Mookie Betts, Teoscar Hernandez stay hot as Dodgers beat Giants – Press Enterprise

LOS ANGELES — Whatever elements have combined to produce Mookie Betts’ hot start, he is not interested in analyzing them.

“Whatever – it is what it is,” he said this weekend when asked for an explanation, resorting to the cliche that seems to pepper his post-game interviews as frequently as he reaches base during games.

It was what it has been again Monday night. Betts scored three more runs and Teoscar Hernandez struck the big blow, a three-run home run in the sixth inning, as the Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 8-3.

The Dodgers have scored 47 runs in their first seven games – despite several players dealing with a flu-like bug that seems to have made the trip from Arizona to South Korea to California.

“Teoscar, he’s been doing that his whole career. Nothing about that surprises me,” said first baseman Freddie Freeman, one of the afflicted. “Max (Muncy) has been swinging the bat great. Will (Smith) has been unbelievable. Mookie seems to get a hit every time he’s up to the plate right now.

“It’s just fun. But I think if you talked to a lot of us we’d probably say we’re not feeling the best.”

That would not apply to Betts or Hernandez.

Hernandez’s homer off reliever Tyler Rogers was his fourth of the season – tied with Betts for the MLB lead. All four of Hernandez’s homers have come in the past four games as he turned around a 2-for-12 start.

“I think with Teoscar, it’s not right-handed versus left-handed. For him, it’s just pitch selection,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “He’s hitting some breaking balls that are down below the zone and taking some good swings.

“It’s a stressful one through four, five in our lineup and obviously when you have him in the six hole, there’s a lot of traffic, there always seems to be guys on base and he has that propensity to get that big hit.”

Betts has been on base more often than anyone in baseball. He was 2 for 3 with a walk, a double and a triple and scored three times Monday.

Betts has reached base 21 times in his first 33 plate appearances and scored 12 of those times. The two-game head start in Korea has helped, but Betts leads the majors in hits (13), runs scored, RBIs (10, tied with Lourdes Gurriel) and walks (eight).

“Starting off the year like this, that’s not easy,” Freeman said. “Especially when we started off in a whole different part of the world and he continues it through a spring training week. That’s hard to do. They were playing left-center field gap on him then he shoots it to right center that last one. He’s just seeing the ball really well and putting great swings on it.”

In the first inning against the Giants he tripled off the wall in left-center field and scored on a ground out by Shohei Ohtani. In the third, he drew a one-out walk to ignite a two-run Dodgers’ burst. Freeman drove him in with a single and Smith added a run-scoring sacrifice fly.

That gave left-hander James Paxton a 3-0 cushion in his first start as a Dodger.

Paxton struggled with his command and walked five, but he turned in five scoreless innings for a Dodgers starting rotation that has been outstanding since returning stateside.

In the first five games of this homestand – once through the rotation – Dodgers starters have allowed just four runs on 17 hits while striking out 32 in 27 innings against the St. Louis Cardinals and Giants.

“I didn’t really feel, like, sharp,” said Paxton, who had runners on base in four of his five innings and stranded eight. “I was kind of in and out of good rhythm. But Will did a great job back there and we made pitches when we had to.

“Just competing every pitch. Can’t let off on anything. Had to bring everything I had on every pitch, and just pedal down.”

Reliever Ryan Brasier gave up a solo home run to Michael Conforto in the sixth inning, making it a 3-1 game.

But Freeman led off the bottom of the inning with the second of his three hits and Smith walked. After Muncy bounced into a force out, Giants manager Bob Melvin brought in Rogers – the side-arming, and right-handed, half of the Rogers twins in the Giants’ bullpen – to face Hernandez.

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