And so, reluctantly, I shift gears away from the Triple Crown.
Matt Kemp hit a mammoth 38th home run in the first inning for the Dodgers in their 4-2 victory over Arizona tonight, putting him one up on Albert Pujols in homers and eight ahead of Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard in RBI with two games to play. But he made three subsequent outs, lowering his batting average to .324 while Jose Reyes (.33396) was going 3 for 4 and Ryan Braun (.33393) hit a pinch-hit double. (How's that for a close race, by the way?)
It's not impossible for Kemp to come back in the batting race, in the sense that he could go something like 10 for 10 in a 20-inning game Tuesday, while the other guys had big giant 0-fers, but it's getting a bit dicey.
A 40/40 season of homers and steals, on the other hand, remains very much alive, as does of course the National League Most Valuable Player trophy.
And then there's the chance of having the best non-Tommy Davis season for RBI in Los Angeles Dodger history. As of now:
153 Tommy Davis, 1962
125 Shawn Green, 2001
124 Mike Piazza, 1997
123 Matt Kemp, 2011
121 Adrian Beltre, 2004
* * *
Dana Eveland bounced back from two sub-par starts to shut out Arizona over 5 2/3 innings, with Josh Lindblom striking out Paul Goldschmidt for the final out in the sixth to strand three baserunners. And Justin Sellers took a break from a 7-for-63 slump (with six walks) by singling home a run in the seventh inning to give Los Angeles a 4-0 lead.
Then, kookiness kame.
In the eighth, Nathan Eovaldi walked the bases loaded with one out in his first action since September 17. Scott Elbert relieved, and a run scored on a passed ball by A.J. Ellis. After Elbert issued the fourth walk of the inning, Mike MacDougal relieved and got an eight-pitch strikeout of Goldschimdt, but then delivered walk No. 5 ("That's called a low five," Vin Scully said) to Geoff Blum for the second run. Finally, Dodger nemesis Gerardo Parra flied out to end the inning.
With Javy Guerra pitching in the ninth, Dee Gordon (2 for 4) threw away John McDonald's grounder for an error, then juggled a potential double-play toss from Sellers and was lucky to a) get a force and b) not get hurt by the oncoming McDonald.
Ryan Roberts did something rather unexpected, trying to bunt for a base hit, and was thrown out easily for the second out. Aaron Hill popped to Kemp in center, and the Dodgers had their victory.
The 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers have done something few, if anyone, expected this summer. With two games to play and an 81-78 record, they have clinched a winning record.