The Dodgers found their power stroke for seemingly the first time in three weeks, hitting three home runs to back a pitching gem by Alex Wood, taking the opener 7-0 over the Nationals on Friday night in Washington D.C.
The victory gave the Dodgers a 10-game lead in the National League West with 15 games remaining, lowering their magic number to clinch the division to six. The Diamondbacks are playing the Giants in San Francisco on Friday night.
By beating Washington, their nearest competitors for best record in the National League, the Dodgers (95-52) now own a six-game lead over the Nationals (89-58). In the race for home field advantage through the NL playoffs, the Dodgers’ magic number over the Nationals is 10.
Justin Turner started things off with a solo home run in the first inning against Washington starter Edwin Jackson, the 20th of the season for Turner.
The second inning saw two more long balls against Jackson, an opposite field shot by Yasiel Puig and a three-run no-doubter by Corey Seager, the latter making Seager the only Dodger ever with two seasons of 20 home runs as a shortstop.
Jackson didn’t survive the third inning, recording just seven outs on the night while allowing seven runs. Over his last three starts, the right-hander has allowed 17 runs in 10⅓ innings, including seven home runs.
Most team HR, Dodgers
With three home runs on the night, the Dodgers have 201 on the season, just the sixth time they have hit 200 or more home runs in one year. The franchise mark is 211 home runs, set in 2000.
That 2000 team had five different players hit 20 or more home runs, tied with 1979 for the franchise record for most players reaching 20 homers. With Turner and Seager joining Cody Bellinger and Puig on Friday, and with Chris Taylor and Yasmani Grandal sitting on 19, the 2017 club is poised to break match or break that mark soon.
The Dodgers hit three home runs in a game for the first time since Aug. 24. During their 1-16 stretch that not-so-coincidentally started just two days later, they hit 13 total home runs while slashing just .201/.273/.320 at the plate.
All that run support was more than enough for Wood, who found the command he was searching for on Friday night. The left-hander allowed three hits and no runs in his six innings of work.
Wood struck out eight on the night, finishing five of his six innings with a strikeout, and ended the other frame — the fifth — with a double play grounder. Three of his eight strikeouts were Daniel Murphy, who was 6-for-12 against Wood entering Friday.
Alex Wood is the first individual pitcher since TB's Alex Cobb on June 12, 2012 to strike out Daniel Murphy three times in a game.— Andrew Simon (@AndrewSimonMLB) September 16, 2017
Wood also walked none, Wood’s 13th start this season with zero or one walk allowed. It was his eighth start allowing no runs in 2017.
Chris Taylor walked in the second inning, his first of the month. He went 55 plate appearances in between walks, his last coming on Aug. 31. For good measure, he walked again in the ninth.
Taylor does have 46 walks on the season, four shy of giving the Dodgers six players with 50 or more walks for the just the third time since moving to Los Angeles. The 2009 team tied a franchise record with eight players with 50 or more walks, answering a challenge issued in my first post at True Blue LA.
The Dodgers’ five-run second inning was helped along when Jayson Werth never even saw this fly ball by Andre Ethier in right field:
*It's a high fly ball to Jayson Werth and...*— Oliver Macklin (@OMacklinMLB) September 16, 2017
The would-be out landed 20 feet behind Werth and bounced over the wall for a ground rule double.
The middle game of the series is morning time on the west coast, with Rich Hill starting the 10:05 a.m. PT contest for the Dodgers. Washington counters with right-hander A.J. Cole. The game will be televised exclusively by Fox.
Home runs: Justin Turner (20), Yasiel Puig (26), Corey Seager (20)
WP - Alex Wood (15-3): 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 walk, 8 strikeouts
LP - Edwin Jackson (5-6): 2⅓, 6 hits, 7 runs, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts