Did heat wave trigger double-figure scoring outburst by Dodgers and 11 other teams?

Dodgers' Jason Heyward raises his right fist after hitting a home run.
Dodgers’ Jason Heyward celebrates after hitting a three-run home run in the second inning against the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday. L.A. was one of a dozen teams to score 10 or more runs Tuesday, a record in the modern era.
(Nick Wass / Associated Press)
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The Dodgers’ 10-3 victory Tuesday night marked the 11th time this season they’ve scored in double figures. They batted around the lineup in two separate innings against the Baltimore Orioles.

They had every right to feel good, just not special.

Not on a day when five other MLB teams also scored 10 runs, three others scored 11, another scored 13 while losing to a team that scored 16, and the Chicago Cubs topped them all in a 17-3 win over the Washington Nationals.

That’s a dozen teams scoring in double figures, and it had to be a record, right?

Pitcher Michael Grove delivered one of his best starts in his young career, giving up only one run as the Dodgers routed the Orioles 10-3 in Baltimore.

July 18, 2023

Oh, wait, 13 teams scored 10 or more runs on the Fourth of July in 1894 — talk about fireworks — but that was only the second season the pitching rubber was 60 feet 6 inches from home plate, so let’s just say it was an adjustment period during pre-modern baseball.


Otherwise, Tuesday was historic. Four separate games ended with both teams scoring at least 10 runs, something else that hasn’t occurred since 1894. Coca-Cola began bottling its product that spring, so maybe hitters back then were hopped up on unprecedented amounts of sugar, caffeine and whatever else was included in Coke.

Fast-forward 129 years and MLB is immersed in another adjustment period, this one involving the pitch clock and other rules designed to increase the pace of play. Defensive shifts are forbidden, creating larger holes for ground balls and line drives to result in hits.

For one day, something triggered a crescendo of crushing the baseball. For the first time this season, six players each hit two home runs: Austin Riley, Christian Walker, Francisco Alvarez, Spencer Torkelson, Wilmer Flores and Josh Naylor.

Maybe the tipping point was the record heat wave across the country. A 2013 study titled “The Impact of Temperature on Major League Baseball” showed that runs, batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage and home runs significantly increase while walks significantly decrease in warm weather.

Why? Warmer air is less dense than cooler air, so a baseball will encounter less air resistance and fly farther during a heat wave.

One outlier day doesn’t necessarily signal a trend, but offense is creeping upward.

The Dodgers are in the bottom third in batting average in the majors, yet they lead the National League in runs scored.

June 1, 2023

The Dodgers last season led baseball with 847 runs — averaging 5.23 runs a game — and an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .775. This year their offense is even better, averaging 5.55 runs a game with an OPS of .783, yet they don’t lead baseball in either category. Five teams — including the Angels at .777 — have a higher OPS than the Dodgers put up last season, and three other teams score more runs per game.


Offensive gains across the game have been incremental, not eye-popping. The overall MLB batting average is .248, a tick higher than last year’s dismal .243, which was the fourth-lowest number in the modern era. Let’s get it at least above .250 before we suggest that hitters rule.

Other measures also reflect modest increases: hits, home runs, doubles, and walks are up, but only since 2019 or even more recently. Stolen bases have increased to a level not reached since the 1990s, presumably the result of fewer pickoff attempts and slightly larger bases.

So while the new rules haven’t produced an avalanche of offense — some combination of factors did it for one day.

The rivalry isn’t big enough to prevent the Angels from sending Shohei Ohtani to the Dodgers, who can offer more high-end prospects than anyone else.

July 18, 2023

Tuesday’s games featuring a dozen teams scoring at least 10 runs

Cubs 17, Nationals 3
Diamondbacks 16, Braves 13
Mets 11, White Sox 10
Royals 11, Tigers 10
Giants 11, Reds 10
Dodgers 10, Orioles 3
Twins 10, Mariners 3
Guardians 10, Pirates 1