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With Matt Kemp and Juan Uribe Scratched, Dodgers Need To Figure Out Ways to Win
A day after I started wondering whether the Dodgers can be considered great this early in the season, circumstances will require for them to be great just to make it through a considerable stretch of games. A hint of what games will have to look like came in the Dodgers 3-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Juan Rivera were already out with bum hamstrings. To the chagrin of most Dodger fans, it was confirmed after the game that Matt Kemp would also be put on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring. Jerry Sands will be called up from Triple-A Albuquerque to fill the roster spot.
Prior to the game the Dodgers confirmed that the MRI Kemp took this morning showed he had a strain in the hamstring. The Dodgers listed Kemp as day-to-day at the time. As unbelievable as that story was, the suspicions were confirmed when the announcement was made.
"We pretty much knew before the game but didn't want to announce it," Mattingly confirmed.
The disabled list was quite a stunner for Kemp who told reporters Sunday afternoon the he definitely wouldn't go on the disabled list.
"Very disappointing," Kemp said. "I want to be out there with my team. But I need to get my leg better."
While Kemp is out, Tony Gwynn, Jr. will spend most of the time in centerfield. Mattingly even tossed around the idea of having Andre Ethier play in center. But at the heart of it was the need for Kemp's DL stint to stay at 15 days.
"That's what we think," Mattingly answered when asked if Kemp will only be out the 15 days. But he wanted to remain cautious. "I think we're really really hopeful that in 15 days Matt's going to be back."
Even Kemp got a cautious when asked. "Yeah. I think. Only time will tell. We'll see."
To just add to the injured mess, before the game Juan Uribe was also placed on the disabled list with what Sue Falzone, the head medical trainer, is calling a "wrist injury."
"Sue's calling it a wrist injury at this point because I don't think she wants to guess," Manager Don Mattingly said. "She wants the information before she throws the words around."
It was still too early for Mattingly to say how long Uribe could potentially be out. "Sounds like within the next 24 hours we'll be trying to get him an MRI on his wrist and get more information and go from there," Mattingly said.
Mattingly said it was a recurrance of Uribe's injury that flared up when the Dodgers were in Milwaukee in the middle of April.
"Hopefully it's something that's not major, and it is just two weeks and he's back out there. Because Juan he's played well for us. He's swung the bat well. He's played good third base. We're a better lineup when he's out there. So I'm hoping it's short term with this."
Replacing Uribe is Elian Herrera, a utility infielder who arrived in the middle of the game. To make room of Herrera on the 40-man roster, Trent Oeltjen was designated for assignment.
To a normal schlub like me who merely observes these games, it seems like Monday night's game was a template for how the Dodgers would have to play in order to keep their momentum going. After all there's no secret as to how teams win games, a lot of games: great pitching; timely hitting; airtight defense.
On Monday night, the Dodgers got all three in huge doses.
Pitching: Clayton Kershaw was his normal superlative self: 7 innings, 4 hits, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts and, most importantly, 0 runs. While his pitches-to-strikes ratio might not have been eyepopping at 108-64, the most important number was that zero at the end of the pitching line above.
"It was a good night for him to have him out there," Mattingly said.
The only run was a solo homer by Aaron Hill off of Josh Lindblom in the eighth inning. Kenley Jansen shut the door in the ninth inning retiring the side in order to record his fourth save of the season.
Hitting: Dee Gordon took the first pitch from D-back's starter Ian Kennedy and lined it to left field for a single. An errant pickoff throw by Kennedy that sailed into right field landed Gordon at third. Mark Ellis grounded to second base to bring Gordon home.
Ethier in the sixth inning belted a solo homer 437 feet to the right field pavilion. After A.J. Ellis singled afterwards having reached base in 27 of 28 games he played this season and 24 straight, a sacrifice fly by Adam Kennedy, Uribe's late replacement in the lineup, score Ellis for additional insurance.
Defense: With A.J. Pollack on second base with one out, Willie Bloomquist belted a single just right of centerfield pulling Gwynn towards rightfield. As Pollack rounded the bag at third base, Gwynn unleashed a marksman throw to catcher A.J. Ellis to nail Pollack at the plate preserving the 1-0 lead.
First baseman James Loney made a great catch into the camera well next to the visitor's dugout on a Paul Goldschmidt popup to lead off the ninth.
However most spectacularly Justin Sellers made a diving catch into the seats in the left field box seats on Miguel Montero's popup that followed.
But the Dodgers don't feel the need to put pressure on themselves.
"If we can have Kershaw every night, that would be a nice little template," Mattingly said. "I just look at it like we're going to figure out how to win a game tomorrow. Bills is going to keep us in it. We've got to scratch across runs however we're going to do it."
Ethier agreed that those three ingredients are crucial.
"I think that's how a team has to win over the course of the year. But guys aren't going to field well, guys aren't going to be swinging well sometimes. You've just got to figure out a way.
"We've got guys who can fill in and hope to do. We know we're a better team with Matty and some of the other guys on the DL, but we'll figure out a way in the short spurt to make this thing work."