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Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Puig, Kershaw dominant in win over Rockies

By Arash Markazi


At some point, this game will get more difficult for Yasiel Puig.

The regular slumps, struggles and mistakes that plague even the most consummate professionals will finally cast their heavy shadows on the Los Angeles Dodgers' 22-year-old rookie phenom.

Until that day, however, we all get to enjoy the spectacle that is Puig and the historic start to his major league career.

Puig's remarkable first month in the majors continued Tuesday as the Dodgers defeated the Colorado Rockies 8-0 at Coors Field in Denver. Puig went 3-for-5, which was his team-best eighth three-hit game in just 27 total games, and he is now batting a mind-boggling .443 on the season.

Puig has gone 7-for-9 over the past two games, and after finishing a homer shy of the cycle Sunday, he finished a triple short of his first cycle again Tuesday. The way Puig is going, though, the cycle won't elude him for long.

Incidentally, the home run Puig hit Tuesday was the longest hit by a Dodger this season, calculated at 451 feet by ESPN Stats & Information. Puig also hit a 443-foot bomb -- the second-longest by a Dodger this season -- on June 4.

The win gave the Dodgers their ninth victory in the past 10 games and pushed them past the San Francisco Giants in the National League West and to within 2 1/2 games of the first-place Arizona Diamondbacks. The last time the Dodgers weren’t in last place in the division was May 5.

Suddenly the Dodgers are within striking distance of taking the division lead before the All-Star break, which was unthinkable just nine days ago, when the Dodgers were 9 1/2 games out of first place and 12 games under .500.

Another reason the Dodgers have been streaking of late has been the play of Hanley Ramirez, who extended his hitting streak to 13 games and went 2-for 5 with two runs Tuesday.

Even the most ardent baseball purists, who scoffed at the idea of Puig being named an All-Star just one month into his career, have to admit there isn't a hotter player in the outfield or at the plate right now than Puig.

If the All-Star Game is nothing more than a glorified exhibition, Puig should be there for the pure excitement he would bring. And if the game actually matters now because of home-field advantage in the World Series, who would you rather have at the plate or in the outfield to throw someone out at home? If the answer to both of those questions was anyone but Puig, you haven't been paying attention recently.

The one Dodger who shouldn't be involved in an All-Star debate is Clayton Kershaw, who pitched a complete-game shutout, only the 21st time that has happened at Coors Field. It was also the sixth no-walk shutout in Coors Field history, as Kershaw gave up only four hits and struck out eight. Kershaw now has an NL-best 1.93 ERA. He should be in New York later this month for the All-Star Game. We'll soon find out whether Puig will join him.