With the Dodgers' win streak at a measly two games Monday, we posed the question, “can they make a run?” The writer muttered something about a little skepticism being a healthy thing.
Well, here we are four days later after Los Angeles has rolled off six straight wins, and don't look now — actually, do look now — but that constitutes a run. Perhaps we replace “skepticism” with “caution,” or better yet, “anticipation,” because that's the feeling developing in and around Dodgertown this morning. The team and its fans are pumped for the next contest — and the prospect of seven consecutive — versus Philadelphia tonight, 7:10 p.m. at Chavez Ravine, Chris Capuano opposite John Lannan.
The National League West standings still show L.A. as the last place club, but today's six game deficit looks to be considerably less of a challenge than the 9.5 games of a week ago. Arithmetic is a beautiful thing. More importantly, there really is but one team in the division playing good baseball currently. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is your Los Angeles Dodgers.
I'm not suggesting fans here, as Jack Buck once (and quite painfully for Angelinos) told St. Louis, “Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!” — nor would I ever — but this brand of baseball is considerably more watchable than whatever it is the Dodgers were doing the first 72 games of the season. So you might as well enjoy the fun while it's in front of you, because the players certainly are.
While last night's game-winning hit was provided by rookie wonder Yasiel Puig yet again — this time a two-run single in the seventh — equally as energizing and nearly as determinative in the 6-4 final was Matt Kemp's daring on the base paths an inning later. The recently-activated center fielder, who'd doubled and scored earlier, singled to start the eighth, promptly stole second to get into scoring position, and unsatisfied with just that, nabbed third as well. When A.J. Ellis followed with a fly to right, Kemp scampered home with the all-important sixth run of the game, making Kenley Jansen's subsequent save a bit easier to achieve.
So we're at six straight, and it's either the start of absolutely nothing or a drive to the NL West lead and for all we know, October glory. What's key is that of those six wins, five have come at the expense of division foes, which is a complete 180 from the way things were previously.
After this weekend's series with the Phils, the Dodgers face nothing but the West from here right on up until the All-Star break. They hit the road Monday for three in Colorado, then three in San Francisco and three in Arizona, before wrapping the first half with four at home against the Rockies. Roster changes are expected along the way, with Scott Van Sklye and Carl Crawford returning, Luis Cruz exiting almost assuredly, and we may see a trade or two for some pitching depth, with rumors about Miami starter Ricky Nolasco now in vogue.
Don't go crazy, Los Angeles. Do enjoy the improved Dodger baseball before you. Do watch Matt Kemp pump his fist as he slides safely into one base or another and slap at the center field wall. Do get excited about the possibilities. I certainly am.
In addition to giving away Sandy Koufax bobbleheads (see below) to the first 50,000 in attendance last night, the Dodgers honored the newly-crowned 2013 College World Series champion UCLA Bruins before the game (above).
Worth a follow at Twitter is newbie @CluelessMagic. Especially biting during the NBA Finals, the for-the-moment anonymous duo behind the account is good for a laugh multiple times during particular ballgame.
And congratulations to Dodgers' broadcaster, Charley Steiner, for being named to the National Radio Hall of Fame. Ceremonies in Chicago November 9, 2013.