming and I knew we had set a hard date on when something needed to be done and I knew there wasn’t much movement going on,” Hershiser said last week. “So I didn’t predict anything. I was just kind of sending out a possibility.”

“Hershiser would pitch in 10 more games in a Dodgers uniform, but not for another six years, after an industry-altering 232-day strike and stints with the Cleveland Indians, San Francisco Giants and New York Mets. Those 10 appearances were his last in the major leagues. He was 41.

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“In 1994, he had a 3.79 earned-run average in 21 starts for the Dodgers. They were just 58-56, 16 games behind the pace-setting Montreal Expos in the National League, but stood 3-1/2 games ahead of the Giants for first place in the NL West and were playing their best baseball when the players association carried through on its threat.

“We clearly weren’t the best team that year,” said Eric Karros, the Dodgers’ first baseman. “So it’s not like ‘Hey, man, that was our best Dodger team that could’ve won a World Series.’ But we were good.”

“The year began with the Dodgers committing to two of their young stars. The club signed 25-year-old catcher Mike Piazza, the 1993 NL rookie of the year, to a three-year, $4.2-million contract in February. Later in the month, they agreed to a three-year, $6.15-million deal with the 26-year-old Karros, the 1992 NL rookie of the year. The franchise had never signed a player with fewer than three years of service time to a multi-year deal. The pacts, without context, indicated harmony between management and labor.

“But the sides were publicly at odds. The looming stoppage hung over the season from spring training through the summer.

“You’re talking about it with your friends and family,” Hershiser said. “You’re talking about it with your agent. You’re talking about it with your teammates. You’re talking about it with the clubhouse guys. It’s not just the economy of baseball and players. It’s the economy of the concession people, it’s the economy of the people working in the parking, it’s the economy of the clubhouse kids. It’s everybody. It relates to everybody.”

“By the end of June, a strike appeared almost certain. By the end of July, a date was announced. It would begin Aug. 12, the day after the Dodgers concluded a three-game series against Cincinnati.

“We just thought it would be a work stoppage of a week, maybe, or two weeks or whatever,” Karros said. “Nobody anticipated the season to be over.”

High school football

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Starting today, Times high school sports columnist Eric Sondheimer gives his picks for the player to watch at each position in high school football in the Southland. Today, we start with quarterback. Take it away, Eric.

Quarterback: Bryce Young, Mater Dei

Bryce Young’s success in helping quarterback Santa Ana Mater Dei to a mythical national championship last season might not be his No. 1 achievement when his high school football career is completed this fall.

There’s a far more compelling social and historic accomplishment he pulled off: Being the first African American starting quarterback at Mater Dei, which was founded in 1950.

“For me and our family, we thought of it as an honor,” Young said recently while sitting beside his father, Craig, during a 45-minute interview while eating a beef dip sandwich at Philippe’s not far from his former high school, L.A. Cathedral.

Longtime Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson said Young’s skin color “never crossed my mind,” but Craig Young recognizes what it means for his son to be playing quarterback for the Monarchs .

“Even though the numbers are dwindling, there’s still are a lot of people that have certain assumptions and prejudices about African American quarterbacks,” he said. “The fact he was the first and did so well, I do think that will be impactful.”

The Youngs did not pick Mater Dei to make a social statement. They wanted Young to have the challenge of playing with and against the best.

“The reason we sent him to Mater Dei had nothing to do with race,” Craig said. “It was more about getting him to step up in competition and being coached by a great coaching staff and putting himself in position to play in big games.”

The African American angle was broached on social media , the Youngs said.

“When you come into a different situation, a lot of people like to project their fears onto you,” Young’s father said. “There was fears. The fact he was the first, would he be treated fairly? Would there be any racial issues? It never deterred us as a family because we don’t operate in fear.”

Said Young : “There hasn’t been any issue. It’s cool. It definitely holds a certain weight being the first African American quarterback at Mater Dei.”

Committed to USC, Young is scheduled to graduate in January so he can arrive in time for the Trojans’ spring football practices. He’s looking forward to his senior season, feeling more comfortable in running the Monarchs’ offense while also being given additional responsibilities.

