The Dodgers’ big blue machine jumped on Brad Keller early and cruised to a 12th consecutive win, 13-3 over the Royals on Saturday night at Kauffman Stadium. That’s one win shy of the Dodgers’ longest streak since moving to Los Angeles, while wearing Brooklyn uniforms in the middle game of the weekend series in Kansas City.
The first seven Dodgers reached base on a sweltering night in the heartland, starting off with a home run by Mookie Betts, one of his three hits on the night. Betts has led off six games with home runs this season, one less than he did last season. This was the 35th time Betts led off a game with a home run, tying him with Bobby Bonds for 12th on the all-time MLB list.
Consecutive RBI singles by Max Muncy, Justin Turner, and Gavin Lux added to the opening bounty, and a wild pitch by Keller gave the Dodgers their second five-run inning of the weekend series.
The Dodgers have scored five or more runs in an inning 16 times this season, tied with the Phillies for the most in the majors.
They were far from done.
Will Smith hit a two-run home run in the second inning, giving him 10 extra-base hits in 20 games since the All-Star break. Lux homered in the third, continuing his power drive — .503 slugging percentage, .178 isolated power — since June 1.
Muncy hit a two-run home run in the fourth, turning around his 101-mph fastball into the right field fountains, keeping his August renaissance, and good health, going. Muncy drove in four, including an RBI double in the sixth that was also pulled to right.
The first three of Muncy’s four hits were to right field, all hit at least 102.5 mph off the bat. Muncy has pulled 63 percent of his batted balls in August, after pulling just 46 percent through the end of July. It’s a sign that his elbow is healthy again, which is also evident by his five home runs and four doubles in nine games this month, matching Muncy’s total extra-base hits from his previous 30 games.
Muncy is also hammering pitches in the strike zone again. His contact rate through the end of July was 83.1 percent, but entering Saturday Muncy was at 91.1 percent on pitches in the zone in August.
The offensive explosion for the Dodgers meant early rest for Betts, Trea Turner, and Freddie Freeman, all of whom exited after five innings with a nine-run advantage. Hanser Alberto filled in for Freeman at first base, just the fifth game at the position for the veteran infielder, and the first since playing four games there in 2016 with the Rangers.
Kansas City had infielder Nicky Lopez pitch the ninth. Joey Gallo and Cody Bellinger took advantage with solo home runs, giving the Dodgers a season-best six home runs on the night.
The Dodgers haven’t faced much adversity on their winning streak, which now totals 12 games, one shy of the Los Angeles franchise record set in 1962 and 1965, and three victories shy of the franchise-best 15-game win streak by Brooklyn in 1924. This is LA’s longest winning streak since 1976.
All twelve Dodgers wins have been by at least two runs, the longest such streak since the Moneyball A’s ran off 15 straight in 2002.
But they did get a scare in the third inning on Saturday, when starter Andrew Heaney took a 106.5-mph line drive off his pitching arm. Heaney got the next two batters to complete the frame, but it was done after 60 pitches and three innings. The left-hander has a left arm contusion.
Four different Dodgers relievers combined to pitch the next five innings. Caleb Ferguson pitched a scoreless fourth inning with a strikeout to keep his ledger spotless, with no runs allowed through 18 games and 17⅔ innings. Phil Bickford got the win by recording four outs.
Chris Martin allowed a run but also recorded four outs. It was his 40th appearance of the season, earning him a $100,000 bonus. Martin also has $100,000 bonuses for pitching in 45, 50, 55, and 60 games this season, per the Associated Press.
Alberto pitched the ninth, his fourth game on the mound this year, and third straight scoreless appearance. He’s just the second Dodger dating back to at least 1903 to play both first base and pitcher in the same game. Clarence Mitchell did so for Brooklyn on August 1, 1921.
Home runs: Mookie Betts (26), Will Smith (17), Gavin Lux (5), Max Muncy (14), Joey Gallo (14), Cody Bellinger (16)
WP — Phil Bickford (2-1): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts
LP — Brad Keller (6-13): 3 IP, 9 hits, 8 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts
The series finale in Kansas City on Sunday (11:10 am PT, SportsNet LA) is one of only three am Pacific Time starts left on the schedule, all in the next two weeks (Thursday’s finale in Milwaukee, and August 28 in Miami also are early starts). Tyler Anderson tries to join Tony Gonsolin in the 14-win club in Sunday’s finale at Kauffman Stadium, with right-hander Brady Singer starting for the Royals.