How Don Mattingly decided to pinch run Dee Gordon on Tuesday night.

Dee and Didi

Dee Gordon stole second base as a pinch-runner in the 10th inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.


Dodgers manager Don Mattingly second-guessed his own decision-making in the 10th inning Tuesday.

With Adrian Gonzalez on first base and Andre Ethier stepping to the plate with two outs, Dee Gordon was available to pinch-run off the Dodgers’ bench. The slow-footed Gonzalez stayed on first base while Josh Collmenter threw two balls to Ethier. Then Gordon came jogging out to pinch run.

What was the manager thinking?
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Postgame thoughts: Dodgers 4, Philadelphia Phillies 0.

Cliff Lee

Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run home run off Philadelphia Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 4-0 victory Friday, their ninth straight win. (Associated Press photo)

To the guy who emails me nearly every day asking for Cliff Lee trade rumors:

The Dodgers don’t need Cliff Lee.

Would he give the Dodgers the best 1-2-3 combination in all of baseball? Yes.

Would he make them a better team? Maybe, depending on the number of prospects the Phillies demand in return, which is usually quite high two weeks before the waiver trade deadline.

But should a team that is adequately built for the present (see: 41-8 record since June 22), and needs all its elite prospects to maintain momentum through the future, trade for a guy like Cliff Lee? Probably not.

And the fact that the Dodgers don’t need Lee, after watching what he did to them Friday, is just as strong a testament to their turnaround as any statistic we could insert here.
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Daily Distractions: The significance of 2-2.

Adrian Gonzalez

The Dodgers are 38-8 in their last 46 games and need to win two of their next four to join an elite group of major-league teams. (Associated Press)

In his seminal 2000 book “The Tipping Point,” author Malcolm Gladwell identified a handful of small phenomena that predict wider epidemics. The Dodgers’ next four games could be one of those small phenomena.

If that seems a bit arbitrary, it is. Play along for a minute anyway.

On SportsIllustrated.com, Jay Jaffe tracked down the 16 major-league teams that have won at least 40 games over a 50-game stretch. Of the 16 teams, 15 reached the postseason and 13 reached the World Series. Two of the 40-win teams reached the World Series after divisional expansion in 1969: the 1998 Yankees and the 1975 Reds. (The 1977 Royals and 2001 Mariners did not.)

Now I don’t know if the 1912 New York Giants, whose 43-7 mark set the 50-game standard, could survive three rounds of playoffs and still win a World Series. I also don’t know if 50 games is the exact Tipping Point for identifying World Series-bound teams, the sample size that separates the champions from the streaky.

What I do know is that if the Dodgers go 2-2 in their next four games, they will do something achieved by only 16 other teams in major-league history — 81.3 percent of whom have gone on to reach the World Series. I like those odds.

Some links for a national left-hander’s day (which might favor Hyun-Jin Ryu tonight against Matt Harvey):
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A brief postscript on Adrian Gonzalez’s dizziness.

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez came out of Sunday’s game after eight innings because of a bout of dizziness. Twenty-four hours later, he was back in the starting lineup and played nine innings, but the cause of his ailment remained a mystery.

“I don’t know what it was,” Gonzalez said Monday. “The doctor doesn’t know what it was.

“It could have been something I ate, it could have hit me at that point. It could have been the adrenaline of the game. You never know. Your body reacts to certain things in different ways. I was just feeling light-headed.”

Adrian Gonzalez back in Dodgers’ lineup one day after feeling dizzy.

Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez complained of dizziness in the top of the eighth inning on Sunday and had to be taken out for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth, but was in Monday’s starting lineup.

In a season of Ramirez and Yasiel Puig, Gonzalez has been the steadiest Dodger throughout the season, leading the Dodgers with 16 homers and 74 RBIs. With his two-run double Sunday night, Gonzalez had recorded an RBI in six straight games.

“Adrian is just a grinder. He comes to play. He’s an example guy to me,” Mattingly said. “Day in and day out, he keeps himself in the lineup. This guy is a big-time player.”

Daily Distractions: Maybe the Dodgers don’t need to make any trades.

Dodgers Red Sox trade

Last year it was Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez and Nick Punto. Who will be on a plane to Los Angeles this year?

OK. Time for some numbers.

In July, the Dodgers’ pitching staff has been among the best in the National League in terms of ERA, fielding-independnt pitching (FIP) and batting average against, and they’re getting more run support.

Throw in their MLB-best 18-5 record this month, and the Dodgers look like baseball’s least likely team to acquire a major-league player at the trade deadline. There aren’t any bombshells on the horizon this year, unlike a year ago, when Dodger Stadium was hailing firebombs full of big-name acquisitions.

There is usually room for at least a minor upgrade, of course, and general manager Ned Colletti has mentioned the bullpen as a possible area for improvement. While Carlos Marmol has underwhelmed since becoming a Dodger, number-five starter Stephen Fife can return from his rehab assignment this weekend (his turn comes around Saturday), meaning incumbent number-five starter Chris Capuano could go to the bullpen as a long reliever. That could be the upgrade Colletti aims for.

The Atlanta Braves took one veteran reliever off the market Monday morning, acquiring Scott Downs from the Angels. Other contenders are in the market for relievers too, teams that are probably more hungry for relief pitching than the Dodgers.

