Dodgers be­lieve surge is sus­tain­able

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY STEVEN WINE

Clay­ton Ker­shaw’s no­tion that the past five ex­tra­or­di­nary weeks are the new norm for the Los An­ge­les Dodgers seems to be tak­ing hold.

Go­ing into the All-Star break, Ker­shaw sug­gested the Dodgers’ surge might not be a surge at all, but a sus­tain­able pace. Then his team be­gan the sec­ond half of the sea­son with a three-game sweep at Mi­ami last week­end.

The NL West lead­ers start a two-game se­ries at the White Sox tonight with a nine-game win­ning streak and base­ball’s best record at 64-29 (.688). They have won 29 of their past 33 games (.879).

That’s some surge. Or not. “We’ve been pretty good all year,” third base­man Justin Turner said. “To say it’s a five­week thing I don’t think is fair to the team.”

If the Dodgers play .879 ball the rest of the year, they would fin­ish with 125 wins. Don’t tell them they won’t.

“Clay­ton’s quote about, ‘Are we on a hot streak, or is this just who we are?’ — I never re­ally thought about it that way, but I’m start­ing to think maybe this is just who we are,” un­beaten left-han­der Alex Wood said with a laugh. “We have a dif­fer­ent guy do­ing it ev­ery night, whether it’s pitch­ing or one of the guys in the lineup. It has been in­cred­i­ble.”

The Dodgers’ record mer­its com­par­isons to their teams in 1977 and 1955, both World Se­ries clubs. They’re 35 games above .500 for the first time since ‘77, and the record at the 93-game mark is their best since ‘55.

Why all the win­ning? Among the many rea­sons are Ker­shaw, Wood, Ken­ley Jansen, Yasiel Puig and Cody Bellinger.

-The Dodgers are 55-18 (.753) since Bellinger was pro­moted from the mi­nors. He has 26 homers and on Satur­day be­came the first rookie in the 128year history of the fran­chise to hit for the cy­cle.

-They’re 31-6 (.838) when Puig bats eighth, and he hits that low be­cause the rest of the lineup’s so po­tent. Puig is hav­ing his best year and ranks sec­ond on the team with 19 homers.

-They’re 23-0 when Jansen has a save op­por­tu­nity. Even more im­pres­sive than his 0.90 ERA are his 61 strike­outs and two walks.

-They’re 11-0 when Wood gets a de­ci­sion. He’s the first Dodgers pitcher since at least 1913 to win his first 11 de­ci­sions in a sea­son.

-And they’ve won Ker­shaw’s past 13 starts. He’s 14-2, leads the ma­jors in vic­to­ries and will take the ball again Tues­day in Chicago.

The three-time Cy Young Award win­ner has helped Los An­ge­les lead the ma­jors with an ERA of 3.12.

And the of­fence?

“I feel like ev­ery time I go out and pitch, we score five, six, seven runs,” Wood said. “It def­i­nitely takes the pres­sure off early. But you’ve got to fo­cus on smelling blood in the wa­ter and throw up ze­roes so we can fin­ish the game.

“We’re just click­ing on all cylin­ders, man.”

Even so, there might be room for im­prove­ment. The Dodgers are widely ex­pected to swing a deal be­fore the trade dead­line to re­in­force their pitch­ing. And five-time All-Star first base­man Adrian Gon­za­lez, side­lined more than a month be­cause of a her­ni­ated disk, is ex­pected back be­fore Sept. 1.

As it is, Los An­ge­les be­gan the week lead­ing sec­ond-place Ari­zona by 10 1/2 games and Colorado by 11 1/2 in the NL West, even though both teams are more than 10 games above .500.

Ker­shaw and com­pany are con­fi­dent they’ll con­tinue to do so.

AP PHOTO

Los An­ge­les Dodgers’ Justin Turner, cen­tre, cel­e­brates with team­mates af­ter hit­ting a home run dur­ing the first in­ning of a game against the Mi­ami Mar­lins on Sun­day in Mi­ami.

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