February 2, 2023

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'Be like Mookie': Turner joins the fun vs. D-backs

3 min read
Dodgers have relied on top of lineup during recent offensive surge
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PHOENIX — Freddie Freeman sat in the visitor’s dugout during Friday’s game as Trea Turner snuck behind him and jokingly massaged his shoulders. Right next to them, Mookie Betts couldn’t help but laugh. 

The camaraderie between the Dodgers’ version of a “big three” has been on full display over the last few weeks. During the Dodgers’ recent hot streak, the three superstars have also had plenty of reasons to smile on the field. 

On Thursday, the Dodgers leaned on Betts and Freeman to lead the offensive barrage. On Friday, it was Betts and Turner’s turn to each deliver a solo homer in the Dodgers’ 6-4 win over the D-backs at Chase Field.

Ryan Pepiot was recalled an hour before first pitch and the right-hander pitched well in his third Major League start. The Dodgers’ No. 6 prospect continued to struggle with walks with three more free passes on Friday, but Pepiot has also displayed his impressive stuff when he’s pitching in the zone.

Pepiot allowed just one run on three hits and struck out five over 4 1/3 innings. He has a 3.18 ERA in his three starts, giving the Dodgers some much-needed length as the team navigates injuries to Clayton Kershaw and Andrew Heaney.

With the way the Dodgers’ offense has performed over the last few weeks, those performances from the starters have been more than enough. Edwin Ríos, who has gotten extended playing time with Max Muncy’s struggles and left elbow injury, got the Dodgers on the board with a three-run homer off left-hander Madison Bumgarner in the second inning. It was Ríos’ sixth homer of the season, first off a southpaw.

“I’m always ready,” Ríos said. “It’s definitely good, definitely nice. Feels good knowing when you come to the field you’re going to play. Definitely soaking it in and trying to take advantage of it.”

Before Ríos was able to finish his high-fives in the dugout, Betts continued to pad his impressive stats in May with a solo homer of his own off Bumgarner. Betts regained the lead in the National League with 13 homers, 10 of them coming in May. It’s the second time in his career that Betts has hit 10 or more homers in a calendar month.

“Be like Mookie,” Turner joked. “That’s all you’ve got to do. Be like Mookie and it’ll usually work out good for you.”

In the sixth, Turner did his best Betts impersonation with his fourth homer of the season. With the blast, Turner extended his hitting streak to 19 games. He’s hitting .365 with three homers and six stolen bases during that span.

“I think it’s getting there. It’s getting better,” said Turner, who still believes he hasn’t fully tapped into his production, despite plenty of success. “I want to see power. I want to see the ball going over the fence and driving those balls. The last few weeks I feel like I’ve had plenty of extra-base hits, but more consistency, more power is always good.”

Despite Turner’s success over the last five seasons, the star shortstop has, inexplicably, become one of the most underrated players in the Majors. A lot of the attention often lies on Betts and Freeman ahead of him.

But the Dodgers know that for them to reach their goal of winning a World Series, they’re going to rely on Turner to help complete what could be the most dangerous trio in recent memory. Through 45 games, the three superstars have done just that.

“Trea is one of the best. Definitely one of the best in the game,” Betts said. “I don’t know how he flies under the radar. But if he does, there needs to be some more scouting going on. He’s kind of the anchor in the three-hole, man. … That’s all you can ask for.”

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