Matt Kemp Continues Powering the Dodgers
Matt Kemp has shown no signs of slowing down from his terrific 2011 season when he hit .324 with 39 homers and 126 RBI. Armed with a .417 batting average coming into Saturday's game, he powered the Dodgers to a 6-1 victory.
Kemp's endeavors are a bit newsworthy considering the wasted big-money deals that litters the Dodgers' recent history. Look no farther than Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez and Jason Schmidt for examples. But on Kemp rolled hitting two-run homers in the first and second innings.
"So far so good," Kemp remarked about his exploits so far. But he continued to stress the importance of the team.
"I think as a team we've played great. The main thing is starting out fast. It doesn't matter who we play or where we go. We just take care of ourselves and get as many wins as we can."
It was quite the rude welcome for the Padres' 22-year old starter Joe Wieland making his Major League debut. Despite having very limited video on him, the Dodgers pounced on him from the very beginning.
Dee Gordon led off the bottom of the first with a walk and took second on Tony Gwynn, Jr.'s sacrifice. That's when Kemp hit his first two-run homer.
"You try and feel him out a little bit," Kemp said about his first at-bat that did see him swing and miss spectacularly on the second pitch he saw.
Andre Ethier followed suit two pitches later with his own homer to left-centerfield.
"It was a good night," Mattingly mused. "If those guys can be like this all year long, it just makes us a better club. We just need to contribute all around him."
James Loney, who went 2-for-4, did just that coming out of his 1-for-20 slump with a double. Loney scored after Jerry Hairston, Jr. singled and Adam Kennedy hit a sacrifice fly to left field.
Quite the first inning.
Kemp seemed to not want to let go of the feeling crushing a 398-foot two-run homer to right-centerfield running the bases to MVP chants from the crowd of 46,549.
"It's a great feeling," Kemp said of the MVP chants. "Always get chills when you hear the crowd going crazy. It's an unbelievable feeling especially here in Dodger Stadium."
All of that really made the unearned run the Padres scored in the top of the first inning an afterthought. It could have been a bad night for Dodgers' starter Ted Lilly making his season debut coming off the disabled list. In his rehab start in Rancho Cucamonga on April 8 he gave up seven runs in six innings.
Obviously the outcome didn't bother Lilly since he went seven innings against the Padres giving up that lone unearned run. He only walked one batter while striking out four making 79 pitches.
"Especially coming off the outing in Single-A, it's nice to come back and throw a quality game," Lilly said.
"Teddy was good," Mattingly said. "He set the tone, did what we asked for."
So now the Dodgers are 8-1 on the season, the best in the Majors and the best for the club since 1981. They have also beat the Padres eight straight at home tying their longest streak dating back to 1974. What all of this means after playing the Padres and Pirates is unsure. They get their first road test on Tuesday in Milwaukee.
But for now, Dodger fans can revel in the fact the Dodgers have Matt Kemp on their team leading the club to be number one. Literally.