Friday featured several home runs and Lance Lynn, but the bulk of long balls were hit by the Dodgers in a 6-2 win over the Giants in the series opener at Oracle Park in San Francisco.
The Dodgers won their 99th game, just one shy of reaching 100 wins for a fourth full season in a row. There were some other milestones on offense as well.
Freddie Freeman continued his extra-base hit barrage, first hitting his 29th home run in the third inning then hitting his 59th double in the sixth. He’s just one double shy of the first 60-double season in the majors since 1936.
Freeman now has 90 extra-base hits, which leads the majors and ranks second-most in franchise history behind only Babe Herman’s 94 in 1930 for Brooklyn. Freeman also singled in the first inning and scored after each of his three hits, giving him 131 runs scored on the season, surpassing Maury Wills’ 1962 campaign for the most runs in a season by a Los Angeles Dodger.
With three hits Friday, Freeman’s on-base percentage is up to .4119, currently a close second in the National League to Ronald Acuña Jr. (.4143), his former teammate.
Freeman’s 131st run was scored in the sixth, on a three-run home run by J.D. Martinez. One day after a two-run shot made Martinez the fourth member of the Dodgers’ first-ever quartet of 100-RBI players, his homer on Friday gave Martinez 1,002 career runs batted in, just the 304th major leaguer ever with 1,000 RBI.
When Martinez touched home plate, that was the Dodgers’ 900th run scored on the season, the first time they’ve scored that many runs since moving to Los Angeles. It’s the sixth time in the 140-year history of the franchise the Dodgers have scored at least 900 runs. Four of those seasons came after they joined the National League in 1890, and the last before this year coming in 1953 in Brooklyn.
Will Smith got the scoring started with a two-run home run to dead center in the first, scoring Freeman, naturally.
No matter how you slice it, Smith has struggled offensively for quite some time. Entering Friday he was hitting only .237/.311/.366 with an 85 wRC+ since the All-Star break, and just .181/.303/.278 with a 64 wRC+ in September. The home run was his first since September 12.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters before the game that Lynn would likely be used as a starter in the postseason if it came to that, but also wisely refused to commit to any pitching plans beyond the first two games of the NLDS (Bobby Miller and Clayton Kershaw starting, in some order). Lynn only as a starter makes sense given that only two of his 191 games over the last seven seasons have come in relief, though he did pitch twice in relief in the ALDS for the Yankees in 2018.
After three batters on Friday, it was fair to wonder whether Lynn might even by rostered in October. He walked his first two batters and ran the count full before Wilmer Flores singled home a run in the first inning.
Lynn allowed just the one run in the first, and recovered to retire 16 of his next 17 batters.
Flores broke up a strong of eight in a row with a solo home run to left field in the third inning, which comes with the territory with Lynn, whose 44 home runs allowed are tied for sixth-most in a season in major league history.
Lynn’s second string of eight straight batters appeared to reach nine when Flores grounded out in the sixth, but the Giants successfully challenged that shortstop Miguel Rojas did not have both feet on the infield dirt when the pitch was delivered, which nullified the out. Flores walked, as did the next batter Joc Pederson, but Lynn escaped thanks to a double play by Thairo Estrada.
Lynn yelled at the Giants bench most of the way back to his own dugout.
The Dodgers desperately needed innings to stabilize a shaky pitching staff when they acquired Lynn ahead of the trade deadline, and he provided them. Sixty-four of them to be precise, which leads the team — at least until Bobby Miller (60⅔ innings since August 1) makes a final tuneup start on Sunday — with a 4.36 ERA in Lynn’s 11 starts for Los Angeles, of which the Dodgers have won nine.
Adding injury to insult
After getting dinged for standing on the grass a half-inning earlier, Rojas was hit by a 94.7-mph fastball on his left hand in the top of the seventh inning and left the game with what the Dodgers called a left hand contusion.
Dave Roberts said X-rays on Miguel Rojas’ hand were negative. He’ll get a CT scan tomorrow to make sure there’s no further injury, but Roberts said they think they dodged a bullet— Jack Harris (@ByJackHarris) September 30, 2023
Dave Roberts said Miguel Rojas' X-rays were negative. The Dodgers will follow with a CT scan Saturday. Roberts said he'll be out of the lineup.— Dodger Insider (@DodgerInsider) September 30, 2023
Rojas said: "I'm pretty positive that everything's going to be all right, and I'll be good to go for the rest of the season."
History at the helm
After the Giants fired Gabe Kapler on Friday, bench coach Kai Correa took over as interim manager for the final weekend of the season. Correa, who was born in Hawaii and is of Japanese and Portuguese descent, coupled with Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was born in Japan and whose mother is Japanese, for what is believed to be the first major league game with two managers of Asian descent, something that hasn’t yet happened in the NBA, NFL, nor NHL either.
Dodger Manager Dave Roberts and Giants’ interim skipper Kai Correa are the first managers/coaches of Asian descent to face each other in the Big 4 professional sports (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL). pic.twitter.com/IVJVMtPLWJ— Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) September 30, 2023
Home runs: Will Smith (19), Freddie Freeman (29), J.D. Martinez (33); Wilmer Flores (23)
WP — Lance Lynn (13-11): 6 IP, 2 hits, 2 runs, 4 walks, 4 strikeouts
LP — Keaton Winn (1-3): 5⅓ IP, 6 hits, 6 runs, 5 trikeouts
Clayton Kershaw makes his last regular season start on Saturday night (6:05 p.m., SportsNet LA), and his 57th career start against the Giants. Tristan Beck starts for the home team.