LOS ANGELES -- We've seen the Los Angeles Dodgers battle bouts of listless scoring all season, and this four-game series against the San Diego Padres was no exception. They scored a grand total of seven runs, three of which came in one game. Perhaps with 97 games in the books and the July temperatures steadily rising, this team is collectively tired. Or maybe Carl Crawford's return has inadvertently disrupted the lineup's rhythm. Or maybe it could just be one of those inexplicable ruts.
Whatever the case, the All-Star break timing is probably for the best. Now seems as good a time as for a spell away from the diamond. And however unimpressive they've looked in the process, the Dodgers still took the series after another 1-0 win Sunday. Remember, a team rises the same amount in the standings whether winning by one or 100 runs.
How it happened: "It" would be a fair way to describe the Dodgers' offensive production. With one out, Dee Gordon reached base on a single, then swiped second to put himself in scoring position. Crawford drew a walk, and Yasiel Puig sliced a ball into center, then clapped his hands all the way to first base as Gordon sped his way home. It didn't take a genius to recognize how critical that run was.
That lone score, coupled with a shutdown performance by Hyun-Jin Ryu and solid (enough) relief in tandem, was enough to get 'er done, even by the skin of their teeth.
Hits: The worst pain Ryu experienced came in the first inning as the result of a sharp comebacker from Chase Headley. The ball was eventually barehanded by Gordon for an out, but not before striking Ryu on his throwing arm. Clearly, the lefty was no worse for the wear. He carried a perfect game for 3⅔ innings, and no Padre reached second with Ryu minding the store as he gave up only two hits and struck out 10. It's insane to think Ryu is the Dodgers' third starter. What a luxury.
Crawford swiped his first base since his return from the disabled list. Small picture, he was left stranded. Bigger picture, it was perhaps a sign that his legs could justify transitioning to center field, an idea that has been recently floated. Crawford later supported this theory by covering a decent amount of ground to track down a seventh-inning fly to left-center.
Puig (who also had two hits) made a nice backpedaling catch at the wall to rob Carlos Quentin of extra bases in the seventh, then ran down a ninth-inning ball in right-field foul territory, but defensively, it was entertaining how he closed the top of the sixth. Puig casually moved one step to his right, then hauled in a Headley pop fly with a basket catch as his glove napped on his shoulder. A sequence so hilariously drenched in equal parts nonchalance and swag is impossible to imagine.
Misses: In the second inning, a silver platter scoring opportunity went wasted. After a double from Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe's broken-bat single, the Dodgers had runners at first and third with no outs. Alas, A.J. Ellis struck out, and Miguel Rojas lined straight to Headley at third, who stepped on the bag to double up Ethier. The Dodgers failed to put another runner on base until Gordon's one-out single in the sixth. That same inning saw the Dodgers strand men at the corners with just one out, but at least Puig had already driven in a run. Two men were also left standing on first and second in the seventh.
Stat of the game: 1. As in the number of pitches that passed between someone in the press box (who shall remain anonymous) remarking "he's perfect" of Ryu, and Quentin breaking up the perfect game on the very next pitch.
Up next: Rest. With the exception of All-Stars Gordon, Zach Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Puig, the Dodgers have nothing on the calendar over the next four days. Friday, they'll do battle in St. Louis for a three-game set against the Cardinals, now forced to make due without franchise cornerstone Yadier Molina.