There’s nothing like playing the last place team in your division to provide a shot of “Get better juice” and snap out of the baseball doldrums. Not far from last place themselves, the Dodgers pulled into San Diego fresh off an impressive win in their last game against the first place Arizona Diamondbacks. The lowly Padres did not disappoint, providing comic relief on defense as the boys in blue rallied behind another quality start from Hyun-Jin Ryu.
In my Youtube video from earlier today, I mentioned the Dodgers chances were in good hands with Ryu going to the bump, as he’s logged a good track record against the Padres, and he came through again tonight. Ryu pitched a strong six innings, striking out nine and allowing just two runs on a home run by Villanueva (with a man on) in the second inning.
The Dodgers’ bullpen kept the game clean behind an easy 1,2,3 seventh inning, with two strike outs, from Tony Cingrani and a scoreless eighth from Josh Fields. Fields benefited from an excellent catch of a pop up on the third base line by Kyle Farmer. Farmer – the third Dodgers catcher – channeled Yogi Berra by making the catch while falling backward.
Scott Alexander didn’t do so well in ninth inning mop duty. He gave up a double and two singles, but luckily he had plenty of cushion, so the run he gave up didn’t really raise anyone’s heart rates except perhaps the San Diego faithful.
After scoring seven runs yesterday, the Dodgers bats got even hotter, as they scored ten runs tonight. Some of those runs were gifts resulting from the careless Padres defense, who misplayed grounders, gathered under fly balls without catching them, and dropping fly balls that were already in their mitts. The Dodgers put up a high five runs in the third thanks to San Diego’s Keystone Cops. Nevertheless, the Dodgers displayed legitimate power from a three run home run by Matt Kemp.
There was one curious moment tonight when Matt Kemp was lifted from the game in the fifth inning for ice-cold Joc Pederson. Defensive reasons? It was a little early for that, and the Dodgers had a comfortable lead with Ryu still dealing. Why lift Kemp right when his bat is heating up? Who knows. The only thing we are sure of is more at bats aren’t helping Pederson who continued to drive his BA lower than the .145 it was at the start of the night.
Later came the deathblow – a ninth inning grand slam from Yasmani Grandal. Another tidbit I dropped in this afternoon’s video was Yasmani leading the Dodgers in BA. After tonight, he now leads the team in BA .373, OBP .460, home runs 3, and RBIs 10. The man is red hot, and it’s come just in time to launch the Dodgers out of the doldrums in Grandal style.