After playing only four innings and being benched in the Los Angeles Dodgers Wednesday afternoon game against the Chicago Cubs, Yasiel Puig responded with four hits, moving his multi-hit game tally to 33, and also added two stolen bases for good measure on Friday night as the Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres 9-2, improving to 79-55 on the season.
Puig received plenty of help, capped by an offensive explosion courtesy of a multitude of Dodger batters in the bottom of the seventh inning.
The inning began with Puig getting his fourth hit of the night, followed consecutively by a Carl Crawford walk, two-run double by Hanley Ramirez, two-run home run by Adrian Gonzalez, and a solo home run by A.J. Ellis. In the blink of an eye, a 4-1 Dodger lead had swelled to a 9-1 lead before a single out had been recorded.
The win on Friday night pushed the Dodgers record to 32-8 since the All-Star break, and gave the team their 22 win in the month of August, setting a new Los Angeles record for wins in one month.
The Dodgers also improved their record against NL West teams to 24-27. While they still sit below .500 against teams in their own division, they have taken the league by storm and are now 15-4 after getting off to a 9-23 against West Division opponents.
Tempering some of the excitement of surrounding the blowout victory is the realization that the Dodgers were facing the Padres, who have the honor of occupying the cellar in the West Division.
However, regardless of the opponent at this stage in the season, with the Dodgers fighting for home-field advantage throughout the National League playoffs, they must continue to capitalize when they are facing inferior teams.
Trailing the NL leading Atlanta Braves by three games, the Dodgers will look to close the gap heading into September with two more games against the Padres, followed by a road trip for three-game sets against the Colorado Rockies and Cincinnati Reds.
Matt Kemp to provide help?
Matt Kemp is in the process of completing a rehab assignment with the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, the Dodgers’ Single-A affiliate. As of Friday, Kemp had appeared in two games with the Quakes, going a combined 0-8 with three strikeouts.
It appears as though Kemp continues to be plagued by on-field struggles, which is cause for concern. At the conclusion of is assignment, Kemp is expected to return to the Dodgers, and how manager Don Mattingly will choose to implement him remains to be seen. While the Dodgers will be gaining another presumably healthy body, perhaps the question that looms large is how productive Kemp will be?
Kemp has yet to fully get on track this season and with the playoffs quickly approaching, the Dodgers must hope he’s able to regain form. The saving grace may be they will not need him to be Superman and carry the team the way he was needed to in years past.
With the contributions from Crawford, Gonzalez, Puig, and Ramirez, among others, Kemp simply needs to hop onboard a moving train and stay within himself.