Matt Kemp Matt Kemps the Diamondbacks. Matt Kemp.

Matt Kemp‘s pursuit of the Triple Crown is all but over tonight, since Jose Reyes had three hits and Ryan Braun came off the bench to grab a hit, while Kemp went just 1-4 with two strikeouts, pushing his average down to .324.

That sounds like bad news, but the one hit… well, bask in the glory of Kemp’s 38th homer and fifth in the last eight games:

What a blast. I particularly like the guy in the dark gray shirt who nearly gets beaned by the missile from about 430 feet away. As ESPN/LA’s Tony Jackson noted:

Of Kemp’s now 38 HRs, that was one of the most majestic.

Other things happened tonight, of course, as the Dodgers guaranteed themselves a winning record by moving to 81-78 with two games left. On the offensive side of the ball in addition to Kemp, Jerry Sands extended his hitting streak to 14 games and James Loney hit his 30th (!) double of the season. On the mound, Dana Eveland was impressive in going 5 2/3 scoreless innings, aided by Josh Lindblom getting the final out of a bases-loaded, two-out jam in the sixth.  Nathan Eovaldi and Scott Elbert did their best to blow the game in the eighth with four walks, and Dee Gordon did his best to give it away with an error and a botched double play in the ninth, but come on. Matt Kemp. (Actually, back to that eighth inning for a moment; as if on cue, after I dedicated an entire post to praising him today, Don Mattingly chose to bring Mike MacDougal into a tight spot – bases loaded, one out – rather than Kenley Jansen, because of course he did. Jansen did pitch the night before, but only eleven pitches and was off the day before; MacDougal, rather predictably, allowed a run that was not charged to him by walking Geoff Blum.)

Kemp now has two more games to hit two more dingers and become the fifth player in history to have a 40/40 season – which, by the way, would all but guarantee him the MVP award – and the first since Alfonso Soriano did so for Washington in 2006. Mattingly said he’d consider hitting Kemp leadoff on Wednesday in an effort to get him an extra at-bat, though he also said he’d like to continue Joe Torre’s tradition of letting the players manage the final game. In that case, I propose letting him hit in every spot in the lineup, like Bugs Bunny. While Kemp has never seen rookie Jarrod Parker – obviously, since Tuesday is Parker’s MLB debut – he has hit three homers of off Wednesday’s starter, Joe Saunders.

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