(Photo by-Alex Gallardo/AP)
The past two seasons have been very unstable for Los Angeles Dodgers superstar outfielder Matt Kemp. Kemp battled several injuries including shoulder, hamstring, and an ankle that resulted in surgeries.
After battling through rehab assignments, simulation activities, there was a point for many fans if we’ll see the Matt Kemp of 2011 again. After overcoming an off season of many trade rumors seeing Kemp out of Los Angeles, the Dodgers made it clear that they have confidence that Kemp could still perform at a high level when healthy.
Kemp skipped the trip to Australia, stayed stateside in Arizona at Camelback Ranch to continue to rehab and work on his game. The ever ready star made it clear he was an everyday outfielder, despite the plans that manager Don Mattingly may have had dealing with a four man outfield.
Kemp reminded everyone that BeastMode is alive and well on Sunday in the 6-2 victory over the rival San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium.
“That’s when I know I’m seeing the ball good, when I drive the ball to right field like that,” Kemp told ESPNLosAngeles.com. “That’s my swing right there.”
In the second inning Kemp connected on home run over the wall in left field. Later in the fourth inning, Kemp crushed a fastball off of Matt Cain, for a tow run homer over the right field wall.
Kemp was back, and he let everyone know it in a big way.
He struck the ball with confidence in batting practice during spring and before games in the regular season.
“We’ve got a long road ahead of us,” Kemp said. “But I hope the beast is back.“
Kemp showed no effects from his off season surgery, and before Sunday’s game, hadn’t homered at Dodger Stadium since September 2012.
Kemp had surgery on his left shoulder last season from running into a wall at Coors Field in Colorado, chasing down a ball. He returned for the 2013 season, only playing in 73 games due to hamstring and ankle issues.
Now Kemp is focused on the 2014 season, and plans to go healthy all season, helping the Dodgers win a World Series Titles, and as many games along the way.
“I just feel great,” Kemp said. “Let’s just talk about this win and go on to the next thing.”
If Kemp can bring this offensive stability every game, along with Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig swinging the bat every night, the Dodgers could have one of the most powerful line ups in baseball.
Zack Greinke picked up the victory over the Giants also shared his thoughts on the importance of Kemp in the line up. “I’ve never seen Matt being the player he is,” Greinke said. “And Hanley is on a different level. If he’s like he was today, you don’t want to face this lineup if that’s the case.”
Once Clayton Kershaw and Brian Wilson return healthy that will also bring some strong depth into the bullpen for the Dodgers.
Kemp is truly an everyday outfielder, it would be incredibly incumbent of Mattingly to see to it that Kemp gets as much playing time as possible. It’s great seeing Kemp back in the line up, his presence was truly missed the past two seasons.
Three time All-Star Clayton Kershaw (8-5) allowed only one run and struck out three in eight solid innings.
Kershaw’s only run came in the third inning, after he gave up a double to Guillermo Quiroz and later a sacrifice fly to Andres Torres that scored Quiroz.
“I had pretty good command other than walking the pitcher,” said Kershaw. “It’s a great park to pitch in. I just like it here.”
The Dodgers jumped on the scoreboard early when Andre Ethier singled deep to center, that scored Hanley Ramirez for the 1-0 lead in the second inning.
Ramirez also continued his 18 game hitting streak when he doubled and tripled on Sunday against the Giants.
Rookie Yasiel Puig hit a crucial single in the ninth inning off of Sergio Romo that began the Dodger rally.
Puig also made a spectacular diving catch in the eight inning that robbed Quiroz of a hit for the out.
Kenley Jansen pitched an outstanding ninth inning, when he struck out Hunter Pence for the final out. Jansen picked up his ninth save on the season.
“We need to win games like that,” Kershaw said. “We’ve shown we can swing the bats and blow some guys out recently. Tight games like that we’re going to need a clutch hit and A.J. came through today. That was huge!”
Sergio Romo (3-4) picked up the loss and gave up three hits in the ninth.
“There’s no question it’s a tough loss. These guys are resilient and handling this as well as they can,” said Giants manager Bruce Bouchy.
After Sunday’s outting, Kershaw has a 1.89 ERA.