TOP QUARTERBACKS IN THE SOUTHLAND

Player, School | Ht. | Wt. | Yr. | Comment

Jaden Casey, Calabasas | 6-1 | 190 | Sr. | Fresno State commit passed for 3,161 yards, 38 TDs

Peter Costelli, Mission Viejo | 6-3 | 205 | Jr. | With 10.8 100 speed, Costelli is unique

Luca Diamont, Venice | 6-2 | 190 | Sr. | Duke commit had 26 TD passes

AJ Duffy, Rancho Verde | 6-1 | 195 | So. | 40 TD passes as a freshman

Jake Garcia, Narbonne | 6-3 | 175 | Jr. | Has become national recruit

Ethan Garbers, Corona del Mar; | 6-3 | 190 | Sr. | Washington commit passed for 4,135 yards, 55 TDs

Miller Moss, Alemany | 6-2 | 200 | Jr. | Made major jump during summer

CJ Stroud, Rancho Cucamonga | 6-2 |195 | Sr. | Accurate arm with strong fundamentals

DJ Uiagalelei, St. John Bosco | 6-4 | 245 | Sr. | Clemson commit trying to lead team to championship

Bryce Young, Mater Dei | 5-11 | 182 | Sr. | USC commit has improved arm strength

Coming up:

Aug. 15: Wide receiver John Humphreys, Corona del Mar

Aug. 16: Offensive lineman AJ Vaipulu, Corona Centennial

Aug. 17: Tight end Jake Overman, Servite

Aug. 18: Running back Anthony Spearman III, Notre Dame

Aug. 19: Defensive lineman Jordan Berry, Narbonne

Aug. 20: Linebacker Mister Williams, Oaks Christian

Aug. 21: Defensive back Mason White, Birmingham

Aug. 22: Kicker Josh Bryan, Sierra Canyon

Your favorite sports moment

What is your favorite all-time L.A. sports moment? Click here to tell me what it is and why, and it could appear in a future newsletter. And yes, if your favorite moment is about the Angels or Ducks or a team just outside of L.A., I’ll count that too. And the moment doesn’t have to have happened in L.A., just needs to involve an area team.

Odds and ends

Galaxy are redefining their blueprint for success.... J.J. Molson could join Bruin company that’s as elite as his family’s brewing company.... Artavis Scott’s grueling journey from Clemson stardom to Chargers may finally pay off.... Todd Gurley’s Hawaiian weekend likely will have to wait as Rams prep for Cowboys.... Lakers sign guard Demetrius Jackson.... Rookie Jose Suarez to remain in Angels’ rotation despite recent struggles.... Austin Barnes’ batting improves in the relaxed setting of triple-A Oklahoma City.... College football 2019: Can Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert reach his potential?.... Jay-Z and Roc Nation will consult NFL on music and activism

Today’s local major sports schedule

Dodgers at Miami, 4 p.m., Sportsnet LA, AM 570

Pittsburgh at Angels, 5 p.m., FSW, 830 AM

Sparks at Dallas, 5 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

FC Dallas at Galaxy, 7:30 p.m., Spectrum Sportsnet

Born on this date

1930: Baseball manager Earl Weaver (d. 2013)

1949: Pro wrestler Bob Backlund

1954: Baseball player Mark Fidrych (d. 2009)

1956: NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace

1957: Pro wrestler Gino Hernandez (d. 1986)

1959: Basketball player Magic Johnson

1959: Former Laker Frank Brickowski

1960: Former Laker Fred Roberts

1961: Pro wrestler Eddie Gilbert (d. 1995)

1972: UCLA/NBA player Ed O’Bannon

1973: NFL player Wayne Chrebet

1975: NFL player Mike Vrabel

1977: Former Dodger Juan Pierre

1987: NFL player Tim Tebow

Died on this date

1999: Former Dodger Pee Wee Reese, 81

And finally

The legend of Mark “The Bird” Fidrych. Watch it here.

That concludes the newsletter for today. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, please email us here. If you want to subscribe, click here.


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