Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Uribe reminds us why "the other guys" are so important

Yasiel Puig, Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez all did their part in an 8-1 victory over the Diamondbacks on Monday night.  Puig reached base twice; Ramirez homered, doubled, and scored three runs; and Gonzo also doubled and homered.

But the story of the night was one Juan Uribe, who put on an absolute show.  Three solo home runs, then an RBI infield single just for fun.  And even though he committed only his fifth error of the season on a bad throw, he also had a dazzling barehanded pickup and throw to nail Adam Eaton in the third.

And with that, it's a reminder just how much the Dodgers need someone other than the "Big 3" mentioned above to step up when it matters most.  Since the Dodgers were on a four-game skid and playing the second place Diamondbacks, Uribe did just that.

I still won't change my belief just how much a healthy Matt Kemp would boost this club, but I also have to assume it won't happen.  Or, we all should just accept the "believe it when we see it" slogan.  If he comes back, that's great.  But until then, guys like Uribe need to chip in in order to win big games.

For further proof that the rest of the order has to contribute, take a look at the previous series against the Reds.  Observe the stats of the Big 3, then compare them to all "the other guys":

Game 1 (3-2 loss) - Big 3: 3 hits, Ramirez solo homer; Others: 2 singles
Game 2 (4-3 loss) - Big 3: 6 hits, Puig two-run homer; Others: 4 singles
Game 3 (3-2 loss) - Big 3: 3 hits, Ramirez solo homer; Others: 3 singles

Just to emphasize the point even more, none of "the other guys" had an RBI all weekend.  With the exception of A.J. Ellis going 4-for-7 in two starts, nobody else did a lick.  The result was a one-run loss in each game, and that big hit just wouldn't come.

With Uribe finding his swing in a big way, it's time to see even more of "the other guys" to get things going as well.  Carl Crawford is one who comes to mind right away.  In his last four starts, he's gone 2-for-17 with a double and six strikeouts.  He's still hitting .286, which is pretty good, but we've seen him do more.  Even Don Mattingly may be losing some patience, as he was hitting in the #2 hole on Monday, rather than his customary leadoff spot.

Another couple of guys who get regular playing time and could step up at the plate more are Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis.  Ethier, to his credit, started the scoring barrage last night with a solo homer in the second.  Still, he's hitting a dismal .192 in eight games this month, and even though it's not a large sample size, could be much better.

Ellis is hitting .174 this month and .269 overall.  While I would never question his desire and hard work, I can definitely see him losing more playing time to guys Mattingly is looking to get some swings like Michael Young, Skip Schumaker, and Nick Punto.  Seeing that Ellis only has 10 doubles, six homers, and two triples in 110 games, he might have to get a little more used to watching from the bench.

The Dodgers' magic number is down to eight, so the division title in well within their sights.  The next step is getting home field for as long as they can, so hopefully that will push them to stay focused through September so they're sharp for the Division Series.  Getting more of "the other guys" to chip in a little more at the plate will help them do just that.

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