We have officially reached the point where I have no idea what to say about Yasiel Puig any longer. In a game where Paul Maholm absolutely dominated the Dodger offense with ease, it was Puig’s sixth inning blast that prevented Hyun-jin Ryu from being saddled with an unfair 1-0 loss. (Let’s just take the moment now, since it will get totally lost, to point out just how outstanding Ryu was again. The man has been a savior this season.)
Puig’s homer didn’t just tie a record — and it did, because only two other players in history have driven in 10 runs in the first five games of their career — it sent what was already a fanbase fawning over him into complete overdrive. Put it this way: there’s now a Twitter account called @PuigAtBat. It’s a bot, dedicated entirely to letting people know that Puig is up so they can flip to the Dodger game. Whomever created it was absolutely correct to do so, because how can you turn away? You try to keep in mind that the only other hitter in history with four homers in his first five games was Mike Jacobs, who turned out to be nothing, but still. Puig is living in some rarefied air.
That was proven in the eighth, when Puig came up with Ramon Hernandez at third and two out. I know it’s being taken as an enormous sign of respect that the Braves intentionally walked Puig, but to be honest, it’s just common sense. Would you rather face Puig, or Mark Ellis against a righty? Of course. It’s not even a decision. Predictably, Ellis flew out — and why we did not see Skip Schumaker or Nick Punto either running for Hernandez or hitting for Ellis or both, I do not know — and the game remained tied. (No, since many have asked, Puig getting an intentional pass in his 20th MLB plate appearance isn’t a record or really close to it; 38 different times, it’s happened in a hitter’s big league debut.)
That theme repeated itself in the tenth (after 1.1 quality shutout innings from Kenley Jansen) when Hernandez singled and advanced to second on a wild pitch from Anthony Varvaro. Again, Don Mattingly choice not to run for the glacially slow catcher, until Luis Cruz singled him to third. Only then did Schumaker enter, and lest you think only I was confused about this, please do notice my Twitter feed at that moment as shown at right.
With first and third, we hoped either that Juan Uribe would continue his hilarious 2013 with a walkoff or — and this was probably far, far more of us — that he would not do that and set Puig up for more heroics. But the wild Varvaro uncorked another wild pitch past sort-of-a-catcher Evan Gattis, and Shumaker ran home to be mobbed at the plate for the grand effort of coming off the bench to jog home 90 feet.
Let it be known that Brandon League collected the win, which, well, you know.
By the way, we always gripe that umpiring calls always seem to go against the Dodgers. Remember this the next time we say that — in the ninth, tied at one, League had allowed Jason Heyward to double. Justin Upton weakly topped a ball into the grass just in front of the plate, but by the time Hernandez managed to ever so slowly get to it and throw to first to “get the out” and save League from himself, well…
Thanks, C.B. Bucknor. You’re the absolute worst, but I’ll take it for today.