With a loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday, the Los Angeles Dodgers have dropped three straight games for the second time this season.
At 29-27 and 7.5 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West standings, the Dodgers haven’t lost more than three consecutive games, and they have yet to put together a winning streak that’s surpassed three games.
While there isn’t one specific reason the Dodgers have been stuck in mediocrity, there’s been a noticeable absence in production from the heart of the order, namely in the form of Hanley Ramirez. After a 2-for-4 effort Friday night, the Dodger shortstop is now batting .250 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs.
Ramirez’s two hits in Friday’s loss was the first time he’s had a multi-hit game since May 11. Following the loss, manager Don Mattingly correlated the team’s success to how well Ramirez plays, via Steve Dilbeck of the LA Times:
I think last year we probably saw it as much as anything, as Hanley goes — although Yasiel was a huge part of that last year — we kind of go, too.”
Ramirez’s season, much like the Dodgers has been plagued by injuries and inconsistency, which Mattingly likened to the team’s struggles:
And maybe part of the reason we’re like this as a team is that he really hasn’t been able to sustain a run. We haven’t been able to sustain a run either.”
While Ramirez is hitting nearly 100 points less than his .345 batting average in 2013, he is close to matching last season’s production in other categories. In an injury-shortened season, Ramirez hit 25 doubles in 2013 and he’s hit 17 through 52 games this season and is also on pace to surpass last year’s 20 home runs.
However, Ramirez has also struck out 38 times this season and sits just 14 shy of 2013’s total. The free agent to be was hitting .281 when he was struck on the left hand by a Ryan Vogelsong fastball back on April 16.
Ramirez missed the next game, but has been a regular lineup since, aside from missing four games recently with calf soreness. While the two may not be related and despite assertions that his hand is healthy, the shortstop hasn’t looked the same at the plate.
Although the Dodgers are better than their record last year through May 31, the circumstances are much different with the San Francisco Giants ahead of them in the standings and not the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ramirez and the Dodgers have time to turn things around but as the season wears on, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish.
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