I will say this, I have pointed out all the negative of not having Manny in the lineup, but how about the positive?
Without Manny, each hitter is practicing not being dependent on Manny and taking it upon themselves to produce the big hit. So far it is working. The Dodgers took 2 of 3 in Florida and have a 6.5 game lead over the Giants. Part good play, part very bad division. In fact in the last 10 games, no NL West team (outside LA) is playing over .500 and only the Dodgers and Rockies have scored more runs than they have given up on the season.
But back to the Dodgers and the offense. The offense continues to thrive leading the league in OPB and second behind only the Blue Jays in batting average. A lot of the credit has been going to hitting coach Don Mattingly. Last year, Mattingly was away from the team most of the first half with family issues. He came back around the All-Star break, and that is when the Dodger lineup started to thrive. A lot of the players this year say the consistency of one voice really helps. Let's also remember Mattingly can hit himself, having a career average over .300. Growing up in NY during the Mattingly era, for three years, there was no better player in the MLB, period. For three years he averaged .340 avg, 32 Home runs and 125 RBI's. I must also remind you this was the non-steroid era, hence Mattingly breaking down via back injury. So it is apparent that he knows how to relay the message of hitting over to the players.
Obviously Juan Pierre is listening, as he had 8 hits in the series setting the table for the Dodgers in the leadoff spot and taking over for Manny in left field.
The Dodgers only pulled one victory from their starter during the 3 game set, Clayton Kershaw, who came into the game with the worst road era for an NL starter. He put that to rest with a gem, a no-no into the 8th. Torre sure is glad that Kershaw gave up the hit, because he was coming up on 113 pitches, and would have been a tough decision for Joe whether to leave him in. Eric Milton made his debut on the season after sitting out two years because of Tommy John surgery. He had a decent outing giving up two runs through four, leaving with the game tied getting a no decision.
In a possible playoff preview (too early?), the Dodgers won an ugly one last night on the Met's 5th error of the game who looked like they flew out from the East coast without an off day, not the Dodgers. I am sure an extra inning game is not what the doctor ordered after a 3,000 mile flight. We'll see if the Dodgers come out sluggish tonight as Chad Billingsley goes after win # 6 at 7:10.
Jon La Bella can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Written by Jon Bella