|Andre Ethier hits grand slam in 2nd inning of today's 8-2 win at Seattle (photo by Getty Images/Otto Greulle Jr)|
We all dreaded these 10 games. The road trip from hell. A real grueling part of the schedle into some unfriendly cities where the Dodgers have struggled in the past. All of it coming off of a 4 game sweep at home by the lowly Brewers.
On June 1st, with a five game lead and the Giants streaking, we were thinking that if they still returned home in first place, that would be an accomplishment. Three days into the road trip, that lead was reduced to 3 games and I was thinking that by the time the Philadelphia series was over, the Dodgers might already be in second place.
But Kershaw stepped up, and so did Billingsley. Gordon and Herrera sparked rallies. Travis Lee was vanquished in a comeback win and then old nemesis Cole Hamels was defeated after he was spotted a 3-0 lead. The club made history in Philadelphia and swept the defending NL East champs and flew back west with their lead back to four games.
Seattle started disastrous, but a let down was to be expected after a 6 1/2 hour flight and three hour time loss. Nobody expects to be no-hit, but they didn’t let that setback affect their bats the next two days, scoring 16 runs in the final two of the interleague series. The Dodgers finished this road trip 7-3, and in the same position in the standings that they were when they left. Five games ahead of the Giants.
|Castellanos, Gwynn and Ethier celebrate (AP Photo)|
As well as San Francisco has played, the Giants have to be frustrated that they couldn’t gain any ground on the Dodgers during this part of their schedule. Giant beat writer Henry Schulman predicted that the Dodgers would roll over and die during this trip and that the Giants would surge against much easier opponents. Many of us weren’t as blunt as he was, but deep down, we were probably thinking the same thing.
A five game lead on June 10th isn’t really anything to get excited about, but having the best record in baseball is. Doing all that without the best player in the lineup is. Accomplishing what the Dodgers have so far without Mark Ellis, Uribe, Lilly, and others is something that most of us never imagined would happen.
This team had contributions from almost everyone during the trip. Think about it. Herrera's clutch late inning hits. Ethier grand slam today. Gordon's late inning heroics. Chad Billingsley's two wins. Kershaw's clutch win yesterday. Tony Gwynn Jr and his RBI triple and single in Philadelphia. Matt Treanor and his crucial runs batted in. Bobby Abreu, A.J. Ellis, Jerry Hairston's amazing 5 RBI day. Jansen, Belisario, Elbert, Lindblom all performing well in the bullpen. Contributions have been coming from all corners. Don Mattingly has been mixing lineups and keeping players fresh. He plugs in combinations and lineups that seem to be working. He is thus far the Manager of the Year without a doubt.
There’s no time for this team to rest on its laurels. In come the Angels with Albert Pujols for three. They have never done well against this club. Hopefully the trends continue to change. But again, what a road trip!
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