Saturday night was a struggle for the Dodgers. They just come off getting slapped around 8-2 by the Cubs the night before, the offense couldn't get anything going against a bunch of no-name pitchers, and it actually started raining at Dodger Stadium.
So whom did the Dodgers need to turn to in order to get some scoring? Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. And it worked.
Kemp continued his scorching run in recent days with a two-run homer in the fourth, and Hanley hit his first career walk-off home run in the 12th to give the Dodgers a 5-2 victory. The Mets beat the Giants, so the lead in the NL West is back up to 3 1/2.
Both Kemp and Hanley were especially needed on a night where Adrian Gonzalez and Yasiel Puig didn't start and each pinch-hit. A-Gon predictably struck out, and Puig singled only to be picked off of first after a replay review. So their contributions to the offense were pretty much nothing.
Their injuries were another reason why the bats of Kemp and Hanley were sorely needed. Kemp is hitting .367 with four homers since the break, and looks like a guy who is finally ready to quit making excuses and sulking about where he's playing in the field, and just freakin' play. What a sight that is.
Hanley hasn't exactly been torching the ball of late, as he entered this game 1-for-15 in the last four games. In this one, he went 3-for-5 with two runs, a double, three RBIs, and the walk-off blast. If the Dodgers absolutely needed someone to step up and be the man to get a win, it was him, and he did just that.
Taking a look at the lineup, it was Hanley at #3, and Kemp right behind him cleaning up. In a perfect lineup, the top of the order would be Dee Gordon, Puig, Hanley, Kemp, A-Gon, and Uribe. Might as well ride Kemp while he's hot, put him in an RBI situation, and see if he keeps responding.
Above all, it's just good to see the Dodgers get a win because their two big dogs led the way on a night of injuries and rain.
Other thoughts from the game:
* Hyun-Jin Ryu seemed to struggle at first, as the Cubs probably left some runs off the board. But as Ryu typically does, when he's settled in, he's really good. He lasted seven innings for nine hits, two runs, one walk, and six strikeouts. He did have a chance to exit with the lead, but a two-out RBI double by Arismendy Alcantara tied the game at two.
* The bullpen combined to pitch the remaining five innings and didn't give up a run. It was a complete reversal from the night before, when that clown Chris Perez pitched. On Saturday it was Brandon League (2/3 IP), J.P. Howell (1/3), Kenley Jansen (1), Brian Wilson (1), and Jamey Wright (2) who closed the door and allowed the offense a chance to win it.
* It's a good thing Hanley got the big hit when he did, because most of the night was lifeless baseball for the second straight night. I think it's fair to say the Dodgers play to their competition. They smacked around the Braves, always a solid team, and let the Cubs make them look pretty foolish. Thankfully they came through when needed.
* We should all be especially thankful even more to Hanley, because if you took a close look at the bullpen as his homer was leaving the yard, there was Perez warming up. If that guy entered the game, Vin Scully may as well have just gotten on the PA system and announced to everyone that the game was over and to go home.
Sunday afternoon is a big start for Josh Beckett, as he's really looking to get back on track after his hip injury. Another poor start probably means he's hurt worse than he's letting on, and we can forget about seeing the Beckett from the first half. Let's see how he responds.