The Dodgers’ second inning Friday night against the Miami Marlins was the relentless barrage they envision themselves producing regularly, the explosion they know they can generate at any point of any game versus any pitcher. That confidence is why their recent three-week offensive rut was so ugly, so perplexing, so frustrating.
By the time the second inning was over at Dodger Stadium, they had scored eight runs to chase Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara and shifted their night into cruise control. It got dicey at points, but they held off the Marlins to win, 9-6, extending their winning streak to three games after losing 15 of 20.
“Winning is what feels like normal to me,” Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw said. “Whether it’s our guys swinging the bats, that was a matter of time.”
Alcantara took the mound Friday as one of the best pitchers in the majors over the last three weeks. The Marlins’ opening day starter surrendered eight runs in his last four starts. He logged at least six innings in seven of his outings on the season. He was pitching like an ace.
He looked like an ace in the first inning Friday too, showcasing a 99-mph fastball while working around a leadoff walk to Mookie Betts. The second inning rendered the flash of dominance irrelevant. The Dodgers (21-17) pounded Alcantara and they didn’t stop until he was pulled.
Chris Taylor worked a leadoff walk before the next six batters reached on hits. Gavin Lux roped a double. AJ Pollock snuck an RBI single through an infield shift. Austin Barnes hammered a run-scoring double off the top of the wall in left field.
Kershaw slapped an RBI single up the middle, raising his batting average to .308. Betts cracked a run-scoring double down the left-field line. Corey Seager slapped a line drive off second baseman Isan Díaz’s glove for an RBI single.
Alcantara threw 31 pitches and surrendered five runs before Justin Turner briefly paused the outburst with a strikeout. Max Muncy resumed it with a towering three-run home run to give the Dodgers an 8-0 lead and abruptly end Alcantara’s night.
Alcantara entered the evening with the lowest barreled-ball rate in the majors, yielding just three across his first 49 2/3 innings. He gave up four barreled balls in the second inning Friday.
“It was fun,” Muncy said. “It’s what we usually do. We haven’t been doing that, but it’s a lot of fun when we do.”
About the only thing that went wrong for the Dodgers in the inning was Pollock re-injuring his left hamstring running from first to third base on Barnes’ double. Pollock made his first start in a week after straining the hamstring against the Angels May 7. He lasted two innings.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he thinks Pollock will be placed on the injured list Saturday.
Muncy’s extra padding proved necessary. Kershaw finished the night with a season-high 11 strikeouts — nine on his slider — but gave up five runs over six innings. He yielded four of the runs with two outs in the third inning after the Dodgers’ 35-minute surge in the second. Adam Duvall supplied the big blow when he swatted a hanging slider for a three-run home run.
“Sometimes you pitch on the right day,” Kershaw said.
The Marlins (17-21) tallied another run in the fifth inning on Garrett Cooper’s double on an 0-2 slider from Kershaw.
The clubs then exchanged runs in the seventh and eighth innings before Kenley Jansen, holstering electric stuff, shut the door with a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
Reinforcements on the horizon
The Dodgers’ bloated list of injured contributors is seemingly on the verge of thinning out over the next couple of weeks, starting with David Price, followed by Zach McKinstry and Cody Bellinger.
Price logged two simulated innings at Dodger Stadium on Friday afternoon in what could be his final step before activation. The veteran left-hander has been on the injured list since April 26 with a Grade 2 left hamstring strain.
Price said the hamstring “feels completely normal” after his outing Friday. He threw close to 30 pitches and used his entire arsenal. He covered first base without a problem in his bullpen session Tuesday. He thinks he’s checked all the boxes in his recovery.
Roberts said the next step for Price will either be activation or another live bullpen session.
McKinstry could follow Price off the injured list. Roberts said the McKinstry is scheduled to go on a rehab assignment with triple-A Oklahoma City early next week. He expects the utilityman to spend about a week in the minors before rejoining the Dodgers. McKinstry has been on the injured list since April 24 with an oblique strain.
Bellinger’s return may come after that. The 2019 National League MVP, out since fracturing his left fibula April 5, posted a video on Instagram of him running hard without compensating. Roberts said he reached 19 mph, about 80% effort. Bellinger is expected to take simulated at-bats Saturday. He could go on a rehab assignment by the end of next week.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.