Photo Credit: Jeff Lewis for Sentinel
Final stretch has offense heating up and critics shutting up
By Tamara Latta
Sentinel Sports Writer
With the postseason just weeks away, the Dodgers are picking up the slack at the plate
First baseman James Loney have been picking up the pace. He's hitting .355 this month with four home runs, including his first at Dodger Stadium, and 12 RBI's. Frustration was starting to weigh in on Loney, but he refused to give up. Loney is now showing that he can be a threat heading into October when the playoffs start.
"I'm doing better just going up to the plate more relaxed" said Loney."Working with coaches and watching tape trying to figure out what's going on."
Catcher Russell Martin is starting to bring his A-game to the plate, after having a stale output most of the year. It started late last month when the Dodgers were facing the Cubs and they walked Manny Ramirez to pitch to him. On his second pitch the ball went flying to LA-LA land for a grand slam. That was a confidence booster for him. After racking up only one home run and seven RBI's last month; he's had two home runs and ten RBI's so far.
"I feel like I'm hitting the ball harder out there," said Martin. I'm being aggressive when I need to be, and not really chasing that many pitches.
Center Field Matt Kemp is making noise all over the field. We've have watched him blossom into a versatile athlete that is showing his all-around potential. Kemp is a complete athlete's package. He has the arm, the glove, the power at bat and the running speed. Already at twenty-five homeruns and ninety-six RBI's, he's making a name in the league this season. Also with a batting average of .307 it's safe to say he's the MVP on the team. His latest performance has Angels centerfielder Torri Hunter wishing he had Kemp in Orange County wearing red instead of blue.
"That guy is an all around player, a great athlete," said Hunter, also a close friend. "I would love to have him on my team right now. He's doing so much for his team right now and it's only going to get better."
It's been a while since we've seen a poised Dodger team. But at this moment they look ready for October. It's been a lot of pressure on the fellas, but they held their composure and never gave up despite the noise around them.
When they held the best record in baseball, there were all types of excuses flying around. One I recall hearing was that they were in a "weak league."
Now with the Phillies, Rockies and Cardinals in the playoff mix, the statement is they can't beat those teams in the postseason. Excuses can easily become irrelevant. So can LA get some love, affection and respect for once please?
The boys in blue are ready to compete in the National League. Forget what you heard it's more about what the stats say. The Dodgers are one of only three teams, along with the Angels and Brewers that have yet to lose more than four games in a row this season.
They stand at a season-best 30 games over .500. And most importantly, they have the best record in the league, being the first team to win 90 games after Sunday's win. By the way, that win on Sunday came against one of the game's best in Giants ace Tim Lincecum so enough talk about them not being able to beat an ace.
Although plenty can still happen as the Dodgers travel for a nine game road trip; the magic number is down to four games to clinch a spot in the playoffs and their magic number to win the NL West is eight.
By the end of the weekend, it's safe to say that I'll be smelling dodger dogs in the month of October.