The Yasiel Puig show takes a happier turn
August, 20, 2013
By Mark Saxon | ESPNLosAngeles.com
MIAMI -- Maybe you think Yasiel Puig is the most dynamic player in baseball. Perhaps you think he's an immature young player headed for a dive.
But if you're a baseball fan, there's a pretty good chance you're paying attention. Puig's neon-lights summer took another wild turn with Tuesday's 6-4 Los Angeles Dodgers win over the Miami Marlins.
Puig, fined before the game for showing up late and left out of the starting lineup, hit a majestic home run in the eighth inning to break a 4-all tie and send the Dodgers on their way to snapping a two-game losing streak.
Puig has proved to be a nice draw here, about 250 miles from where he grew up in Cuba, even when he wasn't pitted against fellow Cuban phenom Jose Fernandez. On Tuesday, the Marlins drew 25,690 fans -- about 7,000 more than their per-game average this season -- and, when Puig finally ran out to right field during a sixth-inning double switch, the fans cheered loudly.
His blast on the first pitch of the eighth inning, off reliever Dan Jennings, soared nearly to the level of the bank of lights above left field and clanged loudly off the top of the wall.
The Marlins have looked a little scrappier than their 47-75 record coming into this series would have suggested. The Dodgers have looked a little sleepier than their 72-51 record coming into the series would have suggested.
Most of Tuesday was a frustrating grind for the Dodgers, who minimized the damage their 16 hits could do by leaving 12 runners on base.
On Monday they ran into the Fernandez buzz saw. On Tuesday they could have easily knocked Jacob Turner from the game in the first few innings, but Skip Schumaker hit into rally-killing double plays in his first two at-bats.
The Dodgers nonetheless built a 4-1 lead with three straight two-out singles in the fourth, but Chris Capuano gave back two the following half-inning. And reliever Brandon League just can't settle into a role in which he seems comfortable.
The demoted closer -- signed to a three-year, $22.5 million deal last October -- had gotten on a nice roll, with a 2.13 ERA and .167 opponents' batting average in his previous 12 games going into Tuesday. But once again, he struggled to protect a slim lead. Pitching the sixth inning, League allowed a pair of sharply hit singles and a walk to allow Miami to tie it 4-all.
The Dodgers eventually gained some traction against Miami's leaky bullpen and shaky defense, adding a key extra run for closer Kenley Jansen, who shut the door for his 20th save. Jansen has saved his past 13 opportunities. Hanley Ramirez, who had gone hitless in the first two games while listening to relentless booing at his former home stadium, had a leadoff double and scored in the ninth.