Sunday, May 31, 2015

Grandal's big bop comes not a moment too soon

It might only be temporary, but for one glorious day, the Dodgers can finally say they got the better of the Cardinals on the road.

And Yasmani Grandal is the major reason why.

Not only was Grandal instrumental in getting Carlos Frias back on the right track, but his three-run homer in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie and lifted the Dodgers to a 5-1 victory.  After 42 innings of scoreless baseball on the road, and many more frustrations against the Cardinals in recent history, one of the offseason additions helped put an end to that.

Like I said, it might only be for a day, but it sure felt good.

Grandal was the surprise arrival in the deal with the Padres for Matt Kemp, and he didn't get as much press as the Jimmy Rollins trade.  But a week after watching A.J. Ellis do a whole lot of nothing at the plate, it should make us appreciate what Grandal can do even more.  In 34 games, he's hitting .292 with five homers and 20 RBIs.

Plus, as Mark Saxon on points out, Grandal put in lots of time coming up with a gameplan for Frias, and it obviously worked.  One game after he was rocked for 10 runs on 12 hits in four innings, Frias settled down big time in giving up only one unearned run in seven innings.  The reason?  Grandal got Frias to focus on throwing a couple of pitches early on, then mixing in other stuff later.

At the plate, Grandal helped propel the Dodgers back into first place of the NL West, with an assist from the Braves taking down the Giants 8-0.  I tweeted during the game that the Dodgers don't do anything halfway at the plate - they either all hit, or none of them do.

For five innings against Michael Wacha, they did nothing.  Literally nothing, as they were being no-hit.  That changed in the sixth, as new #2 hitter Justin Turner doubled to right.  Adrian Gonzalez fouled off one outside pitch after another before Wacha beaned him trying to sneak one inside.  An RBI single later by Howie Kendrick (breaking the scoreless streak), it was 1-1.

This is where Grandal went to work, as after Andre Ethier flied out to make it two down, he crushed a 422-foot no-doubter to center for the 4-1 lead.  Take that swing away, and you get the feeling these two teams would've been playing deep into the night considering they already had a rain delay of over two hours.

From there, the offense picked up, even though they only tacked on one more run.  They got six more hits the rest of the way, including an RBI single by newcomer Alberto Callaspo.  It was just obvious that the team was more relaxed and started swinging like they knew they were good again.  Thanks, Yasmani.

After looking so pitiful in Friday night's 3-0 loss, this can suddenly be a great weekend if Brett Anderson leads the Dodgers to a Sunday victory.  Let's just hope that Grandal got some good rest after the game and is ready to go.  The Dodgers need him.

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