Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Dodgers 5, Royals 4
By Mark Saxon
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers might lead the San Francisco Giants two no-hitters to one, but they do still trail them in the standings that matter most.
On the day Tim Lincecum threw his second career no-hitter in San Francisco -- the end of which the entire Dodgers team watched in the clubhouse before sprinting to the field to stretch -- the Dodgers kept pace in the standings with a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals. They trail the Giants by three games.
How it happened: The Dodgers had good at-bats against Kansas City ace James Shields and then prevailed in a test of bullpens. A.J. Ellis drove in a run when he was struck by a 93 mph Wade Davis fastball with the bases loaded in the eighth. That proved to be the winning run.
The game ended when Scott Van Slyke -- all 6-foot-5 of him -- hopped up to catch Lorenzo Cain's line drive and then threw to shortstop Miguel Rojas to double Pedro Ciriaco off second base.
The percentages finally caught up with Dan Haren. For the past couple of months, Haren has been living dangerously, having given up at least one home run in eight straight starts entering Wednesday. Despite some struggles, Haren had given the Dodgers a decent chance to win in all 15 of his starts.
He gave them a chance Wednesday, too, though his short outing -- 4⅓ innings -- put a burden on the bullpen. Cain and Jarrod Dyson each homered off Haren. For Dyson, a speedy little center fielder, it was the first home run since June 2013.
Hits: Matt Kemp has been swinging a hot bat, and he hit his eighth home run in the second inning, but the Dodgers got the majority of their action from the top of the lineup, not unusual lately. Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig hit back-to-back triples in the third inning. Gordon was 4-for-5 and scored two runs. He also created his usual havoc on the bases, stealing once and scoring on Shields' balk after the right-hander threw over to third base a couple of times. Puig also had an RBI double in the fifth.
Misses: The Dodgers' only power left-handed bats haven't been powerful lately. Adrian Gonzalez hit eight home runs in the Dodgers' first 25 games, and he has hit four in their past 55. Gonzalez is also batting .211 since May 2. Andre Ethier's power slump is even more profound. Since becoming the Dodgers' center fielder, he has hit one home run. That puts him in a four-way tie with Emilio Bonifacio, Denard Span and Ben Revere for fewest home runs by an NL center fielder with at least 150 plate appearances. Ethier is hitting .211 since he moved to center.
Stat of the game: Gordon stole his 40th base in the fifth inning (though he was thrown out at third trying to steal in the seventh). The last major league player to reach 40 steals in so few games was Carl Crawford for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2009. He needed 78 team games. Gordon has done it in 80.
Up next: The Dodgers open a seven-game homestand Thursday night with the first of four games against the St. Louis Cardinals, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last October. It's a good pitching matchup: Adam Wainwright (10-3, 2.08 ERA) against Josh Beckett (5-4, 2.28). The game begins at 7:10 p.m.