The Dodgers get to the first round with a win over the Diamondbacks

The Dodgers get to the first round with a win over the Diamondbacks

Los Angeles, CA - September 19: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Monday, September 19, 2022 in Los Angeles, CA.  (Allen J. Schabenv/Los Angeles Times)

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Monday. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

Batting average is considered antiquated in today’s game of analytics, a statistical relic that has replaced on-base percentage, slugging percentage and wins above replacement as more accurate measures of offense, and a batter’s title doesn’t carry the weight. . he did it once.

“It does for me,” Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman fired back before Monday night’s 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks in front of a crowd of 44,854 at Chavez Ravine.

“I know people don’t put a lot of stock in batting average and RBIs, but if you go to a stadium, what numbers do they put on the scoreboard? It is the batting average, home runs and RBIs. If they are not too careful, remove them from the program.”

Freeman’s defense of the batting average might be a little personal. The 2020 National League MVP and 2021 World Series champion with the Atlanta Braves is in position to win the first batting title of his 13-year career, his major league-leading .329 batting average seven points better than St.Louis slugger Paul Goldschmidt (.322) in the NL.

Freeman has hit .300 or better seven times but has never won an NL batting title and the Tony Gwynn trophy that comes with it. He finished second with a .341 mark to Washington’s Juan Soto (.351) in 2020.

“Obviously, you don’t go into any season saying that’s my goal,” Freeman said. “Scoring 100 runs, driving in 100 runs and hitting .300 are usually the goals for me.”

Check, check and about to check. Freeman, who hit .382 with a 1.114 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, four homers, 13 RBIs and 14 runs in his first 15 games this month, has 106 runs and 94 RBI on the season.

Freeman also leads all major leaguers with a .390 batting average (55 for 141) and runners in scoring position.

“That’s how you get points on the board,” said Freeman, in the first year of a six-year, $162-million deal. “I think they brought me here to drive in a run, so I’m very proud to meet runners in scoring position. When guys get on base, I want to keep them turning left.”

Freeman didn’t generate any of those left-handed swings Monday night — he went 0 for 3 with a walk — but his teammates created plenty of them.

Joey Gallo blasted a 437-foot solo homer to right field in the second inning, and Chris Taylor capped a fourth run with a three-run homer to support the strong pitching of Clayton Kershaw, who gave up one run and six hits. six innings, struck out 10 – including five in a row in the third and fourth – and walked none.

It marked the 27th game of Kershaw’s career in which he recorded 10 or more strikeouts with no walks, surpassing Randy Johnson’s previous record of 26.

The left-hander won a 12-pitch duel with Christian Walker, who fouled off six full pitches before whiffing on a 72-mph curve in the fourth. Kershaw has given up four earned runs and 14 hits in four starts since returning from his latest back injury, striking out 29 and walking four in 24 innings for a 1.50 earned run average in that stretch.

Dodgers' Joey Gallo celebrates with Gavin Lux and manager Dave Roberts after scoring on a home run by Chris Taylor.

Dodgers’ Joey Gallo, left, celebrates with Gavin Lux, center, and manager Dave Roberts after scoring a home run by Chris Taylor during the fourth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Monday. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times)

“The health is there, the performance is there, the build is there,” manager Dave Roberts said of Kershaw’s playoff value. “The preparation, the mindset, all that stuff you can rely on, so we feel good right now.”

Kershaw improved to 20-11 with a 2.70 ERA in 41 career starts against Arizona. god-

mondbacks right-hander Merrill Kelly fell to 0-9 with a 5.97 ERA in 12 career starts against the Dodgers.

Max Muncy started the fourth inning rally with a one-out double to left field. Gallo’s RBI single to center made it 2-0, Gavin Lux singled to right, and Taylor singled to left for a 5-0 lead.

Dodgers right-handers Evan Phillips and Tommy Kahnle pitched a perfect inning of relief with one strikeout.

Craig Kimbrel gave up a single and struck out two batters to load the bases with no outs in the ninth, but second baseman Lux left the closer with a spectacular, diving catch that smacked a one-out Sergio Alcantara hopped to start a run-scoring double play.

Kimbrel, who gave up a three-run homer, walked Alcantara on Wednesday in Arizona, Dauulton Varsho popped to first, and the Dodgers improved their league-best record to 102-44.

With the win, the Dodgers secured a first-round bye in the playoffs, ensuring they were one of the top two seeds in the NL Division Series starting Oct.11. The club’s magic number to clinch the top seed in the NL is six.

The Dodgers spent last season’s stretch run in a dogfight with the San Francisco Giants, who won 107 games to edge out the 106-win Dodgers for the division.

The Dodgers were forced to win a wild card game against St.Louis, and survived a bleak, five-game division series against the Giants, but were gassed at the end of a six-game NL Championship Series loss to the Braves . .

“Man, what a difference a year makes,” Roberts said. “Not to make excuses, but I think so [2021] stretch took a toll on us. This year, we’re in a different position in terms of how we prepare ourselves.”

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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