Magical season continues for Los Angeles Dodgers

Dee Gordon kept the 2012 magic alive for the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday with his walk-off single. (Keith Birmingham/Daily News)

It’s great to be an L.A. Dodger right now! No, I’ve never taken the field at Dodger Stadium wearing the beautiful blue and white of my beloved baseball team.

But I’m still an L.A. Dodger!

It’s like that old Dr Pepper jingle from the 1970s: “I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper; wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?”

The 2012 version of that jingle goes, “I’m a Dodger, you’re a Dodger, he’s a Dodger, she’s a Dodger; wouldn’t you like to be a Dodger, too?” It’s not too late to join the bandwagon!

Attendance at Dodger Stadium is up, and the drama that was last season is down. With the team that has the best record in all of Major League Baseball residing in Los Angeles (not Anaheim!), it’s fun to be a Dodgers fan in 2012.

How have the Dodgers taken MLB by storm this season? Some people think it’s been by smoke and mirrors (and a weak schedule), but the Dodgers have jumped out to a 9-1 record because of solid pitching and two hot hitters.

Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier have almost double-handedly carried the Dodgers on their bats this season. Sure, there have been seven other hitters in the lineup during each of the Dodgers’ 10 games, but make no mistake about it: The offense has been Kemp and Ethier.
How much of an offensive load have Kemp and Ethier carried so far?

  • They have combined for nine of the Dodgers’ 10 team home runs
  • They have combined for 31 of the team’s 50 RBIs
  • They have scored one-third of the team’s runs (18 of 55)
  • They have hit almost half of the team’s doubles (7 of 16)

It’s safe to assume Kemp won’t continue to hit .487 the rest of the season. After all, MLB hasn’t had a .400 hitter since Ted Williams in 1941. However, it’s also safe to say first baseman James Loney won’t continue to hit .148.

It’s also safe to figure that leadoff hitter Dee Gordon won’t continue to bat .200 the rest of the season. After all, Gordon’s career minor league batting average over four seasons is .303.

Another big reason that the Dodgers have the best record in MLB is their bullpen. Last season, the sixth through eighth innings were a crapshoot. Blown leads seemed to appear as often as fake IDs at an off-campus college bar.

In 2012, the Los Angeles bullpen has been stellar. Closer Javy Guerra and setup men Josh Lindblom and Matt Guerrier have combined to pitch 17.1 innings with an ERA of 0.00! Over those 17.1 innings, the three relievers have struck out 13 hitters and have only allowed five hits.

Starting pitching has been almost as good. Chad Billingsley has paced the starting pitching with a 2-0 record and 0.63 ERA. He also struck out 13 hitters in 14.1 innings.

Lefty Ted Lilly came off the disabled list Saturday to toss a gem at the San Diego Padres. Lilly only allowed two hits over seven innings and picked up his first victory. Ace lefty Clayton Kershaw has been human thus far, “only” posting a 2.35 ERA and striking out 13 hitters in his 15.1 innings pitched.

Things get much tougher for the Dodgers as they travel to Milwaukee and Houston this week, before hosting the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium. This nine-game stretch will go a long way in determining whether the Dodgers will remain the darlings of MLB.

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