Good news on and off the field for the Dodgers on Monday. Hyun-Jin Ryu went seven strong innings, the offense got some clutch hits, and Kenley Jansen earned his 29th save in a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. The win keeps them on pace with the Giants, who hit around the returning Cliff Lee for a victory in Philly.
Off the field, there was definitely good news on Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez. Both X-rays came back negative on their hands, so they should be good to go any day now. Knowing the injury history of this team, it's a huge relief.
Back to the on field action, and it was two straight games where the Dodgers showed more grit than anytime in recent memory. They have pretty much been lifeless in the few games before and after the All-Star break, so any sign of waking up is a welcomed sight.
It all started with the guys at the top of the order, as both Dee Gordon and Justin Turner shared two hits apiece. Gordon scored a run and stole a base, his league-leading 45th. Turner hasn't started in awhile, but with Hanley sitting out, he got the nod at short and stroked a two-run double in the fourth to make it 4-0. He also scored twice.
Just as important as these two setting the table all game long was their defense up the middle. Gordon nearly had a fantastic diving catch off of Andrew McCutchen's bat, but still ended up combining with Turner for some big outs. Turner should definitely get more looks at short, as he not only showed the glove, but can hit much better than Miguel Rojas.
Even when Hanley is back in the lineup, Don Mattingly shouldn't be afraid to sit him when his bat isn't going. Turner plays MUCH better defense, and is hitting .301 with a .359 OBP in 63 games. Give him more playing time!
Maybe watching his teammates getting beaned in St. Louis is just the thing that Adrian Gonzalez needed, as he followed up his game-winning RBI Sunday night by reaching base all five times on Monday. He went 3-for-3 with two doubles, a run, and two walks. When's the last time we've seen a game like this from him? Wow, it's been awhile. But you have to start somewhere, so maybe Pittsburgh is the place.
The final piece of the puzzle was Ryu. As I pointed out before, he was very solid in keeping the Pirates grounded. This was good for his phyche, as his last road start was getting obliterated in Detroit. Since then, he's won both his starts, giving up only two runs in 13 innings against the Padres and Pirates. He's now 11-3 with a 3.39 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.
I caught some of Baseball Tonight after the game, and Ozzie Guillen made a good observation that the Dodgers have played with much more energy the last couple of games. He's right. And what do you know - they won. They've made some diving stops, got some good starting pitching, excellent work from the bullpen, and finally had some clutch hits. It all adds up to wins.
Before the Sunday night game, I was also watching Baseball Tonight (I guess I really like that show), and it was Barry Larkin correctly saying how the Dodgers certainly have the big names on paper, but at some point, you've got to do it on the field. For two days anyway, they've carried it over to the game and gotten wins.
We'll see if this is fool's gold, or if it's the start of leaving it all on the field and not making excuses. Josh Beckett is lined up to come off the DL and start on Tuesday. All reports on him are very positive, so hopefully that's true.