Following the Dodgers and Exploring The Team’s Past
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PHOENIX — Matt Kemp was not on a playoff contending team. That does not mean he should not win the NL MVP or batting championship.
Kemp was virtually the Dodgers offense game in and game out. Without him, Los Angeles finishes fifth in the West.
He led the National League in home runs and RBIs and finished third with a .324 batting average. He also led the league in runs, 115, and total bases, 353. Those are MVP numbers regardless of the team he played for and he deserves the awards. We had the same discussion about Felix Hernandez one year ago today about the AL Cy Young and he rightfully was given the award. The same should be done for Kemp who had to carry his team in certain games this season.
Los Angeles in their final game of the 2011 season had some competition even though early it looked like an easy victory. The Dodgers led 7-0 through seven-innings before the Diamondbacks scored five in the ninth, but fell two runs short of sending it to extras.
Kemp sent a two-run home run to left for his 39th of the season in the seventh. He had one last opportunity in the ninth to join the 40/40 club, but evidently struck out swinging.
Despite a scare of a grand slam that was followed by a solo blast, Los Angeles kept their cool and got the next two batters out to defeat the 2011 NL West champs before they open divisional play against the Brewers.
Whatever Kemp did in the offseason, he needs to do it again and bring along some of his teammates too if they want to have a better season than the one they all had. Kemp was the only reason to go to a Dodger game this season.
It has been a fun and a surprisingly fast season covering the Dodgers since mid-February when pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training. I will watch Matt Kemp more closely now and hope to see him get a ring soon.
LOS ANGELES — Shiver me timbers.
The Los Angeles Dodgers sank the Pittsburgh Pirates to the depths of the ocean, destroying them 15-1 for a four game series win in front of 37,802 Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers compiled 23-hits in the effort.
With the blow out though, Los Angeles only left the park twice to make up four of the fifteen runs. Matt Kemp homered for his 34th of the season, and Jerry Sands crushed a pitch for a three run blast in the second that gave the Dodgers a 9-0 lead.
Dee Gordon led things off with a triple in the first as Jamey Carroll followed with an RBI-single. Sands closed out the first with another RBI-single to give Los Angeles a 3-0 lead.
But, in the second, the Dodgers unloaded the canons and hit the Pirates hard for six two-out runs. Kemp kept the inning alive with single to drive home starter, Chad Billingsley. Juan Rivera then followed by singling to advance Kemp to third, putting runners at corners for Loney, whose two RBI double allowed the lineup to keep moving.
Aaron Miles took a four-pitch walk right before Sands three-run home run all but put this game out of reach as the Dodgers now led by nine.
However, the Dodgers were not close to being done yet. Dee Gordon led-off the next inning with a walk as Kemp’s double put both runners in scoring position. Rivera’s bases clearing single increased Los Angeles’s lead now to 11.
By the fifth, Pittsburgh finally got on the board, but the lone run would not erase the embarrassment felt by the Pirates players. Chase d’Arnaud singled and scored the Pirates only run on Xavier Paul’s RBI-double. Those two hits made up the seven total hits Pittsburgh had in this game.
Los Angeles though got the run back in the home half of the inning as relief pitcher, Evan Meek walked in the twelfth Dodger run. They would add three more runs in the sixth to conclude their rout of the Pirates, sending them on their way to a three set with the division-leading Diamondbacks.
The win does not do anything for Los Angeles besides maybe a mental boost for next season as the Dodgers have mathematically been eliminated from playoff contention, but can finish the season .500 or better. If I were the D-backs or Giants though, I would keep my eye on the Dodgers next year. They seem poised to make a run on the West crown in 2012 after disappointing many this season.
LOS ANGELES — Lucky number 7. That is the Arizona Diamondbacks magic number as they enter play with Los Angeles Tuesday evening. The division-leaders are 17-3 since August 23, playing the best baseball than any other team in the National League. Both Arizona and Milwaukee are tied, 86-62, for the next team to get home-field advantage in the divisional series behind the Philadelphia Phillies (94-50).
The race for the NL West is all but over, with the next countdown Arizona fans can do is the amount of games they may need to overtake the Brewers for a playoff series with the Atlanta Braves at Chase Field. Monday’s 7-2 victory over the Dodgers was a step in the right direction.
As the number five starter, Joe Saunders gave a great effort in helping his D-backs win, going seven-innings, allowing two runs on four-hits.
For a majority of the game, Arizona trailed as it appeared their bats would be silenced. But again, they lit up just one inning as they used that to defeat the Dodgers.
Matt Kemp’s solo home run in the first gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead till Arizona piled on five in the sixth.
Willie Bloomquist led-off with a single and scored on Aaron Hill’s RBI-double to left. Justin Upton was then intentionally walked and with Paul Goldschmidt batting, Hill stole third, giving Goldschmidt runners at the corners with one out. Easily enough, Goldschmidt singled on a grounder to left, allowing Hill to come home for the lead-changing score as Arizona grabbed a 2-1 lead.
Following the Goldschmidt RBI-single, Chris Young took a walk, loading the bases with still one out. Ryan Roberts single kept the lineup moving and the bases loaded as Gerardo Parra’s two run single concluded the five run rout of Los Angeles.
