Notice how Dodger games without Matt Kemp feel different? Even while the team puts together this amazing stretch, without him in the lineup there is a lack of flare and that added excitement that he brings to each game.
It has been 18 games since the Dodgers lost Kemp to a sprained ankle, and while they have been 15-3 since he went on the DL, his healthy return is still eagerly awaited.
On Friday, Don Mattingly was asked for an update on Kemp's timetable, and he first gave a vague comment, "He is doing a lot of the agility stuff, he looked a lot better today so he is moving in the right direction." Later when asked for a more concrete number, he said 10-14 days is possible for his return.
It's understandable that Mattingly would stay away from giving out a hard answer. He has been notoriously wrong when giving any opinions on injuries so far this season.
We still have not had a chance to see Mattingly juggle having four outfielders, which with the health of these guys will be a relief if it ever does happen. Between the injury-prone Kemp and Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier playing 111 of 116 games, and Yasiel Puig's reckless, physical style of play, none of these guys need to be starting every night.
At least with Kemp out, the Dodgers had Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Ethier and Puig to provide some pop in the lineup, but then Ramirez went down last week in Chicago when he fell into the stands catching a fly ball.
Before that play, Ramirez was in the middle of a slight slump, going 2-17 in four games, but overall he was still destroying the league to the tune of .361/.411/.644 on the season. Even without him the Dodgers won three of four against the Cardinals, and took the first two games against the Rays.
Ramirez was used as a pinch hitter on Friday, but went down on strikes. Mattingly said on Saturday that Ramirez feels good enough to hit, but the test if he can play will be if he can throw. Ramirez threw Friday, but not comfortably. He was scheduled to throw and field Sunday, but Mattingly made it sound as if there was no chance to have him start against Tampa Bay.
The Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw on the mound Sunday in their 8-2 win over the Rays to complete the three-game series sweep.