Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 4, Rockies 2
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- Granted, division races can turn on a dime, which means there's no guarantee things will stay as they've been going lately in the NL West, but it sure looks as if the Los Angeles Dodgers are entering a June groove once again.
The Dodgers beat the Colorado Rockies 4-2 Tuesday night for their seventh win in their past 10 games. Since June 8, the Dodgers have lopped off 4½ games from the San Francisco Giants' lead and trail first place by a manageable five games.
On June 22, 2013, the Dodgers started their 46-10 run and turned a 9½-game deficit into a 10½–game lead.
How it happened: Jhoulys Chacin kicked the dirt before the ball was halfway on its way. When Hanley Ramirez connects solidly, there's usually not much doubt. Ramirez hit an opposite-field two-run shot off Chacin in the third inning, and Matt Kemp added a solo home run an inning later. Those are two big bats that for large chunks of this season have been missing in action.
Zack Greinke didn't appear to have his most dominating stuff, but he got some nice plays made behind him and navigated trouble to get through a solid six innings. Greinke (9-3, 2.57 ERA) looks like a contender to start next month's All-Star Game for the NL.
Things got dicey in the seventh inning when a ball skipped off Ramirez's hand for a double, knocking the shortstop from the game, and Dee Gordon made an error, but Brandon League pitched out of a jam.
Carlos Triunfel looks as if he's not too keen on going back to Triple-A. He's 2-for-2 since getting called up, and, after replacing Ramirez, he hit his first major league home run to give the Dodgers a key insurance run.
Hits: The Dodgers have long felt that as Ramirez goes, they go. It's more cumulative than that, of course, but getting Ramirez swinging more like the 2013 version and less like the 2011 and 2012 versions of himself is important. He's showing signs, though a hand injury could derail his progress. X-rays showed his ring finger was bruised, not broken. Ramirez has driven in 27 runs in his past 31 games, and his swing looks as menacing as it has been all season. Before the game, Ramirez was in a good mood, bantering with teammates and reporters during batting practice, and you could tell he was feeling better about his swing.
Misses: Teams very rarely have all of their hitters in sync at the same time. When they do, they tend to rattle off long winning streaks. Right now, the Dodgers' biggest worry is cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez, who is mired in the deepest slump of his career. Gonzalez was batting .321 on May 1. In the intervening 41 games, he has batted .196 with 30 strikeouts and 16 walks.
Stat of the game: Give Don Mattingly and the Dodgers' coaches credit for helping clean something up. They began emphasizing defensive awareness in early May, and, after committing 42 errors in the team's first 50 games, the Dodgers have the best fielding percentage in baseball in the past 23.
Up next: The Dodgers go for the sweep behind ace Clayton Kershaw (6-2, 2.93 ERA) at 7:10 p.m. Wednesday. They will face Colorado's Jorge De La Rosa (6-5, 4.12).