Beginning to resemble who they thought they were
June, 25, 2013
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- If things stay as they are -- nobody goes down and Carl Crawford is back in a couple of weeks -- the Los Angeles Dodgers soon will be dealing with the hassle of finding enough at-bats to keep all their hitters happy.
Let that one sink in.
For a team that has struggled to field enough healthy bodies, divvying up playing time for good players won't exactly be a depressing task. The Dodgers are as deep as they have been all season, with the possible exception of the first two weeks of the season, and it has shown with this four-game winning streak, the latest being Tuesday night's 6-5 win over the San Francisco Giants.
The Dodgers hadn't won four in a row all season until Tuesday. Not that it wasn't white-knuckles time, thanks to the Dodgers' faltering bullpen. Brandon League, pitching because Kenley Jansen had worked three games in a row, gave up three straight hits to open the ninth inning and had to be lifted for Paco Rodriguez after the Giants scored two runs and had the tying run at second with two outs.
Rodriguez snuffed out the rally, the game ending on Marco Scutaro's deep drive to center field. After Matt Kemp caught it, he slapped the wall in celebration.
The Dodgers' lineup had its deepest look of the season with Kemp returning from the disabled list before the game. Kemp batted fifth behind two of the hottest hitters in the game, Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig.
Puig, who provided the pop Monday, had a quiet evening by his standards -- aside from some wobbly fielding in his new position, left field -- but Ramirez continues to mash. He hit another line drive so hard it carried out for a home run, this one clanging hard off the left-field foul pole.
It may have been the hardest-hit ball in baseball this season. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the ball left the ballpark in 2.97 seconds, the fastest a ball has left a stadium in the majors this year. Ramirez hit a similar ball in San Diego last weekend.
Ramirez is 14-for-30 (.467) with four home runs and 10 RBIs in his last seven games.
The only player still missing from the Dodgers' projected Opening Day lineup is the leadoff hitter, Crawford, who is expected to be out another two weeks and appears to have a more-than-adequate replacement in Puig.
The game began with an improbable pitcher's duel. Tim Federowicz was the first baserunner of the game. He reached on a leadoff double in the third inning and scored on Mark Ellis' home run to left field.
The Giants tied it after Buster Posey hit a sinking liner over the left-field wall. The Giants started the fifth with a promising rally when the first two runners singled off Stephen Fife and advanced on a wild pitch, but Fife got the next three batters, one run scoring on Andres Torres' grounder to second.