It's the same ole, same ole, right? Kemp giveth and Kemp taketh away.
The Dodgers rolled through Washington, D.C. over the weekend picking right up where they left off before the All-Star break. Better than where they left off, actually.
After managing "only" a 5-2 week to finish the first half, which concluded with a mere split of a four-game set with the Rockies, Los Angeles took three from the Nationals -- by scores of 3-2, 3-1 and 9-2 -- rolling to within a half game of Arizona for first place in the National League West in the process. And Matt Kemp rolled an ankle.
Andre Ethier's ninth inning home run gave L.A. the win Friday night, Hanley Ramirez and 10 fine frames of Dodger pitching did the trick Saturday, with Clayton Kershaw and a 15-hit attack leading to the sweep of the Nats Sunday.
Kemp got his team off on the right foot yesterday (no pun intended), with a booming homer to left field to spur a seven-run second inning. It was the kind of majestic no-doubt-about-it Kemp drive we've seen little of since the center fielder wrecked his shoulder in Colorado last August, and it was an uplifting moment for an already-soaring Dodgers squad; icing on the cake this 2013 has fast become.
Kemp added a single, a double and a brain-cramp of a base running mistake minutes before what should have been an inconsequential end to a fun afternoon in the nation's capital. With the bases loaded, two out and Los Angeles leading 9-2 in the ninth, Carl Crawford hit a little roller to first, beating it out for an apparent RBI single with Kemp scoring his team's tenth run.
Except, Kemp wasn't running at even half-speed -- his first mistake -- and in trying to turn on the gas to beat Chad Tracy's throw home, lunged toward the plate before stumbling into catcher Kurt Suzuki's tag for the final out. Mistake number two. And thanks to gif-master Chad Moriyama for the images.
In live action the play seemed to have hamstring written all over it, and for all we know, we'll get some bad news there as well, but for now it's a sprained ankle of some sort. The Dodgers probably have a good idea of what the deal is now, but are notoriously slow and predictable in announcing their findings.
My guess is, they'll say Kemp is "day to day," that he may be available to pinch hit, with no "expectation" of a third trip to the disabled list at this time. Then we'll wait as the team plays a man short for a few days, hoping for a quick-healing Kemp, rolling our eyes in unison not so much over the rolled ankle but because of the chaos it causes on the roster, and the angst it creates for the front office. And because we've seen it all before.
But look, we are absolutely not opening the Kemp-lacks-for-effort can of worms again. I never bought into the bright-lights-big city-tattooed-love-girls thing in the first place, still don't, and Kemp's work ethic was never an issue worth discussing. Repeat: never. Not for a second, ever.
But it's not a freak injury either. Ramirez falling to the AT&T turf in the final game of the World Baseball Classic in March and breaking his thumb was a freak injury. Kemp's ankle roll was a bonehead play. He wasn't thinking (or not thinking properly), messed up and it's done. (Sh)it happens. He's hurt again. Might pinch hit tonight, might be back in the lineup tomorrow, or could sit out six weeks.
As I suggested the other day, while it's obviously preferable to have a healthy and hearty Matt Kemp banging away at NL pitching uninterrupted the rest of the way, the Dodgers can win without him. How much they can win remains to be seen, but they can win without Matt Kemp, and that's exactly what they've been doing.
With Sunday's victory, L.A. has won 20 of its last 25 games, improving its record from 30-42 to 50-47, with a chance to go from worst to first tonight in exactly one month's time. Hyun-Jin Ryu opens a three-game series in Toronto opposite the Jays' Josh Johnson at 4:07 p.m. today, it's Chris Capuano and Todd Redmond Tuesday at 7:07 p.m. and Ricky Nolasco versus Esmil Rogers Wednesday at 7:07 p.m.
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The Dodgers return home from Canada to begin a four-game set with the Cincinnati Reds Thursday night, with two against the New York Yankees to follow. Let's all keep a good thought, that Kemp will be at full strength and ready to roll then, if he can keep from tripping over the border.