|Yasiel Puig hits his third homer of the day (photo by Bill Boyce/Associated Press)|
Saturday, September 15, 2018
Is It Possible that the Dodgers Are Finally Hitting Their Stride in September?
Some Dodger teams in the past five years during their division title streak have had a tendency to get hot in unprecedented fashion. This is something that has avoided the 2018 ball club. But maybe, just maybe, they are now starting that historic win steak. This time at the perfect time of year.
Few will forget 40 wins out of 50 games in the months of June and July in 2014. And then there was last season's summer run where the Dodgers went 55-11 between June 7th and August 25th. Both were unforgettable hot streaks and at record levels. Most would agree that both those teams peaked too soon. Could you imagine if one of those team had that incredible run in September/October? I may be going out on a limb with this observation, but perhaps we are about to see it now.
2018 has been frustrating for those if us used to watching the blue have a torrid hot streak the past few years. Just when things have seemed to get on track this year, they get swept by the likes of the Cardinals at home. With a crucial road trip in September, they started fine with two wins out of three in Colorado, only to drop two in a row in Cincinnati to the last place Reds. Things looked pretty bleak on Wednesday of this week. By tonight, (Saturday), all those bleak predictions are out the window.
Suddenly, when the team really needs a hot streak, they are on it. It is make or break time. A failure here means no October baseball. After the last four games, none of us can imagine an October without Dodger baseball. These guys are clicking on all cylinders.
How so? Look at these numbers in the last four games:
39 runs scored, including a .348 Batting average with runners in scoring position (15 for 43). This is quite the turnaround. Small sample size? Sure, it's only four games, but a trend is developing. Hitting in the clutch is something that has been lacking all year. Perhaps it is their time now. Look at some of the offensive production over those four games:
Puig 15 AB, 7 R, 9 H, 9 RBI, 5 HR
Turner 14 AB, 4 R, 7 H, 4 RBI, 2 2B, 1 Sac Fly, 3 BB
Machado 17 AB, 3 R, 4 H, 5 RBI, 2 HR, 1 2B, 1 Sac Fly
Bellinger 14 AB, 4 R, 4 H, 6 RBI, 1 HR
Grandal 12 AB, 1 R, 4 H, 3 RBI
Pederson 14 AB, 3 R, 5 H, 1 RBI, 1 HR
Hernandez 10 AB, 2 R, 3 H, 2 BB
Muncy 6 AB, 4 R, 2 H, 1 RBI, 8 BB
What shouldn't be overlooked are the 8 innings of shutout-2 hit ball that Walker Beuhler pitched on Friday night.
There was one event over the past four games that stands out to me, and I'm hoping it will be talked about in the future as the "catalyst" that launched the Dodger championship season. I'm talking about the "At Bat of At Bats" by David Freese.
On Thursday night, with the Dodgers facing a dominating Cardinals club that completely manhandled them in a 3-game sweep at Dodger Stadium in late August, former Cardinal David Freese came to the plate in the first inning with Turner and Machado in scoring position.
This is the typical situation we have seen all year where a Dodger would fail to deliver, stranding runners on base. Not this time.
In a 14 pitch at bat, reminiscent of Alex Cora's 18-pitch masterpiece against Matt Clement back in 2004, Freese laced a triple down the left field line to start the Dodger offensive onslaught this weekend. Cardinal starter Austin Gomber was ineffective after raising his pitch count to over 30 in an effort to get the first three outs of the night.
Perhaps I'm wrong, but the David Freese at bat may turn out to be the catalyst to lift the Dodgers season. Meanwhile, let's sit back and enjoy some pennant race baseball. There are 13 games to go, and if the Dodgers are hitting their hot streak stride right now, October baseball should be mighty fun to watch.