The two men accused of beating San Francisco Giants fan Brian Stow, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood accepted a plea deal in court on Thursday morning.
The plea deal stemmed from an incident that involved Sanchez and Norwood beating Stow in the parking lot of Dodger Stadium on Opening Day – March 31, 2011. Stow a paramedic from Santa Cruz suffered a fractured scull and was left permanently disabled, despite his slow recovery progress.
Sanchez pleaded guilty to felony mayhem and will receive eight years in state prison. Norwood pleaded guilty to assault by causing great bodily harm and was sentenced to four years in prison. The Los Angeles District Attorney had multiple conversations with both of their defense lawyers before a significant plea deal was reached.
Both Sanchez and Norwood could still face weapons charges in a federal court.
“You are the biggest nightmare for individuals that attend public events,” the judge told them after their plea.
The Dodgers have had no comment on the case as of now. Since the purchase of the team by the Guggenheim Partners, security has been increased and there have been no major problems at Dodger Stadium.
The Dodgers jumped out to the better start when Hanley Ramirez connected on an RBI single that scored Mark Ellis for the 1-0 lead in the third inning.
Later on in the fourth inning, the Giants answered back with a big Buster Posey two run homer off Kershaw for the 2-1 lead.
The Dodgers exploded in the sixth inning as Andre Ethier singled to right field that scored Ramirez for the 2-2 tie. AJ Ellis muscled his way to a double to a deep left that scored Ethier, when a wild pitch by Lincecum to Skip Schumaker, allowed Juan Uribe to second base. Ellis scored and extended the lead over the rival Giants.
Kershaw took his heat into the ninth inning until he gave up a lead off single to Marco Scutaro. That play caused manager Don Mattingly to make a significant change on the mound. Kensley Jansen entered the game and picked up three outs for his sixth save on the season.
Clayton Kershaw (6-5) picked up the win and pitched eight innings, gave up four hits with seven strike outs.
“There were a few three- or four-pitch sequences there where there was a lapse. So there’s some little things to work on here and there. But overall, it was better tonight for sure,” said Kershaw.
Tim Lincecum (4-8) recieved the loss and threw 5 1/3 innings. He gave up ten hits with four runs and four strike outs.
“You kind of look forward to it, just because it make you rise to the occasion and pitch better,” Lincecum said of facing Kershaw. “I was more intent on being aggressive, but I just didn’t put pitches where I needed to and when I should have.”
Lincecum is a dismal 1-7 in his last eight starts with a 5.24 ERA, and hasn’t won a game since early May against the Braves.
The Dodgers are currently sitting on a five game winning streak. This past Sunday the Dodgers were 9.5 games out of first place in the NL West, and after the sweep of the Giants are now just 6 games out of first place.
Puig added three hits on the night against the Giants.
Finally, baseball has come back to Dodger Stadium, a saying that was echoed by many Dodger fans across the stadium. After the huge off season acquisitions, the $100 million Dodger Stadium renovations, in the words of the legendary Vin Scully, it’s time for Dodger baseball.
It was a scoreless battle as the two teams held evenly defensively and on the mound, however Kershaw and the Dodgers would change that with a huge eight inning. Cain would only last six innings, struck out eight on four hits, but Kershaw was determined to go the distance.
Kershaw decided to help his own case in the eight inning, as he connected on his first home run deep to center off reliever George Kantos that gave the Dodgers the 1-0 lead. “What an awesome feeling,” said an excited Kershaw. “I probably wasn’t feeling my feet hitting the ground.”
That home run ignited the Dodger bats as Carl Crawford smacked a double to left field. Mark Ellis then reached out bunt single that advanced Crawford to third base. With runners on the corners, Santiago Casilla threw a wild pitch and as a result Ellis sprinted to second base and Crawford scored. After Matt Kemp walked, Giants manager Bruce Bouche made another change as he called up reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Of course Affeldt hit Adrian Gonzales with a pitch which loaded the bases. Andre Either grounded out to second base, as Ellis scored that increased the Dodger lead 3-0 over the Giants.
After Affeldt intentionally walked Luis Cruz, AJ Ellis grounded out to third but not before Kemp scored that made it 4-0.
