Will Smith Ties Record for Home Runs in 4 Consecutive At-Battles

LOS ANGELES — When Will Smith signed a 10-year, $140 million contract extension with the Dodgers before the start of the season, he knew it was his chance to become one of the top catchers in an organization that has had more than its fair share of stars at the position.

While Smith still has a long way to go before he joins those names, he’s off to a good start. With his three-homer game on Friday, he became just the fourth backstop in Dodgers history to accomplish the feat, joining Roy Campanella, Mike Piazza and Yasmani Grandal.

Smith wasn’t done doing his damage, however, as he hit a two-run homer in the first inning off right-hander Freddy Peralta in the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Brewers at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. With the blast, Smith homered in four consecutive plate appearances, tying the AL/NL record. He became the first Dodgers player to do so since Adrián González on April 7-8, 2015. He is just the third player to do so as a catcher in AL/NL history, joining Johnny Bench (1973) and Benito Santiago (1996).

“I’ve always been a guy that tries to stick to his approach, whatever it is at the time,” Smith said. “Stick to it and hopefully good things happen. It doesn’t always happen, but yeah, I was able to get us two runs.”

In his second at-bat of the game, in which he made even more history, Smith hit a four-seamer just short of the zone, sending center fielder Blake Perkins to the warning track.

“He’s just so consistent and he just doesn’t get the recognition he deserves for being one of the two best catchers in the game,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

Before this weekend’s series against the Brewers, Smith wasn’t making the same impact offensively that the Dodgers have been accustomed to since he became their permanent catcher in 2020. Unusually, he had hit just two home runs since early June.

Still, Roberts praised Smith for not running away from the problems and working through them. His ability to weather tough times is a big reason the Dodgers decided to invest in him long-term. The fact that he can change games with four home runs in a 24-hour span also helps.

“I know he’s thrown a lot of hits and had a lot of big games and runs, but to be able to use the whole field, take the walks when he needs to, they’re running him with good arms and he’s still controlling the zone,” Roberts said. “… Even his outs are really quality at-bats.”

While Smith got the team going offensively, it was Miguel Vargas who delivered the biggest hit of the night. With the score tied at 3-3 in the eighth, the Brewers turned to left-hander Bryan Hudson, who was coming off an All-Star-caliber first half after the Dodgers designated him for midseason assignment to make room on the roster for Yoshinobu Yamamoto, leading to Milwaukee acquiring him.

With the Brewers turning to a left-handed pitcher, Roberts leaned on Vargas from the bench. Vargas responded by hitting a solo home run just over the outstretched arm of Christian Yelich in left to give the Dodgers a 4-3 lead. Shohei Ohtani then added another run by hitting his NL-leading 28th home run of the season.

“It feels great,” Vargas said. “I’ve been patient. I’ve been working on myself, trying to get these kinds of opportunities. I’m grateful to have it and to be successful.”

Since being called up from Triple-A on June 17, Vargas hasn’t seen much playing time with the Dodgers. It was a controversial decision given the severe plate appearances of Chris Taylor, Kiké Hernández and Cavan Biggio, all of whom have gotten consistent reps over the past two weeks.

But with Max Muncy taking months to recover from an oblique injury and Jason Heyward out for a few weeks with a left knee contusion, Vargas is expected to get more opportunities in left field and possibly at third base. Vargas, who started Friday, will get another start Sunday. So far, the Cuban utility man has taken full advantage of every opportunity he’s been given.

“One hundred percent, it’s hard to do,” Vargas said, when asked if it was hard not to get frustrated by the lack of playing time. “But at the end of the day, this is a team sport. That’s why we do it. That’s the only thing I can control, I worry about myself and be ready when the moments come.”

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