ARLINGTON — Prior to Saturday’s 16-3 Dodgers victory over the Rangers, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts joked that he had a hard time captaining his first team to the 2020 National League Championship game when the club arrived in Texas.
This series pitted the Roberts Dodgers against the Freddie Freeman Braves, and Los Angeles won in seven games. Because it happened during the pandemic-shortened season, every contest has been played at Globe Life Field, as the Dodgers returned this weekend for the first time since winning the World Series that fall.
“I think I was giving Freddie a funny reference about hitting them here in ’20, when he was with the Braves,” Roberts said with a smile.
Returning to the same place three years later, Roberts was happy Freeman wore Dodger blue this time around. The 2020 NL MVP fired two visitors to go along with two in fueling Los Angeles’ second straight defeat of the Texans and sixth win in their current nine-game trip to open the second half of the season.
After singled in the first inning, Freeman smashed a solo homer inside the wrong right field upright in the third inning. He threw a great performance in the fourth with a two-run shot to right, a bullish drive for his twentieth homer of the season. He singled out again Good Measure in the eighth.
With his prolific day, Freeman bats . 438 with six home runs over his last 12 games, a streak the Dodgers surpassed 10-2 and went from 2 1/2 games for first in the NL West to four games on Giant and D linebacker. He also became the first player in Dodgers history to have at least 20 home runs and 35 doubles before the end of July.
Perhaps even more incredibly: According to OptaSTATS, Freeman became the first player in AL/NL history with 20+ hits, 35+ doubles, 125+ hits, 10+ steals and 40+ walks before August 1.
“I just feel like I don’t miss the pitches that I have to hit,” Freeman said. “I think we’re all going to have courses all season where we miss pitches and things like that, but… for now, I’m going to hit the pitches I’m supposed to hit.”
Just call him “Steady Freddie,” because his mere presence in the lineup is a formidable force that drives an offensive force. This firepower at the plate played a major role in masking the depth-of-pitching issues the Dodgers had faced all season, particularly in the starting rotation.
“He’s clearly already an elite player, one of the best hitters in the game,” said Roberts. “…So when he’s on one of these fireplaces, man, you just kind of sit back and enjoy. And everyone else follows suit.”
“Follow suit” is exactly what the rest of the group did producing double-digit runs for the third time in four games.
Max Muncie hit his 23rd home run of the season on a hit single in the third inning, and he also doubled his second home run in the eighth inning. J.D. Martinez hit his 24th shot of the year, hitting three runs in the fourth before adding a sacrifice fly in the eighth.
David Peralta was 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, and James Ottman added an RBI single.
In the ninth, Johnny DeLuca hit his second career home run, a three-run blast to left center. Deluca’s exciting hitting streak in center field Friday highlighted another reason the Dodgers have been successful despite injuries plaguing the outfield: contributions from unexpected sources.
There were contributions up and down the lineup, and rookie Bobby Miller, who threw six innings off the three-run ball, made a positive step in his development. But that day belonged to the always dependable Freeman, who used to give his boss nightmares.
“Now he’s in our uniform,” said Roberts. “So I sleep a little better, yeah.”