LOS ANGELES – Whatever turmoil may have taken place with the Dodgers this week ended the moment Yasiel Puig ran from the dugout to right field in the top of the first inning on Friday.
Everything went back to normal for the Dodgers — in every possible way.
Puig had four hits, Adrian Gonzalez hit two home runs, pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu won his 13th game, and the Dodgers – well, they’re back to winning in good form.
Their 9-2 rout of the San Diego Padres was their 22nd August victory, breaking the Los Angeles franchise record for wins in a calendar month. After a brief stumble following their 10-game winning streak, the Dodgers have won seven of their past 10 and again lead the National League West by 10½ games.
The controversy that surrounded manager Don Mattingly’s decision to pull Puig in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs still lingered, but all parties seem to be moving forward.
“I just came to play baseball like I always do,” Puig said after collecting three singles and one double and stealing two bases.
And Mattingly, who said before the game that the matter was over, seemed a bit perturbed afterward when the Puig benching was brought up again.
“Do we have to go back into this every time?” he asked. “He was fine. He played the game the way we want. The other day is over; he was great tonight.”
It wasn’t just Puig. The Dodgers collected 13 hits, including seven for extra bases, and Ryu rebounded from losses in his past two starts, pitching into the seventh and giving up just one run.
More important, he had a routine first inning after giving up four runs in the first to the Boston Red Sox in his last start.
“It looked like he kind of made a decision after that rough first inning against Boston,” Mattingly said. “It looked like he came out tonight and was not going to let that happen again. His velocity was way up early in the game, sharp in the first inning. It looked like he came out with a purpose and continued on.”
Ryu’s contribution was more than his pitching. In the second inning, he drove a pitch from Padres starter Eric Stults the opposite way, scoring Mark Ellis from second base for the Dodgers’ first run of the game. Then he scored on a single by Puig, sliding into home plate and avoiding the tag of catcher Nick Hundley.
Ryu kind of thumped into the plate, prompting Mattingly to say, “He was safe, right? So it was a good technique.”
Ryu is proving to be an impressive hitter, despite coming to the U.S. from Korea, where the designated hitter is used. He’s hitting .200 (10 for 50) with three doubles, one triple and five RBI.
“He’s a great hitter,” Gonzalez said. “It’s pretty fun to watch. Most of our pitchers can really hit, and they do a lot to help themselves out. Most of the time they’re the ones that get us going.”
Gonzalez did too, hitting a two-run homer off Stults in the third another two-run shot off reliever Anthony Bass in the seventh. A.J. Ellis followed Gonzalez’s second homer with one of his own.
Gonzalez didn’t play Wednesday and the team had Thursday off, giving him two days to recover from a chest cold that hit several players this week. He came out for early batting practice Friday, he said, “to get my feel back.”
Given the way they’ve looked the past few days, all of the Dodgers are back. Friday began a stretch of games in which they play NL West opponents in 26 of 29 games. But with the lead they have, those games will do little more than get them prepared for the playoffs.
“We don’t have to focus on who we’re playing,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to play the same way against every single team, and we’re not going to change. We’re not going to get up for a team and we’re not going to come down for a team. We’re just going to play our game.”