LOS ANGELES – The good feelings are still going. Whether it’s confidence or timely hitting or a sense that this is how it should have been all along, the Dodgers can’t seem to lose.
They get strong pitching one night, exceptional offense another. They win on the road and at home. They find a new star every day.
Their clubhouse is not especially raucous after wins; it seems more like business as usual, as it did Thursday night following a 6-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies. For the first time since April 15, the Dodgers are over .500 (46-45), but it seemed as if no one took notice.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said second baseman Mark Ellis, who had three hits and drove in four runs. “Obviously, things have turned around a little bit and we’re playing better baseball, but we’re just trying to have fun.”
They’ve had a lot of it lately. The win was the Dodgers’ fifth in a row and their 16th in 18 games. In their past 15 games against National League West opponents, they’re 13-2.
Starting pitcher Chris Capuano took a shutout into the seventh inning, struck out a season-high eight batters and won for the first time since June 19. He didn’t allow more than one base runner in any inning until the seventh, and by that time he had a 3-0 lead.
The only reason for concern after the game was a slight groin tweak that outfielder Yasiel Puig felt running out a single in the fourth. He was finally lifted in the eighth inning, although it’s uncertain how serious the injury is.
“It’s been bothering me since I ran into the wall in Colorado,” Puig said through a team translator, a reference to the game last Wednesday when he collided with the fence at Coors Field. “I’ll get treatment tomorrow, but it doesn’t really bother me now.”
Manager Don Mattingly said Puig was pulled for precautionary reasons, and it makes sense. The Dodgers don’t want to take chances with their gifted rookie, who has been so important to their resurgence since he arrived from the minors June 3.
There was a rumor after the game that Puig was upset about being removed, but he dismissed that suggestion, saying, “I feel good. The team won, so why wouldn’t I feel good?”
That makes sense. The Dodgers appear unstoppable, at least over the past three weeks, and now, after a 7-2 road trip, they opened their final four games before the All-Star break with another victory.
“We’re confident, and I think we’ve got a little momentum on our side,” Mattingly said. “It’s a good time to keep it rolling, knowing that there are days that it’s not going to look like this.”
Capuano helped, pitching long enough to rest a weary bullpen that endured a 14-inning game Wednesday night in Arizona.
Capuano had given up 10 earned runs in six innings over his previous two starts and was essentially demoted to the bullpen. But he kept his spot and got an extra two days between starts when Stephen Fife went on the disabled list with bursitis in his pitching shoulder.
He used to time to find a better downward break in his ball.
“I had a good focus tonight,” Capuano said. “I made a little mechanical adjustment between starts to get a little more action down, and it helped me get ahead of the hitters. I was getting real lateral, flat, so between starts I was just working on trying to stay more in line, trying to throw more down, finish the pitch and it worked tonight.”