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Los Angeles Dodgers Take Sole Possession of First Place with Win Over Cleveland Indians

July 1st, 2014 at 12:01 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

Just a day after tying the San Francisco Giants for first place in the NL West, the Los Angeles Dodgers gained sole possession of the division lead with a 1-0 victory over the Cleveland Indians. The Giants were idle, and the Dodgers now have a half-game lead in the West.

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Dan Haren bounced back after a series of difficult starts, giving up only one hit over seven shutout innings. Haren posted five strikeouts and only walked one while earning the victory. The tandem of Brian Wilson and Kenley Jansen finished the game, with each reliever delivering a perfect inning.

Aside from Haren and the bullpen, the Dodgers got some help from an unlikely duo in Miguel Rojas and Clint Robinson. Rojas made an outstanding diving stop on a ball seemingly bound for the outfield, and while the call on the field was overturned and Michael Bourn was awarded an infield single, Rojas prevented the Indians from scoring on the play.

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Los Angeles Dodgers Continue Rapid Ascent and Land in Tie for First Place in NL West

June 30th, 2014 at 5:00 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

And just like that, the Los Angeles Dodgers have found themselves in a tie for first place in the NL West.

As the Dodgers approach the All-Star break, they have seen their offense come to life while the starting pitching continued its dominance. They have also seen the San Francisco Giants – perceived early on in the season by many pundits as running away with division – fall apart as their offense became mired in its first extended slump of the season.

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The Dodgers reached first in much the same way as they have turned around their season: Offensive outbursts coupled with dominant pitching.

Clayton Kershaw was outstanding again, striking out 13 batters over seven innings of work while extending his scoreless inning streak to 28, which is impressive, yet it is not quite halfway to Orel Hershiser’s record-setting mark.

The offense again pounded on the opposition, getting eight timely hits that included a three-run homer from Andre Ethier to put the game firmly out of reach.

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Los Angeles Dodgers in Focus: Dee Gordon’s up and Down Season

June 29th, 2014 at 10:19 AM
By Jimmy Reynolds

When Spring Training opened up, Dee Gordon was nothing more than an afterthought at second base. The Los Angeles Dodgers had signed a high-priced (relatively speaking, at least) Cuban émigré in Alex Guerrero who they believed could easily be converted to second base to replace Mark Ellis. Gordon was to get an opportunity, and more than likely he would have an opportunity to be a bench player. After a failed experiment at shortstop, the Dodgers had Gordon work in the outfield and at second, perhaps trying to create a versatile bench player with one outstanding weapon: Speed.

The outcome of that Spring Training is well-documented, as Gordon went on to earn the position after a torrid spring. His offense continued to be of exceptional value, as he quickly took over the leadoff position and has remained there since.

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While his overall numbers appear to be solid, they do not tell the whole story. So far, Gordon has put up a slash line of .297/.350/.419 with 23 extra-base hits and 25 RBI to go with his league-leading 40 steals. The Dodgers should be thrilled to have a player as dynamic as Gordon put up these numbers, but Gordon’s season has been one of peaks and valleys.

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Hanley Ramirez Out of the Los Angeles Dodgers Lineup Again; Time for the DL?

June 28th, 2014 at 3:01 PM
By Jimmy Reynolds

Editor's note: Hanley Ramirez was added to the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup, batting third. He had initially not been included at the time of this article.

For the fifth straight game, Hanley Ramirez is not a part of the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup. The shortstop recently had an MRI that revealed no damage, and the Dodgers have said that Ramirez will return to the lineup when he is pain-free.

When that will be is a big question.

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Ramirez, who has slashed .269/.354/.469 in 73 games this year, is a major cog in the Dodger offense and may feel pressure to return earlier than necessary if the team struggles to score runs. There is also the issue of his looming free agency, as his potential payday is certain to be hampered by any extended period of missed games.

While the Dodgers would certainly welcome Ramirez’s return to the lineup, might they be better served by placing him on the 15-day DL to ensure that no additional injuries crop up due to a premature return to action?

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Scott Van Slyke Continues to Fill Important Role for the Los Angeles Dodgers

June 27th, 2014 at 5:25 PM
By Jimmy Reynolds

Amid all of the talk regarding the glut of All-Stars, Scott Van Slyke had been largely overlooked. While much was made about what the Los Angeles Dodgers would do with the likes of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, Carl Crawford and Andre Ethier, Van Slyke remained in the background and has done nothing more than quietly produce.

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Even with four serviceable outfielders, Van Slyke fills a very important need, and he has seemed to relish his role as a platoon outfielder and power bat off of the bench. After all, Van Slyke seemed destined to be with another team during last season’s offseason, as the Dodgers designated him for assignment to make room for Skip Schumaker. Fortunately, Van Slyke cleared waivers and he remained with the Dodgers.

Van Slyke has been impressive, and the Dodgers have used him in left, center and even at first base. While Van Slyke’s defense has been adequate all over the field, it is his ability to hit left-handers that is his true value.

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