Before the Los Angeles Dodgers completed a homestand, manager Don Mattingly openly questioned whether too much focus was being placed on individual performances and not the team’s. The Dodgers went on to drop another game and Mattingly followed with an expletive to describe the Dodgers’ play.
Mattingly’s comments caused a stir, but his assessment on the subpar play was supported by Adrian Gonzalez and Matt Kemp. Since that point, the Dodgers have won eight of their last 12 games, including four of the last five.
The improved play has been sparked by contributions from Kemp and Hanley Ramirez. The 33-year-old shortstop is in the final year of his contract and was rumored to be seeking a new deal in excess of $130 million. Prior to Tuesday’s game with the Colorado Rockies, Ramirez acknowledged a change in the atmosphere surrounding the team, via Pedro Moura of the OC Register:
It’s different now,” Ramirez said. “You can feel the difference.”
After glossing over the batting averages of the San Francisco Giants, with all of but Angel Pagan hitting below .300, Ramirez also pointed to them as a blueprint for team success:
You win as a team,” Ramirez said. “If you play together, you play with each other, it doesn’t matter if you underperform.”
Ramirez hit another home run Tuesday as the Dodgers defeated the Rockies, 4-2, but he was removed from the game after being struck on his right hand by a line drive. X-rays came back negative and the Dodgers listed Ramirez as day-to-day.
Ramirez’s attempts to get on a consistent streak has been offset with multiple injuries this season. He was hit by a pitch on his left hand, which caused him to miss one game in mid-April.
The 30-year-old shortstop then was removed from a game later in the month with a thumb contusion and was limited to a pinch-hit appearance the following. Most recently, Ramirez missed three games in May with calf soreness.
With the win, the Dodgers pulled to within five games of the Giants in the NL West standings. Though Ramirez hasn’t been the same driving force he was last season, the Dodgers will need to rely on the team effort he spoke of if he’s to miss any time.
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