In a game started on the mound by Buehler, it was a different day off, or lack of one, that keyed the latest Dodgers win over the Nationals. Mookie Betts hit two of the team’s four home runs in a 9-4 triumph, the ninth consecutive Los Angeles triumph over Washington.
Betts was going to get Tuesday off, a planned rest day in the middle of a month-long schedule gauntlet that has the Dodgers playing 31 games in 30 days. But Cody Bellinger, who was set for a Wednesday off day, wasn’t feeling well Tuesday, so manager Dave Roberts swapped off days for the two outfielders.
“I was going to give Mookie a day off today,” Roberts told reporters at Nationals Park before the game, as shown on SportsNet LA. He then added with a smile, “I convinced him to play today, and he’ll be down tomorrow, regardless.”
Betts in the second inning hit a slider from former Dodgers pitcher Josiah Gray into the left field seats, a three-run home run that gave reclaimed the lead. In the fourth, he hit another slider from former Dodgers minor league pitcher Victor Arano, nearly to the same spot in left field. This one was a solo shot, continuing a scorching hot streak for the Dodgers right fielder.
He has an extra-base hit in each of his last six games, two-thirds of the way to a club record. That includes four home runs, plus a convenient seven home runs in his last 11 games, and nine home runs in May.
Betts is the current National League leader with 12 home runs this season.
Betts also leads the majors with 44 runs scored, which makes this a good time to point out that Tuesday was the Dodgers’ 42nd game of the season. The last game in which Betts played and didn’t score was May 12. In each of the last twelve games, Betts has scored at least once. That ties the Los Angeles Dodgers record, set by Rafael Furcal in 2010.
The only longer Dodgers run-scoring streaks came in Brooklyn a century ago. Wee Willie Keeler, a Hall of Famer known for saying “Hit ‘em where they ain’t,” scored in 14 straight games in June 1901. Third baseman Sammy Strang scored in 13 straight games in August 1903. Hall of Fame outfielder Zack Wheat matched that baker’s dozen in August 1925.
Betts had three hits and a walk on Tuesday, and has reached base eight times in 10 trips to the plate during this series. On the road trip, Betts has four home runs, three doubles, 10 runs batted in, and has reached base 15 times in 25 plate appearances.
Betts wasn’t the only one to make life hell on Gray, who needed 40 pitches to get through the first inning. The Dodgers homered off the right-hander in each of the first three innings, with Trea Turner and Chris Taylor hitting two-run shots in the first and third frames, respectively. The Dodgers also walked three times against Gray and tagged him for seven runs.
That helped ease the shaky beginning to Walker Buehler’s outing. Staked to a two-run lead before taking the mound, Buehler allowed hits to four of the first five batters. Three runs scored, the last one aided by an errant throw to third by Taylor that got past Justin Turner and into the dugout.
Buehler allowed the first two to reach in the second inning as well, but then settled down, retiring his next 11 batters. He allowed only one hit and one single after the second inning. Buehler only struck out three, but kept the ball low, inducing 10 groundball outs.
Home runs: Trea Turner (3), Mookie Betts 2 (12), Chris Taylor (4)
WP — Walker Buehler (6-1): 6 IP, 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 2 walks, 3 strikeouts
LP — Josiah Gray (4-4): 3 IP, 5 hits, 7 runs, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts
There’s an earlier start time on getaway day, a happy medium between a day game and a night game (1:05 p.m. PT, SportsNet LA). Julio Urías gets the start in the series finale for the Dodgers. The Nationals counter with right-hander Erick Fedde, whose name is spelled like my Little League scouting report — Eric with a K.
Joe Davis said during Tuesday’s game that Daron Sutton will fill in for him starting with Wednesday’s SportsNet LA telecast, a new member of the Dodgers broadcast team. Dodgers announcers have called the first two legs of this road trip remotely from Los Angeles, save for SportsNet LA reporter Kirsten Watson, who is in Washington D.C.