Ah, the ups and downs of a .500 team. Or, in the case of the 9-10 Dodgers, an almost-.500 team.
L.A.'s baseball club went east for a week, dropped two out of three in Baltimore, won two of three versus the Mets, and came home as happy as clams in the Chesapeake. Winning the final game of a road trip — dramatically, at that — makes the five-and-a-half hour plane ride much more pleasant than would otherwise be.
The Dodgers won the New York opener Tuesday, 7-2, behind Clayton Kershaw's shaky (for him) five innings and 111 pitches, four scoreless from the bullpen and a 4-5 day courtesy of Mark Ellis, who homered for the 100th and 101st times of his career.
Wednesday was supposed to be the night the Mets and young ace Matt Harvey beat the living crap out of old man Ted Lilly, but Lilly impressed in his first outing in almost a year, allowing a run on six hits in five innings, while striking out seven. He was in line for a victory until Brandon League blew the save, with an assist from Carl Crawford, who misplayed a fly ball into a double to start the ninth. David Wright's two-out single tied the game, with Jordany Valdespin kicking poor Josh Wall in the gut with a walkoff grand slam in the tenth. New York over Los Angeles, 7-3.
Hyun-Jin Ryu pitched beautifully yesterday, going seven innings, fanning eight and allowing a run on three hits. Just great. Sure, Juan Uribe's .190 average still can't match his weight, but he did walk three times — absolutely stunning — and his infield hit in the ninth scored what proved to be the difference in the game, which L.A. won 3-2, by the skin of League's teeth. The closer gave up a booming home run to Ike Davis to start the ninth, before retiring the next three batters, with Twitter nearly being knocked offline in between.
Matt Kemp had six hits and four RBIs in the series, and during the course of the trip raised his season average from .182 to .266, to go along with his 10 RBIs. Which means, after all the bellyaching about the young man's shoulder, about his focus, and all that BS, Kemp will likely finish April right around .300, with two or three homers and 12 to 15 runs batted in. In other words, he's fine. He's fine now, he's been fine and he'll be fine. Doubting the Dodgers' best player is pure folly.
Milwaukee's Brewers are next on the schedule, throwing Hiram Burgos at L.A. and Josh Beckett tonight, Wily Peralta vs. Stephen Fife Saturday night and Kyle Lohse at Kershaw Sunday afternoon.
The Dodgers will not face Yovani Gallardo, of recent DUI fame, but they will see alleged drug-cheat and local boy Ryan Braun plenty. Braun was one of several players whose name surfaced in the now famous January Miami New Times Biogenesis performance-enhancing-drug expose, and after skating on a technicality following a 2011 positive PED test, is currently the focus of a Major League Baseball investigation — or isn't, depending on whom you believe.
The Mission Hills native is doing his usual thing with the bat — hitting .274, with six homers, 20 RBIs and a .384 on base percentage. His Brewers are playing well, and he'll have a considerable cheering section of friends and family in attendance throughout the weekend. And he's going to need every last one of them to drown out the three days' worth of rather-loud name-calling and shaming that's sure to face him.
In fact, if you gaze up at the no-partisanship-allowed press box at just the right moment, you're liable to see at least one writer exit conspicuously, to join in a chorus of unmerciful booing from the home folk.