Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back From the Dead, the Dodgers Keep Rolling

A month ago, I was ready to consider this Dodgers season a wash. On the morning of June 3, they were nine games under .500. Between injuries and lackluster hitting, nothing was going right. By June 19, they were 29-40 after losing Game 1 of a doubleheader to the Yankees.

Fast forward to today. The team just finished a 14th inning game to sweep the Diamondbacks. They're 1.5 games out of first place. They're 45-45 and all a sudden they look like a different team and I'm watching games with more interest than just as a loyal fan.

Instead of worrying where the Dodgers offense comes from, I see timely hitting coming from AJ Ellis, Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez and yes, Yasiel Puig. 

A lot of credit goes to Puig, your reigning National League rookie/player of the month. I've still yet to come up with a non-pitching rookie who's impacted the team like this right away and if he makes the All-Star team, I'll be happy. But I want to give props to Ramirez, who looks more and more like the player he was from 2008-2010.

He's hit safely in 20 of his last 21 games (.464 batting average) but it seems like every hit was a big one. Ramirez put the Dodgers ahead with a solo home run in the 14th against Arizona. He drove in three runs and his single in the 9th inning kept the Dodgers rally alive. While Puig has somewhat struggled in July - and I use that term loosely - Ramirez has picked up the load along with Gonzalez.

Meanwhile, Clayton "Young Prince" Kershaw is looking more and more dominant, winning four of his last five decisions while leading the majors in ERA. Ricky Nolasco looked happy to leave the Marlins with a dominant seven innings in his debut Tuesday. Between those two, Zach Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu (who had his worst start of the year Wednesday), the Dodgers have a rotation that could be scarier in the second half.

Amazing what a month can do. It's a combination of guys getting healthier and unexpected surprises. Who would've thought that without Matt Kemp most of the first half, the Dodgers would be so close to first place. The season went from a colossal flop to being fun again and a summer that I thought would be troublesome with Lakers news just got much more bearable.

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