Dodger fans everywhere are celebrating as if they just won the World Series after the Dodgers wrapped up their four game series with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Heading into this series, Dodger fans had no idea what was going to happen but everyone knew this series would have a severe impact on the rest of the season. If the Dodgers lost the series, fans claimed that the season might end here, whereas others thought if the Dodgers won the series, they would take off and win the division. It is only a matter of time before we can tell which party was right in this instance.
Arizona didn’t go easy on the Dodgers at all but the Dodgers managed to win the series and take control of first place. Los Angeles won three games in a row in order to capitalize on the situation and put Arizona in check. Dominant pitching performances from Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun Jin Ryu made all the difference in this series. I feel like I’m leaving an important piece out…oh yeah, MATT KEMP!
Matt Kemp is the absolute hero of the last two games and the reason why the Dodgers have won the past two games. Kemp was the super clutch player that we were used to seeing in the first half of the season and he did not disappoint when the big moment came up. Not only that, he was the decision maker in TWO straight games…against the same pitcher who he OWNS in his career!
Starting off the series, Rich Hill was good but gave up a 3-Run Home to David Peralta. The line drive Home Run would be all the Dbacks would need to beat the Dodgers in the first game of the series. Despite giving up the Home Run to Peralta, Rich Hill had seven Strikeouts on the night. Additionally, the Dodgers didn’t go down without a fight as Manny Machado cranked another Solo Home Run in the eighth inning. Manny Machado now has 33 Home Run’s this season, 8 with the Dodgers! Los Angeles would drop the first game of the series, 3-1.
Friday night was quite the opposite. Arizona struck first when first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt hit a slicing Home Run that was a fingernail away from being foul. After allowing the 2-Run Home Run, Hyun Jin Ryu was nearly perfect till he was taken out of the game in the seventh inning. Hyun Jin Ryu’s final line of the night was: 7 IP, 4 Hits, 2 Earned Runs and 5 StrikeOuts. Even though Ryu pitched excellently, he did not pick up the Win. Instead, reliever Dylan Floro got the win for pitching the eighth inning.
Being down 2-0 in the third inning, Joc Pederson smacked a single to right field which would score Yasiel Puig and cut the Dbacks lead to just one run. Then, when all hope seemed to be fading away, Kiké Hernandez hit a pinch-hit Solo Home Run to tie the game in the seventh inning, his 19th of the season! While Kiké’s Home Run was pretty awesome, Justin Turner came up even bigger in the next inning. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Justin Turner crushed a hanging breaking ball to give the Dodgers a 3-2 lead. That Home Run would be the deciding factor in the game as Kenley Jansen closed out the ninth inning and recorded his 33rd save of the season! Dodgers win, 3-2.
Since the Dodgers lost the first game of the series, the Dbacks took a 2 game lead over the Dodgers for first. Then the Dodgers won on Friday night and got back to being just one game behind. If the Dodgers wanted to take control of first place, they’d have to win another two games against Arizona.
Following the big win on Friday night, Clayton Kershaw was the go to guy in order to get the Dodgers closer to first place. Clayton Kershaw has been excellent since coming off the disabled list, I think I mentioned that in my last post. Anyways, Kershaw only made two errors on Saturday night. One was in the second inning when Eduardo Escobar homered off the first pitch he saw from Kershaw. The second mistake of the game was when Christian Walker hit a pinch hit Home Run off of Clayton Kershaw in the top of the sixth inning.
After Kershaw left the game in the seventh inning, the score was 2-0 and the offense had yet to score any runs for Kershaw, typical!
However, remember when I said Matt Kemp was a hero two games in a row? Here’s how the first heroic started. Arizona brought in Archie Bradley to face Matt Kemp. Bradley has not been good against Matt Kemp in his career as Kemp is 6-14 against him lifetime. With two runners on base and one out, the Dodgers just needed something to give them a glimpse of hope in this game. That’s when Archie Bradley hung a breaking ball right over the plate and Matt Kemp made him pay for it. Matt Kemp hit a 3-Run Home Run to take the lead and to ultimately tie the Dodgers for first place in the division! Now, Matt Kemp is 7-15 against Bradley, including a Home Run.
The Dodgers would win the game and be tied for first place in the National League West!
Wrapping up the series on Sunday afternoon, the future ace of the Dodgers, Walker Buehler, started the game and dominated the Dbacks for almost seven innings. Buehler managed to rack up NINE strikeouts and kept the Dbacks scoreless until the seventh inning. His final line of the day was: 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 3 BB and 9 Strikeouts.
Buehler got an ounce of run support in the fifth inning when Max Muncy hit his 31st Home Run of the season and gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. But that lead was squandered after the Dbacks tied the game on a questionable play at home. I’m not saying I know everything or that I see everything but, he was out at home. After tying the game in the seventh inning, both teams would remain scoreless until the ninth inning.
I don’t want to neglect the pitching performance of Caleb Ferguson. After being called up earlier this season as a starter, he has transitioned very well into the bullpen and is one of the most reliable pitchers in that shaky bullpen. In years to come, you can picture Walker Buehler and Caleb Ferguson being a lethal 1-2 punch in the rotation. Both pitchers can overpower you with their fastball and catch you off balance with their deadly curveball. The future looks bright for the Dodgers pitching staff.
Although I am excited for Ferguson, he did give up a Solo Home Run to Daniel Descalso in the top of the ninth inning which instantly made Dodger fans hearts drop. That Home Run put the Dbacks ahead, 2-1.
Heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, the leadoff man Alex Verdugo walked to start the inning. Following Verdugo, Muncy walked but was replaced by pinch runner, Tim Locastro. For whatever reason, Dbacks manager decided to bring in Archie Bradley to face Matt Kemp. The guy who just hit a Home Run off of you and the guy that does not struggle when he is up against you. Hey, sounds like a good plan to me! What happens next? First pitch Matt Kemp sees, he drives the ball to Left Center Field and doubles, scoring both runs and winning the game. Matt Kemp is the hero once again and the Dodgers take sole possession of first place!
Since it is now September, that means that the rosters have expanded and you will start to see a new wave of reinforcements coming up and helping the Dodgers. The first wave included: Alex Verdugo, Tim Locastro and Andrew Toles. In addition, Chase Utley and Zac Rosscup were activated from the Disabled List. Surely, there will be more as the month progresses but those players are TBD. You will likely see DJ Peters and Errol Robinson being promoted towards the end of the month as well.
After completing the series with the Dbacks, Los Angeles will begin a new series with the awful, New York Mets, starting today. The only downside is that the Dodgers have to face Jacob deGrom who is having one of the best seasons as a pitcher. deGrom is a favorite to win the National League Cy Young award but does not have the record to show for it. He is currently 8-8 with a 1.68 ERA. Since he does not have a lot of wins, the voters for the Cy Young may not give him their vote. However, deGrom definitely has my vote for the Cy Young award this season.