Not looking for revenge: Dodgers earn series win, but no redemption, in blowout of Diamondbacks

The narrative should have been obvious.

A season ago, the Dodgers were swept by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League Division Series, marking a stunningly short postseason run for their 100-win team.

This week, the sides met at Chase Field for the first time since.

For most clubs in the Dodgers’ position, bad blood would accompany the return trip to the scene of the crime.

Leading up to this series, however, the Dodgers didn’t just downplay the significance of their rematch with the Dbacks, who rode the momentum of their Dodgers upset all the way to the World Series.

Instead, even after taking the three-game series with an 8-0 blowout win Wednesday night, the Dodgers outright rejected the notion of this being any sort of #RevengeSeries.

We gotta focus on ourselves,” third baseman Max Muncy said. “If we’re worried about the other team, we’re already in a bad spot.”

While an intradivision win, of course, was a welcome result for the Dodgers, who finished their nine-game road trip with a 7-2 record, they didn’t come to Phoenix looking for payback.

Knowing an early-season series wouldn’t fix all that plagued their elimination last October, they didn’t view this week as a chance to get even.

“I don’t look at it,” manager Dave Roberts said earlier this week, “as every team that beat us, we gotta get revenge on them.”

This has been a common occurrence for the Dodgers during Roberts’ tenure with the club.

Outside of a lone 2020 title, their recent postseason frustrations have been directed more internally than at their October opponents. When they’ve bowed out of the playoffs earlier than expected, their fatal flaws have always felt self-inflicted.

“Over the years, when we’ve lost a playoff series, it’s more about how we’ve played,” Roberts said. “So I just really wholeheartedly believe it’s about you, what we’re doing. That’s most important.”

“It was a great series by those guys last year,” he added. “And part of it is learning from it, remembering the feeling that you had. But … I think our guys have done a good job of looking forward, and playing some good baseball.”

That much continued Wednesday night, when the Dodgers (20-13) tagged Arizona’s marquee offseason signing, Jordan Montgomery, with six runs in the first three innings while riding a strong start from Yoshinobu Yamamoto to their second shutout of an opponent this year.

Mookie Betts led the way at the plate with three hits and two RBIs, maintaining the best batting average in the majors at .377. Andy Pages and Will Smith hit home runs, providing more than enough power on a night Shohei Ohtani got a scheduled day of rest.

It was Yamamoto, though, who turned in the most impressive performance, pitching six scoreless innings with five strikeouts and five hits.

“I think I’m being able to keep myself very calm … and I’m just getting used to the environment,” Yamamoto, who has responded from his disastrous debut in South Korea by giving up just six earned runs in his six starts since, said through his interpreter.

“He’s throwing the baseball exceptionally,” Roberts added.

With the victory, the Dodgers (20-13) moved 5½ games clear of the fourth-place Diamondbacks (14-18) in the NL West standings.

If you thought that’d be extra sweet for the team in light of last year’s postseason disappointment, however, think again.

“I don’t think any of us thought of that,” first baseman Freddie Freeman said entering the series. “I guess you could say that against the Padres too, every time we play them?”

Indeed, just as the Dodgers believed they were a better team than the 84-win Diamondbacks last year, they felt the same about the 89-win San Diego Padres in 2022, the 88-win Atlanta Braves in 2021 and the 93-win Washington Nationals in 2019 — all seasons the Dodgers won more than 100 regular-season games.

Each of those series, they expected to win.

And each time they lost, their anger was directed more internally, bemoaning everything they did wrong — from poor situational hitting to a lack of dominant starting pitching — just as much as what their opponents did to them.

That’s why the Dodgers’ only real chance to earn redemption is in the narrow window of postseason baseball — why, when other clubs would be reliving the past, Roberts declared he and the Dodgers are “not even going to go there.”

“I don’t think it’s beneficial for us,” Roberts said. “Or for my mind, my mental health.”

Instead, Roberts could take solace in the improvements he has continued to see lately from this year’s team — one that includes “the least amount of carryover from the previous year” as the ninth-year manager could remember.

“You look back 11 days ago and we were in a tough spot, weren’t playing good baseball,” Roberts said, contrasting his club’s play this trip, which also included series wins in Toronto and Washington, with the struggles they faced on their preceding 3-6 homestand.

“To go on the road, east coast trip, to go north of the border and then come back here and play a division rival and end up 7-2, it was a nice feat,” Roberts added. “We just wanted to kind of cap off this road trip with a series win, and we did that.”

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