How to Hit 500; 2017 Dodgers Return, Vanquish Pirates

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Hi all.  Here’s how I see baseball on this Tuesday, July 3.  After starting this blog in late August 2015, this is post number 500. This was my brother Bob’s brainchild.  I was recovering from major surgery and couldn’t do a whole lot back then.  He said I should publish a blog, and if I was willing to do the baseball work which he couldn’t do, he would do the site-building part I don’t understand. Thank you, and happy birthday a day late. Bob.

For most of this season, Dodgers fans have felt as blue as the famous Dodger blue uniforms their team wears. Last night with Pittsburgh in town, something of last year’s Dodgers surged up in this year’s version.  They rose up and smote the invading Pirates 17–1.

It wasn’t that long ago the Dodgers were 10 games under .500 and going nowhere fast with their best hurler on the DL for the third season in a row. But keeping their resurgence under the radar they sneaked up on the rest of the NL West. The D-Backs suddenly only have a game and a half between them and the 2017 NL champs. The Dodgers are now 45-39 while the first-place D-Backs are 47–38. The Giants are just a game behind their archrival from L.A., and the Giants have Madison Bumgarner back, looking like the old MadBum before the accident from which he was lucky to escape with his life. The Dodgers also have Clayton Kershaw back in the fold.  Every team is lucky when their ace is available and pitching as well as he can.

While Kershaw wasn’t on the hill last night, Alex Wood was and he got more than ample support from the Dodgers’ offense which had its problems earlier in the season. Matt Kemp had 5 hits, one being a home run.  3 other Dodgers left the lot before the night was done. Clay Bellinger, Joc Peterson and Max Muncy pounded the Pirates’ bedraggled pitching staff and sent balls high into the smoggy night sky. Only once before in his long career had Matt Kemp put together a 5-hit night.  While he’s a certainty for the All-Star game, the fans wanted to honor him even more.  They chanted M–V–P when he came up and after the fifth hit he might have gotten elected mayor of Los Angeles. Kemp came in second in the mVP voting in 2011–7 long years ago. After injuries ruined his seasons in 2012 and 2013, he did well enough in 2014 to be wanted by another team. he found himself in San Diego in 2015, then traded to Atlanta in July 2016, then back to the Dodgers before this season opened. Nobody could have imagined last night’s performance when the aging outfielder came to town. In spite of severe arthritis in both hips, microfracture surgery on his ankle and shoulder surgery-all since 2012-he put together his second 5-hit game.

The rest of the team followed Kemp’s lead in last night’s game.   They batted around in the 4th, 5th and 6th innings.  I never saw that in a dozen minor league seasons.   That kind of rampant hitting would make a worse mess of a braille scorecard than it does a print scorecard. The Dodgers had never done such a thing, considering they’ve built their team around pitching and defense since they moved into capacious Dodger Stadium. The last MLB team to do it was the Yankees in 2011. Peterson and Muncy walloped their home runs in the Dodgers’ 6-run 4th inning. That inning was when Buccos starter Nick Kingham was removed after a brutal beating. His overall tab was 7 runs on 8 hits and 3 walks without getting a man out in the 4th inning. He was on the spot because the Pirates had to put Chad Kuhl on the DL on Friday. The relief pitcher was Tanner Anderson, making his MLB debut. After Cody Bellinger grounded out, Kemp smashed one of his 5 hits, a hard single bringing home Justin Turner. Anderson gave up doubles to Yasmani Grandal and Yasiel Puig before the nightmare inning ended. On the hill Alex Wood only gave up a run on 6 hits with no walks over 6 innings. He’s now won his last 4 starts which has to remind him of last season when he opened 13–0. Tonight it’s Kershaw’s turn.  Owing to his most recent injury he’s just 2–4 up to now, but if his offense is still in high gear he has reason to expect a win.  The Pirates counter with Ivan Nova who has pitched like an entirely different man since leaving the Yankees.

As for the Bronx Bombers, the Braves showed them what could happen come October if nothing changes.  Inning after inning the Yankees got base runners on and couldn’t bring them around.  Nobody bunted, nobody tried to manufacture a run.  They had men in scoring position in the 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th, all to no avail.  At long last in the 11th Gleyber Torres made an error putting an Atlanta runner on base.  David Robertson gave up a 2-run home run to Braves’ young star Ronald Acuna JR. and that was that. It didn’t help that starter Jonathan Loaisiga only went 4 innings.  He was sent to AAA after the game but is expected back next week when the Yanks have a doubleheader in Baltimore. To the surprise of nobody, Boston beat Washington.  Tonight they send out former Florida Gator Brian Johnson against the Nats’ Tanner Roark. In the Bronx, the Braves trot out Sean Newcomb against the Yankees’ Domingo German. In a neat bit of baseball trivia, in a game tonight in Arlington, Texas both starting pitchers are named for cities in Texas.  The Astros send Dallas Keuchel hoping he can turn things around.  In his last 8 starts he’s 1–3 with an ERA approaching 6.

His foe is Austin Bibens-Dirkx who may have baseball’s trickiest name as long as Jonathan Loaisiga stays in AAA. Austin got no decision his last time out against the Padres. The Indians trot out a name you’ll want to remember come playoff time-Shane Bieber. In his last 3 starts he’s 3-0 with a 0.96 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings.


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