Kershaw would end the game as Pablo Sandoval grounded out to third base for the final out.
No pitcher since Bob Lemon back in 1953 has pitched a shutout and hit a homer in the same game on Opening Day, and Kershaw joined the history books. Kershaw (1-0) finished with seven strike outs on four hits and nine innings pitched.
He gave us seven chances to take care of it, and finally he said, ‘That’s enough. I’m going to take care of it,'” said catcher AJ Ellis.
Even after the win Dodgers CEO Mark Walter hugged the Dodgers ace, but the pitcher said the on going negotiations never entered his mind. Well today’s performance should’ve entered the minds of Stan Kasten and Ned Colletti to speed up the new deal well deserved by Kershaw.
Giants pitcher Matt Cain made his Opening Day start for the Giants, only allowing four hits in six scoreless innings, and struck out eight. “That was a tough one, but Kershaw never gave us a chance to do much at all. And that’s typical of him and what you expect from him,” said Cain.
Giants reliever George Kantos (0-1) was given the loss on the day.
Kershaw got a huge boost as the Opening ceremonial pitch was made by the legendary Sandy Koufax dawning his vintage number 32 jersey. “He was the best left-handed pitcher ever. I’m honored with the comparisons. But I don’t put any merit into it because I got a long way to go,” Kershaw told ESPN.com after the game.
With another year out of the playoffs, the Dodgers had nothing left to play for except pride and to build on something greater for the 2013 season. Clayton Kershaw had an opportunity to land back to back ERA titles. He’d be the second Dodger to achieve that milestone since the great Sandy Koufax from 1962-66.
“I don’t care. It was fun to get a win and hopefully build off these last nine games,” said Kershaw regarding the ERA title.
Kershaw had that playoff Cy Young gleam in his eye as he took the mound and began pitching in dominate fashion. Kershaw lost focus for a moment, giving up a single to Marco Scutaro. Pablo Sandoval doubled to deep left which advanced Scutaro to third base. Catcher Buster Posey hit a sacrifice ground out to shortstop that scored Scutaro for the 1-0 Giants lead in the top of the fourth inning.
The Dodgers struggled offensively, until Luis Cruz knocked out a single, and made it safe to first base thanks to an error by Scutaro. Tim Federowicz connected on a single to center. With two on base, Kershaw decided to aid his own cause by connected on a RBI single to right center that scored Cruz. Federowicz attempted to make it to third but was thrown out as the Dodgers tied the game 1-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Giants manager Bruce Bouchy decided it was a good idea to bring in reliever Clay Hensley for starter Ryan Vogelsong. That decision would not help the Giants, as Andre Either doubled to deep right field. Adrian Gonzales continued on his 15 game hitting streak as he knocked in an RBI single that scored Either, and gave the Dodgers the 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning.
As Kershaw continued focused and poised in his dominate form, the Dodgers gave him the proper run support he needed. After Nick Punto popped out at third base, Alex Castellanos knocked out a solo home run that gave the Dodgers the 3-1 lead. They weren’t finished as Elian Herrera singled to left, then Juan Rivera decided to knock out a two run homer deep to center. Dodgers led 5-1 over the rival Giants.
After a great crowd applause for Calyton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen came in the ninth inning to close out the game. Jansen has been pretty spectacular all season, and Wednesday afternoon would be no different. After Jansen walked Aubrey Huff, Hector Sanchez flew out to right field. Then he struck out Francisco Peguero and Xavier Nady for the final out and season ending play at Dodger Stadium. Dodgers held on to defeat the NL West Champion San Francisco Giants 5-1, and took two out of three in the series.
Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw (14-9) allowed one run and three hits in eight innings, struck out eight and walked three. He also finished with a league leading 2.53 ERA.
“He’s as good as anybody in the game. He loves pitching,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
“If we make the playoffs next season, it will be a great year. Not making the postseason, that’s what we play for,” said Kershaw.
Kenley Jansen picked up his 26th save for the season.
Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp is schedule to have surgery on Friday on his torn labrum in his left shoulder. The rehab process can be anywhere from four weeks to four months. “They’re going to see what’s going on inside of there and hopefully just clean it up, said Matt Kemp. “If they need to do more, they’ll do more, but I won’t know anything until I wake up.”
