Corey Seager returned Friday from a 10-week stint on the injured list because of a right hand fracture . Mookie Betts returned to the lineup for Sunday’s 13-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in Chase Field after missing two weeks because of right hip inflammation.
Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer, acquired from the Washington Nationals with shortstop Trea Turner on Friday, will make his Dodgers debut against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night in Chavez Ravine.
Turner, who is on the COVID-19 injured list, could join the team as early as next weekend, adding much-needed speed, some more power and defensive versatility to the lineup.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has spoken for months about “holding serve” in the National League West while weathering all the injuries and the loss of pitcher Trevor Bauer to a domestic violence investigation.
The defending World Series champion Dodgers won’t be at full strength until left-hander Clayton Kershaw returns from an elbow injury, but if they’re going to overtake the first-place San Francisco Giants, who hold a three-game lead over them in the division, they need to make their move soon.
And if their inability to seize control of a division they’ve won for eight straight years didn’t concern the Dodgers over the past two or three months, it should now.
“We have to be like that all year,” said Betts, who singled and scored in the seventh inning Sunday and led off the ninth with a homer. “It’s kind of hard to just turn it on right now. So we have to do a better job of displaying some urgency.
“That’s what we did really well last year. We haven’t done it as well this year. We just have to start playing with some urgency and getting some things to turn our way instead of waiting for it.”
The Dodgers went 14-12 in July and lost five of seven games to the Giants in a 10-game stretch that ended last Thursday.
“It’s not ideal,” Roberts said of the team’s position. “A lot of it was the Giants. They outplayed us. But you still gotta beat everybody. Right now, where we’re at, there’s a good vibe going on. I definitely see us taking off as the days go on.”
After losing Friday night’s series opener to the lowly Diamondbacks in 10 innings, the Dodgers asserted themselves over the weekend, amassing 16 hits in Saturday night’s 8-3 win and another 14 hits, including Albert Pujols’ three-run double in the second and Justin Turner’s three-run homer in the seventh, on Sunday.
AJ Pollock had four hits, including a pair of RBI doubles and is batting .394 (37 for 94) with seven homers 10 doubles, 15 RBIs and 15 runs in 26 games since the start of July.
“He’s been on fire for quite some time,” Roberts said. “I think the thing with him is he’s aggressive to his zone. Call it earning pitches to get into good counts, and when he gets a pitch that’s a mistake, he’s doing some damage.
“Whether it’s the base hit, the double, the home runs, driving in runs, taking walks when needed, he’s doing all of that. He’s carrying us right now.”
The Dodgers took advantage of three walks to score five runs in the second inning Sunday. They added two more in the fifth and one in the sixth for an 8-0 lead, allowing Roberts to pull Julio Urias after the left-hander threw 83 pitches in five shutout innings in which he gave up four hits, struck out seven and walked none.
Betts started at second base instead of right field to ease the stress on his hip and, with a runner on first base, made a superb over-the-shoulder running catch of Drew Ellis’ broken-bat flare to shallow center in the first inning.
Roberts said the play “changed the landscape of the game” because it turned a potential first-and-third, one-out situation to a runner-on-first, two-out situation, but Betts wasn’t all that impressed with himself.
“I mean, I’ve been playing outfield, so going to get the ball is nothing new,” Betts said. “I saw that I could catch it, and I told Seags ‘I got it’ while running. It wasn’t anything I wasn’t used to.”
Betts, who made 14 starts at second base for the Red Sox in 2014 and one for the Dodgers in 2020, fielded two grounders cleanly and threw to first for outs. He ended the eighth inning by fielding Nick Ahmed’s grounder, stepping on the second-base bag and firing to first for a double play.
Betts, who came up as an infielder in Boston’s farm system, looked like a natural at second, but Roberts said that will be more of a one-game thing to keep him off the artificial turf at Chase Field. Betts will return to right field this week, and Trea Turner will eventually get the bulk of the playing time at second.
“It’s just more of giving us options as far as how we want to deploy him,” Roberts said, when asked if Betts could play more second base. “But he’s our right fielder. I will talk to Trea when he gets here, and we’re gonna talk about a lot of great parts and pieces that we have.”