The Dodgers’ destruction of Sandy Alcantara is no accident. This team can hit good pitches

Left to right, Trace Thompson of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cody Bellinger.

Dodgers outfielders, from left, Trayce Thompson, Cody Bellinger and Mookie Betts celebrate a 10-3 victory over the Miami Marlins on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

This game that didn’t count for much, this midsummer game against another overmatched and underfunded opponent, was also a statement game.

The Dodgers didn’t just beat the Miami Marlins on Sunday at Dodger Stadium. They beat the best pitcher in baseball. They beat Sandy Alcantara.

And they didn’t just beat Alcantara. They absolutely pulverized him.

The Dodgers made their most compelling case yet for why they should win the World Series this year, striking out Alcantara in the first 3 2/3 innings of a 10-3 win.

The damage: six earned runs and 10 hits, including a homer by Cody Bellinger.

“A guy like that, you’re going to see him next season,” manager Dave Roberts said. “To beat a guy like that, that says a lot about how good we can be.”

Alcantara’s debacle wasn’t an aberration, the high-scoring performance part of a season-long trend. The Dodgers have good pitching. They are hitting the caliber of pitching they will face in the National League Division Series and beyond.

Three days earlier, they shut out NL Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes in the sixth inning of a game at Milwaukee. They have beaten Dylan Cease, Carlos Rodón, Logan Webb and Joe Musgrove. They have two wins over Yu Darvish and three over Merrill Kelly.

Who knows if the Dodgers can find their pitching, but in the playoffs, they shouldn’t suddenly stop hitting like many of their past teams.

Alcantara started the game with a 1.92 earned run average that was best in the majors. His 173 innings were also the most in baseball, trailing the closest pitcher by more than 25 innings.

The Dodgers abused him.

“I don’t know what happened,” Alcantara said.

Alcantara averaged just 14.2 pitches per inning before Sunday. The Dodgers had him throw 27 pitches in the first inning alone.

Will Smith’s single off Mookie Betts gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but just as devastating were long at-bats from Freddie Freeman and Max Muncy. Freeman’s at-bat lasted 11 pitches, Muncy’s seven.

While Freeman and Muncy’s at-bats resulted in outs, they gave pause to the typically assertive Alcantara, who wondered if he was getting his pitches.

“I think they have a lot of things to look for for pitchers,” Alcantara said of the Dodgers.

The Dodgers scored in each of the four innings Alcantara was in the game, Smith putting him out of his misery with a run-scoring, go-ahead double in the fourth.

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara chats with catcher Jacob Stallings during the third inning Sunday.

Miami Marlins starting pitcher Sandy Alcantara chats with catcher Jacob Stallings during the third inning Sunday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

“You’ve got to keep making pitches, and not just to one or two guys,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “This lineup makes you pitch all the way down. So there is no breathing room. That’s how they get you, with a mass attack. Good pitcher, you’ve got to keep pitching.”

To Mattingly’s point: The Dodgers’ homers came from No. 5 hitter on the team, Muncy, and No. 9 hitter, Bellinger. Previously slumping Muncy has seven homers this month.

But what makes these Dodgers a postseason threat are the players at the top of their lineup: Mookie Betts, Trea Turner and Freeman.

They hit good pitches.

“When you get into the playoffs, there’s only a couple of guys on the team that have done well [stuff] all the time,” Mattingly said. “THE [Max] Scherzers, [Jacob] DeGroms of the world, there’s only a few guys that can beat those guys.”

Mattingly, who previously managed the Dodgers, said his former team’s lineup reminded him of some of the powerful New York Yankees teams he was the hitting coach for in the mid-2000s.

“You have to attack them,” Mattingly said. “You can’t play like you’re scared. You have to go get them out. You have to get into the strike zone early, you have to attack and take them out quickly. You start to mess up, they don’t chase you, you get into bad accounts.”

That was the way the Angels managed by Mike Scioscia used to talk to the Yankees managed by Joe Torre, according to Mattingly. The Angels eliminated the Yankees from the playoffs in 2002 and 2005.

Dodgers' Cody Bellinger celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Marlins on Sunday.

Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger celebrates after hitting a two-run home run against the Marlins on Sunday. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

“You’ve got really good players, they know how you get them when guys don’t attack them,” Mattingly said. “When you attack them, it’s different. They have to respect the fact that you’re trying to throw strikes. You are more likely to take some swings and put them in bad spots. If you keep letting them loose and putting them in good numbers, they’re going to kill you.”

In late July, the Marlins were swept at home by the New York Mets. Mattingly said he considers the Dodgers and Mets the class of the NL.

If the Dodgers and Mets played a seven-game series in October, which team would Mattingly put his money on?

“I’m not allowed to bet on baseball,” Mattingly said with a laugh.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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