Dodgers' Matt Kemp Makes an Argument for MVP

Dodgers’ centerfielder Matt Kemp continues to make his argument for being the National League Most Valuable Player. Coming into the game leading the National League in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at 6.3, Kemp was responsible for the Dodgers’ first five runs as they pounded the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5.

“That’s pretty cool,” Manager Don Mattingly calmly stated about Kemp’s evening. “He’s having a tremendous year.”

His first hit, a three-run homer in the third inning to give the Dodgers the 3-1 lead, was his 25th homer of the season becoming the fifth fastest National League player to have 25 home runs and 25 stolen bases.

He added two more RBI when he lined a single to centerfield with the bases loaded in the fourth inning that knocked out D-backs rookie starter Josh Collmenter out of the game.

“In the past years I haven’t been real successful batting with the bases loaded,” Kemp admitted. “I’m just concentrating and trying to get a good pitch to hit.”

It is apparent that Kemp’s 2010 season was disappointing.

“I talked to him early in the winter and he basically said, ‘Last year is not going to happen again,’” Mattingly recalled.

“It was a disappointing year on the field for me,” Kemp said. “That’s how I felt, and I just didn’t want to repeat it. I promised [Mattingly] that I would try my best not to let that happen again. Hopefully it never happens again.”

Compared to the .249 batting average and .760 on-base plus slugging percentage (OPS) of 2010, Kemp is batting .313 with an OPS of .966.

“I didn’t necessarily know what to expect,” Mattingly said. “I knew what he was capable of.”

And in this game, on a team that was 47-57 and had problems scoring runs all season long, Kemp showed what he was capable of putting the Dodgers on his back when they needed runs.

Those runs were sorely needed by the Dodgers especially with Ted Lilly on the mound. Having given up 21 home runs in the season, fourth most in baseball, it was no surprise that he gave up two.

“He gives up the home runs, but they were solos you can live with,” Mattingly said. “He kept us in the game - he always does it.”

Well, Lilly kept them in the game for five innings marking the third time in his last four starts he couldn’t go into the sixth inning.

Things got tight with Blake Hawksworth giving up a run in the sixth inning and Matt Guerrier giving up one in the seventh.

“That’s one of the games it is a little bit nerve wracking,” Mattingly admitted. “[The D-backs] are in a place they think they’re right there knocking on the door. They’re swinging the bats well as a team. You know they’re going to keep coming.”

Thankfully Andre Ethier helped stem the tide in the sixth with an RBI single. Then some generous fielding by Justin Upton in the seventh, who also did some damage to a trash can in the dugout after the inning, and Jamey Carroll’s sacrifice fly in that inning, his first RBI since June 12, helped the Dodgers pull away.

“I feel good about our pen that we’ll stop it,” Mattingly said, “but I still feel better when we get those extra runs.”

Those definitely aren’t words spoken by a manager with a winning team. And it is the fact that the Dodgers aren’t winning that will most likely keep him from winning the MVP. But Kemp still feels no matter what he does in the regular season, he can’t be considered the best.

“The best players in baseball get to the World Series, and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

And although his statistics are through the roof, “I feel like I’m having a bad season because we’re having a bad season.”


Detroit Tigers defeat LA Angels 12-2. Things were humming along in Detroit with the game tied 2-2 after the top of the sixth inning. Each team had five hits, a far cry from Thursday’s hit parade that saw a combined 30 hits. Then it came unraveling.

Angels’ starter Tyler Chatwood hit Andy Dirks with a pitch and walked Brennan Boesch to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Sometimes bad signs are just smoke, and sometimes they do signal bad times. This was the latter. The Tigers scored four off of Chatwood in that inning, scored an additional two runs off of Scott Thompson and capped it off with four off of Carson-native Horacio Ramirez in the ninth.

While Thursday’s game lasted over four hours, it was perhaps a saving grace for the Angels the game came in at two hours, 44 minutes.


TONIGHT’S ACTION

LA Angels at Detroit Tigers. 1:10 p.m. FOX, AM 830 KLAA.

Arizona Diamondbacks at LA Dodgers 7:10 p.m. KCAL9, AM 790 KABC.

LA Galaxy at Vancouver Whitecaps FC. 4:30 p.m. Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Deportes, AM 1150 KTLK, AM 1330 KWKW (en español).