Who Are You People and What Have You Done with Our Dodgers?
Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig
Let's talk "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," shall we? Not the 1978 Donald Sutherland-Brooke Adams version, fine though it may have been, but the Cold War pod people Don Siegel movie, starring Kevin McCarthy and released in 1956.
On June 2, 2013, the Dodgers lost to the Rockies by the score of 7-2, leaving Denver with a 23-32 record, 8 ½ games behind first-place Arizona. Luis Cruz went hitless at shortstop, dropping his average to .112 and Matt Magill threw half of his 110 pitches for strikes, while walking nine and surrendering six earned runs.
After the game, the team sent Magill tail between his legs packing to the minors and promoted a young man named Yasiel Puig, an escapee from one of planet's few remaining Communist countries, a little island off our south eastern coast known as Cuba.
Puig singled to begin his career and the game in San Diego the next day, went 2-4, and Los Angeles beat the Padres, 2-1, with Stephen Fife picking up his first big league victory. The young Cuban homered twice among his three hits the next day, June 4, 2013, his Dodgers winning again, this time by the score of 9-7.
L.A. won four of five upon Puig's arrival on June 2, and since that fateful day have played .673 ball, with a 33-16 record to lead baseball in both categories. So the Dodgers, falling all over themselves, hitless and listless wonders one day; are on their way to greatness the next.
Have their collective bodies been snatched, a mess of a ball club replaced en masse by the inspired bunch we see before us today? What has happened to our beloved Blue? Red Scare? Who knows, but Reds scare -- Cincinnati Reds scare -- absolutely not.
The Dodgers returned from their 6-0 trip to D.C. and Toronto Thursday, Cincy next up for a four-game series. Much had been made about the level of competition -- or lack thereof -- the team had been beating lately, with the Reds supposedly representing a fair challenge. And that they were, but L.A. won three of the four over the weekend just the same, with Friday and Sunday's games resulting in especially hard-earned victories.
Clayton Kershaw pitched brilliantly Friday night, winning a taut 2-1 contest, going eight innings while allowing one run, six hits without walking a single batter. He struck out eight and improved his record to 10-6, with a 1.96 earned run average, supported by Hanley Ramirez' two-run homer and Kenley Jansen's 13th save.
Sunday was Chris Capuano's turn to spin a beauty, and while his 6 2/3 of shutout pitching was as clutch as can be, the Dodgers could do no better than a tie for all but the last instant of a the three hour and 43 minute affair. But what a last instant it was, with that Puig fellow blasting a long, majestic (and near-poetic) no-doubt-about-it home run to give L.A. a 1-0 win in 11 innings.
It was both a walkoff and a slideoff, with Puig punctuating his celebration by eschewing the customary leap onto the plate in favor of the almost unheard of slide into home, his teammates there to greet him. It was an incredible moment in what has become a Cinderella season, one in a series of surprises for what is now a remarkable Dodger team, body snatched or not.
And oh, by the way, all that's next is a two-game interleague set with the New York Yankees. Just the New York Yankees, with Derek Jeter back at short after missing all but a game of the season before his comeback Saturday, and newly-acquired old Yanks hand, Alfonso Soriano in left field.
After a break in the schedule today, Zack Greinke takes the ball Tuesday opposite Andy Pettitte at 7:10 p.m., and it's Kershaw versus former-Dodger Hiroki Kuroda Wednesday at 7:10 p.m.
A 1:15 p.m. search for tomorrow's game at Dodgers.com calls up back-row-of-the-right-field-bleachers seats for $57.50 each, with some 2000 tickets for Wednesday night ranging from $46.00 to $1982 at StubHub.com. Or you could cook up some Dodger Dogs, pull of a chair and listen to the great Vin Scully, who'll be at the mike for both games. I'm quite sure Vin will not have been replaced by a pod person...or even Eric Collins.
Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers