Sunday, April 12, 2009

The offensive surge is here

A day after the Dodgers suffered a bad loss to the Diamondbacks, I talked about how the offense had yet to really break out. Perhaps a few tweaks in the lineup would help, along with more production from the bottom part of the lineup.

Last night, it all happened.

Catching a break by not facing Brandon Webb, the Dodgers exploded against Yusmeiro Petit and got an easy victory, 11-2. Eric Stults filled in for the injured Hiroki Kuroda and put in another quality start for a win.

It actually took until the 4th to get things going. In fact, the first 10 hitters were set down in order, and it looked like another struggle of a night was on hand. But, old DBack Orlando Hudson homered into right for the 1-0 lead. Back-to-back walks to Manny Ramirez and James Loney (hitting cleanup instead of Andre Ethier) proved deadly as Russell Martin, fresh from a day off, doubled to score them both.

That was really all the Dodgers would need. In the 6th they tacked on 5 more runs, with Andre Ethier scoring 2 on a double, a sac-fly by Matt Kemp, and run scoring singles by Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal. 3 walks and a wild pitch helped along the way.

Hitting is contagious, and last night proved it. Only Hudson hit a homer, so the other 10 runs came on timely hitting and sacrifices. Even with Manny, the Dodgers still aren't a team to out-homer you, so they'll have to get more hits with runners on like they did last night. And it was good to see them get the bats hot.

The lineup was switched a little, as Loney hit cleanup, Martin 5th, and Ethier dropped to 6th. It was good to get some pressure off of Ethier, who hasn't done anything hitting cleanup this year. Loney is hot, and even with little power, it was the right call to put him there. Ethier still was only 1-5, but that hit was the 2-run double.

As for Stults, he continues to make the case that he should stay in LA with 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. Everytime the ball is given to him for a spot start, he responds very well. Couple that with James McDonald's horrible start the other night, and perhaps Stults will be a starter sooner than we think. It's early to say that, but be aware of it.

Today's matchup will be fun to watch with Randy Wolf against Dan Haren. Wolf wasn't sharp at all against the Padres his first start, but Haren with really good against the Rockies, taking the tough-luck loss when his team gave him 0 runs. Juan Pierre will get his first start today for Matt Kemp. Have to throw the guy a bone, I guess.

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