In the Dodgers’ first truly academic game of the season, they waited patiently before rallying to beat the Rockies 6-4 on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium, putting up crooked numbers in each of the final two innings.
The Dodgers are 110-48 on the season, the first National League to win 110 games since the 1909 Pirates.
On Friday the Dodgers clinched home field advantage throughout the postseason, including the World Series, leaving nothing left to accomplish during the regular season other than keeping everyone relatively healthy and keeping them on a regular schedule.
Los Angeles scored first in this one, in the third inning. Mookie Betts hit three balls on the screws on Saturday, and the lone hit of that group was a double to start the third inning, his 40th double this season and fifth in his last four games. It’s the sixth time Betts has hit 40 doubles in a season.
Along with Freddie Freeman’s 46 doubles, the Dodgers have two players with at least 40 doubles for just the third time in franchise history, and the first time in 92 years. Johnny Frederick and Babe Herman each hit 40-plus doubles for Brooklyn in both 1929 and 1930.
Betts also has 35 home runs, the second Dodger with 35 homers and 40 doubles in a season, joining Herman (48 doubles, 35 homers) in 1930.
Freeman didn’t double on Saturday, but he did single home Betts in the fourth inning, picking up his 98th RBI. He also singled in the eighth, maintaining his major league lead in hits (196), batting average (.329), and doubles, plus leading the National League in on-base percentage (.412).
Literal wild rallies
Down three runs in the seventh, three Dodgers walked against reliever Dinelson Lamet. He was removed in favor of Chad Smith, who walked three of his own and permitted a sacrifice fly to tie the score. After those two combined for 12 strikes and one out in 38 pitches, rookie Gavin Hollowell escaped further damage, needing only six pitches to record two outs and escape the bases-loaded jam.
The Dodgers in the inning had no hits, put two balls in play, only one to the outfield, but scored three runs thanks to six walks in the 34-minute frame.
They got to Hollowell in the eighth, with singles by Trea Turner and Freeman, then a walk to Trayce Thompson, the Dodgers’ 10th walk of the night for a new season high.
Joey Gallo, who pinch-hit for Miguel Vargas in the seventh and walked in one run, provided the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the eighth.
Cody Bellinger followed with an RBI single, his third hit of the night, to provide some insurance.
Filling a role
Michael Grove held the Rockies off the board through three innings, but gave up four hits and four runs in the fourth inning, including home runs by Randal Grichuk and Ryan McMahon.
That completed an extended finishing stretch to his first major league season, after a long road to get here. Grove had Tommy John surgery in 2017 while at West Virginia, a year before the Dodgers drafted him in the second round, and made his pro debut in 2019. Grove spent all of 2020 at the alternate training site at USC, and struggled mightily in his first go-around in Double-A Tulsa in 2021 before finding his command down the stretch.
When the 25-year-old Grove was recalled by the Dodgers in May — the first player called up to the majors directly from Double-A under the Andrew Friedman-led front office in Los Angeles — he had a career 6.60 minor league ERA in 139 innings.
Grove’s first four call-ups were of the spot-start variety, but his latest stretch in the majors was his first extended time as part of the rotation, making four consecutive starts ending Saturday.
Grove’s overall numbers don’t jump off the page, with a 4.60 ERA and 5.16 FIP with 24 strikeouts in 29⅓, innings. But he filled a role that the Dodgers needed, giving them a sixth starter for a stretch to provide rest for the other members of the starting rotation, and then as a fifth starter to keep the line moving after Dustin May landed on the injured list.
“I think there’s conviction, there’s trust, for any player once you get this level to have some success and belief that what you do is good enough. I think he’s starting to feel that,” manager Dave Roberts said of Grove on the last homestand. “It’s a leap of faith to trust your stuff and you abilities, to throw your fastball over the plate, to throw the curveball in the strike zone and know that it’s good enough.”
Grove only walked one four straight starts before issuing two free passes on Saturday, and had a 7.5-percent walk rate with the Dodgers this season. In the minors this year, Grove’s walk rate was 8.1 percent, considerably down from 12.4 percent in 2021.
He also lasted five innings in each of his last four starts, giving the Dodgers just what they asked for. Moving the line forward.
Brusdar Graterol closed out the win with a scoreless ninth for his fourth save of the season. He’s the fourth different Dodgers pitcher to earn a save over the last six games. The last eight Dodgers saves, dating back to August 31, have been recorded by eight different pitchers.
Home runs: Ryan McMahon (20); Randall Grichuk (18)
WP — Evan Phillips (7-3): 1 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts
LP — Gavin Hollowell (0-2): 1⅓ IP, 3 hits, 2 runs, 1 walk, 1 strikeout
Sv — Brusdar Graterol (4): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
Sunday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA) features the Dodgers innings leader making his final start of the regular season, with lefty Tyler Anderson opposing his former Rockies teammate Germán Márquez.