DodgersThe Dodgers took three of four games from the St. Louis Cardinals to finish off a 7-1 road trip. It’s becoming old hat, but it certainly never gets old, it just seems this Dodgers team can’t lose a game.

Well, they did lose one, amazingly the one game pitched by Clayton Kershaw. The first two games of the series had a distinct playoff feel as aces Zack Greinke and Adam Wainwright each toed the mound Monday night,   with Greinke and the Dodgers emerging the victor.

Greinke actually delivered the decisive blow with an RBI single off of Wainwright in the seventh inning to give the Dodgers a 3-1 lead.  Tuesday night’s game had a similar feel as the Cardinals’ Joe Kelly matched Kershaw pitch-for-pitch.  Brandon League unraveled in the eighth giving up home runs to Carlos Beltran and Matt Adams, essentially putting the game out of reach.

However, Wednesday and Thursday’s games had a markedly different tone. That tone was total Dodgers dominance, but in the first inning Carl Crawford hit a scorching line drive back up the middle Wednesday, that caromed off of Cardinals’ starter Shelby Miller’s elbow.

Miller had to leave the game and the Dodgers torched an undermanned Cardinals bullpen for a season high 18 hits.  Hyun-Jin Ryu shut down the Cardinals for seven innings Thursday night.  The Dodgers’ offense staked Ryu to a nice 4-1 lead, thanks in part to an A.J. Ellis three-run home run.

So what were the takeaways from the series?  Much like the teams’ previous series against the Cubs, superb starting pitching led the way, the bullpen which was also stellar. Against one of the best teams in the National League, without Hanley Ramirez, the Dodgers managed to score a ton of runs.

STARTING PITCHING:

This is another one of those times when all I’m going to do is show you the numbers from the Dodgers starters against the Cardinals:

ZACK GRIENKE: 6.1 IP, 8H, 2 ER, 4 K, 1 BB

CLAYTON KERSHAW: 6 IP, 6H, 2 ER, 5 K, 2 BB

RICKY NOLASCO: 5 IP, 7H, 3 ER, 5 K, 1 BB

HYUN-JIN RYU: 7 IP, 5H, 0 ER, 7 K, 0 BB

2.58 ERA, 21 K:4 BB, 24 1/3 IP

That’s some pretty nice stuff coming from your starting staff, especially against the team that leads the National League in scoring (4.9 runs per game). Since the All-Star break, Dodgers pitchers have the best ERA in the NL at 2.38.

BULLPEN:

Andre EthierIt seems that if you’re a Dodgers reliever nowadays, you’re job is simple, protect a lead, pitch at most one inning and help get the win. That’s exactly what the Dodgers bullpen did in three of the four games against the Cardinals.

Paco Rodriguez got a two-inning save Monday night and pitched four scoreless innings in the series dropping his season ERA to 2.20.  Not including Brandon League giving up three runs in 1/3 of an inning Tuesday night, the Dodgers bullpen allowed only one earned run in 11 1/3 innings pitched (0.79 ERA) over the four game series.

Jansen has been lights out and with Rodriguez, Belisario, and now Chris Withrow setting him up, Don Mattingly can be confident handing the game over to the bullpen from the seventh inning on.

Ohand Brian Wilson pitched a perfect inning at Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. Imagine what a healthy Wilson could bring to the Dodgers already stout bullpen.

RESILIENT OFFENSE:

Without Hanley Ramirez in the lineup, the Dodgers marched into the home of the team with the 5th best ERA in the NL.  Much like the series against the Cubs, the majority of the damage was done on timely hits into the gap and up the middle.

The only notable big blast of the series is A.J. Ellis’s home run from Thursday night.  Even in Wednesday’s 13-4 rout, the Dodgers scored all of their runs on singles and groundouts, except for Andre Ethier’s bases clearing double in the ninth that did no more than put the nail further in the coffin.

Although Yasiel Puig hit cleanup during the series, he was more of a table setter for Ethier, Ellis, and the rest of the bottom of the lineup. Puig went 6-15 in the series with three runs scored and currently has a seven-game hitting streak.

Adrian Gonzalez went only 3-16 in the series, but he drove in three runs.  One Dodger who emerged from the series swinging a hot bat is Carl Crawford, who went 9-17 in the series with four runs scored and a pair of doubles.

The Dodgers held the fort down with Hanley in the lineup and with he and Matt Kemp due back sooner rather than later, the Dodgers offensive juggernaut will not be slowing down anytime soon.

The Dodgers will return home Friday for a three-game series with the AL-Wild Card leading Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays led all of baseball with a 21-5 record in July, however, they’ve lost three of five games in August, including two straight to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Chris Capuano (4-6, 4.16 ERA) will take the mound against reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price (6-5, 3.36 ERA) to open the series.  Tampa Bay is sixth in offense (4.5 runs per game) and sixth in ERA (3.80) in the American Leauge.  This marks Tampa’s first visit to Dodger Stadium.

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In case you missed it, be sure to find out the latest on Matt Kemp’s ankle injury.

 

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