Despite Yasiel Puig’s remarkable throw in the 11th inning, the Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t come up with a win against the San Francisco Giants Monday night, leaving the team five games to clinch the NL West with their magic number at three.
While Puig was strong defensively, he had a quiet night at the plate, which has been uncommon since his recent turnaround. Puig’s breaking out of his slump can be tied to manager Don Mattingly understanding the difference a hot-hitting Puig can make and coming to the decision to put him in position to succeed, according to MLB.com’s Michael Lananna:
When we were getting close to [playing] San Francisco, we really just decided we’re a better team when this guy’s going,” Mattingly said Monday. “And then just throwing him in the two-hole and saying, ‘Let’s go.’ Trying to put our lineup back together.”
Mattingly also added he believes Puig has put his hitting woes behind:
I feel like he’s turned the corner, honestly,” Mattingly said.
Prior to the Dodgers beginning a road trip in San Francisco, Puig found himself in the middle of a slump that dated back to the beginning of August. During the six-week downturn, his batting average fell as low as .290 as he struggled to get on base.
The power seemed to disappear as well as he hadn’t hit a home run since July 31 and he managed to collect just five RBIs during the same span. Puig swung the bat better in San Francisco and didn’t slow down as the road trip hit Colorado and Chicago.
Against the Rockies and Cubs, a different Puig showed up at the plate. In the seven games, Puig hit 13-for-31 with two home runs and six RBIs. Puig’s turnaround couldn’t have come at a better time for the Dodgers, who are hoping to close out the regular season on a high note.
With the postseason beginning next week, the Dodgers are looking to repeat as NL West champions and make a deep run in the playoffs with their eye on winning a World Series for the first time since 1988.