Sorry for the delay folks it’s been a busy weekend at Lasorda’s Lair, and with the Dodgers hitting like they have been the past two days, perhaps it’s better off if I don’t blog every day. Where to begin? How about the weekend Matt Kemp had! In 16 plate appearances over the weekend, he reached base in 12 tines. In one stretch he hit 3 home runs in 5 at-bats, driving in 8 runs. That’s just about two months worth of James Loney production. You want more you say?You think Kemp aka ‘Bison’ likes hitting in Great American Ballpark? In three games last year he hit 2 homers, drove in 5 runs and scored 6 times, including 4 times in one game. For his career he has played 19 games in Cincinnati hitting 8 home runs with 24 RBI. If Matt Kemp suddenly surges in the All-Star balloting, don’t be surprised if he gets a bunch of votes from Reds fans, after the show he put on for them, they should be impressed.
I know I am. I make no effort to hide my man crush on the Bison, but his weekend was ridiculous. Saturday he helped lead the charge of the Dodgers best comeback since 1994, where they won a game in which they trailed by at least 5 runs in the 8th inning or later. Sunday he got the Dodgers started with a 2 run shot that helped the Dodgers jump out to a 4-to-1 lead after their first two at-bats.
After this weekend’s feats Kemp now ranks at or near the top of almost every hitting statistical category. He leads the N.L in RBI (48) and Total Bases (130), he’s 2nd in HR (16) 1 behind Jay Bruce, 5th with a .323 batting average, 6th in hits (71) and stolen bases (14), and tied for 8th in runs scored (38) and would certainly be higher if he had guys behind him who could consistently produce.
More importantly he has helped lead the Dodgers to three straight series wins, during which they have 6 wins and 3 losses and somehow, despite a league leading 18 players sent to the DL, the Dodgers are still within 6 games of first place. They have a critical seven game stretch coming up with three games in Philly and four games at Colorado, who the Dodgers are currently tied with in the standings.
If the Dodgers can come out of that stretch 4-and-3 they will be in a good position, as they come home for a season long 12 game home stand.
Chad Billingsley also had an unusual day. At the plate he was 2-for-2 with a homer, RBI double, and a bases loaded walk. Yet, after being staked to 4-to-1 and 7-to-3 leads, he struggled with his command allowing 11 base-runners and throwing 106 pitches in just 5 innings. He was pulled for a pinch hitter with the bases loaded an two outs in bottom of the 6th inning. Considering how well he had done at the plate one could argue he should have hit for himself, rather than send up Ivan De Jesus Jr who grounded into a force play.
I’m sure Chad will gladly take the win, considering he lost a game earlier in the season when he allowed only one hit over 8 innings. Things did get interesting however in the 9th inning for the Dodgers. Leading 9-to-4 heading into the bottom of the 6th inning Don Mattingly called upon John Ely, fresh from AAA, to try and seal the deal.
Ely was his typical up and down self, giving up a run in the 6th, but he pitched around a walk and a hit in the 7th and had a 1-2-3 8th inning. He led off the 9th by walking the lead-off man and was pulled for rookie Josh Lindblom, making his second career appearance. Lindblom immediately loaded the bases on a walk and hit batter. Bases loaded, no outs, Dodgers clinging to a lead, typical Dodgers.
However young Lindblom bounced back by getting Paul Janish to pop out to Rod Barajas, and Chris Heisey to hit a sacrifice fly to Andre Ethier. Drew Stubbs, who had homered earlier in the game, came to the plate as the tying run but Lindblom struck him out. Game over, just your typical 3 hour and 50 minute 9-to-6 win for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers are now off to Philly where they will face Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. About the only good news is they won’t have to go against Roy Halladay. Tuesday will be perhaps the beginning of something special as Rubby De La Rosa will make his first career start.