Another heroic grand slam for Chris Taylor lifted the Dodgers to a huge win to open the series in Baltimore. Coming in, the Orioles were riding an 8 game winning streak and the fans came out and packed Camden Yards to see two of the best teams in the league. Baltimore got out to a 3-0 lead off of young Emmett Sheehan on a Ryan Mountcastle double in the 1st and an Adam Frazier groundout and Gunnar Henderson RBI triple in the 2nd. It looked bleak for the Dodgers until the 4th, where J.D. Martinez broke out of his mini slump and singled to left field to make it 3-1.
After an Adley Rutschman rocket to right field to give the Orioles the run back in the bottom of the 5th , the Dodgers offense exploded and got to Baltimore’s bullpen. Will Smith singled after a Freddie Freeman triple to cut the deficit to 4-2. Then with the bases loaded, up came Chris Taylor, who had already had a clutch game tying grand slam at home earlier in the year. He fought off multiple tough high fastballs and finally got his pitch, sending a laser of a grand slam to left center to give the Dodgers their first lead at 6-4 and completely flipping the game upside down. Taylor has come up clutch many times for the Dodgers over the past few years and despite recent struggles at the plate and rehabbing a knee injury, he did it again.
The bullpen came in and shut down one of the best lineups in all of baseball after that, with Almonte, Vesia, Ferguson and Brasier throwing 4 shutout innings. In July, the bullpen has a 2.22 ERA after an abysmal 4.62 ERA in June. You want to talk about flipping things upside down? The bullpen has done just that and is a big reason for the team’s recent success.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Freddie Freeman is Back On Track
I don’t use the word slump for Freddie Freeman’s struggles. Instead, he goes on “short breaks” when he feels like being human again. Monday night, Freddie came up a home run short of the cycle and looked absolutely elite at the plate, going 3-5 to keep his average high at .318. It is still insane to see prime Freddie Freeman wear a Dodger jersey and big games like Monday night are the reason the team coveted him in free agency.
James Outman Is Struggling
From late May until now, Outman has a .210 batting average with 26 hits, 2 homers, 13 RBIs and 19 runs scored. The most concerning part isn’t the average but his power numbers. 2 home runs over 40 games for a guy that has as much power as anyone on the team is not a good sign. He is striking out at a high rate and looks lost in most of his at-bats. Much like I have said about Max Muncy, Austin Barnes, and Miguel Vargas in the past, he needs to switch something up or change his approach. Either that, or the coaching staff has to give him some time off either with the team or in the minor leagues like they have done with Miguel Vargas who is now in Oklahoma City with the AAA team.
The Dodgers Are Proving That They Can Beat Good Teams
I know the Mets aren’t exactly a good team this year, but talent wise and on paper they are loaded. Now, they play the Orioles who are actually good in reality and have an upstart, young lineup and staff to go with power bullpen arms. It is the Dodgers first test in a while and they have come through so far. I know there is no wood to knock on, but trust me I am knocking. If they can keep this play up in these series and beyond against playoff contending teams, they should go all in on this team now at the trade deadline and not wait until 2024 to make a splash.
Michael Grove takes the mound for the Dodgers against Tyler Wells of the Orioles Tuesday night. First pitch is set for 4:05 p.m. PT.