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Dodgers turn up the volume to generate offense

MLB: Cleveland Guardians at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The last three weeks have been a desert for the Dodgers offense, but on Saturday they found a rare oasis, drinking in a 7-1 win over the Guardians on Saturday at Dodger Stadium.

Seven runs, 11 hits, and five extra-base hits were a perfect salve for a team that scored just 3.33 runs per game over the last three weeks, and one on Saturday that was playing without Mookie Betts, who missed a second straight game with soreness in his ribs.

Entering Saturday, the Dodgers led baseball with the lowest swing rate (28.3 percent) on pitches outside the strike zone, and that increased to 30.8 percent dating back to May 28, down to seventh in the majors.

Subsequently, their MLB-best 10.4-percent walk rate on the season was just 8.7 percent over the last 18 games, ranking eighth. The strikeout rate from Dodgers batters was up a bit too, from 21.3 percent on the season to 22.6 percent since May 28.

Over the previous six games, the Dodgers had just four hits in 47 at-bats with runners in scoring position, a .085/.218/.170 batting line that looked more like an homage to new Dodger Stadium statue honoree Sandy Koufax, a career .097/.145/.116 hitter.

Simply put, the Dodgers offense didn’t look like themselves of late. The question over the next few weeks is whether these Dodgers themselves are the ones to turn things around. They will almost certainly get the chance to in the near term before the team would even consider deciding to relatively cut bait with parts of what has been the most regular starting lineup of the Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman era.

Los Angeles entered Saturday with three usual starters measured as below-average hitters by wRC+, and all contributed in some way in the win:

  • Justin Turner (75 wRC+ before Saturday) doubled in the third inning, his first extra-base hit since June 2. In between, Turner had five hits in 45 at-bats. He also drew a walk with the bases loaded in the sixth. This was Turner’s first multi-RBI game since May 18. He’s up to 77 wRC+ now
  • Max Muncy (83 wRC+ entering this game) walked twice and singled, and scored on Turner’s double in the third. It was Muncy’s first run scored in seven games, going just two for 19 in his last six contests. He’s now at an 87 wRC+.
  • Cody Bellinger (93 wRC+ coming into Saturday) singled twice, his second consecutive multi-hit game, raising to a 94 wRC+.

Backup catcher Austin Barnes has been above average overall with a 102 wRC+ entering this one, but was just one for 22 since his last run batted in, on May 21. He plated the Dodgers’ first run of the game with a second-inning sacrifice fly, the first for the team in 18 games. Barnes was the only Dodgers starter without a hit, but walked twice, his fourth straight start with at least one walk.

Saturday’s game doesn’t magically fix things. They still only had two hits in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position, and left 11 runners on base. But more importantly, they gave themselves chances. If they keep doing that, the offense will come.

Crooked numbers

Multi-run games have been a difficult enough task of late for the Dodgers, who plated 11 runs in their previous six contests, scoring more than two runs in a game just once.

They took care of that in the second inning alone, with a Trea Turner two-run shot capping a three-run frame. Gavin Lux added an RBI triple to cap a two-run third inning, giving the Dodgers a relative embarrassment of riches compared to the last three weeks.

The Dodgers had just one multi-run inning in the previous six games. On Saturday, they had two.

Amid a sea of slumping bats, Lux and Trea Turner have been the Dodgers’ best two hitters in June. Turner has four home runs and seven extra-base hits this month, hitting .311/.344/.557. Lux meanwhile has five extra-base hits and is hitting .356/.420/.533 in June.

Thank you for your support

All the offense was a welcome sight for Julio Urías, who saw the Dodgers score at least five runs in one of his starts since April 22, ten starts ago.

He walked two in the first inning, just the fourth time this season with two walks in a single frame. Urías nearly escaped, but his potential inning-ending grounder went through the legs of Muncy at second base, bringing home an unearned run.

That was all Urías would allow, striking out six while allowing only two hits. He pitched six innings for the eighth time in his last 10 starts. After the error, Urías retired 16 of his final 18 batters faced.

Saturday particulars

Home run: Trea Turner (9)

WP — Julio Urías (4-6): 6 IP, 2 hits, 1 unearned run, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts

LP — Cal Quantrill (4-4): 5 IP, 10 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Up next

Andrew Heaney is back on the major league mound for the first time in two months. He’ll be activated to start Sunday’s series finale (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), with Shane Bieber pitching for Cleveland.