Yasiel Puig #66 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on against the Washington Nationals in the ninth inning at Nationals Park on May 7, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Washington Nationals won, 3-2. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
The Dodgers are happy to get some home cooking and a good night’s sleep in their own beds. The team returned to LA Wednesday after a 3-2 loss to the Washington Nationals.
The three games in the nation’s capital wrapped up a nine-game, three-city road trip that saw the Dodgers finish 5-4.
Batman and Robin have nothing on Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon. The fastball-hitting, base-stealing, havoc-wreaking duo left their marks in Minnesota, Miami, and Washington.
Before a baseball to the face and the outfield wall in Miami knocked Puig around and out of commission for two games, he was knocking around opposing pitchers. At one point in Minnesota, Puig had eight straight hits and reached base in nine consecutive plate appearances. He returns to LA having hit .433 during the trip, with one home run (which still hasn’t landed), eight RBIs, and he’s riding a seven-game hitting streak.
On May 3 in Miami, Gordon did his best LeBron James impersonation and single-handedly took over the game. He drove in two runs with two, two-out singles. Gordon make a diving stop on a grounder and throw behind a runner at third base to end a Marlins rally, and he blew by the pitcher and first baseman for an infield hit because he’s just plain fast. When he was done, Gordon went 5 for 6, scored two runs, had two RBIs, and three stolen bases. I believe he’ll make the National League all-star team, and that performance may have secured his spot. Oh, he also hit .318 on the trip with seven steals, and eight runs scored.
The Dodgers bullpen. It was solid on the road trip, but also failed to come through in a couple of losses.
Chris Perez blew his first save May 3 in Miami. The next night, Jamie Wright went 1 2/3 innings, but allowed the winning run in the bottom of the ninth in a 5-4 loss.
LA’s relievers are now tied with the Arizona Diamondbacks for the Major League lead in total innings pitched with 123. Games like May 5 haven’t helped. Starter Zack Greinke was done after three innings and a three-hour, 17-minute rain delay. Four relievers were trotted out to complete the final five innings in a 4-0 loss to Washington.
That can’t continue.
Dodgers relievers are overworked. They need rest. The hope is that as the weather gets warmer the starting staff of veterans, boosted by Clayton Kershaw’s return, will eat up innings to give the bullpen a breather. The key word, though, is "hope."
The Dodgers are in the midst of a 16 games in 15 days stretch. For a coaching staff trying to rest relievers, that’s not good, especially with Hyun-Jin Ryu, the team’s number-three starter, on the disabled list.
The seven-game homestand that starts Thursday will also test the Dodgers depth. They’re 2 ½ games behind the NL West leading San Francisco Giants who come in for a four-game series. Manager Don Mattingly has been Bobby Fischer-like in how he’s maneuvered his players early in the season. It’s kept them fresh and they’ll need to be if they plan to make a upward move from third place.