Mookie Betts flung his pointer finger toward first base coach Clayton McCullough.
Then, for the 33rd time this season, he began a slow trot around the bases.
On a warm Saturday night in which the ball was carrying at Dodger Stadium, no one struck a bigger blow than Betts, who broke the game open and set a career high for home runs with a three-run blast in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ eventual 12-1 win over the San Diego Padres.
The Dodgers were already ahead 3-0 when Betts came to the plate in the fourth, thanks to a two-run homer from Trea Turner in the first and a Will Smith RBI double in the third.
With one swing, Betts doubled the advantage, taking an inside slider from Padres left-hander Sean Manaea and launching it into the left-field pavilion to break a personal record.
Before this year, Betts’ career high for home runs was 32, set during his MVP-winning campaign in 2018 with the Boston Red Sox. On Saturday, his fourth-inning blast achieved a new high mark, registering as his 33rd of the season with still more than a month left in the schedule.
An undersized slugger at just 5-foot-9 and 180 pounds, Betts’ power has always been a subtle part of his game. It emerged as a surprise attribute during his early years with the Red Sox, when he had two 30 home run seasons and tallied 139 total in fewer than 800 games.
It has surpassed the Dodgers’ expectations since his arrival in a 2020 trade as well.
During the pandemic-shortened debut season in Los Angeles, Betts hit 16 homers in 55 games. Last year, he managed 23 despite being dogged by a hip injury. And back at full health this year, he now has 72 over the last three seasons, eight more than any other player on the team in that time.
This year, Betts is in the thick of the NL home run race, trailing only Kyle Schwarber (whose 36 are most in the league), Austin Riley (35) and Paul Goldschmidt (32).
Betts wasn’t the only player to leave the yard on a 91-degree night at Chavez Ravine.
Trea Turner’s first-inning homer was his 19th of the season, tied for second most on the team.
Justin Turner had a two-run shot in the fifth, giving him 10 this season after a slow start.
Then, Will Smith put an exclamation point on the Dodgers’ fourth-highest-scoring performance of the season with a three-run blast to right-center to give him 20 in 2022.
Julio Urías had no such problems with the Padres lineup, yielding just a run (a homer to Manny Machado) in six strong innings to lower his NL-leading ERA to 2.29.
Blake Treinen returns
Blake Treinen completed his “miracle” return from a partial should capsule tear, tossing a clean seventh inning on only five pitches.
The right-hander hadn’t pitched in a big league game since mid-April. Because of his ailment, he told reporters before the game he was close to requiring what would have been season-ending surgery.
However, Treinen’s injury scarred over surprisingly quickly, allowing him to return in time for the final month.
“In my mind, if I hadn’t scarred over, I probably would’ve leaned heavily on the idea of surgery,” Treinen said before the game. “But the fact that it had scarred over, I think is just — I mean, it was such an answered prayer.”
His return Saturday couldn’t have gone much better, as he hit 97 and 98 mph on the radar gun while retiring the side in order.
“It’s been long,” he said of his five-month recovery. “There’s been some ups and downs. I’ve been pretty quiet about it. I don’t like putting the cart in front of the horse. But the biggest goal was to try to find a way to be healthy and contribute in any way.”
MRIs on Friday on Tony Gonsolin (forearm) and Brusdar Graterol (elbow) came back clean. Gonsolin resumed playing catch Saturday, and Graterol said he expected to at some point in the next few days. … Yency Almonte (elbow) threw a bullpen session Saturday. Roberts said the right-hander would need one more bullpen session before potentially facing live hitting. … Gavin Lux received a cortisone shot on his sore neck and probably won’t play for the next five to six days, according to Roberts. … Ryan Pepiot will start for the Dodgers on Sunday, with Andrew Heaney being pushed to Monday.