A month and a day ago, on June 21st, 2013, the Dodgers sat 12 games under .500. They were 9 1/2 games out of first place. They were on a two game losing streak and had dropped seven of the last ten games they’d played, including the first two games of a four game road set against the San Diego Padres.
Things looked bleak in Los Angeles. But a win against the Padres the next night would start a run of 17 wins in 22 games leading up to the All Star Break, mostly against division opponents, including a 5-1 record against their chief rival the San Francisco Giants over that period and a series sweep over the then-first place Arizona Diamondbacks.
The Dodgers have now won the first four games of a six game east coast road trip through Washington, D.C. and Toronto, Ontario, Canada to bring their streak to 22 wins in 27 games. They find themselves four games over .500 at 51-47. And after the Chicago Cubs hung a “W” flag remotely in the Arizona desert tonight against the Diamondbacks in a game that featured a sizzling debut by a young center fielder named Junior Lake who drove in three of the Cubs’ four runs in a 4-2 victory, including his first major league home run and an important 9th inning insurance run, the Dodgers will go to sleep tonight in Toronto a half game in front of the Diamondbacks, four games in front of the Colorado Rockies, six games in front of the San Francisco Giants and eight games in front of the San Diego Padres atop of the National League West in First Place.
The Dodgers demolished the Toronto Blue Jays tonight. There is no other way to describe what happened at Rogers Centre than annihlation. The Blue Jays were so badly beaten that the 14-5 margin that the Dodgers won by doesn’t come close to actually telling you how one-sided the game really was.
Hyun-Jin Ryu faced off against Josh Johnson in tonight’s matchup. Both pitchers managed to escape the first inning unscathed. But the second inning would prove to be decisive, just as it was yesterday afternoon in Washington. Andre Ethier hit a sharp one-out double to center, then A.J. Ellis pulverized a ball just to the right of center field to stake the Dodgers out to a 2-0 lead. After a Skip Schumaker line-up, Juan Uribe was hit by a pitch, Mark Ellis singled to right, and Carl Crawford singled to center, scoring Uribe and advancing Mark Ellis to third on a throwing error by center fielder Colby Rasmus, giving the Dodgers a 3-0 lead. Yasiel Puig followed up with a single to center of his own to make the margin 4-0, then Adrian Gonzalez walked before Hanley Ramirez grounded into a force out to end the inning.
The Dodgers would chase Josh Johnson in the third inning, the second consecutive day that a starting pitcher failed to record more than 6 outs against them. Andre Ethier doubled again, then A.J. Ellis singled to center to plate Ethier for a 5-0 lead. After Skip Schumaker was awarded first base on catchers’ interference, the Blue Jays went to the bullpen. Johnson was pulled after 2+ IP, 68 pitches thrown. He had given up 5 runs on 7 hits and a walk with two strikeouts. The Blue Jays’ bullpen managed to settle in to get out of the third inning without the Dodgers scoring any further runs.
The Blue Jays made their most serious effort at getting back in the game in the bottom of the third inning. Back to back RBI singles for Melky Cabrera and Mark DeRosa made the score 5-2. But the Dodger offense was just getting started, and the Blue Jays offense would only muster 3 more runs over the next six innings.
After managing to hold the Dodgers to one run in the 4th and the 5th on a run-scoring double play ball by Andre Ethier, the flood gates opened again in the sixth inning. Hanley Ramirez walked and Andre Ethier reached on an error, with Ramirez taking third. A.J. Ellis singled off Dustin McGowan to plate Ramirez and extend the lead to 7-2. Brett Cecil then came in to replace McGowan and gave up another single to Skip Schumaker that loaded the bases. Juan Uribe hit a slow roller for a groundout that scored Ethier, then Mark Ellis’s sacrifice fly plated A.J. Ellis. A single by Carl Crawford plated Skip Schumaker and once all that dust settled the Dodgers had a 10-2 lead.
The Blue Jays attempted once again to get off the matt, chasing Hyun-Jin Ryu in the bottom of the sixth with one out (Ryu: 5 1/3 innings pitched, 4 earned runs) with an RBI forceout by Brett Lowrie and a wild pitch by Jose Dominguez that allowed Colby Rasmus to score from third accounting for the two Blue Jays runs. The score stood at 9-4 after 6 innings.
The Dodgers got their final margin in the top of the seventh. Adrian Gonzalez walked, Hanley Ramirez doubled, then A.J. Ellis drove in another run with a base hit that scored Gonzalez for an 11-2 lead. Then Skip Schumaker creamed a ball down the right field line that stayed fair well back in the second deck for a three run home run, giving the Dodgers a 14-4 lead.
Colby Rasmus contributed an RBI single in the bottom of the 8th to make the score 14-5 which is how the game ended. Also of note in the bottom of the eighth: Yasiel Puig made yet another highlight reel catch. With one out and a runner on first, J.P. Arencibia hit a long fly ball to right-center field. Puig came on the dead sprint, ran into the wall, caught the ball, made a hard throw toward first base to try to double off the runner, fell down and jumped right back up for the second out of the inning. Puig’s bat has cooled a bit to start the second half, but his outfield defense continues to shine and the Cuban phenom consistently makes plays that make the collective jaws of fans around the league drop when they see them.
Hyun-Jin Ryu picks up the win, raising his record to 8-3. Josh Johnson takes the loss, his record falling to 1-6 on the year.
Game two of the three game set north of the border is tomorrow at 4:07 p.m. Pacific Time at Rogers Centre. Chris Capuano (3-6, 4.63 ERA) takes the mound for the Dodgers. He’ll be opposed by Todd Remond (1-1, 4.32 ERA) of the Blue Jays.
Also of note, Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp had X-Rays on his left ankle that he injured in the ninth inning yesterday in Washington. The X-Rays are Negative. While Kemp is expected to miss this series in Toronto, he has not been slated for the Disabled List yet and a decision on whether to play Kemp or sit him down for 15 days will come once the injury has had a little more opportunity to heal.
- A.J. Ellis’ 4 Hits, 5 RBIs Lead Dodgers To Big 14-5 Victory Over Jays In Series Opener (losangeles.cbslocal.com)
- Ellis has 5 RBIs, Dodgers rout Blue Jays 14-5 (timesleader.com)
- Dodgers make rare visit to Toronto (cbc.ca)
- Dodgers OF Kemp expected to miss at least 3 games (timesleader.com)