Trailing by four, Jerry Sands RBI-single was a nice stat for him, but it was not enough to crawl back in this one as the NL West leaders seem determined to keep winning, following each loss with a win or two.
Para extended the D-backs lead further as his two run double gave Arizona a five run lead and Saunders 11th win of the season.
With the Dodgers threatening in the ninth with the bases loaded and two outs, manager Kirk Gibson was not going to lose this one, sending out J. J. Putz for the one out save opportunity. He succeeded for his 39-save. He has the odds in his favor to be a 40+ save man in the majors, something to be respected coast-to-coast.
WASHINGTON — Stephen Strasburg made his second return to the big leagues, but unlike his first performance, it did not end in a victory for Washington.
The flamethrower was limited to five innings where he shutout Dodgers hitters and limited them to just two hits through five. Strasburg may be should have been left another inning or two as Los Angeles was completely relieved to see someone else besides Strasburg the rest of the game.
As soon as he departed, the Dodgers scored seven unanswered runs in the last four innings of play.
Strasburg got an early lead and even contributed to his own effort in the second. Chris Marrero led the inning off with a double scoring on another double by Wilson Ramos that again went to Andre Ethier in right. Strasburg attempted a sacrifice bunt and ended up getting an RBI and standing at second on Ted Lilly’s throwing error.
The inning continued as Ian Desmond singled into right, advancing Strasburg to third with no outs in sight.
Finally, the Dodgers recorded an out on Jayson Werth’s groundout, but not before Strasburg came in for the run and a 3-0 lead that stood till the sixth.
That three run lead was erased in the sixth as the Dodgers began their comeback with someone new on the mound for Washington. The Dodgers got back-to-back singles by Jamey Carroll and Dee Gordon and Matt Kemp got the Dodgers on the board with his one-out RBI-single. A walk to Juan Rivera loaded the bases for Ethier.
With the count full, Ethier smacked a line drive up the middle to score Gordon and Kemp, tying the game 3-all in the sixth.
In the eighth, Los Angeles got the bases loaded again and again scored runs in key situations. Rod Barajas’s two-run double broke the tie and gave the Dodgers a 5-3 lead.
For the third time of the night, Los Angeles loaded the bases and actually scored a pair of runs. Until recently, the Dodgers struggled in these situations all season and have not been the team most experts believed they were going to be when the season opened in April.
Ethier had the bases loaded again and again drove in a pair of runs for four-RBIs on the night as he helped his team rally for seven runs with the departure of Strasburg.
Los Angeles has the luxury of playing an afternoon double header as Wednesday’s game was postponed. As soon as they finish their series with the Nationals, they will board the plane for a coast to coast trip to take on the Giants in a three game weekend set. Aces will duel it out in Friday’s opener as Tim Lincecum battles Clayton Kershaw.
ATLANTA — The Dodgers are hot, but hot too late in the season.
Los Angeles won their fifth straight game, now sitting three-games under .500, and just 10-½ games out, but it is the last month of the season. Had they been in this position at the All-Star break I might have given them a fighting chance to win the West. But, there are just not enough days left in the season to accomplish the impossible.
But do not let me the one to convince you otherwise; this entire season, the West has been anything but easy to predict as my pre-season pick had Arizona finishing last and now they are on the verge of winning a division title after spending the past two seasons in last-place.
Very quickly, the Dodgers found themselves in a 5-0 hole after three. Los Angeles was no-hit through three while the Braves seemingly had no problem hitting and scoring runs. Atlanta scored three-runs in the second on three RBI-singles, one of which was due to fielding error by Dee Gordon at shortstop.
In the third, Chipper Jones took a leadoff walk, followed by Freddie Freeman’s double to put both runners into scoring position with no outs. Jason Heyward grounded out to second baseman, Justin Sellers, but got an RBI on the play. The very next batter, Alex Gonzalez, doubled to left for another Atlanta run to go up 5-0.
However, in the fourth, the Dodgers began their battle at a comeback, scoring two in the fourth. Dee Gordon led-off with a single, with James Loney taking a walk and Matt Kemp getting hit by a pitch to load the bases with no-outs. Juan Rivera then hit a 2-run single to get the Dodgers on the board.
Rivera got his third RBI of the night in the sixth, currently driving in all the Dodgers runs for the night, as Los Angeles now just trailed by a pair of runs.
An inning later, the Dodgers’ got all over Braves relief pitcher, Arodys Vizcaino, for five-runs to grab an 8-5 lead.
After a Rod Barajas strikeout to start the inning, the Dodgers had the next eight batters all reach safely. Three straight singles led a to a bases loaded situation with Loney at-bat, hitting a bases clearing double to give Los Angeles their first lead of the night. After a wild pitch put Loney at third, the Braves loaded the bases again for the Dodgers which also proved to be disastrous. Andre Ethier hit a two-run single that scored the Dodgers fifth-run of the inning and eighth of the game.
Till the ninth, Los Angeles maintained their three-run lead. But no lead is safe against this Braves offense that possess the most late inning come from behind victories in the majors. And it seemed like this one had the early script of another Braves comeback as Dan Uggla hit a solo homerun to close the gap at two-runs and the next batter, Jones, taking a walk with the tying run at the plate. But the Dodgers were able to retire the next two batters to cruse to their fifth straight win.
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