A.J. Ellis #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers high fives Carl Crawford #25 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after scoring a first inning run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the MLB game at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona.
Despite winning 17 of their last 22 games, the Dodgers needed the All Star Break to take advantage of the time off to bring their roster back to full health. Constant injuries and use of the disabled list was the theme of the first half of the season, but they hope the story will change with the second half.
Before the break the Dodgers dropped two of their last three games scoring just two runs in the three contests combined, but they were not playing with a full roster.
Sunday's game, before the break, brought memories of the darker times this season, with Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker, Jerry Hairston and Scott Van Slyke all in the starting lineup. The quick snapshot we saw of a healthy Dodgers lineup over a week ago is much more fun to watch than what came out in the final games before the break.
Carl Crawford and Yasiel Puig each came in to play halfway into the game on Sunday, but a four-day off period could treat each of them nicely, as Crawford's back was acting up and Puig's hip had been bothering him for a few days. The Dodgers are also expecting Matt Kemp to return from the DL as soon as Sunday.
Before the game on Sunday the team had a closed-door meeting in the clubhouse, Don Mattingly said he told the team that he is, "proud of them and they have persevered. They have been through a lot and we've put ourselves in a good position."
He also said, "We are still 2.5 (games) back and after the break there are not 81 games. We have to be ready to play." While it's popular to think of the All Star Break as the half-way point of the season, they are well into the second half in terms of games played as only 68 remain.
The fact that this team is happy with being a .500 club right now is a testament to the rough, wild season they have been through, but they need to come out of the break on a roll, "It's a fear for all managers to come out of that break and it takes you five games to get going."
Five of the first seven series they play out of the break are against teams with records over .500, so a small stumble could put them under .500 and further back in the division.
The Dodgers return from the four-day break on Friday in Washington as they face the Nationals.