The Dodgers capped off a highly successful 7-3 road trip by taking 2 out of 3 games from the NL Wild Card leading Atlanta Braves. The series definitely had a playoff feel to it, but the the Blue Crew prevailed, and closed it out on a high note with a 5-0 shutout on Sunday afternoon, re-claiming 1st place in the NL West. After a heartbreaking, extra-inning loss Friday night, the Dodgers displayed tremendous resiliency by bouncing back for big wins on Saturday and Sunday, without manager Don Mattingly.
In this playoff-intense series, the Dodgers infield highlighted how important it is to have contributions from guys other than the big guns in the lineup, in a series where Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier didn’t produce much, the Dodgers infield stepped up big, including back-to-back-to-back home runs on Saturday night against Ben Sheets, and a 4-RBI day from Mark Ellis on Sunday.
The only minus for the Dodgers infield was production at catcher in the first two games, where Matt Treanor went 0-for-5, and A.J. Ellis went 0-for-3, A.J. would bounce back on Sunday going 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored.
Again the Dodgers were treated to another James Loney sighting. Loney had the second of three consecutive homers on Saturday night. Loney continues to baffle everyone, hitting two home runs in three days, matching what he had done for the entire first two and a half months of the season. Hanley Ramirez continued his tear with the Dodgers, going was 4-for-14 in the series, including a two homer day on Saturday, driving in four of the Dodgers six runs that evening.
Perhaps even more impressive was Luis Cruz, who went 6-for-11 in the series, including two solo home runs, and a run scored in each game of the series. Steve Lyons even brought up Cruz’s nickname “Cochito,” as first noted by Dodgers Nation’s own Jonathan Garza. Not to be outdone, Mark Ellis drove in four of the Dodgers five runs on Sunday, including a bases-loaded double that would clear the bases and essentially seal the victory for the Dodgers.
The Dodgers actually did most of their damage without help from their big guns in the outfield. Matt Kemp was hitless in the series, going 0-for-12. Kemp and Ethier each had key walks that led-up to Hanley Ramirez‘s second homer of the game on Saturday, however. Ethier slugged his 12th homerun of the year on Friday night that gave the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. That would be his only hit of the series, as he would go 0-for-3 on both Saturday and Sunday. Shane Victorino didn’t fare much better going only 2-for-12 with a run scored in the series.
Credit the Atlanta Braves for shutting down the heart of the Dodgers order. Expect to see these three break out upon returning home to face the San Francisco Giants on Monday.
STARTING PITCHING: B+
The Dodgers received quality starts from Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, and Chad Billingsley in the series. Capuano was masterful through 7.0 innings on Friday night, but it all unraveled in the 8th as Capuano allowed back-to-back baserunners. Ronald Belisario could not prevent them from scoring, and Capuano got a no-decision for 7 1/3 inning of three-run ball including eight strikeouts and only one walk.
Aaron Harang had to work hard on Saturday night striking out eight, but walking five, in order to collect his ninth win of the season. Harang surrendered only one run in 6 2/3 innings of work. Chad Billingsley continued his dominance since coming off the DL winning his 6th straight start, striking out four in seven shutout innings. During his win streak Billingsley has given up only six runs in 35 2/3 innings of work, good enough for 1.51 ERA.
The Dodgers bullpen was anything but solid over the weekend. Ronald Belisario allowed both of Capuano’s base runners to score in Friday night’s game, setting up extra innings between the two clubs. Brandon League‘s struggles continued, he got through the 10th and recorded two quick outs in the 11th, before giving up singles to Paul Janish and Reed Johnson.
Jamey Wright would come in in relief, only to surrender the walk-off hit to Juan Francisco. Saturday would be even rockier for Javy Guerra, who would walk two guys, and then be pulled in the middle of a 2-0 count against a hitter. Shawn Tolleson would record an out and walk, before Kenley Jansen recorded four outs for his 25th save of the year. Belisario would bounce back on Sunday with a 1-2-3 8th, and Jamey Wright shutting the Braves down consecutively in the ninth.
If that was an intense series with the Braves, imagine how the upcoming series with the Giants is going to feel? The Dodgers have a 1/2 game lead on San Francisco in the NL West. The Dodgers will send Clayton Kershaw to the hill to face San Francisco’s Madison Bumgarner. Tim Lincecum will take the mound during the series as well, the Giants just beat the San Diego Padres 2 of 3 games.
Weekly GPA: 2.75
Cumulative GPA: 2.93