CINCINNATI — The Dodgers have led the league in several offensive categories in two months. This was to be expected when they signed Freddie Freeman this spring.
But for all their success, the Dodgers didn’t achieve the consistency they had hoped for. Mookie Betts, Trea Turner, Will Smith and Freeman, who racked up 10 RBIs in a three-game game against the Reds, led most of the season. Justin Turner, Max Munsey and Cody Bellinger, however, have been battling for the spot for almost an entire year, limiting Los Angeles’ potential.
If the Dodgers want to win the World Series this season, they know these three bats need to act. In a 10-5 win over the Reds on Thursday afternoon at the Great American Ballpark, the trio put in their best games of the season by combining two homers and nine hits.
In the victory over the Reds, the Dodgers offense scored 26 runs and recorded 42 hits, the most in a three-game streak since September 2018.
“I think it was the best hitting streak all year,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “We built the first night here and ran into some really good hands. … A lot of really good things came out of it.”
With Bellinger, Munsey and Turner struggling, the Dodgers had to make some difficult roster decisions. The track record of these players has brought them longer leashes. Roberts said that balancing their previous seasons’ production with this year’s difficulties was a difficult task.
Roberts dropped Turner down the ranks last weekend. On Thursday, Bellinger finished eighth for the fourth time this season. Before Wednesday’s game, Roberts was asked why he keeps hitting Munsey at the cleanup point despite the batter’s seasonal difficulties. Aside from the fact that the Dodgers don’t have the best lineup options, it seems like every time Roberts is asked questions about his struggling stars, he says he’s betting on the back of a baseball card.
It remains to be seen whether these bets will pay off before the end of the season, but on Thursday they more than paid off.
After the infamous deliberate play in Chicago, Munsey was unable to build on that momentum, not recording a single off-base hit in his next 10 games. But he drastically changed that on Thursday, kicking off a giant 434-foot homer off Reds starter Hunter Green in the fifth inning in his first three-hit game of the season.
Perhaps most reassuring for Muncie was his homer coming off a four-seam fastball. Muncie came into play on Thursday hitting just .141 against fastballs compared to a .307 average last season.
“All this year I worked very hard, but maybe even too much,” Muncie said. “We’re just mechanically working on a couple of things to try and get back to where I need to be. Today it was very important to get results.”
Bellinger also had some fun against Green, launching a no-doubt 3-0 two-way homer to give the Dodgers a five-round lead in the fourth round. Homer also pulled away from the four-way machine. It was the high point of Bellinger’s first three-hit game since May 26 against defensemen.
“In particular, I think in this series we played really well in baseball throughout the game, especially on offense,” said Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw, who allowed one run in six innings. “Today it was really nice to see Belly doing what he does, Mansi hitting the ball to the moon. All of this is very important to us.”
Turner has also been playing better lately, recording at least one hit in four of his last five games. He, Munsey and Bellinger will still have to find consistency to keep the Dodgers so bullish, but Thursday’s effort was a good start.
“A few weeks ago we had a difficult period, and now we are fighting as we should,” Bellinger said. “It was a good show and this is Dodger baseball. It’s not like we expect it every time, but it’s something we can do.”