Los Angeles-- Coming into tonight's series, this looked like it can be a preview of the National League Championship Series (Too early?) in October, but the Dodgers flexed their muscles to show why they are the best team in the National League on Friday night with a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phillies at Dodger Stadium. Los Angeles starter Kenta Maeda continued his run of excellent starts as he shut down the Fightin' Phils' lineup pitching six innings of three-hit ball and two walks, and more importantly keeping Bryce Harper in check. Phillies starter, Jake Arrieta, on the other hand, had some difficulty keeping the baseball in the stadium as he gave up 3 home runs, including two in the bottom of the fifth to Joc Pederson and Corey Seager. One of the reasons why Arrieta is struggling this season (like last) is because left-handed batters are pounding the ball at a .283 batting average and .865 OPS, while right handers are batting a meager .230 with a .598 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. As a Dodgers fan, you cannot ask for anything better with the way they are smashing the baseball, it's a great sign after we saw how offensively challenged they were at times last season, but this is a new season for a reason. Los Angeles finished the month of May with a 19-7 record and improved their record to 39-19, that is on pace to win 109 games. I have to repeat that I'm sorry, they are on pace to win 109 games. That is otherworldly. But as we know, that means nothing by Postseason time, but it does look nice on paper.
Both teams traded zeros throughout the first two innings until the bottom of the third inning. Los Angeles made the first move, Pederson reached on an infield single, and then boom, Muncy crushed a hanging slider over the right-field fence for a two-run home run. They weren't done right there though, two innings later, Pederson cracked his 17th homer into the right-field pavilion. Muncy singles right after before Seager hit his seventh homer to take a 5-2 lead. This lineup is just absolutely relentless, not a single hole in the lineup and they will battle you until the fat lady sings. Enrique "Kike" Hernandez added one more bomb to end the night, hitting a 432-foot homer in the eighth off Juan Nicasio, they had to flex one more time.
Kenta Maeda, who I've criticized a lot throughout the years because of his habit to nibble the strike zone, did exactly the opposite tonight. His beautiful slider made quite the appearance tonight, which made it no chance for right-handed hitters. Maeda barely broke a sweat going through the Phillies lineup the first time, but the second time around was not great. Continuing to rely on his slider, Andrew McCutchen, former MVP on the Pirates, whipped a weak 82-mph slider to straightaway center field to cut the lead to 2-1 after four innings. Maeda, again having to navigate through trouble in the fifth, and yes his slider failed him as Arrieta smoked another hanging slider to left field to tie the game. After that, Maeda seemed to respond well and delivered another quality start. Tonight's attendance was In front of an announced sellout crowd of 54,307 at Dodger Stadium, the largest in the regular season since 2012- for the club’s annual LGBT night.
Game two: 10:10 EST