Three home runs, including a pair of the three-run variety, powered the Dodgers over the Padres 9-2 on Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
The 101st victory of the season for the Dodgers — coupled with the Nationals’ lossin Philadelphia earlier in the night — ensured they will finish with the best record in the National League, which means facing the wild card winner in the NLDS and home field advantage through at least the NLCS.
The fifth inning provided the theater, especially in the right field corner. Christian Villanueva hit a ball that hit off the top of the short wall just inside the right field foul pole. Villaneuva, trotting around the bases thinking he had homered, was thrown out by Yasiel Puig at second base.
Upon replay review, Villanueva’s instincts were correct, as a fan interfered and touched the ball before it hit the top of the wall, which in the estimation of the arbiters in New York gave the rookie his fourth home run in nine major league games.
Hunter Renfroe, who had three home runs and 11 RBI in three games against the Dodgers in the final week of the 2016 season, was at it again in the final week of this season, following with a solo shot of his own, somehow golfing this pitch over the center field wall for a 2-1 Padres lead:
Homer to center, somehow pic.twitter.com/028rvKolGY— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) September 27, 2017
Dinelson Lamet was giving the Dodgers fits through the first four innings, even with a ton of traffic on the bases. Three hits and four walks through the first four innings brought just one run across home plate, thanks to Lamet striking out seven and the Dodgers going 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.
But in the bottom of the fifth, Lamet walked a pair with two outs to give him six walks on the night. Then after an 0-2 count, Grandal ran the count full before turning on a ball, driving it down the line and nearly in the exact same spot as Villanueva’s home run, only with no fan interference this time around.
The three-run shot continued an uptick for Grandal, who has five extra-base hits — including three home runs — in his last seven starts.
That made a winner of Alex Wood, who only struck out one batter in his six innings but outside of the two solo home runs allowed nothing else.
With several fly balls on the night, Cody Bellinger got a chance to show off his throwing arm a few times while playing center field, his third major league start at the position. But the highlight came in the seventh inning, when he fielded a single by Renfroe and threw a strike to home plate to retire Wil Myers.
You can say...he was NOT Saved by the Bell. pic.twitter.com/JnZVahJwFt— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 27, 2017
Cody Bellinger, told he threw a baseball 98+, said he didn't think he had that in him. Last time he was clocked was as a pitcher in HS.— J.P. Hoornstra (@jphoornstra) September 27, 2017
Bellinger was in center field Tuesday because Adrian Gonzalez got a rare start at first base, as the Dodgers try to sort out their postseason roster. Gonzalez, who had just five plate appearances in the previous 13 games, doubled and homered on Tuesday, the latter an opposite field shot to left for his first home run since Aug. 24.
Corey Seager has been dealing with a sore elbow for about a month, though the team and Seager have said that the malady only affected him in the field, not at the plate.
“You talk to the hitting coaches and to the training staff, and the health is there,” Roberts said Monday. “His swing isn’t compensated because of his elbow.”
But Seager entered Tuesday hitting just .172/.239/.250 in September, and with just three extra-base hits in his previous 31 games and 118 plate appearances.
“He’s not swinging the bat the way he would like, but I don’t think it’s elbow related. In talking to him, which I do every single day, he just thinks it’s a mechanical thing that he needs to clean up,” Roberts added. “We’re going keep running him out there, and we expect it will turn for him.”
On Tuesday, it did turn for Seager, who was 2-for-4 with a walk, an RBI single, and in the seventh inning a three-run home run to put the game away.
Tuesday was the Dodgers’ 56th win at Dodger Stadium, setting an LA Dodgers record for home wins in a season.
The Dodgers send Rich Hill for his final start of the regular season on Wednesday night against the Padres, who will counter with left-hander Clayton Richard.
Home runs: Yasmani Grandal (22), Adrian Gonzalez (3), Corey Seager (21); Christian Villanueva (4), Hunter Renfroe (25)
WP - Alex Wood (16-3): 6 IP, 8 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
LP - Dinelson Lamet (7-8): 5 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 6 walks ,7 strikeouts