Three third-inning home runs spark Dodgers to win over Diamondbacks

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Freeman's slam and Yamamoto's dominance lead the Los Angeles Dodgers to a victory against Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night.

LOS ANGELES — The Dodgers needed one inning to break the game open for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, using three home runs in the third inning to beat the Diamondbacks, 6-4, on Monday night at Dodger Stadium.

Yamamoto had one of his best starts as a major leaguer, throwing 6 1/3 innings with eight strikeouts and one walk. This was the first time Yamamoto, who allowed two earned runs, hit the 100-pitch mark with the Dodgers. He had all of his pitches working, including his splitter low in the zone. 

Kiké Hernandez opened the inning with a solo home run to center field (his third of the season). Then after loading the bases with nobody out, Freddie Freeman blasted a grand slam (his fifth) deep to the right-field bleachers.

Will Smith followed Freeman by jolting a hanging curveball into the left-field bleachers (also his fifth).

The Dodgers (33-17) went stagnant after that inning as the Diamondbacks didn’t allow another hit until the eighth, but Daniel Hudson closed the game out and secured the Dodgers’ fourth straight victory. 

Here are three takeaways:

Yamamoto carves D-backs

Yamamoto has been on a tear since his first start in South Korea, lowering his ERA to 3.17. In his last nine starts, his ERA is 2.38 and it seems his command is getting betteras the season goes on. Early this season, he was throwing strikes but not generating whiffs. 

According to Thomas Nestico, Yamamoto generated a 50% whiff rate Monday on his splitter, sinker and slider while having a 53% zone percentage on all of his pitches. When Yamamoto locates on the edges of the zone, he looks almost unhittable. 

Memorable third inning

When the Dodgers’ hitting machine is fully operational, it is a thing of beauty. While the team did struggle after that third inning to generate baserunners, they had nine hits with two strikeouts. 

They were an 2 for 3 with runners in scoring position and one of those hits was Freeman’s grand slam. He raised his batting average to .298 with his two hits as he was the only Dodger with a multi-hit game. 

While it would be great to see a balanced attack at the plate throughout the game, scoring six runs should always put the team in a position to win. 

Dodgers are healing

There could be pitching reinforcements, manager Dave Roberts said:

  • Dustin May threw off a mound for the first time since his surgery this past weekend.
  • Joe Kelly played catch for the first time since going on the injured list.
  • Evan Phillips will complete a rehab assignment before being activated and recalled to the big league club.
  • And Bobby Miller will pitch a simulated game on Tuesday. 

Those are four very crucial pieces to the Dodgers pitching staff. May and Miller could be huge down the stretch and into the playoffs if healthy as both have electric arms and a great pitching arsenal. 

The second game of the series with the Diamondbacks is set for 7:10 p.m. Tuesday as Dodgers right-hander Gavin Stone (4-1, 3.27) will face Diamondbacks right-hander Brandon Pfaadt (1-3, 4.27).