Somewhere along the line, the Los Angeles Dodgers became the team we all feared they might: an unstoppable killing machine. The Dodgers just spent the weekend dismissing the Tampa Bay Rays, sweeping the Rays out of Dodger Stadium.
The win improved the Dodgers to 9-1 over their last ten game, 17-3 over their last twenty, and 25-5 over their last 30 games. What? On June 24th, the Dodgers sat in last place, eight games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West. The Dodgers had won two in a row before this date with their chief rival.
The Dodgers went on sweep the Giants, beginning an incredible run. They finished June 6-1, went 19-6 in July and are 10-1 in August. 35-8 since that series began with San Francisco. The Dodgers are now 7.5 games ahead of Arizona in the standings. Yikes.
The blueprint is pretty simple – the Dodgers have the second best offense (by OPS) in baseball over that span, putting up a .291/.349/.430 line as a team – pitchers included. The inevitable Yasiel Puig regression still hasn’t happened, Hanley Ramirez reemerged as one of the best players in baseball while role players like Mark Ellis and Skip Schumaker gave the lineup balance.
The pitching staff has been nothing short of lights over this span, with the starters posting a sparkling 2.71 ERA as a group, averaging 6.1 innings per outing. Clayton Kershaw has been nothing short of sensational, striking out 63 compared to just seven walks over his last nine starts. It wasn’t as if he struggled before, either. Kershaw leads all starting pitchers in rWAR (with 6.3), ERA (1.88) and innings pitched.
He’s really good, and demonstrated so last night in a lopsided Sunday Night Baseball matchup between his Dodgers and those poor Rays. He allowed just three hits and two runs while striking out eight Rays in eight innings, surviving four errors behind him.
All this as the Dodgers battled injuries all around the diamond. Matt Kemp in on the disabled list again and Hanley Ramirez is hurt as well. Josh Beckett is out for the year and Carl Crawford has played just 75 games this year.
Money finds a way. Talent finds a way. The Dodgers aren’t 35-8 good (nobody is) but they are not a team with glaring weaknesses. Maybe relying on Mark Ellis and Juan Uribe is less than ideal but when a team fires on all cylinders for as long as this Dodgers club has, those shortcomings become increasingly hard to point out.
The Dodgers aren’t perfect, however. Even great teams get caught with their heads…down?
Winning 101 of your last 100 games makes it easy to laugh stuff like that off.
Repercussions of the hidden ball trick! Haha Uribe is the best pic.twitter.com/k6k2tofcgW
Carlos Gomez Wants a Seat at the Table
The baseball season is long. It is a battle of attrition which, more often than not, wears even the stoutest combatant down to a nub. Players can string together a few great months here and there but, over the long haul, the truth will see the light of day.
The Milwaukee Brewers have had a very tumultuous season, losing their franchise player to a long suspension and their staff ace Yovani Gallardo face arrest for DUI and then battle ineffectiveness whenever he takes the mound. For all the negativity, there have been two great stories around the Brewers: Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez.
While reality caught up with Segura, Carlos Gomez is still flying high. The spectacular defense, good baserunning and solid pop model he follows continues yielding great results, as Gomez still ranks sixth in baseball by Fangraphs’ Wins Above Replacement, fifth in Baseball Reference’s flavor.
Gomez just keeps doing what he’s done for the better part of two seasons now: hit home runs, run around like a crazy man, and play great defense. The swing changes Gomez made last season have stuck, and a terrific all-around baseball player is the result.
On Saturday in Seattle, Carlos Gomez showcased the base running facet of his game. He first reached on a bunt single, dramatically diving into the first base bag, avoiding the very long arm of Justin Smoak in the process.
A few batters later, Gomez came around to score on a Khris Davis grounder, bowling over Mariners catcher Humberto Quintero in the process – much to the displeasure of a Humberto Quintero, who barked at the young Brewers outfielder after the play was over.
“He’s mad,” Gomez said. “He talked to me in bad language, and I talked to him back, too. I said, ‘Hey, come on. Keep it cool. You’re in front of the plate, what do you want me to do?’ And especially, I know what kind of catcher he is. I know he likes to drop the knee. I think it’s best to defend myself.
