Moving Day: Dodgers 8, Rockies 0

The Dodgers had been in last place so long (since May 6th) that many fans were beginning to wonder if the team would even have a chance in the National League West.

Fan’s worries have been alleviated, at least for the moment, as the Dodgers finally moved out of last place and into a third place tie with the San Diego Padres.

Further, the Dodgers’ hot streak, now extended to 9 wins in the team’s past 10 games, combined with the free-fall of the Arizona Diamondbacks, has the Dodgers only 2 1/2 games out of first place after the end of play tonight.

As if to put an exclamation point on the move, the team the Dodgers overtook to get out of last place was the San Francisco Giants, who were no-hit in Cincinnati by Homer Bailey in a 3-0 loss.

As for the Dodgers themselves, Clayton Kershaw only needed one run tonight.  He got eight.  It didn’t matter, however, as Kershaw dazzled the crowd at Coors field with a complete game four hit shutout of the Rockies, striking out eight and walking none in the process.

Clayton Kershaw improved his record to 7-5 while lowering his ERA to 1.93 tonight in Colorado as the Dodgers moved out of last place behind his complete game shutout. (Image source: http://nesncom.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/clayton-kershaw.jpg?w=400&h=225)

Kershaw was so effective that he struck out Carlos Gonzalez, who normally gives him fits, three times as the Rockies slugger went 0-for-4.  Gonzalez appeared fooled so badly on some pitches that he finished his swing with the bat flying out of his hands, including one pitch where he was fooled so badly that the bat flew into the stands down the first base line behind the dugout.

As for the rest of the Dodgers, Yasiel Puig followed up a 44 hit June that was capped off by a 4 hit game by hitting a sharp line drive single, a booming double off the right field wall, and a home run to dead center field that landed in the shrubs well beyond the wall.  Puig  raised his batting average to .443 and continues to raise eyebrows and give fans both in Los Angeles and at each road stop the Dodgers make something to say “wow.”

The Dodgers started the scoring in the second inning.  Hanley Ramirez’s lead-off single to right was followed by a base hit on a hit-and-run play by Andre Ethier that put Dodgers at first and third.  Ramirez scored on Matt Kemp’s RBI ground-out.  Juan Uribe then followed up with a sharp single to center field to score Ethier and the Dodgers had a 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers picked up two more runs quickly in the third.  Yasiel Puig hit a ringing double off the wall in deep right-center field.  Adrian Gonzalez then promptly deposited a Roy Oswalt pitch over 400 feet away in the right field stands to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.  Oswalt settled down to retire the side after that.

The Dodgers managed one more run off Oswalt in the fourth inning.  A.J. Ellis drove a pitch into the gap for a leadoff double, then Juan Uribe cashed him in with another single up the middle to give the Dodgers a 5-0 lead.  Oswalt again settled down, and managed to hold the Dodgers in check over his final six outs before making way for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the fifth.

Kershaw looked incredibly sharp in the early innings, giving up only a pair of hits to Yorvit Torrealba.  A hit by D.J. LeMahieu and a crafty single by Todd Helton would be the only two other hits Kershaw gave up in the game.  At no point did the Rockies get a runner to second base against the dominant Kershaw.  Kershaw also got some help from Puig, who ran hard from right field to get to a ball in foul ground for the third out of the bottom of the fourth inning.

With Kershaw cruising, Yasiel Puig hit his monster blast off Adam Ottavino to give the Dodgers a 6-0 lead.  An RBI single by Mark Ellis in the 8th and another by Andre Ethier in the 9th would cap off the Dodgers’ big victory in Colorado.  Adding to the drama, Kershaw faced Michael Cuddyer, who had a 27 game hitting streak on the line, with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.  Cuddyer’s attempt to extend his hitting streak would fall short, however, as a long fly ball to right field fell harmlessly into Yasiel Puig’s glove.

And like a blur, the Dodgers advanced into a third place tie.

Kershaw picks up the win, he’s now 7-5 to go with a 1.93 ERA.  Roy Oswalt, in just his third game back from an injury, picked up the loss and is now 0-3 with a 7.88 ERA as he looks to regain the form that made him an ace in Houston.

Meanwhile, in a day when even more controversy swirled around Yasiel Puig as Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon called Puig’s potential All Star candidacy “an absolute joke,” Puig showed why he might just belong among baseball’s best with his bat and his glove.

The Dodgers look to tie the Rockies for second place tomorrow evening in Denver.  Zack Greinke (5-2, 3.94 ERA) takes on Tyler Chatwood (4-1, 2.13 ERA) at Coors Field, a 5:10 p.m. start back here in Los Angeles.

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