For now, at least. Like last year, the horizon is farther away than it looks. The Adrian Gonzalez/Carl Crawford/Josh Beckett/Nick Punto trade didn’t go down until August 25 of last year. Joe Blanton became a Dodger on August 3.

Inevitably, some deals are being discussed right now that will fizzle, some will go down before 1 p.m. Wednesday, and others won’t be consummated until August. So we won’t really know what team the Dodgers are taking into September until September, though it will probably look a lot like this one.

Some bullet points for a Global Tiger Day:
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Yasiel Puig trails Freddie Freeman in Final Vote count.

More than 33.2 million votes were cast for the final All-Star in each league entering Tuesday, and Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig remained second to Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman, according to Major League Baseball’s official vote totals.

Freeman and Puig are still first and second, respectively, among National Leaguers. San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence was third, Washington Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond was fourth and Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was fifth when the day began.

The Dodgers are promoting both Puig and Gonzalez’s candidacies via social media and television advertisements, but Gonzalez has thrown his support behind Puig. So have many fans.

Puig is batting .409/.436/.667 in his first 33 major-league games. His eight home runs rank second on the Dodgers to Gonzalez, despite having played less than half as many games (85 to 33). His five steals are tied for third on the team. His throwing arm from right field has been a weapon that was missing with Andre Ethier the last seven years.

Meanwhile, among fans “Puigmania” has become a thing rivaling Fernandomania and other rookie sensations past. Puig’s jersey sales have set records and his candidacy has sparked some controversy over whether his career is long enough to be considered All-Star worthy this season.

Scott Van Slyke lands on the disabled list as the Dodgers shuffle the deck.

Scott Van SlykeIt’s only June, but the Dodgers have already used the disabled list 20 times on 15 different players.

Scott Van Slyke became the latest to join the ranks of the wounded Tuesday, when an MRI exam revealed bursitis in his left (non-throwing) shoulder. Van Slyke received a cortisone injection and said he should be ready to return to the lineup once the 15 days are up.

Outfielder Alex Castellanos was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque prior to Tuesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Skip Schumaker got the start in left field with Andre Ethier in center and Yasiel Puig in right.

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Yasiel Puig moves from leadoff to cleanup.

Yasiel Puig

Yasiel Puig will try on a new role Tuesday: Cleanup hitter. (Andy Holzman/Staff photographer)

Yasiel Puig is batting fourth for the Dodgers tonight against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The sensational rookie led off his first seven major league games, but Dodgers manager Don Mattingly believed the time was right to make a switch.

“I would prefer him honestly a little bit lower down at the beginning where he can run and do some things,” Mattingly said, “but with what’s going on we have to try to put the best lineup out there that gives us the best chance to win, the best chance to score runs. We’re running out there with Nick (Punto) and Mark Ellis — somebody’s got to drive in runs and it makes a lot more sense to allow hopefully those guys can get on up front for Adrian (Gonzalez) and Yasiel in the middle there and we have a chance to score some runs.”

Mattingly cautioned last week that Puig’s time at the top of the order might be temporary. On Monday, he hinted that Puig could move again soon.

“I really like him 1, 2 — that area — because I think he’s exciting up there and he changes the game,” the manager said. “I think maybe just for today or for a few games, until we get some guys back, this may be a spot that gets the best chance to win. I don’t think it messes him up.

“Hitting’s hitting,” Mattingly joked, “and he is possibly one of the greatest players that ever lived so I figured…”

Daily Distractions: More Yasiel Puig; all-star balloting; the weekend in Twitter.

Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier

It’s worth pointing out that Andre Ethier and Yasiel Puig both play right field. Finding playing time for both in a healthy lineup could become an issue. (Andy Holzman/Staff photographer)

Google “Puig will be a superstar” and click on the first result that comes up.

Go ahead, it’ll only take a second. I’ll wait.

That article came out shortly after Yasiel Puig signed with the Dodgers, but still less than a year ago. Either it took a while for those words to sink in or people tend to believe something when they see it. Or both. Danny Knobler of CBSsports.com caught up with Puig’s first manager in the United States, Matt Martin:

He was skeptical, until he saw Puig play. Then he tried to describe to everyone else what he was seeing — what we’ve all seen this week.

He told his bosses that Puig had better raw five-tool talent than Matt Kemp. They didn’t want to believe him. He searched his past and baseball’s present for other comparables, but he couldn’t find one that told the story.

“I always preface this by saying I don’t know how his career is going to turn out,” said Martin, who has since left the Dodgers and taken a job with the Orioles. “But on God-given ability going in, it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

Martin kept thinking, and finally he hit on it.

“I said, ‘He’s Adrian Peterson.’ That’s how much God-given ability this guy has,” Martin said. “That’s the comparison I had to give. He’s Adrian Peterson.”

A numerical analysis of Puig arrived today from FanGraphs. The conclusion:

Seven days in, Yasiel Puig looks like a star in the making. Maybe his approach will eventually become a problem, but it took opposing pitchers seven years to figure out how to get Josh Hamilton out. He might not walk much, but he looks like a guy who could be so good at everything else that it won’t matter.

Update: Puig was named the National League Player of the Week on Monday.

Some more bullet points for a Monday morning:
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