Wednesday night the Los Angeles Dodgers topped the Philadelphia Phillies 7-2 to take the series and attempt the sweep Thursday. The win puts the Dodgers (67-52) 1.5 games above the skidding San Francisco Giants (66-54) for first place in the National League West.
Adrian Gonzalez went yard twice, and Justin Turner also hit a two-run homer continuing the Dodgers hot hitting streak.
Scott Kazmir was on the mound for the Dodgers before being pulled in the sixth inning after loading the bases. He left giving up two runs on eight hits.
With the second victory over the Phillies in two days, the Dodgers now sit atop the NL west. Thanks in part to the Giants who have been free-falling since the MLB All-Star break. Since the break the Giants have gone 21-30 and they just ended a homestand where they were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Other than benefiting from the Giants’ hitting and pitching woes, the Dodgers have somehow been motivated in the absence of their ace Clayton Kershaw. They have gone 21-15 with Kershaw on a 60-day Disabled list, erasing the Giants’ six-game lead. The Dodgers accomplished this by stacking their bullpen, utilizing their depth and manager Dave Roberts’ rotation adjustments.
More notably, the Dodgers have been surging without former phenomenon Yasiel Puig who was sent to triple-A at the trade deadline. Although Puig is excelling in the minor league batting .481 with 13 hits in 27 at-bats, it is unlikely Roberts will pull him up this season. The Dodgers have been on a roll and it would not be wise to shake up the chemistry of what is now a good team. Furthermore, Puig’s success at the plate is largely due to the level of pitching in triple-A. Considering his struggles at the plate in the Majors, seven games is not a big enough sample size to see if he is improving.
The Dodgers will continue to move on without Puig and Kershaw, and for the moment look better because of it. They are currently tied for the best record in the NL with the Washington Nationals looking to complete a sweep of the Phillies. However, Kershaw may be ready to get back on the mound for L.A. sooner than his August 27th availability date. He hasn’t pitched since June 26th due to a herniated disc in his back but is expected fly to Cincinnati to join the team and to throw what Roberts called “light bullpen”.