The Dodgers lost the Sunday finale, but took two of three games from the visiting Miami Marlins this weekend, which would take a back-seat to the bigger news, as the Dodgers pulled off the biggest post-trade deadline deal in Major League history by acquiring Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford and Nick Punto from the Boston Red Sox for James Loney, and prospects Rubby De La Rosa, Jerry Sands, and Allen Webster.
The Dodgers infield took on a new look this weekend with the additions of Adrian Gonzalez at first base, and Nick Punto, who can play pretty much any position in the infield.
Everybody produced, except for Hanley Ramirez who hit a two-run home run on Friday night, but otherwise disappeared aside from that. Adrian Gonzalez electrified the crowd on Saturday, smashing a three-run home run over the right field wall in his first at-bat. Gonzalez had an RBI single in Sunday’s loss, going 3-for-9 overall in his Dodgers’ debut.
Punto had a pinch-walk and scored a run in Saturdy night’s 8-2 romp, and started at second base on Sunday going 1-for-3 with a pair of walks, stolen base, and another run scored. Punto also had a couple of nifty defensive plays including the assist to Luis Cruz at third to nail Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano after he rounded third base.
Mark Ellis displayed a rare show of power going 3-for-4 with a solo homer and a double on Saturday. Ellis was 5-for-10 with four runs scored overall against the Fish. A.J. Ellis was his usual consistent self from the No. 8-spot going 4-for-9 with an RBI on Saturday.
Perhaps the brightest diamond in the rough, however, has been Luis Cruz, who was 5-for-13 in the series including two RBI Saturday. Cruz doubled and scored a run both Friday and Saturday nights. Since Cruz’s average hit a season low of .238 back on August 11, Cruz has hit .431 with two homers, six doubles, and 13 RBI. His average is now up to .301.
Juan Rivera went 1-for-4 with a solo home run on Friday night. However, with the arrival of Adrian Gonzalez, it appears Rivera’s primary role will be as a pinch hitter and spot-starter.
Andre Ethier had been struggling entering this series, apparently due to a nasty hand blister, but it has healed, and Ethier demonstrated just how great he is when fully healthy, going 9-for-12 in the series with a pair of home runs, five RBI, and three runs scored. Above all else, Ethier appeared fully locked in at the plate, this weekend, not pressing, and having fun playing the game, even collecting 10 consecutive hits dating back to the last game of the series against Giants.
The major league record for consecutive hits is 12 and has not been matched since 1950.
Matt Kemp also had a very effective series going 6-for 12 with an RBI Friday and four runs scored. Shane Victorino has been bothered by a sore back, his peformance seeming to coincide with the Dodgers, going 0-for-3 in Friday’s 11-4 slug-fest, but rising to the opportunity on Sunday going 3-for-5 in the loss.
With the new additions to the middle of the Dodgers’ order it will mean even more if Victorino can consistently get on base.
Juan Rivera went 1-for-4 with a double filling in for Victorino on Saturday.
With the additions of Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez to the team, the amount of pressure to produce on Kemp and Ethier is greatly alleviated.
STARTING PITCHING: C+
Clayton Kershaw continued his streak of dominance on the mound, but, would be the lone bright spot amongst the starters, as all of the great news surrounding the Dodgers was tempered by one dark spot, as Chad Billingsley appeared to re-injure his right elbow Friday night. Billingsley would leave the game after only 3 1/3 innings of work, giving up three earned runs and surrendering three walks after a stretch during which he had gone 6-0 with a 1.30 ERA. Billingsley was placed on the 15-day DL Sunday, and Josh Beckett will take his place in the rotation for the time being.
Beckett will start Monday in Colorado.
But it was Kershaw, who again made his case for a second-straight Cy Young Award, going 8.0 strong innings, giving up only two runs, striking out eight and walking only two, picking up his 12th win of the season Saturday night, pushing his record to 5-1 in his last six starts with a 1.94 ERA. He has gone 8 innings in three consecutive starts.
Aaron Harang was largely ineffective on Sunday, giving up three runs in 5 1/3 innings of work, as he was victimized by the long ball, serving up homers to Giancarlo Stanton and rookie catcher Rob Brantly.
The Dodgers bullpen had it’s ups and downs in this series, but came through when it needed to, especially after Chad Billingsley departed with an elbow injury on Friday night, combing through five relievers to keep the Marlins in check. Jamey Wright picked up the win, and Scott Elbert, Brandon League, Randy Choate, and Shawn Tolleson combined for four scoreless innings of relief.
Ronald Belisario threw a 1-2-3 ninth inning following Kershaw’s lock-down performance on Saturday night.
League closed out the sixth inning on Sunday, and Scott Elbert and Jamey Wright combined to escape a bases-loaded jam in the seventh. However, Ronald Belisario, who had surrendered only two earned runs in his last 11 1/3 innings pitched, completely imploded in the 8th inning. After Randy Choate came in and gave up a grounder a that Hanley Ramirez misplayed, Shawn Tolleson would close out the inning. Tolleson pitched the entire ninth inning, but not after giving up home runs to Jose Reyes and Carlos Lee.
The Dodgers will head to Denver for a three-game series with the Colorado Rockies, who are in last place in the NL West, and losers of two of three games to the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.
The two clubs have split the 12 games between them so far this year, with Colorado most recently taking two of three from the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium earlier in the month.
Here’s hoping the new look lineup will be able to tee off in the mile-high air in Colorado.
Weekly GPA: 3.25
Cumulative GPA: 2.88