“I respect he has a lot of time and a lot of years in this job, but he has to take it like a man, not [complain] about [things].”
Oh, he’s mad alright! The Mariners did not retaliate, as Sunday’s stater Felix Hernandez opted to simply shut Carlos Gomez and the entire Brewers offense down as only a King can.
RELATED: Griffey the Best
Saturday’s game in Seattle was a special event in Mariners history, as the M’s honored Ken Griffey Jr, inducting their long-time center fielder into their Hall of Fame.
For fans of a certain generation, Ken Griffey Jr. was it. He was Mike Trout before Mike Trout, making highlight reel catches and hitting home runs with that sweet, sweet stroke. Even Brewers players expressed excitement over watching his ceremony from up close. The current Mariners roster paid tribute to Griffey by wearing their hats backwards, just as the Mariners great did during batting practice for years.
Current Mariners honoring Griffey by wearing their hats backwards pic.twitter.com/37Bf07yGMF
— Steve (@good2knoe) August 11, 2013
Griffey changed the game, in his way. He might not have become all that was expected of him as a young player but nobody who grew up watching him will ever forget the impact Ken Griffey Jr. made on the game.
Kickstart My Delivery
WAKE UP, J.J. VINCE NEIL IS COMING AND HE WANTS TO PARTY!
Game Chart of the Weekend
There is our world and then there is world Miguel Cabrera inhabits. Not only did Miguel Cabrera take Mariano Rivera deep on Friday night, hitting a two-run bomb to center that tied the game, he did nearly the same damn thing on Sunday, hitting a solo shot off the Greatest Reliever in the History of the Game to bring the Tigers within one.
Both times Rivera blew the save, the Yankees came back to win thanks to Brett Gardner, of all people. But the story here is Cabrera, hitting as many home runs off Rivera in one weekend as most players manage in an entire career. The first was nothing short of spectacular, coming after the preeminent slugger in baseball fouled two pitches off his knee.
Miguel Cabrera, man. There really aren’t words anymore, you know?
Alex Rodriguez is the preeminent troll of our time. His troll hand is strong. SO STRONG.
TROLL FOREVER, ALEX.
the most interesting thing about the griffey induction yesterday was the way a-rod has been so conspicuously erased from mariners history
— Eric Nusbaum (@ericnus) August 11, 2013
Going to assume this isn’t the first time this happens.
Strasburg goes Maddux
I think Grantland’s Jonah Keri dubbed a complete game shutout wherein the pitcher throws less than 100 pitches a “Maddux”*, in honor of Greg Maddux who accomplished this tricky feat with alarming regularity. Before yesterday, there were eight Madduxes so far this season. If you asked me who was the least likely (good) pitcher to pull this off, I’d probably guess Stephen Strasburg.
Not because Strasburg is bad but because he’s hardly efficient (despite his best efforts) as a strikeout pitcher and the Nationals ace hasn’t pitched in the eighth inning very often, let alone toss a complete game.
What you can likely surmise here is, yes, Stephen Strasburg tossed his first career complete game shutout yesterday, mowing down the Phillies in a 6-0 win. He allowed just four hits and struck out 10, the most most for a Maddux this season.
|Stephen Strasburg, W (6-9)||9||4||0||1||10||0||2.83||29||99||66||36||12||18||7||11||6||88|
Somewhat quietly, Stephen Strasburg has been every bit as good in 2013 as he was in 2012. A trip to the DL, the Nats general ineptitude and the emergence of Matt Harvey and and Jose Fernandez as go-to sexy hurlers for every baseball nerd has pushed Strasburg’s accomplishments aside.
His strikeout rate is down but his ground ball rate is up 2013. His ERA is actually better this season than last, thanks to a dip in his in-play average allowed. He’s still really good, it’s just that nobody (read: me) cares anymore. Sorry, Steve, too much Natitude, I guess.
That’s Racist dot PNG
— Matthew Keys (@MatthewKeysLive) August 9, 2013
* – it wasn’t! See the comments for further explanation.