ST. LOUIS — The Dodgers’ offense has kind of been like the filling in a jelly donut. You know it’s in there but there’s never as much as you would like.
Held to 20 hits in their three-game series in San Francisco and a .202 batting average over the 16 games before Monday, the Dodgers gushed out four runs in the first inning at Busch Stadium then settled in to watch Max Scherzer do his thing. Scherzer struck out 13 in eight innings as the Dodgers beat the St. Louis Cardinals, 5-1.
The dust having settled from their three-game series, the Dodgers and Giants resumed their long-distance lockstep. The Giants were also on their way to winning Monday, leading the Colorado Rockies to maintain their one-game lead over the Dodgers.
ESPN’s choice to broadcast the series finale between the Dodgers and Giants as the “Sunday Night Baseball” game in San Francisco created travel challenges for both teams heading east. The Giants only had to travel as far as Denver while the Dodgers headed to the banks of the Mississippi and an early morning arrival in St. Louis.
There were no signs of ESPN lag in the first inning. The first three Dodgers batters had base hits – a leadoff double by Trea Turner followed by singles from Max Muncy and Mookie Betts to produce a run. Four of the first six batters scored, the last two on a home run by Chris Taylor.
The Dodgers added another run in the third on an RBI single by Corey Seager – and then took the rest of the Labor Day afternoon off. Nineteen consecutive Dodgers were retired after Seager’s single by starter Miles Mikolas and the Cardinal bullpen.
Having traveled in advance to his hometown on Saturday night, Scherzer was the most well-rested Dodger on the field. He gave up a leadoff double to Tommy Edman then went about dominating the Cardinals.
Scherzer (13-4) struck out the side in the first, stranding Edman at third after a wild pitch. Coming off a slightly shortened start against the Atlanta Braves last week due to tightness in his right hamstring, Scherzer struck out 13 Cardinals in eight innings, a new strikeout high in his seven starts with the Dodgers, and allowed just an unearned run in the sixth inning. That dropped his ERA for the season to 2.28, leapfrogging teammate Walker Buehler into the MLB lead after Buehler’s rough outing Sunday.
The Dodgers have won each of Scherzer’s seven starts since he was acquired at the trade deadline. As a Dodger, Scherzer has a 1.05 ERA (five earned runs in seven starts), an 0.82 WHIP, 63 strikeouts and just five walks in 43 innings.
More to come on this story.