Giants reliever Clay Hensley (4-5) picked up the loss, and gave up one run, two hits in one inning. Giants starter Ryan Vogelsong pitched five innings, on seven strikeouts and two hits.
Kershaw also finished the season with 229 strikeouts, just one shy of New York Mets starter and NL leader R.A. Dickey.
With their Wild Card hopes still alive after Monday night’s dramatic win in the ninth inning, Dodgers must continue their winning ways Tuesday night.
Dodgers starter Chris Capuano was sent to battle Giants starter Barry Zito on the mound.
Capuano began a solid outing until the second inning where he gave up a solo home run to Buster Posey that gave the Giants the 1-0 lead.
The Dodgers began to develop some offense of their own in the bottom of the second inning as Hanley Ramirez tripled deep to right. The Luis Cruz grounded out that scored Ramirez for the 1-1 tied score.
Capuano continued to struggle by allowing Joaquin Arias to knock a solo home run deep to left, that gave the Giants 2-1 lead in the top of the third inning.
After Buster Posey singled to center to begin the fourth inning, manager Don Mattingly decided to bring in reliever Jamey Wright for Capuano. Wright trapped Xavier Naddy into a double play that caught Posey out at second base.
With Arias safe at second base due to a throwing error by Wright, Angel Pegan was intentionally walked. Marco Scutaro doubled to right field that scored both Pegan and Arias that increased the Giants lead 4-1.
Zito continued to be dominate throughout the innings until the bottom of the seventh inning. Signs of fatigue showed in Zito when he hit Andre Either with a pitch which landed him on first base. Giants manager Bruce Bouchy decided Zito had enough for the night and brought in his reliever Guillermo Mota. Mota didn’t help matters any especially when AJ Ellis connected for a 2 run home run, Dodgers trailed 4-3.
Mark Ellis knocked a double into deep right field, however Ellis got greedy and attempted to reach third base but was tagged out. Shane Victorino connected on a huge triple down the first base line into right field that brought the crowd to their feet. Matt Kemp continued to struggle as he struck out to end the inning.
Kenley Jansen was perfect serving up three consecutive strike outs to Pablo Sandoval, Posey and Hunter Pence to end the inning.
Closer Brandon League allowed left fielder Gregor Blanco to reach on an infield single to first base. Blanco felt lucky and decided to attempt to steal second base, but AJ Ellis threw a rocket straight to Hanley Ramirez for the easy out. League also struck out Arias to end the top of the ninth inning, and allowed the Dodgers one last rally effort to keep their Wild Card hopes alive.
Either attacked the plated and connected for a timely single off of Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt. Mattingly made a smart decision and added Dee Gordon to pinch run for Either at first base. Bobby Abreu who came in to hit for Elian Herrera flew out to left, right as Gordon stole second base.
With two outs, Mark Ellis had an opportunity for redemption, and did not rise to the challenge hitting a pop up to center field for the final out. Giants held on to defeat the Dodgers 4-3 and eliminate them from post season play.
“To see Pagan catch that ball, it’s kind of like the season is pretty much over,” slugger Matt Kemp said.
“Everything kind of comes to a screeching halt. To not have that opportunity to move forward is painful,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly.
Despite the loss to the Reds, the St. Louis Cardinals locked up the final Wild Card playoff spot and will play against the Atlanta Braves on Friday. It’ll be a one game match up to see who advances to the divisional round .
On what it felt like to eliminate the Dodgers, Giants manager Bruce Bouchy said, “there’s a lot of history between these two clubs. Both clubs have knocked each other out.”
Dodgers starter Chris Capuano (12-12) gave up two runs and five hits in three-plus innings. This was Capuano’s shortest outing this season.
Giants starter Barry Zito (15-8) picked up the victory on six innings, with six strike outs, and six hits. Sergio Romo picked up his 14th save on the season for the Giants.
“Sometimes you go out there and feel kind of crappy and you win, and other times you feel great and you lose. The streak is just evidence that the team has been scoring a lot of runs and playing good D when I’m on the mound,” said Zito.