Sunday, June 9, 2013

Medlen the complete difference in downing the Dodgers

When Kris Medlen wasn't beating the Dodgers with his arm, he was doing it with his bat.

Medlen pitched shutout ball into the seventh and added a solo home run in the fifth.  That turned out to be the game-winner as the Braves held on to beat the Dodgers, 2-1.  The loss erased a chance for the Dodgers to win three straight games since early April.  Nope, not May... April.  It's been that long.

For young Stephen Fife, he was able to match Medlen through four innings as the game was scoreless.  The fifth is when the Braves got going.  Dan Uggla led off and smashed a solo shot to center to make it 1-0.  After a strikeout, Medlen stepped in and lifted one out to right for his first career tater, and it was 2-0.  Not bad for a guy who grew up making trips to Dodger Stadium.

The Dodgers' offense featured more of the same - failing to capitalize with runners on.  Nick Punto hit a leadoff double in the sixth and advanced to third with an out.  Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke couldn't cash him in.  Tim Federowicz singled with an out the next inning, but went nowhere.

In the eighth, the Dodgers at least cut the deficit in half.  The newest LA hero Yasiel Puig hit a single to start, which featured a scary head first slide into first.  I'm pretty sure Don Mattingly and Davy Lopes will have a nice talk with him about NEVER doing that again!  At least we can hope.

A grounder by Punto forced Puig at second, but a wild throw by Andrelton Simmons put Punto at second.  Adrian Gonzalez grounded out and Punto went to third.  Hanley Ramirez pinch-hit, which Fredi Gonzalez countered with flamethrower Jordan Walden.  Ramirez came through anyway with an RBI single right up the middle and through Walden's legs to make it 2-1.  Jerry Hairston popped up to end the inning.

The Dodgers had the tough task of trying to score against Craig Kimbrel in the ninth, but Skip Schumaker led off with a single.  Nothing came of it, however, as Federowicz struck out, Ramon Hernandez pinch-hit and grounded out, and Mark Ellis struck out on a full count to end the game, stranding Puig in the on-deck circle.  It was Kimbrel's 18th save.

Medlen was the true star of the game, but the rookies of Fife and Puig did all they could to grab a win for their team.  Fife had his second straight solid start, even in a losing cause.  He lasted 6 2/3 innings for nine hits, two runs, one walk, and seven strikeouts.  The longball was his downfall, but obviously his offense gave him no support.  He's lowered his ERA from 7.71 after his first start to 3.78 a couple starts later.  It's something to build on, especially since he's shown the ability to strike batter out.

Then there's Puig, who's turning into "Must See TV."  He's riding a wave of excitement where every at-bat is a big deal.  He collected a couple more hits in this one, and has hit safely in five of six games.  The only problem I had with him is that he didn't homer.  How dare he!  OK, so he's forgiven.

The hits are nice, but the play he made with his arm in the fifth was even nicer.  With Fife already reeling a bit from giving up a couple of homers, Simmons hit an infield single, and Jayson Heyward followed with a single to right.  Simmons decided to test Puig's arm on the play, and Puig nailed him on a perfect throw to third for the second out.  It was very Raul Mondesi-like, as the throw was an absolute bullet and right on the money.  Don't run on him!

The Braves are 14 games over .500, and the Dodgers are... well, not even close to that.  Seven games under to be exact.  But, if the Dodgers can win on Sunday, they will have taken three of four from them, which would be awesome.  Ted Lilly was the scheduled starter.  So naturally, that means he's going to be scratched and placed on the 15-day DL... again.  I like the guy, but enough is enough.  His best days are clearly in the rearview mirror.  Matt Magill will be recalled to take the hill instead.

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