PHOENIX — I’m going to go out on a limb and share with you a take I have about baseball.
Having Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman on the same team is good.
I know, I know. How bold of me.
The Los Angeles’ Dodgers’ one-two punch at the top of the order mashed the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday in a 14-1 win for L.A. at Chase Field.
Betts’ first four at-bats resulted in three hits, a walk and three runs scored. He was brought home by Freeman on all three occasions. Freeman could have done it all four times had it not been for Betts’ single in the top of the third inning ending the inning after the Dodgers’ Gavin Lux got thrown out at third base.
The two started the game with back-to-back doubles.
“They’re a good team, they’re a good team. It’s just not those two, either. They’re a good team,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. “Five minutes into the game they’ve got a couple of doubles and a run scored. That’s what they were there to do. They’re a good baseball team.”
Freeman’s double in the first, dinger in the second and double in the sixth all resulted in Betts safely getting home. Freeman’s home run scored both himself and Chris Taylor to give him five RBIs on the evening.
Those two did early damage to D-backs starter Humberto Castellanos, and the Dodgers kept it going beyond his short stay to the tune of 24 hits. All nine Dodgers in the starting lineup had at least two.
Castellanos has been a pleasant surprise in his role at the end of the D-backs’ rotation. Through nine appearances (seven starts) he had a 4.29 ERA and 1.178 WHIP while giving up less than four earned runs in six of his seven starts.
Thursday, however, was a season-worst outing. Los Angeles racked up 10 hits and a walk off Castellanos for all six of his earned runs.
Castellanos has the statistical profile of a pitcher who was due for this type of outing. He gives up a lot of contact, doesn’t walk a ton of batters and doesn’t strike many out, either, per Baseball Savant.
That is not a recipe for success against a stacked Dodgers lineup.
The second inning came after a two-run first for the Dodgers and was an indicator that it wasn’t Castellanos’ night. Taylor’s RBI double and Freeman’s three-run homer both came off the right-hander’s slider, a pitch opposing batters were only hitting .145 off of coming into Thursday night and is the one he turns to the second-most out of his five offerings.
A pitch count of 55 through two innings put Castellanos in an early hole, and while he kept the Dodgers scoreless the next pair of frames, he threw 41 more pitches that forced Lovullo to use his bullpen from the fifth inning on.
Arizona’s offense had its chances off Los Angeles starter Mitch White, a right-hander recently moved into a starting role who still hasn’t been stretched out fully.
The D-backs ended both the second and third innings with runners on the corners. The third featured a hard-hit liner by Ketel Marte to right-center with one out and two on, a ball tracked down by a sprinting Betts that some right fielders would have a difficult time with.
Not him, though.
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White wound up matching Castellanos’ four innings despite throwing 35 fewer pitches (61), a big win for a Los Angeles team that had to expect using a chunk of its bullpen.
In the bottom of the fifth, two straight singles from Daulton Varsho and Josh Rojas with two outs set up Marte in a position to punish the Dodgers again. But for the second straight at-bat, a ball he crushed resulted in an out. This one was at third base for a groundout that came off the bat at over 110 mph, the highest of the game to that point.
There’s another outcome of this game where Marte gets a few RBIs of his own on those two opportunities to get Arizona back in the game but Thursday was not one of those scenarios, and four more runs for the Dodgers in the sixth inning sealed the deal at a 10-0 score.
Marte needed it because it was a bad night for the second baseman defensively. He had one error, another brainfart on a routine grounder he seemingly miscommunicated with shortstop Geraldo Perdomo during and then a bad throw that didn’t finish a potential inning-ending double play.
Lovullo described the defensive performance as a whole for his team as “lackadaisical.”
Christian Walker hit a solo homer in the bottom-half of the sixth, his 12th of the season that has him tied for second on MLB’s leaderboard. Taylor went deep in the top of the eighth for two runs that brought the Dodgers’ run total to a dozen.
Lovullo has had to use his bullpen a lot to start this season and avoided getting to any of his key names thanks to 2.2 innings for Luis Frias, 1.1 via Caleb Smith and a ninth inning from outfielder Jake Hager that let the Dodgers get two more runs on the board.