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Dodgers’ best defense is a great offense to sweep Mets

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Five home runs finish off a successful road trip for LA

Los Angeles Dodgers v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

After a pair of tight, one-run, extra-inning affairs in the first two games at Citi Field, the Dodgers finally exhaled on Sunday, hitting five home runs in a sweep-finishing 14-4 rout of the Mets.

Justin Turner, limited by a groin injury to two at-bats and eight defensive outs in the field over the previous seven days, welcomed himself back into the lineup with a two-run home run in the first inning to open the scoring. The long ball scored Trea Turner, giving the Dodgers their first Turner-Turner run(s). Justin Turner later walked twice and singled in his first start in a week.

Will Smith followed with a solo shot, his third straight day with a home run in New York, and his eighth home run in 23 games since the All-Star break. Smith also has 27 runs batted in during that stretch, including a two-run single in the eighth.

Doubles by a resurgent Cody Bellinger and Trea Turner, then a home run by Max Muncy in the second gave the Dodgers a second three-run inning to start the game, ending a rough night for Mets starter Carlos Carrasco.

Muncy added another home run in the sixth inning, scoring Trea Turner, who reached base five times and scored four times on the night.

While the offense provided a breather of sorts, Max Scherzer put the finishing touches on an incredible pitching week for the Dodgers, who won five of six games on a road trip against the Phillies and Mets.

Scherzer allowing two runs in six innings doesn’t necessarily stand out at first glance, but the outing was downright Herculean considering the failure of the fielders behind him most of the night.

Smith hesitated before opting to get the lead runner at third base in a nubber in front of the plate in the first, and got no outs. A double-play grounder by James McCann in the second instead turned into an error on Trea Turner, failing to catch the throw from Justin Turner.

Trea Turner failed to make a play on a Jonathan Villar grounder, which turned into an infield single to open the fourth. That was exacerbated when a ground ball up the middle gave Corey Seager two options for an easy out. He could get Villar in a rundown between second and third, or throw out pitcher Jake Reed at first base. Seager tried in vain for both outs, and got none.

“I know the linescore said he went six, but he actually went seven-plus,” manager Dave Roberts said of Scherzer. “We didn’t play good defense behind him. We gave away bases, outs. But for him, he didn’t bat an eye. That’s what makes him so great. He picked us up time and time again tonight.”

Against Scherzer, the Mets had runners on first and third with one out in the first inning, first and second with one out in the second inning, second and third with nobody out in the third, and bases loaded with one out in the fourth.

Scherzer minimizing the damage

Inning Bases/Outs Expected runs Runs scored
Inning Bases/Outs Expected runs Runs scored
1st 1B/3B, 1 out 1.166 0
2nd 1B/2B, 1 out 0.932 0
3rd 2B/3B, 0 out 2.139 1
4th Loaded, 1 out 1.717 1
Totals 5.954 2
Expected runs matrix from Baseball Prospectus

That the Mets only scored two runs in those innings — both on groundouts — seems like a miracle. Scherzer held the Mets hitless in 10 at-bats with runners in scoring position, including two strikeouts.

“In those situations, you just try to find the right right pitch sequence, and just work with Will [Smith] and execute,” Scherzer said. “You just try to limit the damage.”

Scherzer simply fixed the glitch after that by retiring eight in a row to finish his night, exiting after six innings with a seven run lead.

Dodgers pitchers allowed 14 runs in six games on the road trip.

No ifs, ands or butts

In the fourth inning on the ESPN telecast, Roberts was the in-game interview with Matt Vasgersian and Alex Rodriguez, and recounted a story of Max Scherzer’s Dodgers debut, on August 4 against the Astros.

“I patted him on the butt coming into the dugout in the first inning, the second inning, maybe the third inning. Then the fourth inning I patted him on the butt saying, ‘Hey, nice going,’ and he mumbled something under his breath,” Roberts said, laughing. “I’m like, ‘Did he just say ‘Don’t effing touch me?’ Then I got the scoop from our players, ‘Hey Doc, make sure you don’t touch him. He doesn’t want anyone touching him.’

“After the game, he goes seven, gave up a run, I asked him, ‘Hey man, did you mumble, ‘Don’t effing touch me?’ He said, ‘Yeah, and I gave you the most tempered, respectful way I could say it, because this is my job. I don’t need any congratulations or support.’ We got a little kick out of it. So tonight, I won’t be patting him on the butt.”

After Scherzer hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth, Roberts did his best to avoid his pitcher as he got back to the dugout, having learned his lesson.

Sunday particulars

Home runs: Justin Turner (21), Will Smith (18), Max Muncy 2 (25), Matt Beaty (5)

WP — Max Scherzer (10-4): 6 IP, 4 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts

LP — Carlos Carrasco (0-1): 2 IP, 6 hits, 6 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts

Up next

The Dodgers return home to face the Pirates, losers of 10 of their last 11 games. LA is going with a bullpen game Monday night (7:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with left-hander Steven Brault pitching for Pittsburgh.

Roberts said Sunday that some pitching additions could happen before the series. Victor Gonzalez is nearly ready to return from the injured list, and Andre Jackson, who pitched three innings last Tuesday in Triple-A is “in the conversation” to be part of the bullpen game as well.