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Dodgers Week 8: ‘We just started playing like ourselves’

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MLB: Los Angeles Dodgers at San Francisco Giants Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers were able to put their struggles further in the rear view mirror, winning all seven games last week against the Diamondbacks and Giants.

The hitters, for the most part, hit, and the starting pitching continued to be the backbone of the team. But last week the offense and pitching staff, including the bullpen, were in sync in a way they weren’t during the 5-15 stretch. They won all the close games, including Kenley Jansen shouldering a heavier workload than usual in saving four games, and even delivered a pair of blowouts for good measure.

“I think we’re just getting back to ourselves. We kind of got out of our own rhythm, and we needed some guys to get back on our own, myself included,” said Max Muncy, who homered twice last week. “It seems like we’re all doing that right now, and it’s allowing us to go out there and put ourselves in good position.”

That position is nearer the top of the National League West, now in second place, just a game behind the equally hot Padres, winners of nine straight.

Another way to look at last week is that the Dodgers are undefeated in the Albert Pujols era. He and Yoshi Tsutsugo were both activated on Monday, with Pujols driving in five runs in his five starts, including hitting his 668th career home run.

“We just started playing like ourselves more than anything. But we also have a couple new faces in here,” said Walker Buehler, who won both of his starts. “I think that they can kind of reenergize you a little bit, especially the players of that kind of caliber.”

However you slice it, the Dodgers had a stellar week.

Batter of the week

Gavin Lux hit two grand slams, which would normally be enough to take this honor, but instead Max Muncy takes the cake for a third straight week thanks to being one of the toughest outs in the majors. Muncy hit .476/.577/.857 last week, and his .460 on-base percentage on the season is tops in the National League.

Pitcher of the week

Walker Buehler allowed only one run in his two starts, and that run didn’t score until his 14th and final inning of the week. He narrowly beats Julio Urías, who also won both of his starts along with 18 strikeouts and no walks.

Dodgers starting pitchers had a 1.38 ERA on the week.

“It just keeps everything in line, and gives our ball club every single night a chance to win a baseball game,” manager Dave Roberts said. “You see those four guys, they feed off one another, they learn from one another, and it’s very healthy.”

Week 8 results

7-0 record
38 runs scored (5.43 per game)
15 runs allowed (2.14 per game)
.846 pythagorean win percentage

Year to date

29-18 record
243 runs scored (5.17 per game)
171 runs allowed (3.64 per game)
.655 pythagorean win percentage (31-16)

Miscellany

How long to sing this song? Albert Pujols drove in at least one run in each of his first three starts with the Dodgers, with a single on Monday, a bases-loaded hit by pitch on Tuesday, and a two-run homer on Thursday, the 668th of his career. Pujols is just the third player age 40 or older to drive in a run in three straight starts with the Dodgers, along with Jeff Kent and Rick Dempsey.

RBI streaks in 40s

Player Year Age Games
Player Year Age Games
Jeff Kent 2008 40 4
Rick Dempsey 1990 40 3
Albert Pujols 2021 41 3
Longest Dodgers RBI streaks age 40 or older, since 1901 Source: Baseball-Reference

Thursday’s homer came with Will Smith on base, and Smith later homered to provide the winning margin. When the Dodgers got their championship rings on April 9, everyone’s favorite player growing up recorded videos introducing them at Dodger Stadium. For Smith, that was Pujols.

“It’s funny because he told me, ‘I grew up watching you play,’ and I’m like, ‘Please, don’t. You’re making me older’,” Pujols said Thursday.

Transactions

Monday: Albert Pujols and Yoshi Tsutsugo were activated. Catcher Keibert Ruiz and pitcher Alex Vesia were optioned.

Monday: David Price was activated, and Mitch White was optioned.

Tuesday: Lefty reliever Garrett Cleavinger was placed on the 10-day injured list with left forearm inflammation, and Vesia was recalled.

Friday: Veteran right-hander Nate Jones was called up for bullpen coverage, and outfielder Luke Raley was optioned. Utility man Travis Blankenhorn was designated for assignment, ending his seven days on the 40-man roster.

Sunday: Jimmy Nelson was placed on the injured list with right forearm inflammation, retroactive to Friday, and Phil Bickford was recalled. Nelson experienced arm soreness, Roberts said, and no tests are needed.

