Looking at the won/loss column, this series seemed different. Looking closer at the Reds’ three-game sweep — which ended Sunday with a pair of Ronald Belisario sliders in the ninth inning — it was essentially a repeat of that July series. The venue was reversed but the home team had a slight edge again. Chapman threw hard again. Hanley Ramirez homered off Homer Bailey again.
Then it was time for the third inning.
If you were running an experiment about the merits of a replay system in baseball, this game was a petri dish full of bad calls.
Visiting teams are best advised to check their formula for winning at the front gate and pick it up on the flight out of Denver. That also applies to the Colorado Rockies, who have tried every formula in the franchise-building book and have failed. Since Coors opened in 1995, the Rockies have missed the playoffs in 17 of 20 seasons.
There was no recognizable formula for the Dodgers’ win. Their hottest pitcher and position player, Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, were both on the field when Monday’s game began, but both were on the bench by the end of the Dodgers’ 10-8 win. Puig didn’t finish the game healthy and the major-league leader in innings pitched came nowhere close to finishing the game, getting yanked after five innings and 81 pitches. A series of mental errors, physical errors and pitching changes added up to a choppy game.
The 25-year-old left-hander, in the midst of perhaps the best season ever by a Dodgers pitcher, did something he hadn’t done since April: He was pulled before he could complete six innings.
Some other Kershaw streaks of note ended in the Dodgers’ 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs:
Otherwise, everything the Dodgers did to the Miami Marlins on Thursday restored a sense of normalcy to their season.
Kershaw pitched eight shutout innings, lowering his major-league leading earned run average to 1.72, and driving in the only run he would need with an RBI single in the fourth inning. The Dodgers scored five more times against the Marlins for good measure, helped by doubles from five different players among their eight hits.
There was a point early in this series when the Dodgers looked mortal and Yasiel Puig looked immature, but that quickly passed. Having Zack Greinke and Kershaw on the mound on back-to-back days will do that for a team.
There was a time not too long ago that “Bad Zack Greinke” existed, like other pitchers prone to bipolar performances.
The precocious rookie also changed the narrative on an eventful 48 hours in Miami.
In contrast to Puig’s last two games, Tuesday’s performance was hardly a whirlwind: He played four defensive innings and saw two pitches. It was a minimalist performance that commanded a maximum of attention, the artistic opposite of the $2.5 million orgy of cartoon flamingos and marlins beyond the center-field fence.
On the afternoon of June 3, in the hours before Yasiel Puig‘s first major-league game, the rambunctious rookie was doing something rarely seen: He stood and listened.
Dodger Stadium was quiet. There couldn’t have been more than 10 people on the field. Class was in session.
Davey Lopes was a few feet from first base on the infield dirt, crouched and staring at the pitcher’s mound, leading off like he had many times in this ballpark. Their conversation was out of earshot for those of us up in the press box, but we didn’t need an imagination or an interpreter to figure out what was going on. Puig was getting a crash course from Lopes, the Dodgers’ first base coach, on how to read a major-league pitcher.
In his 66 games since then, number 66 has been picked off once and caught stealing six times. That’s not good, but it’s also not awful for a player as aggressive as Puig. If anything, it’s to be expected.