LOS ANGELES — It is really nice to get a solid Dodger win nowadays especially after such an up and down stretch for this team. The stars put on a performance led by Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, and more importantly, Julio Urias. The boys in blue got things started with Freddie Freeman two-run blast to right field making it 2-0 after Mookie Betts hit a double to lead off the game. The Pirates quickly got back in the game on a 2 run double from the red-hot Nick Gonzales to tie the score up, but that was all they would get off of the Dodger pitching tonight.
I mentioned Wednesday night that Julio Urias was looking to return to form Thursday night and he certainly did, going 6 innings of 2 run ball. He dominated a Pirates lineup that has been very pesky to Dodger pitching throughout this series, and earned his first win since May 13. Nick Robertson, Brusdar Graterol (who had missed the previous three games with shoulder soreness), and Alex Vesia combined for three clean innings to close out the game and earn Vesia his first career save.
The offense did its thing again tonight and made sure that the Dodgers stayed ahead. After the 2-run home run by Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy hit a 2-run shot to put the Dodgers up 4-2 in the 6th. Then in the 7th inning, Freeman was back at it, bringing Mookie Betts home again to make it 5-2 and that was all the staff needed to get within a half game of the Diamondbacks with 2 to play before the All-Star break.
Here are my three takeaways from the game:
Freddie Freeman is a Pure Hitter
I can’t say enough about how good Freddie Freeman has been since he was signed by the Dodgers. He is as consistently great as anyone in the major leagues and day in and day out he proves to be a catalyst in the lineup. He has a slash line of .320/.397/.542 which is as elite as you can get with as many plate appearances as he has. He has played in every single game the Dodgers have played, doesn’t complain about balls and strikes, and is an excellent defender at first base. It made me realize how much I didn’t appreciate his skill level while he was in Atlanta, and I am ecstatic to see him in Dodger blue doing his thing each and every game.
Julio Urias Finds His Groove
It has been a rough 2023 for Julio, as he has dealt with injuries, bad outings, and setbacks. Thursday night, he looked very much like the ace of the staff we saw in 2022, throwing six innings of dominant baseball. It is refreshing to see a guy like Urias get back to what made this staff so lethal to opposing hitters, and if he continues to improve and stay healthy, he will definitely be taking back the “ace” moniker that has been carried with him for the last year or so.
The Dodgers Are Better Than You Think
I know this sounds crazy coming from someone that thinks the sky is falling after every loss, but if you look at the standings, this team is in far better shape than you think. Tonight, the Dodgers moved only .5 games back of first place Arizona, and are now in line to be in first in the National League West with a sweep this weekend. The Diamondbacks had a scare of their own, as All-Star outfielder and breakout rookie of the year candidate Corbin Carroll looked to have badly hurt his arm on a swing Thursday night. That is a major blow to a Diamondbacks team that was struggling as of late. I hate to see anyone get seriously injured and feel awful for Carroll, but if luck starts to turn the way of the Dodgers in terms of bad play by the team above and below them, this season could turn around for the better real quick. It all comes down to the consistency of the play and the health of the roster.
Tony Gonsolin takes the hill for the Dodgers against Griffin Canning of the Angels in the first of two of the freeway series Friday. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m.