Zack Greinke returned from a broken collarbone, Clayton Kershaw currently has the lowest ERA in all of baseball and Matt Kemp extended his hitting streak to 14 games. All of that added up to the Dodgers taking two of three games from the Washington Nationals. The Dodgers have now won four of five games and gained some much needed momentum before their upcoming six-game road trip.
The Dodgers scored only 7 runs in the series, so there wasn’t a whole lot of offensive production. Adrian Gonzalez led the way going 4-10 in the series and he had an RBI single in Wednesday night’s 3-1 win. Adrian has hit safely in 11 of his last 12 games and his .349 batting average is second best in the National League.
The only other infielder to drive in a run was Skip Schumaker, who went 1-8 in the series starting at second base. A.J. Ellis went 2-10 in the series while Nick Punto went 3-10 in the series with starts at third and second base. Meanwhile, Dee Gordon went a paltry 1-11 in the series, dropping his average to .220. Juan Uribe went 0-3 starting at third base on Wednesday night and he’s now batting .259 on the year.
The “big bats” in the Dodgers outfield didn’t set the world on fire against the Nats, but Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are both showing signs of breaking out of their season long slumps. Kemp went 4-11 in the series, extending his hitting streak to 14 games. Kemp had an RBI single Monday night and doubled while scoring a pair of runs Wednesday night.
Ethier also hit safely in every game of the series, going 4 for 9 overall. He singled sharply off Nationals’ starter Dan Haren to drive home both Dodgers’ runs in Tuesday night’s 2-0 win while raising his batting average to .267 on the year.
Carl Crawford went 2-8 with a double before getting Wednesday night off. Crawford would come in and hit a pinch-hit RBI sac fly in the eighth inning. For the record, the Nationals have the second best team ERA in all of baseball (3.34) and during the series, runs would be at a premium.
STARTING PITCHING: B+
Clayton Kershaw continued his dominance and Zack Greinke made his much-awaited return to the rotation. However, Josh Beckett’s season-long struggles continued and he was placed on the 15-day DL before Wednesday’s game with a strained groin to make room for Greinke.
Beckett lasted only 3 innings Monday night, giving up four runs (three earned) while only making 68 pitches. Beckett dropped to 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA on the season.As of now, Dodgers’ fans probably aren’t too sad to see Beckett put on the shelf for the next couple of weeks.
No such problems exist for Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw continues to cement his place in Dodgers’ lore and establish himself as one of the truly elite pitchers in the game. 8 2/3 innings, 11 K’s, only five hits and one walk allowed, and a league-best 1.40 ERA. Can we say greatness?
Greinke was also terrific in his return from the DL. Greinke tossed 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball and his only mistake was an Adam LaRoche solo shot. He’s now 2-0 with a 1.62 ERA in three starts this season and as Don Mattingly pointed out after Wednesday night’s game, he’s only going to continue to get stronger as the season goes along.
The Dodgers bullpen stepped up big time against Washington this week. Kenley Jansen and Brandon League each recorded saves After a shaky fifth inning from Javy Guerra on Monday night, Dodgers relievers combined to toss eight scoreless innings in the series.
J.P. Howell, Ronald Belisario and Matt Guerrier combined for four scoreless innings Monday night. Jansen entered Tuesday night’s game in relief of Kershaw, who had thrown a career-high 132 pitches and got Tyler Moore to strike out to end the game. Jansen got his second save of the year and his ERA sits at 2.11.
Howell, Guerrier, Paco Rodriguez, and Jansen combined for 2 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Zack Greinke, before handing the game over to Brandon League in the ninth inning. The struggling League gave up a lead-off single to Danny Espinosa, but, he got three straight ground outs to notch his ninth save of the year while his ERA is still at an unsightly 5.87.
The Dodgers will get a day off before heading to Atlanta for three games to take on the Upton Brothers and the NL East leading Braves. The Braves just lost two of three to the Arizona Diamondbacks and have lost five of six overall. Justin Upton leads the majors with 13 home runs. Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers against Atlanta’s Paul Maholm on Friday evening at Turner Field.