The three games in SF to start this week provided a monumental step up for the Dodgers, on several fronts.
Since briefly pulling into a tie with the Padres a couple of weeks ago, the Dodgers have been floundering, including the almost total tank in interleague play. The bullpen had been in shambles, and the 48-pitch losing effort by Jonathan Broxton on Sunday seemed to foretell worse days approaching. The horrible play and subsequent benching of the team’s most talented player, Matt Kemp, seemed to be a microcosm of the entire team as far as overall play and attitude.
With all this, the Dodgers headed to SF and three games with the second-place Giants, likely without the option of Broxton in the bullpen, and the big question of the health of Chad Billingsley coming off the DL to start game one, followed by the recently inconsistent John Ely in game two, and then with Vicente Padilla making his thirdd start since returning, in game three.
Well, game one saw Billingsley pitch an excellent six innings, with fine relief following him, including a save from Hong-Chih Kuo. Tuesday saw Ely in fine form, plus a save from Ronald Belasario. But, the game also saw an injury to Manny, who is now likely day-to-day for a couple of weeks. But that injury meant a return to the lineup for Matt Kemp. He responded with two hits yesterday, but he followed that up today with three hits, including his 13th HR, 3RBI, and perhaps a re-awakening. Padilla was also in top form, giving up three hits and a run in seven. The bullpen, no thanks to George Sherrill, managed to hold on to most of an 8-1 lead.
This series could be a turning point in a so far erratic season. Healthy returns by Rafael Furcal, Billingsley and Padilla have been key, but Matt Kemp has to be the offensive leader the rest of the way.