Monday, July 21, 2014

Will the Cardinals' beanings ignite the Dodgers like the DBacks' brawl of '13?

If you're the Dodgers, you have to hope so.

One year ago, the Dodgers were 27-36 after Brandon League blew a save against the Diamondbacks at home.  Generally, they looked like crap, played like crap, and were pretty much just that: crap.

The next night is when the "crap" hit the fan.  Then-Diamondback Ian Kennedy beaned Yasiel Puig in the face, then soon followed that up by hitting Zack Greinke, and the brawl was on in the seventh inning.  In all, two players, two coaches, and manager Kirk Gibson were ejected.  The Dodgers went on to win 5-4.

By the end of the season, the Dodgers ran away with the NL West, clinching in Arizona, then celebrating in their pool.  The Diamondbacks were not happy.  Remember that?

Now it's 2014, and while the Dodgers have a better record at 55-45 and are tied with the Giants for first place, they're still looking for something to get them going.

Sunday night may have just been that something.

One day after Puig was plunked in the hand, holding him out of this game, Hanley Ramirez got hit twice.  The last one came in the ninth inning against flamethrowing closer Trevor Rosenthal, which soon led to Adrian Gonzalez's game-winning RBI single for the 3-2 victory.  Clayton Kershaw hit Matt Holliday in the side in the fourth, prompting a warning for both benches.  Rosenthal, however, was still not ejected.

After A-Gon's hit, and Kenley Jansen's perfect ninth for his 28th save, the only thing I kept thinking about was how this is just like last year's DBacks brawl.  You could tell at the time that was a wakeup call for the Dodgers, and maybe this is, too.

One thing that cannot be compared is the intent.  Kennedy was clearly throwing at Puig and Greinke, but it didn't appear that Carlos Martinez and Rosenthal were doing the same.  However, I think A-Gon said it perfectly with the following quote:
"One thing is pitching inside and another thing is pitching inside carelessly. They're obviously showing that they don't care if they hit him. They're not on purpose, but they don't care if they hit him. They hit Hanley last year, they hit [Yasiel] Puig yesterday, they hit Hanley twice today. It's almost like, 'Hey, we're going to throw it inside. If we hit you, we hit you. If we don't, we don't.'"
At this point, the Dodgers are looking for any sorts of signs to shake them out of their mediocrity.  Before the ninth inning came, they got two hits and an RBI from Matt Kemp, a triple and RBI from Andre Ethier, and three hits from Juan Uribe.  Kemp even threw in a diving catch charging towards the infield for good measure.

Then Rosenthal beaned Hanley, and A-Gon responded with a clutch two-out RBI.  In fact, all four runs were driven in with two outs.  When's the last time we've seen that happen?

Only time will tell if this game will truly motivate the Dodgers to, as I put it yesterday, put up or shut up.  On ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball, they put up on a night where Kershaw finally gave up more than one run (7 IP, 3 ER, 8 K).  They got some big hits, got some big outs from the bullpen, and got a big win to avoid the sweep.

Let's see the Dodgers use this game as a springboard to bigger things.

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