For as bad as the offense has been this week for the Dodgers, there were some good things to come out of Sunday's game: they won, they took three of four from the Padres, they have the best record in the National League, and Hyun-Jin Ryu more than shook off getting creamed in Detroit.
So, despite one run for the second straight night, it's another win for the Dodgers over the Padres.
Hey, at least they did better than one run on four hits on Saturday, right?
If you want to read about how poorly the Dodgers have been performing at the plate, then take a look at my article on yesterday's game. I could have written the same exact thing today, because Yasiel Puig's RBI single in the sixth was the lone highlight of the game for either team. Tyson Ross, Ryu, and a few relievers completely shut these teams down.
What I will focus on is just that, the pitching. The start of the Dodgers' offensive ineptitude began on Tuesday against the Tigers. After taking a 5-0 lead in the first inning off of Justin Verlander, Ryu got pounded for 10 hits and seven runs in 2 1/3 innings as the Dodgers got destroyed 14-5. Today Ryu went six innings for two hits, no runs, no walks, and 10 strikeouts. His off speed stuff was awesome.
From there, Brandon League, J.P. Howell, and Kenley Jansen combined to shut the door. League was a little shaky, walking Yasmani Grandal and giving up a single to Cameron Maybin. Howell put out that fire when Brooks Conrad lined to Carl Crawford in left.
Howell stayed on in the eighth, still with only the one-run lead. Even though Adrian Gonzalez dropped a throw to first for an error, Howell had no issues. At the break, he has a 1.32 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, and 19 holds. Lefties are 8-for-56 (.143) and righties are 9-for-54 (.167) against him. Very quietly, he's turned into one of the best middle relievers in baseball.
Jansen had to toughen up today for the save, as he walked Carlos Quentin on a very close full count pitch, then watched Grandal bounce a single into right with an out. Two strikeouts later, the game was over for his 27th save.
Back on June 20, Jansen blew his third save in San Diego, giving up three runs in the ninth and being hit all over the place. His nine appearances since then? All perfect, collecting seven saves and a win while lowering his ERA from 4.55 to 3.49. He also has more K's (13) than walks (1) and hits (5) combined. He's finally mixing up his pitches and figuring things out.
Other thoughts from the game:
* OK, so here's a bit more talk about the offense. Matt Kemp didn't start (good move), but pinch-hit in the eighth with Puig on second and two outs (bad move). Predictably, he struck out. Man, he really stinks now. That's all I've got to say about that.
* I don't think I've ever seen A.J. Ellis yell and get visibly upset at himself during a game before, but that's exactly what happened after he K'd with two on and none out in the second. He's had a rough year between injuries and a big lack of production at the plate and in not throwing out stealers. Let's hope the All-Star break does him some good.
* It was good to see Crawford get the start in left, as he singled and walked in four at-bats. Like I wrote about recently, there's no way Kemp should be handed every start in left. Give me a break. Let's see what Crawford can do with more time. Better than watching Matt "Swing and a Miss" Kemp.
* Can you tell I'm down on Kemp?
* Ross is a very good young pitcher. His slider is practically untouchable. I initially wasn't so sure about him making the All-Star team, but he showed he deserves it today. Too bad for him his team sucks behind him.
Every team in baseball will take the next four days off, then return to action Friday. The Dodgers will be in St. Louis, and Dan Haren will get the ball. Gee, if that doesn't get you pumped for Friday, then I don't know what will!