Vin Scully, the inimitable Dodgers broadcaster, has begun to use the term “Magic Castle” to describe Dodger Stadium, and isn’t that just perfect?
For the past seven dreamy days, Chavez Ravine was a wondrous place where nothing was impossible and where amazing things seemed to happen routinely.
There is really no explanation for what the Dodgers are doing — and for what they’ve been doing for almost two months — but it clearly defies baseball logic. As Scully likes to say, it’s magic.
They pulled out another extraordinary victory Wednesday night — one that was as improbable as any other this season. Last Friday night, the Dodgers came back from 6-0 down to beat the Tampa Bay Rays; on Wednesday, it was a 4-0 deficit against the New York Mets that was transformed into a 5-4, 12-inning win.
If there were any regrets after the game, they were undoubtedly felt by the Dodgers fans who inexplicably drove out of the parking lot with their team down to its final two outs in the ninth.
Here’s an advisory: Do not give up on these Dodgers, regardless of the score, the inning or the late hour.
“You get that don’t-give-up attitude, you get that confidence, that belief that whatever the lead is, whatever the circumstance is, your team is going to figure out a way to get it done,” outfielder Andre Ethier said.
Now, the Magic Castle goes on the road, playing three games in Philadelphia and four more in Miami against a hapless Marlins team that has only six more wins (46) this season than the Dodgers have since June 22 (40).
But there is no reason to believe the next seven days will alter the Dodgers’ course. They won seven of eight games on their most recent road trip and, at one point, won 15 in a row away from home. Their 34-25 road mark is the best in the National League.
“We’ve just got to keep it going,” relief pitcher Paco Rodriguez said. “We’ve still got a month and a half left, and if we keep this going, we’ve got a great shot to be in position to win the World Series.”
There, he said it. The World Series.
Premature? Yes. Far-fetched? Probably not.
Consider their current historic run. Their 41-8 record since June 22 hasn’t been bettered since the 1942 St. Louis Cardinals went 41-7 over a similar stretch. The Dodgers are 20-3 since the All-Star break and haven’t lost two consecutive games since June 20-21 – almost two months ago.
Looking for reasons to understand why all this is happening? Start with these three:
‘Pen pals: Not to overlook the work of starters Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but the bullpen has been steady and reliable. In Wednesday’s win, five relievers held the Mets scoreless over the final seven innings. In the past 27 innings over six games, Dodgers relievers have allowed two earned runs, a 0.67 ERA. Even Carlos Marmol, a Chicago Cubs castoff, has been hot, working 6 1/3 innings without allowing a run.
Bench press: The Dodgers are relying on much more than their big bats to produce runs. On Tuesday night, they beat the Mets even though Ethier, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp were out with injuries. Backup infielder Jerry Hairston Jr. drove in a run on Wednesday, and Nick Punto came up with a big home run in the series opener on Monday.
The Puig Factor: It’s been said before, but it should be said again: Yasiel Puig’s infusion of energy can’t be ignored. He remains an unpolished product, but his sheer talent is mesmerizing. Two examples: In Wednesday’s win, he threw out Marlon Byrd trying to go from first base to third on a single to right field – on a perfectly placed throw on the fly. Then, in the deciding 12th inning, he hit a grounder off the glove of shortstop Omar Quintanilla and turned a single into a double with a head-first dive.
That hit preceded the game-winning double off the bat of Adrian Gonzalez, who may well be the team’s MVP.
Dodger Stadium erupted, just as it did virtually every night on a 6-0 homestand.
Between now and the end of the season, there doesn’t appear to be many obstacles to break up the momentum. The Dodgers have three home games next weekend against the Red Sox, three more on the road at Cincinnati in September and seven against the Arizona Diamondbacks, which may or may not be critical to their hold on first place in the National League West.
The D-Backs have every reason to feel deflated. They won six of eight games since Aug. 6 but still lost 1½ games in the standings to the Dodgers.