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Dodgers batter Angels, head into All-Star break on 4-game win streak

Dodgers matched season high with 5 home runs in both games of sweep

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

LOS ANGELES — The top of the Dodgers lineup bludgeoned the Angels for a second straight night with a 10-5 win on Saturday at Dodger Stadium, cruising into the All-Star break on a four-game win streak.

Mookie Betts homered in the first inning, his third home run in the last two games. It’s the 10th home run leading off a game this year for Betts, already a Dodgers franchise record for a season, and it’s also the most leadoff home runs by any major league player before the All-Star break.

Betts heads into the All-Star break with 26 home runs, only nine shy of his career high. Seven of those home runs were hit in the last 11 games, during which Betts is batting .459/.577/1.243 with eight doubles, 13 walks, 15 runs scored and 15 RBI.

“This is probably the best version I’ve seen of him,” said manager Dave Roberts.

Betts is so hot at the moment, the Angels have intentionally walked him in each of the last two games, to face fellow MVP candidate Freddie Freeman, including in the second inning on Saturday. It’s a pick-your-poison proposition, and both times it backfired on the Halos, leading to big innings helped along by poor defense.

Luis Rengifo started at second base, but had to move to left field in the first inning when Jo Adell left with a strained oblique. Rengifo couldn’t quite corral Freeman’s bloop double to score two runs after the walk to Betts, then Will Smith singled home two as Rengifo airmailed a throw home.

Since Freeman and Betts became teammates last year, they entered Saturday ranked fifth (155 wRC+) and eighth (149 wRC+), respectively in the majors in wRC+. Before Friday, Freeman batted directly behind Betts in 219 games, and Betts was never intentionally walked. Three runs scored after Friday’s intentional walk in the eighth inning, and four runs scored after the second-inning walk Saturday.

Reid Detmers allowed the home run to Betts, and a solo shot to Max Muncy before all of the shenanigans in the second inning. The Angels left-hander stuck around long enough to face the top of the Dodgers order once more, but Freeman took him deep to end Detmers’ night after seven runs and only 10 outs.

The Dodgers hit 10 home runs in this two-game sweep, and outscored the Angels 25-9 in their four meetings this year.

Length provided

Michael Grove was recalled from Oklahoma City on Monday to fill Clayton Kershaw’s shoes and did so admirably. He started Monday and allowed a run in four innings. Following an opener on Saturday, Grove kept the Angels off the board until his fifth inning of work, when the game was well in hand.

Grove allowed three straight two-out hits for a pair of runs in the sixth inning, and then Shohei Ohtani clobbered a two-run home run in the seventh. But Grove got through six innings for the first time in his major league career.

He struck out six on the night and walked one, giving the Dodgers three straight games with a pitcher lasting at least six innings for the first time since May 10-13.

Welcome back

Alex Vesia was one of the Dodgers most effective relievers in 2021 and 2022, but this year has struggled so much that he’s been optioned twice to Triple-A. The left-hander returned as a fresh arm during Thursday’s chaos, and ended up pitching in each of the final three nights before the break, the third Dodgers reliever to pitch three straight days this week.

Vesia recorded his first save in nearly a year on Thursday night, then struck out Shohei Ohtani on three pitches Friday. The left-hander opened on Saturday, and after an Ohtani single to start the game Vesia retired his next three batters, with two strikeouts.

Roberts praised Vesia’s throwing with conviction and pitching with confidence in his latest return from the minors, and throwing strikes.

“It seems like the pitch clock isn’t fazing him right now,” Roberts said. “He looks really clear of mind.”

Saturday particulars

Home runs: Mookie Betts (26), Max Muncy (21), Freddie Freeman (17), J.D. Martinez (22), David Peralta (7); Shohei Ohtani (32)

WP — Michael Grove (1-2): 6 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 6 strikeouts

LP — Reid Detmers (2-6): 3⅓ IP, 6 hits, 7 runs, 1 walk, 4 strikeouts

Up next

The All-Star break is upon us, which means five days off for the bulk of the team. The Dodgers start a nine-game road trip in New York to play the Mets at Citi Field. Julio Urías starts the opener on Friday (4:10 p.m. PT, exclusively on Apple TV+).