Yasiel Puig stepped to the plate five times today, and for the first four, it wasn’t going all that well. He made contact exactly zero times (excluding fouls), and the one time of those four he didn’t strike out, he was picked off of first base.
Most other days, that’s your day. You get your chances, you either make the best of them or you don’t, and had the Dodgers lost this game 1-0, as briefly seemed likely, you bet we’d have been talking about Puig’s ongoing baserunning issues.
Well, today’s not most other days, is it? Today’s the day where the Dodgers set more than one record Chris Capuano was inexplicably awesome, Brandon League was even more inexplicably awesome, and Puig sends the crowd home happy with his first career walk-off, a homer off someone named Curtis Partch, and then slides into home after a lovely bat flip. Isn’t baseball just great sometimes?
I have to pause here to thank Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker for his role in this win, because I don’t use the well-worn “someone named” trope here lightly. I had literally no idea who Partch even was before today (or so I thought at the time; it turns out he gave up a grand slam to Matt Holliday in his major league debut earlier this year), and that’s because he was a 26th round draft pick in his tenth major league game. Why is this relevant? Because Baker, ever so predictable and crusty Baker, was holding back the dominant Aroldis Chapman for a save. You know, the save situation that would never come because you let Curtis F’in Partch lose the game. Thanks Dusty!
What shouldn’t be lost here is that Capuano was outstanding, though aided somewhat (as was Cincinnati’s Tony Cingrani) by a generous strike zone. Capuano went 6.2 innings, striking out four while allowing just three runners, and until the Puig business, this post was going to be about how Jekyll and Hyde Capuano has been — he’s either been really, really good, or really, really awful. I’m not sure if today’s outing impacts any plans the team has around adding a starter before the deadline, but it certainly can’t hurt.
We actually have to acknowledge League as well, who somehow has three of the last five Dodger wins. (Wins!) League went two scoreless and has allowed just a single run in his last 8.2 innings pitched, and while I’m not ready to say he’s “back” or that he should ever be closing ahead of Kenley Jansen again, if he’s at least going to be decent, that’s a pretty nice boost to a bullpen that had a hole or two.
All of this excellent pitching was needed since the offense struck out an incredible twenty times, setting a franchise record. But they’ve also now won 26 of their last 32, tying a Los Angeles record, and pushing them to 2.5 games ahead of Arizona, who lost to San Diego today.
Oh, and after a day off tomorrow, Clayton Kershaw & Zack Greinke are set to welcome the Yankees into town. The national spotlight will be at Dodger Stadium. So will the hottest team in baseball. This just never stops being fun, does it?