The Los Angeles Dodgers are now 20-5 in their last 25 games, thanks to a 9-2 sweep over the Washington Nationals on Sunday.
In a game that was anticipated to be a pitcher’s duel turned really ugly, really fast. Jordan Zimmermann found himself 9-0 at Nationals Park in 2013 and hadn’t lost a game in his home park since he fell to the Pittsburgh Pirates May 17, 2012. His 12 wins tied him for most in the NL and he earned himself an All Star selection.
Cal Ripken Jr. was saying before this game that pitching wasn’t an issue for the Nationals but the hitting was. He was onto something with the hitting, but the Dodgers jumped all over Zimmermann’s mistakes in the top of the 2nd as Los Angeles made it a nightmare of a day for Washington.
In what was Matt Kemp’s first day back from his second trip to the DL this year, he was a triple away from becoming the first Dodger since Orlando Hudson in 2009 to hit for the cycle. In his first at-bat, he took advantage of a hanging slider Zimmermann dished up to make it 1-0. They tacked on some insurance runs.
The most crushing blow of the day came from Hanley Ramirez. With two men on and having a 3-0 lead, Zimmermann once again tacked a hanging slider that the shortstop crushed over the Nationals’ bullpen and they added one more in the inning to make it 7-0. They scored 6 runs combined the first two games of the series, only to have an exclamation mark of an inning in the final contest of the series.
Dennis Eckersley was saying prior to the start that Clayton Kershaw is the man, but with the 8-6 record, had a hard time getting run support. Sunday came that day when the Dodgers’ offense came through for him, and when Kershaw gets run support, say goodnight. The only two hits he gave up on the day were a pair of solo shots hit by Jayson Werth. The 25-year-old lefty struck out 9 and did not allow a walk.
There was some concern about Matt Kemp in the top of the 9th as he was out on a sliding play at home to end the top half of the inning. He ended up limping back to the Dodger dugout and the announcers said the injuries have made an impact on him, despite the fact that on Sunday he looked like the Matt Kemp that baseball fans know is capable of doing massive damage.
This Dodger squad is white hot. Their offense is finally clicking. Don Mattingly could possibly challenge Clint Hurdle for the NL Manager of the Year award and Hanley Ramirez finished runner-up to Albert Pujols in 2009 for the NL MVP, and if not for only playing in 41 games this season, it’d be hard not to have him on MVP watch here in 2013.
For the Nationals, while there is still two months of baseball left, and with it being far from the final nail being hit in their coffin, are now 48-50 on the year. With the exclamation loss against LA, Davey Johnson’s club are now 5-39 (48-50 overall) when scoring less than 3 runs this season, a telling stat for a team picked by some to go all the way this year.
Nonetheless, they’re going to get their opportunity. Despite losing the first three games after the All Star Break, they still have eight more to go on this home stand. They welcome in the Pittsburgh Pirates on Monday, but their offense will have to shine against a Bucs squad with the best team ERA in baseball.
The Dodgers, meanwhile, improved to 50-47 and will travel north of the border to Toronto to take on the Blue Jays.