They had already done it to Max Fried and Yu Darvish, Logan Webb and Carlos Rodón.
On Tuesday night they added Corbin Burns to the list.
Dealing with this year’s Dodgers series can be pretty tough. Doing it multiple times seems to border on the impossible.
Burns learned the hard way Tuesday, becoming the latest pitcher to not only back off in his second start against the Dodgers, but do so in force, giving up seven runs in 3 ⅔ innings in the Dodgers’ 10-1 win over a sell-out home crowd.
“He’s still one of the best in the game,” coach Dave Roberts said. “To get to Corbin like we did tonight shows how good we can be against the best in the game.”
Five days earlier, Burnes helped the Brewers beat the Dodgers in Milwaukee. The reigning NL Cy Young Award winner shut them down after five innings and, despite giving up three runs in the sixth, limited the damage enough to earn the win.
Tuesday was a different story.
In the first inning, the right-hander gave up a leadoff double to Mookie Betts and an RBI single to Freddie Freeman.
He walked two batters in the second inning before serving a downward cutter to Trace Thompson, who immediately lined it into the left field booth for a three-run homer.
And after a scoreless third, Burns’ night took off for good in the fourth.
Chris Taylor reached on an infield single and stole second. Thompson drove him in with a base hit to left. Betts walked through the triple for what should have been the final out, but was able to reach first safely after a wild pitch bounced away from the catcher.
Trea Turner then delivered the knockout blow, landing an RBI single to center to make it 6-0.
Even after Burns left, he was charged with another run, thanks to another Freeman RBI single against reliever Brent Suter.
The seven runs marked the most Burns had given up since 2019.
He also became the second star pitcher this week to fail to complete four innings at Dodger Stadium, after Miami Marlins ace Sandy Alcantara also managed just 3 ⅔ innings in a season-worst start on Sunday.
“I’ve talked a lot this year, the team’s offense has been a lot better the last two and a half, three months,” Roberts said. “It’s just a collection of good information, good presentation and good execution by everyone.”
Tuesday further highlighted one of the more impressive trends for the Dodgers (85-37) this season as well.
So far this year, the team has faced 24 different opposing starting pitchers multiple times.
In their first meeting with the Dodgers, these pitchers have a combined ERA of 4.11 and the Dodgers are just 15-9 in those games.
But in each subsequent outing — like Burns’ Tuesday, which came just five days after facing the Dodgers in Milwaukee — those pitchers have a combined 7.55 ERA, leading to a 26-7 record for the Dodgers.
“[When] you know a guy, you know what he’s going to bring, you know their strengths and how they’re going to attack you,” said Roberts, whose starter Tony Gonsolin avoided such a pitfall by giving up just one run in five. innings for the second time facing the Brewers (65-57) in a week.
“I think for us,” Roberts continued, “that sometimes bodes well.”
His first baseman agreed.
Freeman said the Dodgers took a more aggressive approach against Burns on Tuesday than they did last week — something that was emphasized in their daily meeting with players before the game and reinforced as clips from Burns’ previous start against them flashed on the cage TVs.
Indeed, Betts’ leadoff double came on the second pitch of his at-bat. Freeman’s RBI hit came in the third.
Thompson was more patient in his home run — the culmination of a two-for-three, four-RBI night that led the Dodgers’ offense — hitting it with a 2-and-2 count.
But then he and Turner returned to the offense in the fourth, with Thompson hitting a single on a 3-and-0 pitch and Turner striking out Burns with a first-pitch curveball into center field.
“That was our plan today, to attack and attack early,” Freeman said. “And it worked out for us.”
Certainly, most teams perform better against pitchers the more they see them. Hitters become more familiar with the opponent’s approach, arm angles and the movement of pitches. They have experience to draw on, past failures to learn from.
But the Dodgers this year are almost making it look like a science.
Fried pitched seven shutout innings in his first meeting with the Dodgers this year, then gave up two runs in 6 ⅔ innings the next. Darvish threw six scoreless in his first game of the year, but has given up seven runs in 12 innings over two starts since then.
Rodón had two good starts against the Dodgers (six innings, two runs and six innings, no runs) before they struck out five in just five innings against him last time out.
Merrill Kelly is perhaps the most egregious example, going from a six-hit, three-run performance in April to a two-hit, eight-run performance three weeks later.
“I always think I’m a little more comfortable the second time I face a guy,” said Chris Taylor, one of four Dodgers on Tuesday who had multiple hits. “You know exactly what to expect.”
Doing it against Burns in less than a week might be the most promising sign.
It’s the kind of thing the Dodgers will need to do in October, when they could face opposing aces twice in a playoff series — the kind of game-to-game growth that might be necessary in their pursuit of a championship. .
“These are the guys we’re going to face if you want to win a World Series,” Freeman said. “It was a good test for us.”
And, as they’ve been doing all season, one of the Dodgers got away with it once again.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.