When the Dodgers were down 6-0 in the ninth inning Friday night, it appeared that Matt Kemp's consecutive games played streak, the longest active streak in MLB at 268 games, would end. Kemp didn't start the game because of a tight left hamstring and since this game was pretty much over anyway one could hardly blame manager Don Mattingly if he decided to fully rest his best hitter.
However, Mattingly did in fact send Kemp to pinch hit, and the result was an 11-pitch at-bat which ended with the longest home run hit by a Dodger this season, 458 feet over the seats in left field and onto the concourse. As Vin Scully noted of Kemp on the Prime Ticket broadcast, "he's not going to have to run." As Mattingly said after the game, he knew of the streak, per Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
"He didn't ask, but I knew it was important to him," said Mattingly.
"Definitely cool," Kemp said of his manager. "And I got that at-bat to keep that feel. The way I'm feeling right now, I'm feeling good at the plate."
Feeling good at the plate is an understatement for Kemp this season. He has six home runs in the last seven days, but streaking is nothing new for Kemp. Consider these power surges from Kemp:
- Seven home runs in 11 games in 2006 in his first two weeks in the majors
- Six home runs in 10 games in 2009
- Seven home runs in 10 games in 2010 in the first two weeks of the season
- Home runs in five straight games to end the 2010 season, a Dodgers record
- Five home runs in nine games last month
- His current six home runs in seven games
Kemp has an amazing 12 home runs in his last 23 games, a span of just 93 plate appearances (he's hitting .349/.409/.855 during that span). No player in baseball has more home runs (24) and RBI (66) than Kemp since last September 28, a span of 70 games. Kemp is simply locked in right now, and it's a joy to watch.