Game results

Week 8 batting

Player AB R H 2B HR RBI SB BB PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Player AB R H 2B HR RBI SB BB PA BA OBP SLG OPS
Muncy 21 7 10 2 2 2 1 4 26 0.476 0.577 0.857 1.434
Smith 20 7 9 1 2 4 0 1 22 0.450 0.455 0.800 1.255
Lux 26 4 10 2 2 9 0 2 28 0.385 0.429 0.692 1.121
Betts 19 4 5 2 1 2 0 3 22 0.263 0.364 0.526 0.890
Taylor 22 5 5 0 2 5 0 2 24 0.227 0.292 0.500 0.792
Pujols 19 1 5 0 1 5 0 0 20 0.263 0.300 0.421 0.721
Beaty 17 3 3 1 0 2 0 2 19 0.176 0.263 0.235 0.498
Tsutsugo 14 1 2 0 0 2 0 2 16 0.143 0.250 0.143 0.393
Turner 22 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 24 0.045 0.125 0.045 0.170
Starters 180 33 50 8 10 31 1 18 201 0.278 0.348 0.489 0.837
Barnes 8 1 2 1 1 2 0 0 9 0.250 0.250 0.750 1.000
Raley 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 0.333 0.333 0.333 0.667
Peters 12 3 2 1 0 1 0 5 17 0.167 0.412 0.250 0.662
Neuse 7 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 8 0.143 0.250 0.143 0.393
Bench 30 4 6 2 1 3 0 6 37 0.200 0.333 0.367 0.700
Pitchers 18 1 3 1 0 3 0 0 19 0.167 0.167 0.222 0.389
Offense 228 38 59 11 11 37 1 24 257 0.259 0.333 0.452 0.785

Week 8 pitching

Pitcher G Record IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP FIP
Pitcher G Record IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP FIP
Bauer 1 1-0 6.3 2 1 0 4 11 0.00 0.947 1.62
Buehler 2 2-0 14.0 7 1 1 5 12 0.64 0.857 2.55
Urías 2 2-0 12.7 6 3 3 0 18 2.13 0.474 0.59
Kershaw 1 0-0 6.0 2 2 2 1 8 3.00 0.500 3.70
Starters 6 5-0 39.0 17 7 6 10 49 1.38 0.692 1.94
Jansen 4 0-0, 4 Sv 4.3 1 0 0 1 5 0.00 0.462 1.58
Price 3 0-0 4.0 4 0 0 0 3 0.00 1.000 1.70
Treinen 3 0-0, Sv 2.3 1 0 0 0 0 0.00 0.429 3.20
Nelson 1 0-0 2.0 0 0 0 0 5 0.00 0.000 -1.81
Jones 1 0-0 1.7 0 0 0 0 2 0.00 0.000 0.79
Santana 1 0-0 1.0 1 0 0 2 0 0.00 3.000 9.20
Bickford 1 0-0 0.7 0 0 0 0 1 0.00 0.000 4.70
Gonzalez 3 1-0 3.0 2 1 1 2 3 3.00 1.333 3.20
Vesia 3 0-0 3.0 1 2 2 2 4 6.00 1.000 6.86
Kelly 2 1-0 1.7 3 2 2 0 2 10.80 1.800 8.60
Uceta 1 0-0 0.3 2 3 3 2 0 81.00 12.000 21.20
Bullpen 23 2-0, 5 Sv 24.0 15 8 8 9 25 3.00 1.000 3.45
Totals 29 7-0 63.0 32 15 14 19 74 2.00 0.810 2.51

Previous reviews: Apr. 1-4 | Apr. 5-11 | Apr. 12-18 | Apr. 19-25 | Apr. 26-May 2 | May 3-9 | May 10-16

Up next

The Dodgers run the Bob Knepper gauntlet, getting to use the designated hitter in Houston for two final times this regular season before coming home to play the Giants again in another divisional showdown between rivals.

The weekend rotation is a guess, dependent on when the Dodgers want to slot in their next bullpen game. It won’t come before Thursday, with Clayton Kershaw and Trevor Bauer starting the two games in Houston, the latter on four days rest after throwing a season-high 126 pitches on Friday.

“Talking to the training staff, they feel great. Trevor recovers really well, so he feels like he does just like he does after a normal start,” Roberts said.

Week 9 schedule

Mon, May 24 Tue, May 25 Wed, May 26 Thu, May 27 Fri, May 28 Sat, May 29 Sun, May 30
Mon, May 24 Tue, May 25 Wed, May 26 Thu, May 27 Fri, May 28 Sat, May 29 Sun, May 30
Off at Houston at Houston vs. Giants vs. Giants vs. Giants vs. Giants
5:10 p.m. 4:40 p.m. 7:10 p.m. 7:10 p.m. 4:15 p.m. 1:10 p.m.
Kershaw v. Bauer v. TBD v. Buehler v. Urías v. Kershaw v.
Greinke Garcia Wood (L) Kazmir (L) Desclafani Gausman
SNLA/FS1 SNLA/ESPN* SNLA/MLBN* SNLA Fox SNLA/MLBN*