For the first time all season, Don Mattingly etched out a lineup that included the names of Carl Crawford, Hanley Ramirez, and Matt Kemp. They combined to go 8-for-13 with four runs, two doubles, two home runs, seven RBIs, and a stolen base.
Then Kemp limped off the field in the ninth with a sprained ankle, and despite the win, it put a damper on the afternoon.
Perhaps Kemp really will be OK, as Mattingly said he didn't anticipate him going back on the DL. Of course, that's what was said last time... right before Kemp went back on the DL.
All of that aside, the Dodgers put it all together on Sunday, as a seven-run second inning was more than enough for Clayton Kershaw, as the Dodgers cruised, 9-2. The Diamondbacks beat the Giants, so it wasn't all perfect, as the Dodgers are still a 1/2 game back.
Jordan Zimmerman made the start for the Nationals, and he was recently scratched from the All-Star Game with a sore neck. Well, maybe he wasn't quite over it, because he was unmercifully hammered as a result of way too many hangers over the plate. Basically, he lobbed it up there, and the Dodgers smashed it around.
After wasting a couple of men on in the first, the offense sent 11 men to the plate the next inning. It all started on a solo shot by Kemp to make it 1-0. The Ellis Bros. A.J. and Mark hit a single and double, respectively, and Kershaw's RBI groundout made it 2-0. Crawford got in on the act with an RBI single, and it was starting to be a runaway.
Crawford stole second and Nick Punto took a walk, which led to a three-run shot from Ramirez, who continues to play like the best player in the league not named Miguel Cabrera. Andre Ethier walked and scored from first on Kemp's double, his third RBI of the inning, and the Dodgers blew it open at 7-0.
Kershaw ended up tossing seven innings of two-hit ball, striking out nine and not walking a soul. Those two hits were long bombs by Jayson Werth, who was about the only person to show up for the Nats. The other two hits came off of Brandon League, who somehow pitched two scoreless innings in relief. The guy seriously never pitches anymore, as that was only his fourth appearance this month. Yikes.
The other two runs for the Dodgers came in the fourth. Adrian Gonzalez and Ramirez each singled to put runners on the corners with one down. Ethier scored one on a groundout, and Kemp the other with a single.
When you win 20 of 25 games, there obviously is no hotter team in the league than the Dodgers. I can't imagine many teams, or heck, ANY team, wanting to play them right now. A healthy lineup featuring Kemp, Ramirez, Crawford, Gonzalez, and Yasiel Puig is pretty scary. I know I know... Kemp just hurt his ankle again and you would think might miss some time. But when he is good to go, what a deep lineup that is.
Save for a defensive appearance in the ninth, Puig sat the game out, which was a good thing considering he's looking lost at the plate of late. His numbers are still awesome, and a slump was expected at some point, so this really isn't surprising. You can expect him to be right back in there with Kemp's ankle being tweaked.
Next up is a trip to Toronto for three. Neither Kershaw or R.A. Dickey are scheduled to start in this series, which is a shame because it would have been fun to see those two face each other after finishing 1-2 in the NL Cy Young Award voting last year. Hyun-Jin Ryu will start on Monday against Josh Johnson, who's been horrible this year.