For a Dodger team averaging just under three runs per game during the month of May, and having scored more than four runs just four times in 26 games today seemed like a miracle. The Dodgers erupted for 17 hits and courtesy of 2 four run innings shut-out the Marlins 8-to-0. The damage should have been much worse as they also left 11 men on base, including leaving them loaded in the 8th inning after loading them with zero outs. As nice as the offensive explosion was Clayton Kershaw was that much better.
The Dodgers ace pitched his second career shutout striking out 10 Marlins while only allowing 2 hits and 1 walk. Kershaw really only faced trouble once when he allowed the first two runners to reach base in the 7th inning but Kershaw was able to pitch out of any trouble. Kershaw also helped his own cause by singling twice, scoring twice and knocking in a run.
Rafael Furcal awoke from his post DL slumber with his first homer of the season and also added two singles and knocked in three runs. Furcal wasn’t alone in the three hit club as Andre Ethier and Jay Gibbons also had three hits each. Casey Blake, Dioner Navarro also had multiple hits. About the only bad news was that Jerry Sands and Jamey Carrol were the only Dodgers not to get a hit.
Manager Don Mattingly and Matt Kemp were ejected after the 4th inning when Kemp grounded into a double play with the bases loaded. Kemp was obviously upset after a first pitch called strike that replay showed was clearly outside. On the second pitch Ricky Nolasco appeared to nip the inside corner, but Kemp upset at the first pitch complained again. After grounding the next pitch into an inning ending double play Kemp was clearly upset. He was muttering some not so kind words to himself, then let Davey Lopes know just how he felt as he neared the Dodger dugout.
Kemp then turned and said something to home plate umpire Ron Kulpa who immediately ejected Kemp. Kemp then showed some intense fire, something we haven’t seen much from the Dodgers this year, and had to be restrained as he tried to get out of the dugout and let Kulpa know exactly how he felt about his umpiring. Fortunately Kemp went back into the dugout and then out came Mattingly to have his best players back. Kemp was walking off the field almost in the dugout when ejected, which typically doesn’t result in an ejection.
After what appeared to be a civil conversation, Kulpa obviously said something as the usually cool headed Mattingly went bonkers and started yelling face to face with Kulpa. Mattingly didn’t have to be restrained like Kemp did, but that is the first time I have seen him that upset. And perhaps that is just what this club needed. Finally starting to get healthy, and amazingly only 5 and a half games out of first place, despite how terrible they have played, the Dodgers now have a chance to save their season.
With Colorado coming to town for three crucial games the Dodgers have a chance to jump the Rockies in the standings. Amazingly Arizona has won 6 in a row and 12 out of their last 13 and have taken over first place in the West. No offense to the D’Backs but the Dodgers, when healthy, are a much better team. Perhaps today will be the spark they need to go on a run of their own, get back to .500 and right back in the race.
Shockingly the Dodgers had to place another bullpen arm on the DL, this time it was Kenley Jansen who has shoulder inflammation. They called up Josh Lindblom from AA, who has been solid in his natural role of reliever. He was drafted in the 2nd round by the Dodgers as one of the premier closers in college at Purdue, however the Dodgers tried to convert him to a starter, several times. Each time he struggled as a starter, then they would move him back to reliever and he would pitch great. Finally this season they stopped messing with him and he has responded with an ERA under 3.00 and 33 strikeouts in just 24 innings pitched.
Hopefully he can do just what Javy Guerra and Scott Elbert have done during their stints with the Dodgers, provide a much maligned bullpen with another power arm. We shall see, but as the great Ice Cube so poetically stated, “Today was a good day!” And hopefully for the Dodgers, by winning their first series since they took 2 out of 3 in Pittsburgh in early May, today will be the spring board that sees the offense finally get going, and the bullpen able to hold leads late. If so the West division is ripe for the picking.