The Dodgers showed up for their weekend test, ready with their sharpened # 2 pencils (no jokes about their walking up to the plate with them in hand, please), scouted out the nearest restrooms, got credit for spelling their names correctly, and beat the patsy Miami Marlins two out of three.
They did what they had to do, ending a losing streak at eight games and actually winning two straight. Given the relative ease of what is the baseball equivalent of a take-home test, you can't say Los Angeles passed with flying colors, exactly. They passed with flying color is what they did. Flying color; singular.
But the color is Dodger Blue, thankfully, so we'll all breathe a sigh of relief and back away from the ledge just a little bit. Pink wrist bands, pink cleats and pink bats for Mothers Day, yes; a pink slip for Don Mattingly, no.
Friday's opener served as the team's bottoming out, with L.A. losing to Miami, 5-4. Rookie Matt Magill struggled but left tied 3-3 after allowing three runs in five innings. Ronald Belisario imploded with two Marlins runs across in the seventh, with the Dodgers getting one back in the eighth, while leaving the tying run stranded at second once again. Eight consecutive in the loss column, a 13-21 record and buried in last place by two and a half.
And then it happened. Saturday was a glorious 7-1 win for the Dodgers. Their losing streaked over at long last, there was talk of champagne from the manager and of season-turnarounds from the players afterward. Hyun-Jin Ryu spun 6 2/3 of one-run ball for his fourth win, Andre Ethier went 4-4 with two doubles in arguably his best game of 2013, Skip Schumaker drove in three, and Juan Uribe added two late hits in relieving Adrian Gonzalez, who's still dealing with neck pain after running into an umpire May 1.
Scott Van Slyke started for Gonzalez Sunday and led Los Angeles with a home run, a single and some fine defense at first base. More about SVS — as he's known in fan circles — in the coming days. He might fill in again tonight, either for Gonzalez a second time or in the outfield.
Chris Capuano contributed his first strong outing of the season Sunday, going 6 1/3, allowing one earned, five hits, one walk, while striking out seven on 79 pitches to get the win, which was marred only by another disappointing performance from closer Brandon League. I've supported League in the past, hope to again, and was down with his three-year, $21 million signing over the winter. But it's apparent he needs to be replaced by Kenley Jansen as the bullpen ace, and very well might be as soon as today.
The Nationals come to town for three, beginning with red-hot Washington right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (6-1, 1.59, 0.82) versus considerably-less-hot Josh Beckett (0-4, 5.13, 1.49) tonight at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday night's game appears to be the mirror opposite, with Dan Haren (0-3, 5.17, 1.49) going against Clayton Kershaw (3-2, 1.62, 0.90). But of course, the game's played on grass, not paper; so who the bleep knows?
While there has been no official announcement, it's conceivable we may see a frightening-early Zack Greinke comeback Wednesday, with Magill heading back to his normal minor league station in Albuquerque. Greinke was injured in the now-famous brawl with Padres' Carlos Quentin in San Diego April 11.
Greinke's original prognosis? Broken left collarbone, surgery and out six to eight weeks. If he pitches Wednesday, it's four weeks and six days, and bordering on malpractice. There seems to be an acknowledgement of the inherent danger of such an early return — a plan has been concocted to have Greinke do nothing but bunt or take pitches while at the plate — and they're worried about him diving or running into another player while pitching, but he may go in the series finale just the same.
If so, it continues the club trend of rushing players back from injury, with very little good possibly coming out of it. A victory in game number 38 out of 162? BFD. They might win it anyway. Either way, Ross Detwiler (2-3, 2.53, 1.36) pitches for the Nats.
The twice-successful expansion team from Florida exits stage right as another one enters from the nation's capital. One a God-awful club going nowhere fast; the other a rising power. The 127-year-old franchise now known as the Dodgers are winners in back-to-back games, ready as they'll ever be for the next challenge. And a new day dawns over Chavez Ravine. Perhaps.