LOS ANGELES — After taking care of business against some inferior teams last week, the Dodgers will be met with a much stronger task to close out their current 10-game homestand.
Hosting the Brewers and Marlins, two teams squarely in the mix for the postseason, Los Angeles is getting a firsthand look at two opponents the club could very well see when it matters most in October.
But with the way the Dodgers have been playing lately, the opponent hasn’t seemed to matter. They showed that again in a dominant 6-2 win over the Brewers on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium, extending their season-long winning streak to nine games.
In addition to this red-hot stretch, the Dodgers also improved to 13-1 in August, the best mark in the Majors.
“I know it’s hard to win a Major League baseball game,” said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. “Regardless of opponent, regardless of who we’re playing against, we just have to play good baseball.”
Rookie right-hander Bobby Miller has taken quite the step in his development over the last couple of weeks, finding his consistency and learning how to mix his pitches much more efficiently.
On Tuesday, Miller allowed a leadoff single to Christian Yelich and a walk to William Contreras to start the game. Yelich would come around to score on a Sal Frelick RBI groundout, but Miller responded by retiring 18 consecutive hitters through six stellar frames.
“If I just command the ball, I think I can be a ‘count -on’ guy,” Miller said. “I’m just trying to prove myself that I can be a ‘count-on’ guy and the guy I want to be. So just go out there and compete every day, keep the head down, keep the tunnel vision and stay commanding the baseball.”
Miller, who allowed just one run and struck out four over six innings, didn’t get a lot of swing-and-miss — only recording eight whiffs on 74 pitches — but the flamethrower was able to avoid loud contact throughout the night, giving up just five hard-hit balls. His four-seam fastball had its usual life on Tuesday, especially on a 100.6 mph heater to strike out Willy Adames to end the fourth.
“He has great makeup on the mound, great attitude and obviously a power arm with really good offspeed pitches,” said utilityman Kiké Hernández. “There are outings like tonight that you can’t really tell how young he is. He’s doing a great job, and you can tell he keeps getting better with every start and he has a hell of a future ahead of him.”
Despite Miller at just 74 pitches, Roberts decided six innings was enough for the youngster and called upon Ryan Yarbrough to navigate the final nine outs of the victory. Though Miller was cruising, Roberts said they’re going to continue to prioritize limiting workloads — especially Miller’s — over the next six weeks as the Dodgers enjoy what is currently a nine-game cushion atop the National League West standings.
“I’ll be the first to tell you that there’s no exact science to it,” Roberts said. “But I do know that all innings, all pitches, number of pitches, aren’t created equal. I think for us to really talk through this situation with Bobby and appreciate that is important. The No. 1 goal is for his health, and to have plenty more of that through October.”
Offensively, the Dodgers got off to a slow start, being held scoreless through the first four innings by Milwaukee starter Adrian Houser. In the fifth, however, they were able to break through on a Miguel Rojas RBI single. The following frame, the Dodgers’ offense once again showed how potent it can be, getting contributions up and down the lineup en route to a five-spot to break the game open.
Hernández delivered the big blow, a pinch-hit, two-run single off left-hander Hoby Milner. Since acquiring Hernández and Amed Rosario before the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, the Dodgers have been matching up better against opposing pitchers. Pinch-hitting in key situations is not an easy thing to do, but the Dodgers are making everything look easy over the last few weeks.
“Winning is fun and we’ve done a lot of that lately,” Hernández said. “We’re going to try and keep it going and try to keep having fun while we’re at it.”