An hour before first pitch, one of the in-game hosts at Dodger Stadium described Wednesday night’s contest between the Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers as a “Game 7.”
In one sense, it was … sort of.
Entering Wednesday, the Dodgers and Brewers had split the first six games of their season series — each taking two during a four-game set in Milwaukee last week, then trading victories in the first two games of this week’s rematch in Los Angeles.
“For me, it’s a little bit of preparation for the playoffs,” shortstop Trea Turner said of the recent matchups against the Brewers.
And in Wednesday’s series finale, the Brewers had the chance to join what has been an exclusive club this season — only two other teams have played multiple series against the Dodgers and won more games than they’ve lost.
Alas, the Dodgers instead won the rubber match in blowout fashion, blitzing the Brewers in a 12-6 victory in front of 47,216 at Dodger Stadium.
After briefly trailing in the first on Willy Adames’ solo home run, the Dodgers (86-37) scored four runs in the bottom of the inning sending nine batters to the plate and forced Brewers starter Adrian Houser to throw 39 pitches.
In the third, they negated another Brewers run in the top of the inning on an RBI grounder from Austin Barnes.
Then in the fourth, they pulled away for good, getting a sacrifice fly from Max Muncy, a two-run double from Joey Gallo and an RBI single from Barnes.
By the time the game was over — the Dodgers got another sac fly from Muncy in the fifth and a two-run homer in the sixth from Barnes, who finished with four RBIs — they had recorded double-digit runs in back-to-back games for the first time since September 2018.
They also have a winning record this season against 10 of the National League’s 14 other clubs — they’ve lost season series only to the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates, split six games with the Washington Nationals, and still have to settle their matchup with the New York Mets in Queens next week — and an eight-game lead for the league’s top playoff seed.
Is it all starting to feel a little too easy?
“Sometimes it feels that way,” said Turner, one of five Dodgers with two hits Wednesday. “But when you think like that, you get your butt kicked the next day.
“I think we do a good job of just focusing on what’s in front of us. I know that’s boring, but I think that’s why we’re in the situation we’re in.”
The best part of the Dodgers’ performance might not have been their offense, either.
Left-hander Andrew Heaney had one of his best starts of the year, completing six innings for just the second time while throwing a season-high 91 pitches.
“Feeling better,” said Heaney, who has made five straight starts this month after spending much of the first half of the year on the injured list with shoulder troubles. “Trying to get deeper into games, be a bit more pitch efficient.”
That’s what Heaney did, limiting the Brewers (65-58) to just one more run while striking out 10 for a second consecutive outing.
Heaney has 62 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings to go along with a 1.94 ERA.
“I think we’ve done a really nice job of progressively building him up, and not too fast,” manager Dave Roberts said.
“He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do here this year.”
Rehab updates on pitchers
For months, the Dodgers have wondered how many of their injured pitchers would be healthy in time to help out in the playoffs.
Now, the question is shifting, with the concern less about health, and more about how well their injured crop of relievers will be pitching when the postseason begins.
“It’s kind of, [are they] healthy enough and also [are we] feeling confident in the performance?” Roberts said.
Currently, the Dodgers have four pitchers out on minor league rehab assignments: Blake Treinen, Victor González and Tommy Kahnle in triple-A Oklahoma City; and Danny Duffy in the Arizona Complex League.
Starter Clayton Kershaw and reliever Yency Almonte are also on the injured list, but are expected back in the coming weeks.
The four rehabbing relievers have all missed significant time — if not all of the season so far.
At this stage, though, Roberts said the Dodgers are “pretty certain that with where the calendar is at, we can get them all healthy.”
The bigger question is increasingly becoming whether, after missing so much time, those pitchers will rediscover the form that would warrant a place on the postseason roster.
“That takes some time,” Roberts said. “But those guys are easy to bet on.”
Lux sits out again
Gavin Lux missed a second straight game with neck/upper back discomfort, but said he could return to the lineup Friday or Saturday.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.