Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mark Ellis: Your new power source

Some may ask why Mark Ellis is the one who brought the power to the Dodgers' offense on Tuesday.

And to that, I'd like to reply, "Why not?"

Ellis had a night to remember against the Mets.  He collected four hits, hit two homers, the first of which was career #100, and the Dodgers overcome a tough start from Clayton Kershaw to win easily, 7-2.  That's now a couple in a row for the boys in blue after Sunday's win over the Orioles.

The story for this game started out about Kershaw, who unexpectedly could not find the strike zone.  And you want to know what's even weirder?  His first walk was to Robert Carson, who pitched in relief of the injured Jonathan Niese after he took a grounder off his right leg.  If Carson never hits again, he can always claim to have a 1.000 OBP.  Not too shabby.

The Mets scored a couple in the third, and it all started on that walk to Carson after Kershaw set down the first eight hitters.  RBI singles by Daniel Murphy and David Wright made it 2-1.  Justin Sellers initially gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead on an RBI single in the second.

Ellis lined his first homer of the night in the fifth to tie things up.  Kershaw struggled in the bottom of the frame as his pitch count reached 100+, but a huge called strike three on a slider to John Buck ended the inning and his night.  Overall, he gave up three hits, two runs, four walks, and five strikeouts in a no-decision.

Still tied going into the seventh, it was the Dodgers' offense that finally took over from there.  Yes, you did just read that right.  With one down, Sellers reached on an infield single to third, and Juan Uribe walked.  I highly doubt anyone in their wildest, craziest dreams would have imagined those two would start a rally, but it's actually true.

In the past, this has been the point where Ellis would be very patient in trying to draw a walk for Matt Kemp to hit.  But, Kemp hasn't hit a homer yet, and Ellis was locked in.  Hence, a three-run homer out to left made it 5-2, and the Dodgers would never look back.

A.J. Ellis got in on the Ellis fun with a two-run double in the eighth to round out the scoring.

Before giving more Mark Ellis praise, let's give a nod of appreciation to the bullpen, which has certainly gone through a rough patch, much like the rest of the team during this down stretch.  Starting in the sixth, Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, Matt Guerrier, and Josh Wall all pitched an inning of scoreless ball, allowing one hit with no walks and five strikeouts.  You really can't ask anymore than that.  Great stuff.

Hitting in his customary #2 hole, Ellis has again quietly showed everyone around him how to get the job done.  His game contains zero flash, but plenty of grit.  He's now hitting .348 with a .370 OBP, and plays defense just as hard.  Yes, the Dodgers will make plenty of noise about making a run for Robinson Cano in the offseason, but it's time we appreciate what we have right now.  Old or not, Ellis is very important to the Dodgers' overall success right now.

Plus, I've never once seen him smile, and I think that's really cool.

One more win and the Dodgers will be back to .500 at 10-10.  It will also get them a game over .500 on the road at 6-5.  As it stands, there's only 10 teams in baseball with a winning record on the road, so that's at least a positive sign.  Not that big of a deal, but hey, I'll take it.

Then again, maybe we should all temper our expectations for winning Wednesday for one simple reason: Matt Harvey.  The unbeaten wonderkid takes his filthy stuff to the mound against the returning Ted Lilly.  It's the ultimate young vs. old matchup.  I just hope the Dodgers don't get no-hit!

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