As the series with Arizona began, the Dodgers were losers of four straight, Monday night they hit six home runs in a much needed victory. I have always been a firm believer in the baseball gods, if they let you hit six home runs at home Monday, don’t expect to hit many, if any, Tuesday.
Compounding the baseball gods issue, Edinson Volquez, the proud owner of the worst ERA in baseball, was making his second start for the Dodgers. Six days prior, Volquez allowed six hits and four runs in just four innings in Colorado further emphasizing the “huh” factor in the Dodgers picking him up in August.
If your Don Mattingly though, you factor in the baseball gods looming over your evening’s outing and the sheer dumb luck it would take to win a Volquez start and you still have the confidence and ability to say, “screw it”.
The joys of having a 13 game lead in the division.
Mattingly made the right move in starting Volquez rather than forcing a resting Hyun-Jin Ryu forward a day or calling on much maligned Stephen Fife to make a spot start. He rolled with the punches; played the hand he was dealt.
Consistency is everything this late into the season. You want your guys to trust you, to know that you know what you’re doing. You want to maintain a status quo and you want to throw what you’ve got against the wall and see what sticks.
Last night, in the midst of recording his first quality start as Dodger, Volquez kind of sort of, stuck.
Offensively, not much was there for the Dodgers (see Baseball Gods mentioned above) as Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Hanley Ramirez went a combined 0 for 12 with three walks and one run scored.
When you’ve won 55 of your last 72, there are always silver linings, there is always something there. Adrian Gonzalez had himself a three hit night and is hitting .588 (10 for 17) over his last four games and Andre Ethier hit his team leading 32nd double while driving in the tying run.
Relieving Volquez, Paco Rodriguez, Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen, J.P. Howell and Chris Withrow did what they have done for 72 games now, shut down their opposition.
Rodriguez, Jansen and Withrow are striking out an average of 12 batters per nine innings this season and having the ability to throw R/L/R out of your bullpen is an invaluable tool for a manager as savvy and manipulative midgame as Don Mattingly.
While the young arms (all three are on the nice side of 26) did what they do best again last night, the unlikely hero was Scott Van Slyke. The September call-up has had his highs and lows this season, last night being the highest of the high.
Just as the night appeared to be getting away from the Dodgers in the bottom of the 11th, Mark Ellis singled into right field and Van Slyke pulled a pitch down the line for a walk-off, pinch-hit home run into what broadcaster Charley Steiner said, "used to be Mannywood".
The Dodgers shown no sign of letting up as the season slows down and the games become less and less relevant. Mattingly has made it clear he is putting rest and health ahead of catching Atlanta for best record in the NL but maybe he can do both. If the pitchers continue to pitch, and the hitters continue to hit, who knows what this club can accomplish before the 162 are up.