The refrain from Dave Roberts has been used often regarding Mookie Betts, but “we go as he goes” was never more literal and perhaps ominous than Saturday at Coors Field, where the Dodgers rightfielder and leadoff man had four extra-base hits in four at-bats but had to leave with right hip irritation in a 9-2 win over the Rockies.
Betts doubled in the first and sixth innings, scoring on a Max Muncy single both times. Betts took matters into his own hands with a solo home run in the third.
In the seventh, Betts doubled again but was limping on his way to second base. After conferring with manager Dave Roberts and trainer Yosuke Nakajima, Betts was taken out of the game.
“I’m good,” Betts said. “I just made it a little more mad today than normal.”
Later on the SportsNet LA broadcast, footage of Betts was shown wincing in the dugout after scoring from second base in the sixth inning. He confirmed that’s when he felt something in his hip.
“It’s kind of been nagging at him all year. I think a lot of running the bases and in the outfield irritated it a little bit,” Roberts said after the game. “He’ll be down tomorrow, and should be back in the lineup on Monday.”
Betts’ struggles have been both prevalent — dealing with various injuries basically all season — and relative, in that his worst month, April, saw him post a 119 wRC+. Oh, the horrors of being only 19 percent better than average on offense.
Betts on Saturday counted his hip as one of the various injuries he’s been managing throughout the year. Those injuries have been at the very least frustrating to Betts, who was deservedly named an All-Star for the fifth time but decided to use the four-day break to recharge.
“He’s a great worker. He understands his swing and approach. The talent is obviously clear,” Roberts said before Saturday’s game. “We saw signs in the last couple of weeks that he was coming out of that little funk. I think we’re going to be on a fun ride in the second half.”
The fun actually started just before the All-Star break, on the very day he made the choice to skip the midsummer classic. Betts last Saturday hit a grand slam and walked three times, scoring four of the Dodgers’ LA franchise-record 22 runs against Arizona. On Sunday, Betts had three hits, including a home run, and scored three more times.
Three more hits came on Friday against the Rockies, including a double and two more runs. Saturday’s outburst gave Betts four straight games scoring at least two runs, tying a Dodgers record last reached by Muncy in 2018.
Betts in those four games has 12 hits in 16 at-bats, with three home runs, four doubles, 12 runs scored and seven runs batted in. The hot streak vaulted Betts’ batting line from .245/.352/.446 to .271/.375/.503 in just four games, raising his batting average by 26 points and his OPS by 79 points.
His wRC+ on the season is now 141, a far cry from April.
Betts scored the Dodgers’ first three runs on Saturday, and left with the team up 4-2. The other run to that point was a solo home run another red-hot LA hitter, AJ Pollock, who has seven home runs in 12 games in July.
After Betts left, the Dodgers piled on, with Muncy hitting home runs in the eighth and ninth, giving him a career-high five RBI and tying a career best with four hits. Justin Turner doubled home two more off the centerfield wall in the ninth to turn this into a blowout.
That was more than enough for Walker Buehler, who went seven innings after last pitching seven days ago.
This was the second straight Saturday start for Buehler, whose six days rest was his second-most before a start this season. The All-Star break accounted for that layoff, though he was the only Dodgers pitcher who had another game in which to pitch in between.
Buehler was at Coors Field earlier in the week, named to his second All-Star team. He was one of 12 active pitchers for the National League, though Buehler and Brewers reliever Josh Hader were the only ones not to appear in the game. The decision not to use Buehler came after a conversation with Roberts before the game.
“He was totally good with being a spectator and a teammate,” Roberts said.
Colorado scored single runs in the second and third innings against Buehler, the key hit a double in both frames. The second was aided by an uncharacteristic two walks in the inning by Buehler, but he got into a groove shortly after.
After the game-tying double by Ryan McMahon in the third, Buehler retired his final 13 batters faced. Six of those were by strikeout, giving Buehler eight punchouts on the night.
“There’s an expectation for the guys that are in [the rotation] to go deep, and it’s a focus of mine,” said Buehler, who won his 10th game of the season.
The Dodgers after losing in Colorado on opening day have beaten the Rockies eight straight times.
Home runs: Mookie Betts (14), AJ Pollock (13), Max Muncy 2 (21)
WP — Walker Buehler (10-1): 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 8 strikeouts
LP — Kyle Freeland (1-4): 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs, 4 strikeouts
David Price starts the series finale for the Dodgers on Sunday (12:10 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA), with right-hander Jon Gray starting for Colorado.