The best home-run hitting team from a season ago is catching up on its power game.
The Los Angeles Dodgers will host the Philadelphia Phillies Tuesday in the second game of a three-game series, one day after hitting two home runs in a 3-1 victory in which they finished with just three hits.
Will Smith hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning to allow the Dodgers to overcome a one-run deficit, and Chris Taylor added a solo shot an inning later.
Los Angeles entered Monday ninth in the major leagues with 83 homers but now has gone deep in eight consecutive games and in 28 of its past 33 games at home. The Dodgers are 19-9 in home games when they homer.
Even without hitting long balls at the same pace they did last season, the Dodgers are still one of just two National League teams with at least 40 victories, along with the rival San Francisco Giants.
Injuries have taken their toll, with both Corey Seager and Max Muncy on the injured list. Cody Bellinger has missed the past three games with a hamstring strain and could join his power-hitting teammates on the IL. Yet the team has shown an uptick in homers.
“Injuries have definitely hurt us this year and it has not been ideal with everyone kind of going down at some point,” Smith said after Monday’s victory. “I think it speaks to the depth we have as a team, as an organization, guys coming up and down from Triple-A contributing. We’re still competitive, which is great.”
The Dodgers will send left-hander Julio Urias (9-2, 3.56 ERA) to the mound Tuesday to square off against Phillies right-hander Zach Eflin (2-5, 3.89). Both pitchers continue to get better, with Urias thriving in his first 162-game season as a full-time starter.
Urias has not faced the Phillies since 2019 but is 2-0 against them in three career appearances (one start) with a 2.79 ERA.
Eflin is working on a career-best ERA. And even though he has not picked up a win in any of his past five starts, he appears close to a breakthrough. He is coming off a six-inning outing against the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday in which he he gave up just one run in a no-decision.
Eflin has five career starts against the Dodgers but is 0-2 with a 9.53 ERA, including an 0-2 mark at Dodger Stadium with a 9.00 ERA in 14 innings.
What Eflin could use as much as anything Tuesday are some clutch hits from his teammates. The Phillies had the bases loaded twice in the first four innings Monday but scored just once.
The stumble in the series opener Monday came on the heels of a four-game winning streak for the Phillies. Jean Segura had three hits in three consecutive games leading into the series and had a hit in his first at-bat Monday, but ended the night 1-for-5.
“He’s gotten huge hits for us,” Phillies manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s done it where he’s had to be the leader of the infield because Didi (Gregorius is injured). I mean, he’s really had to step up. Sometimes that goes unnoticed because you get caught up in the numbers. But he’s had to step up.”
–Field Level Media