Winning at home is the best. The Dodgers had one of those sweet home wins on Monday night against the Rockies which featured an incredible 4-for-4 night by Dee Gordon and a solid start by Hyun-jin Ryu. The Dodgers had been struggling this season at home, but with a series win against the Rockies they will have a winning homestand. The Dodgers already halted Colorado’s five-game winning streak in Game 1, and with a glint of cohesive play and offensive spark, the Dodgers find themselves only 6 games back of the Giants.
6 games back is not good, but it could be worse. It was worse last season. This 2014 season hinges on the health of a few key players and the ability for this team to meld together for the common goal of a championship. So far there has been bits and pieces of this team which resemble that 42-8 streak team of last year, but the weak parts of the roster are far too numerous and widespread for the Dodgers to really go on another historic tear.
Even the bench players are banged up. Chone Figgins is suddenly missed as we watch Carlos Triunfel pinch-hitting, and Justin Turner was playing really well with moments of power before being semi-hobbled. When I’m actually worried about Justin Turner, you know it’s bad.
The interesting thing is that the Dodgers were able to win without Adrian Gonzalez on Monday, and they even scored a half dozen runs without him in the lineup. Gonzo has been totally out of whack at the plate, and I’ve never seen him slump so bad. Gonzalez is such a talented hitter, and I doubt he stays cold for long, but his lack of butter and eggs has really hurts the offense.
Hanley Ramirez has been playing through numerous injuries this season, and at this point he hasn’t been able to overcome the nagging injuries and return to his batting champion form. Hanley, like Gonzo, is an incredibly gifted hitter, and I just don’t see either staying this stagnant for very long.
Clayton Kershaw has had a up-and-down year while he battled his first major injury of his career, but he is still the best competitor on this club. Ryu has been fantastic, and the lefty has really showed up all the naysayers who felt he couldn’t be that successful in MLB. Josh Beckett has reinvented himself, and his comeback season has been so enjoyable to watch. Zack Greinke has been the Dodgers’ ace this season, and the quirky right-hander will most likely represent the Dodgers in the All-Star Game if he keeps up his stellar pitching.
Greinke will be making his 15th start of the season on Tuesday, and he has lost just once at home this year. Even though Greinke has pitched well, he hasn’t collected a win since May 27th. Last time out in Cincinnati, Greinke pitched 6 innings and allowed 2 runs on 4 hits in the loss. Greinke pitched against Colorado 10 days ago at Coors Field, but he wasn’t involved in the decision after going 7 innings and allowing 4 runs (3 earned) on 11 hits at the Cursed Field. He is 3-2 with a 4.20 ERA in 11 career games against Colorado.
Jhoulys Chacin and the Rox will try to fend the Dodgers off from taking the series. Chacin is working back from a shoulder injury. Chacin picked up his first win of the season in his last start versus Atlanta when he pitched 7 shutout innings and only allowed 2 hits. The Dodgers saw Chacin on June 7 in Colorado when he allowed 3 runs on 6 hits in the 5-4 Rockies win. Chacin is 8-6 with a 3.71 ERA against Los Angeles in 17 games (16 starts). At Dodger Stadium, he is 4-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 7 games (6 career starts). Andre Ethier has really hit Chacin well in the past, and he has 12 hits including 3 doubles and a homerun and 10 walks with a .414 batting average in 39 plate appearances. Matt Kemp also has hit 2 homeruns against him, and Dee Gordon hit one of his two homeruns against Chacin.
Prediction: Andre Ethier gets a clutch hit against Chacin.
The Dodgers could gain some ground with a series win or sweep against the Rockies. This would put some games between the two clubs in the standings, and it would inch the Dodgers closer to the Giants. While there are still key guys who need to get healthy and or start producing, Monday night’s win at home was refreshing.