Post updated at 4:59 p.m. to reflect the most recent information.
Another town, one more win in the books, and another Dodger is escorted off the field, his future in doubt.
Hanley Ramirez went into the stands to catch a foul ball in the seventh inning of Sunday's 1-0 over the Cubs, leaving with what was described as a “jammed right shoulder.” Spoiler alert: If you're one to fear the worst — as are the Dodgers — avoid Google until further notice.
Ramirez was scheduled to be MRI'd this morning in St. Louis — with the team set for a four-game series with the Cardinals, most likely beginning with Nick Punto at shortstop tonight — and is looking at either a season-ending injury, a career-threatening one, or something in which he could recover from and be absolutely fine in a few days. We'll get a sense if someone — Dee Gordon or Justin Sellers, perhaps — strolls into the clubhouse around 12:30 or 1:00 p.m. our time, but the team has roster moves to make anyway, with a pitcher very likely leaving today, and it might be late afternoon before we get official word on the seriousness of injury.
While it might be too early to talk about replacements, this much I can promise you: if Ramirez is lost for six weeks or longer, Los Angeles will go out and get themselves a veteran shortstop. Potentially-available candidates include the Angels' Erick Aybar, Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox, Phillies' Jimmy Rollins and even Marco Scutaro of the Giants.
None of these players compares even remotely to Hanley Ramirez with the bat, obviously, but each brings qualities the Dodgers can use down the stretch and into the postseason. And if needed, one of them will be in L.A. before you can say “impingement under the acromioclavicular joint.”
And oh by the way, L.A. swept the Cubs four at Wrigley Field, set a franchise record with their 14th straight road victory, extending their lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks in the National League West to 5.5 games in the process. They're 14-2 since the All-Star break, remain unbeaten in their last 12 series, haven't lost as many as two games in a row since June 21 and are 36-17 since Yasiel Puig debuted way back on June 3.
Puig was also sidelined in Chicago — leaving Saturday's game with a bruised thumb — but may return as early as tonight. With Ramirez out for whatever length of time, Puig's offensive contributions become even more vital than they were before, which was plenty. The Dodgers have a challenging week ahead, with the Tampa Bay Rays visiting Los Angeles for three over the weekend.
Matchups for the series in St. Louis are as follows: Zack Greinke versus Adam Wainwright today at 4:00 p.m., Clayton Kershaw opposite Joe Kelley at 5:15 p.m., Ricky Nolasco vs. Shelby Miller Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. and Hyun-Jin Ryu vs. Jake Westbrook Thursday at 5:15 p.m.
Update: With Ramirez reporting some improvement in his shoulder, and with the dye required for an MRI perhaps exacerbating the condition, the Dodgers have postponed the test for the time being. As expected, Dee Gordon was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque and is available to play tonight, with Stephen Fife being sent down in his stead.