...is to score an average of a run per inning.
It sounds like a tall order, but until Tim Lincecum shut down the Dodgers offense on Saturday, the team was leading the league in runs scored. The Dodgers are still currently second in runs scored, tied with the Giants at 68 and trailing only Philadelphia. The Phillies have scored 78 runs.
However, the Dodgers lead the majors in batting average at a blistering .312, and will need every bit of production they can get, as the pitching staff continues to struggle.
The story coming from Chavez Ravine on Friday was Andre Ethier homering in his first two at-bats, including a grand slam that put the Dodgers up 7-0 in the third inning. One might think that the Dodgers would coast to victory, but again, the bullpen struggled. Without pouring on more offense in the later innings, LA would have let the game get away. The bullpen went on to surrender five runs in the ninth inning, and the Dodgers won 10-8.
Now, obviously the offensive success the Dodgers have experienced thus far will begin to tarry as the season moves on, but the team owes its near .500 record to solid offensive production.
Look no further than hitting coach Don Mattingly to investigate the origin of success for Dodgers hitters. Mattingly is a career .307 hitter, and after 14 Major League seasons, all with the Yankees, the man just exhumes confidence and mental soundness.
The main difference between the successful Yankee teams Mattingly was a member of in the '80s and '90s, and the Dodgers team of today is pitching; plain and simple.
With the exception of Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley, Dodgers starters aren't helping much either. Vicente Padilla still can't find the strike zone, and Charlie Haeger's knuckleball isn't knuckling.
The expectations for Dodgers hitters will remain high as the pitching staff struggles, but look for Mattingly's boys to continue their tear, and we'll worry about the rest later.