Thursday, July 25, 2013

Winning baseball, by any means necessary

Is this fun or what?

After another thrilling, come-from-behind victory on Wednesday night, the Dodgers are now 1 1/2 games in front of the Diamondbacks for first in the NL West.  A month ago today?  Try dead last and seven games back.

Yes, life has been that good.

The streak is now at six straight after the All-Star break, which have all come on the road in Washington and Toronto.  How have they done it?  Let's take a look, game-by-game:

July 19, 3-2 over Nationals: Andre Ethier hit a game-winning solo homer in the ninth.
July 20, 3-1 (10 innings) over Nationals: Hanley Ramirez hit an RBI double and Ethier a sac-fly RBI in extra innings.
July 21, 9-2 over Nationals: Matt Kemp returned from the DL to collect three hits with a homer (then exited with a twisted ankle that eventually put him back on the DL), Ramirez hit a three-run shot, and Clayton Kershaw cruised.
July 22, 14-5 over Blue Jays: A.J. Ellis had five RBIs, Skip Schumaker three, and the Dodgers set a season-high with 14 runs.
July 23, 10-9 over Blue Jays: Down 8-3 going into the eighth, Adrian Gonzalez hit a three-run bomb, and Ethier added an insurance run with a solo shot.
July 24, 8-3 (10 innings) over Blue Jays: Down to their last strike, Ethier blooped a single into center, which was misplayed by Colby Rasmus to allow Yasiel Puig to score from first.  Five runs were scored in the 10th on a two-run shot by Mark Ellis, a solo shot by Puig, and a two-run double by Ethier.

As you can see, it's been a collection of one clutch play after another.  They've had games where the offense scores early and often, games where they needed to comeback to force extras, and games where they got a little bit of luck to win as well.  Like the title says, it's been by any means necessary.

Perhaps even more exciting is that they're still not fully healthy, as Kemp is back on the DL after playing in one whopping game.  Who knows how long he'll be gone, but the luxury is that they can afford to take their time with so many other guys contributing.

The other bright spot is that Puig really struggled through the Nationals' series, but is starting to get things going again against the Blue Jays.  For awhile it seemed like all the Dodgers had going for them on offense was Puig, but that has certainly changed.  They've won without him doing much at the plate, and now that he has five hits in the last two games, they're even more dangerous.

At some point they'll regress a bit, as it's only natural for the ball to bounce the other way.  But even with that in mind, what they'll still have going for them is four solid starters on the mound and an offense that can score in bunches. 

And that, along with a good bit of HEALTH (something that's never a guarantee), will carry the Dodgers forward in the stretch run.

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