The Los Angeles Dodgers have had an up-and-down first half, as a late charge up the standings—they’ve won 10 of their last 12 and are now just 3.5 games behind the Arizona Diamondbacks in the NL West—has helped them cover up the painful start to the season.
It hasn’t been all bad, though, as a roster full of talented players has led to some exciting moments. This team, although undoubtedly flawed, is certainly capable of spectacular moments.
Jose Dominguez’s debut was exciting, as he announced himself with a three-digit fastball, over 60 percent strikes and a strikeout.
Brandon League has been the bane of the Dodgers' existence, blowing four saves thus far this season and just being a disastrous acquisition. Nothing exemplifies this more than his June 10 blowup, in which he gave up four runs in his worst outing of the year.
On June 29, A.J. Ellis delivered a knockout blow to the Phillies, aiding the Dodgers' continued charge up the NL West standings.
After another excellent start by Hyun-Jin Ryu (7 IP, 2 ER) in which he outdueled Phillies ace Cliff Lee, the Dodgers needed only two innings from their bullpen to clinch a victory. And as J.P. Howell squirreled out of a Ronald Belisario-created jam, Kenley Jansen came in to lock down another apparent win.
However, Jansen blew the save after Matt Kemp's bad throw enabled Jimmy Rollins to score from third.
Never mind that, though, because an Ellis walk-off single plated Hanley Ramirez to give the Dodgers one of their most dramatic victories of the season.
Regardless, Quentin's charge at Greinke cost the Dodgers one of their best pitchers for a month of the season, as well as instigating some bad blood between the two teams.
There's a theme here with the Dodgers—Yasiel Puig is awesome. Just a few short days after he electrified the Dodger crowd in his debut, Puig broke open a game against the Atlanta Braves with an opposite-field Grand Slam.
If his talents weren't enough on display during his debut, he certainly announced his presence with this monstrous home run. An opposite-field home run on a breaking ball is certainly an impressive display.
All was well in Dodgertown after April 1, as everything had gone according to plan. Ace Clayton Kershaw had defeated the rival Giants, and the team was on its way to a successful season.
But that almost didn’t happen. Matt Cain threw six shutout innings of his own, and George Kontos followed it up with a perfect seventh.
With Kontos still on the mound, Mattingly sent Kershaw up to hit for himself to lead off the eighth, and the rest, as they say, is history.
After tearing up spring training to the tune of a .500 batting average, Puig was sent to AA-Chattanooga for seasoning. However, injuries to Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford necessitated a call-up sooner rather than later, and Puig delivered.
He hit a home run in his first game, pushing the narrative hyperbole into overdrive. But then, in the top of the ninth, he doubled Chris Denorfia off first base to end the game on a stunning throw from the warning track in right field.
It was a magnificent play that showed off his skills and sent a warning shot across the bow of the NL West that #Puigmania was here.