Not long ago, someone asked me why I never write about Mark Ellis. After all, we spend so much time discussing Luis Cruz, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, etc., so why not Ellis?. The answer is simple — other than complaining that he doesn’t hit righty pitching that well, he rarely generates a story. He gives you solid defense, enough to carry generally mediocre offense, but he’s usually not so good or so lousy that he demands a great deal of attention. It’s not sexy, but there’s value in that kind of consistency.
That changes tonight, because Ellis’ big night was the highlight of a 7-2 Dodger victory that was closer than it seemed, given that it was a tie game after six innings. Ellis homered off both Robert Carson and Brandon Lyon — who apparently is still in the majors — following two singles off Jonathon Niese. But even saying “Ellis had four hits” doesn’t really do it enough justice, because his second single hit Niese in the lower leg and forced the New York starter out of the game in the third inning, which isn’t going to help the Mets bullpen for the remainder of the series.
So here’s to you, Mark Ellis, hitting your 100th and 101st career homers while quietly hitting .348/.370/.470 this year with the usual solid defense. The night is yours.
For once, the Dodgers didn’t have to point to a lone offensive contributor, even on a night where Carl Crawford was 0-5. A.J. Ellis, Matt Kemp, & Adrian Gonzalez all got on twice; Justin Sellers had three hits of his own, and all of a sudden that .220/.316/.280 doesn’t look so bad, does it? Don Mattingly, apparently following my advice, stuck with Jerry Hairston & Juan Uribe at third base and got not one but two walks for his trouble. More than ever, I think Cruz might be getting DFA’d next week whenever Hanley Ramirez returns.
All of that offensive run overshadowed a second consecutive disappointing start from Clayton Kershaw, who lasted only five innings despite throwing 114 pitches. Kershaw actually breezed through 2 2/3 before inexplicably walking Carson — who was at the plate for the first time in the majors — and then Ruben Tejada with two outs in the third. Daniel Murphy & David Wright cashed in run-scoring hits, and while that’s all Kershaw would allow, he didn’t look like himself. Fortunately, the bullpen — Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, Matt Guerrier, & Josh Wall — threw four scoreless innings to retain the lead.