The Herald Bulletin

August 1, 2013

Rick Teverbaugh: Dodgers making this season enjoyable

By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin

---- — I have been hesitating to write this for a month now.

Most baseball fans are superstitious. I think that’s because, in part, games are played every day and there are ample opportunities to test them out. But I think it’s also because the players and managers are generally open about superstitions.

But my favorite team in professional sports, the Los Angeles Dodgers, are on a hot streak that stretches back 33 games, into the final week of June. Over those 33 games, they had won 27 games going into Wednesday night’s game against the New York Yankees in Dodger Stadium.

Much of this surge has been attached to the emergence of young outfielder Yasiel Puig. He debuted when this streak was in its infancy and certainly his talent and exuberance for playing the game have been a hit with Dodger fans and his teammates.

Puig has slowed a bit from his initial surge above .400, but his hitting has been no less clutch and his impact no less noticeable.

But what I have enjoyed, as much as the winning, is the fact that his enthusiasm has been infectious and his performance has lifted others to similar heights.

For instance, Hanley Ramirez has been an even better hitter in this stretch than Puig. His presence in the heart of the batting order has made it possible to do this streak without the hitting of Matt Kemp, who is currently in his third stint on the disabled list.

Adrian Gonzalez has been phenomenal with the bat and also with his glove at first base.

AJ Ellis has been solid as the catcher and surprising as a hitter that is always a tough out. Mark Ellis has an 11-game hitting streak and it was his walk-off single in Tuesday night’s game that propelled L.A. past the Yankees.

Carl Crawford has provided a lift as the leadoff hitter once he returned from an injury.

But a lot of this wouldn’t mean anything without the team’s pitching. It has been consistently good.

Clayton Kershaw has continued his reign as the National League’s best pitcher and Zach Greinke is solid, sitting right on the cusp of win No. 100 for his career.

The Dodgers’ bullpen has been lately untouchable. Those pitchers have gone more than nine innings without giving up a hit against first the Cincinnati Reds and then the Yankees.

This has been an amazing run that has taken the team from last to first and first by more than three games as of this writing. With this end in a divisional title or even more? That remains to be seen. But the team has provided Dodgers fans a most enjoyable summer so far and I will anxiously await these final two months of the season.

Meanwhile, my other two favorite baseball teams, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Indianapolis Indians are enjoying banner seasons and are making the summer even more fun.

The Pirates Tuesday night took over first place in their division by sweeping St. Louis.

The Indians have been roughing up International League competition all year. I wish I could have seen more of their games in person. There’s one month to go for them so I still have some time.

Sports Editor Rick Teverbaugh’s columns appear twice weekly.