Kemp, Dodgers flex muscle
May, 4, 2012
By Dan Braunstein | ESPN Stats and Information
Doug Pensinger/Getty ImagesObviously, Matt Kemp is off to a fast start. But that's nothing new.
With a big assist from Baseball-Reference.com, we take a look back at the Dodgers’ week, starting from April 27.
Kemp finishes historic April
Matt Kemp set a Dodgers record with 12 home runs in April and also set a Los Angeles Dodgers record with 30 career April homers. He eclipsed Ron Cey, who had 29 career April homers for the Dodgers in 353 more plate appearances in the month. Kemp is three home runs away from Duke Snider’s franchise record of 33 April home runs. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kemp became the first player in Dodgers history to have a .400 batting average, 12 home runs and 25 RBI in the same month.
Kemp’s career batting average in March/April is .343; he doesn’t have a .300 average in any other month. Since 1921, Kemp’s .343 average in March/April is fifth best among players with at least 500 PA in the months. Among active players, Kemp ranks first, 18 points ahead of second-place Miguel Cabrera.
Another walk-off for Kemp
Kemp’s walk-off home run Saturday night was the fifth of his career and fourth in the last two seasons. He led the majors last year with three game-ending homers. Since the start of 2011, no other player in baseball has more than two walk-off home runs. He’s hit five of the Dodgers’ last six walk-off homers; before that, Andre Ethier hit six in a row.
1st inning dominance
The Dodgers’ 7-6 win in Colorado Tuesday highlighted a key reason for the team’s early success this season, as Los Angeles led 4-0 after the first inning. For the season, the Dodgers have outscored opponents 26 to 6 in the first inning, averaging more than a run per game in the opening frame. The 26 runs scored lead the league, and the six runs allowed are for fewest. The pitchers’ early success is nothing new; the Dodgers allowed 52 first-inning runs last year, 11 fewer than any other team in the league.
Winning the close ones
All four Dodgers wins during the week were by one or two runs, typical of the team’s season. Their 12 wins by one or two runs are two more than any other team in baseball, and the Dodgers have lost only four such games. They’re 9-3 in one-run games; the nine wins are more than any other team.
Gordon hits first career homer
Dee Gordon hit the first home run of his major-league career leading off Tuesday’s game in Colorado. It was the first leadoff home run for the Dodgers since Rafael Furcal did it against the Angels and Jered Weaver on June 13, 2010. In between Furcal’s homer and Gordon’s, every other team in the league had at least one leadoff homer.
The Dodgers have yet to have a home run from a second baseman, third baseman or left fielder. They’re one of only four teams without a homer from three non-pitcher positions but the only one of those four teams with a homer from shortstop, thanks to Gordon’s homer Tuesday.
Loney’s improbable hit
James Loney’s two-run single provided the only scoring in the Dodgers’ 2-0 win over the Nationals Sunday. The two RBI were Loney’s first with two strikes this season and came on the first two-strike hit against Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez all season. Before Loney’s at-bat, opponents had been 0 for 48 with 32 strikeouts in two-strike at-bats against Gonzalez.
The Dodgers’ 8-5 loss to the Rockies Wednesday was the team’s third walk-off loss of the season, tied for the most in baseball. Six Dodgers games have ended in walk-off fashion, also tied for the most in the league thus far.
Tough spot for Elbert
Scott Elbert entered Wednesday’s game with runners on second and third and one out and allowed a walk-off homer to the only hitter he faced, Jason Giambi. Elbert became the first Dodgers pitcher since Mike Fetters to allow a walk-off homer to the only hitter he faced; Fetters allowed a home run to Richard Hidalgo of the Astros leading off a tie game in the bottom of the ninth inning on June 1, 2001.
The last Dodgers pitcher before Elbert to enter a game with runners on base and immediately allow a walk-off homer was Rudy Seanez on July 5, 1995, at Atlanta. Like Elbert, Seanez entered a tie game with two men on and allowed a game-ending homer. Seanez gave it up to Chipper Jones, who coincidentally also hit a walk-off home run on Wednesday.
Rare trouble spot for Kemp
With the Dodgers trailing 5-2 in the 7th inning Monday night in Colorado, Matt Kemp struck out with the bases loaded and nobody out. It’s a situation in which Kemp has not fared well over his career; he’s now 1 for 13 with five strikeouts with the bases full and no one out.
After Kemp struck out, Andre Ethier did the same. According to Elias, it was the first time that Kemp and Ethier struck out back-to-back with the bases loaded.