The sky is no longer falling on the Los Angeles Dodgers, at least not on Tuesday night.
Matt Kemp and Hanley Ramirez were back in the lineup for the Dodgers and with their return, the Dodgers cruised to a 9-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Kemp wasted no time in showing the impact he could have on the team, lining a two-out double in the first inning to drive in Mark Ellis and Ramirez. Kemp would finish 4-for-4 with three RBIs.
Juan Uribe capped off the four-run first inning with a two-run home run, extending the Dodgers’ lead to 4-0 before Zack Greinke took to the mound.
The win on Tuesday night certainly doesn’t mean the Dodgers have solved the issues that have plagued them for the better part of the past two weeks, but it did put them back in the win column and they are now only two games away from clinching the National League West title.
Greinke improved to 15-3 despite lasting only six innings. Though after once again topping 100 pitches, his exit was more a byproduct of Don Mattingly wanting to protect him moving forward. At the time Greinke was lifted, the Dodgers held a comfortable 8-2 lead and there was no reason to continue pushing right-hander.
Kemp’s return is not only important for the Dodgers’ playoff hopes, but it also could prove immediate dividends with regards to Andre Ethier. As of Tuesday, Ethier was still wearing a protective boot on his sprained ankle, which he aggravated in a loss on Friday night to the San Francisco Giants.
Having filled in admirably for the injured Kemp, Ethier is due some time off to rehab his ankle and any other ailments he may be affected by.
The concern of course is Kemp has been hampered by a hamstring injury, which is capable of flaring up at any given moment. Should that occur, the Dodgers would be forced to patch together any semblance of a normal outfield.
Steven Fife is being sent to the mound on Wednesday in Arizona in favor of Clayton Kershaw, which will give the Dodgers’ lefty additional days of much-needed rest.
With a win over the Diamondbacks in the coming days, the Dodgers will clinch the NL West and Mattingly could perhaps continue to get rest for players here and there. However, that strategy would have to come with some precaution.
History has shown how dangerous a team can be when they’re streaking heading into the playoffs. Getting rest for players needs to be balanced with recapturing and maintaing momentum.