It wasn’t Yu Darvish’s worst outing up the hill from Dodger Stadium.
But when the right-hander was rocked by his old team on Saturday afternoon, it certainly seemed like a certain November night in 2017.
In the first inning of their 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers tattooed three homeruns against Darvish.
Freddie Freeman launched a rocket to the right. Will Smith raised a moonshot to the center. Justin Turner lined out to the left.
Each was met by a louder roar from the crowd of 47,061 and an increasingly enthusiastic reception in the dugout.
“Guys on the bench were waiting to see someone do something offensive,” said manager Dave Roberts. “There was that energy, that mentality of, ‘I want to be the next guy to do something, to help the ball club.’ †
The series evoked flashbacks to the 2017 World Series, when Darvish was ambushed early in the Dodgers’ Game 7 loss to the Houston Astros.
Only this time, it was the Padres (46-34) on the receiving end of a sudden loss and the Dodgers (49-28) en route to their fourth straight win overall and 14th in their last 15 against the Padres.
After the outburst in the first inning, the Dodgers quickly extended their lead to put the game out of reach.
With two outs in the second, rightfielder José Azocar van Padres lined out to enable Gavin Lux to reach second base with a double. He scored on Trea Turner’s single in the next at bat.
Again with two outs in the third inning, Jake Lamb threw an RBI double down the left just past a dive by Jurickson Profar. The blow made the score 5-0.
After Tyler Anderson completed a 6⅓-inning start with one run, the Dodgers grabbed some late insurance runs in the seventh with a pair of sacrifice flies.
“The ability of this lineup is pretty special,” said Justin Turner.
The Dodgers’ attack could also get a boost soon.
After the game, Roberts said Mookie Betts is likely to return from the injured list on Sunday and play in right field after Betts felt well after a live batting practice session Saturday afternoon.
Out since June 15 due to a broken rib, Betts initially planned to return to second base to avoid long pitches that, in his own words, still caused him some discomfort despite not posing any threat of further injury.
However, after Chris Taylor left Saturday’s game early due to a left foot bruise – Roberts said an X-ray on Taylor’s foot was negative, but he is not expected to play Sunday – the Dodgers now plan to have Betts back in his squad. usual corner to place outfield spot.
“I’m fine,” Betts said. “I’m ready to go out again.”
Where Betts will be in the batting order is another question.
Despite reaching the leadoff in all 59 Betts starts this season, Roberts said he is still deciding whether to return Betts to first place or keep Trea Turner there.
In the absence of Betts, Turner came in on Sunday, hitting .339 with a .891 on-base-plus-slugging percentage since taking on the leadoff role.
“I’m going to talk to Mookie to make sure we’re on the same page,” Roberts said. “Obviously Trea is doing well in the lead-off spot. But I don’t know, we’ll keep having those conversations.”
Wherever he returns, Betts will rejoin a Dodgers team that begins to rediscover his stride.
Saturday’s win was the Dodgers’ 12th in their last 17. They extended their division lead over the second-place Padres to 4½ games, their biggest of the season.
“Of course you want to play well against opponents from the division, especially the team that was right behind you,” said Freeman. “No one here is looking at the score, it’s much too early for that. But … it’s just fun putting this series of work together.”
This weekend was all about dominant starting and throwing as well as an explosive attack.
Anderson turned the Dodgers’ last topper on Saturday, lowering his season ERA to 3.09, while becoming the third consecutive Dodgers starter to give up just one run against the collapsing Padres lineup.
“As a rotation, you want to keep the ball rolling,” Anderson said. “You want to grab the ball and try to keep up with the man from the day before.”
Darvish, who had pitched well in three previous appearances at Dodger Stadium in the past three years since leaving the team, finally found his own groove and made it through six total innings without giving up another run.
However, all that early damage proved more than decisive.
Again he suffered a loss at Dodger Stadium.
This time the hosts were happy to be on the other side.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times†