The Dodgers came out of their funk and swept the Chicago Cubs over the weekend. Matt Kemp, Hanley Ramirez, and A.J. Ellis carried the offense, and the Blue Crew got dominating starts from Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw. Despite the sweep, the Dodgers did not pick up any ground on the first place San Francisco Giants, who swept the abysmal Colorado Rockies over the weekend. The Dodgers remain 0.5 a game out of first place.
Hanley Ramirez has finally settled in as a Dodger and A.J. Ellis is regaining his stroke. Mark Ellis provided his steady-as-always play at second base, and James Loney started all three games at first base, and produced! The Dodgers infield was integral in sweeping the Cubs this weekend. A.J. Ellis was trending No. 2 nationally on Twitter on Friday night after going 3-for-3 with two home runs and three RBI, Ellis’s first multi-homer game of his career. A.J. was outstanding in the series against the Cubs hitting .600 (6-for-10) with the two home runs and four RBI.
After struggling in his initial homestand with the Dodgers, Hanley Ramirez finally broke out, batting .272 (3-for-11) in the series and hitting a walk-off single in the 10th inning of Sunday’s 7-6 victory. He had a 2-RBI double on Friday night as well. Hanley also found himself back at his natural position of shortstop in all three games of the series. Mark Ellis only hit .182 (2-for-11) but scored a run in all three games of the series, and four total. Luis Cruz found himself at third base in his two starts, but he still found a way to deliver a tie-breaking 2-RBI single in Sunday afternoon’s game.
In a change of pace, James Loney started all three-games at first base, collecting a hit in each game, driving in a run, and scoring two. The Dodgers got production from every infield position in the series, and Hanley Ramirez is starting to swing the bat the way the Dodgers envisioned when they traded for him.
Matt Kemp continued his productive play, hitting .300 (3-for-10) with a 2-run home run, while scoring a run in every game of the series, and five overall. Kemp’s hit streak is currently at seven games. Andre Ethier struggled for most of the series until he finally broke loose with a 2-run go-ahead double in the 7th inning of Sunday’s extra inning affair. He also had a single in the 10th inning to set up Hanley Ramirez‘s game-winning at bat.
Shane Victorino has yet to settle in as a Dodger, struggling throughout the series, hitting .154 (2-for-13), but doubling and scoring a run in Saturday’s 3-1 win. Kemp and Ramirez, appear to be in the zone, if Ethier is turning the corner and joins them, and Victorino can find a way to get on base, look for the Dodgers offense to become lethal.
STARTING PITCHING: A-
Chad Billingsley and Clayton Kershaw continued their winning ways each delivering 7.0 innings of one-run ball, striking out seven a piece. They each picked up the win as the Dodgers offense was able to give them enough run support. Billingsley improved to 7-9, collecting his third straight win since returning from the DL. Kershaw picked up his 9th win of the season, and second straight.
Joe Blanton, just acquired from the Phillies, made his Dodgers debut on Sunday afternoon, pitching 6.0 solid innings, giving up two runs while striking out five. The Dodgers starters were masterful in the series. The Dodgers will need Kershaw and Billingsley pitching at an all-star level in order to make the playoffs. The addition of Joe Blanton gives the Dodgers another experienced starter, whose stuff plays well at Dodger Stadium. Blanton has now given up only nine runs in his last 29 innings of work (2.79 ERA), striking out 26 in the process.
The Dodgers bullpen was lights out in the first two games of the series, but they made it interesting on Sunday afternoon. Brandon League and Shawn Tolleson each pitched scoreless innings on Friday night. Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen did the same Saturday night, Jansen recorded his 21st save in the process.
Things would not go as smoothly on Sunday. League entered the game in the 7th inning with a 4-2 lead. He would surrender a single to Darwin Barney and record an out before Randy Choate would come in. Choate would give up a sacrifice fly to Anthony Rizzo, giving way to Javy Guerra. Guerra would give up a 2-RBI double to Alfonso Soriano and the lead before recording the third out of the inning. After Ethier’s RBI double to give the Dodger a 6-5 lead, Belisario came in and allowed two base runners before striking two of the next three batters to escape the inning. No matter, Kenley Jansen immediately served up a solo shot to Rizzo, blowing the save and again allowing the Cubs to tie the game. However, Jansen would get the win thanks to Hanley Ramirez‘s walk-off single in the 1oth.
The Dodgers have alternated win streaks since the All-Star break, with a 5-game win streak, a 3-game losing streak, a sweep of the Giants, a sweep by the D-Backs, and now a sweep of the Cubs. The Colorado Rockies come to town next, and they bring the 2nd worst record in the league, and the worst ERA in the league to Dodger Stadium. They were just swept by the Giants who scored 35 runs in three games against them.
Weekly GPA: 3.50
Cumulative GPA: 2.86