Beast Mode Never Sleeps: Matt Kemp's Amazing Start

Apr 14, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (27) reacts after hitting a two-run home run in the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE

This is starting to get comical.

Matt Kemp hit two booming home runs on Saturday night to lead the Dodgers to a 6-1 win over the San Diego Padres. It gave Kemp five home runs and 15 RBI on the season, the nine-game season to date, and the center fielder is hitting a robust .457/.474/.971 so far.

"Right now, he's just a beast," manager Don Mattingly said after the game. "Matt does so many things. That's what's so compelling about him. He can run, he's a good defender and base stealer.

"I still feel like he's getting better, and that's kind of scary for a lot of people. As he gets the strike zone, and gets the feel, and keeps consistently doing what he's doing, the sky is the limit for him."

All five of Kemp's home runs this season have been hit to either center or right field, which is just where he and the team want him to hit them.

"I'm just trying to think up the middle, trying to get good pitches to hit and drive them where they are pitched," said Kemp.

"That's kind of where Matty's home runs are. He doesn't pull too many balls," Mattingly said of Kemp, who hit 24 of his 39 home runs last year to center or right field. "That's why he doesn't need to be in the home run hitting contest. Everything has to be center and right center for him."

Kemp has had the fans cheering "M-V-P" at nearly every good deed, whether it is here at Dodger Stadium or last weekend at Petco Park in San Diego. That chant never gets old for Kemp.

"I always get chills. When you hear the crowd going crazy, there's no better feeling," Kemp said.

As Kemp continues to blister the ball at a crazy pace, the question had to be asked, has he ever been better?

"Last year he was pretty much like this it seemed like a lot of the year," Mattingly said. "But he's been good, he's been focused. It's what he's capable of, and it's day to day with him. He and Andre bump our team."

Ah yes, Andre Ethier, not to be forgotten, having a fantastic start to the season in his own right. Ethier homered Saturday night as well, his third of the season, and is hitting .303/.395/.697. Ethier's 14 RBI trail Kemp by one for the major league lead.

"It's what we talked about, needing that one-two punch. If those guys can be like this all year long it makes us a better club. We just have to contribute around them," Mattingly said.

Notes

  • Not to be forgotten was Ted Lilly, who allowed just one unearned run in seven innings in his 2012 debut. "He kind of set the tone, and did what we asked. Teddy all day long was really good, changing speeds. I'll take that all day long," Mattingly said.

    Lilly was economical with just 79 pitches but was removed after seven frames, and he seemed in agreement with his manager at the decision. "I felt like I could have [kept pitching], but we had a couple of guys that needed some innings," Lilly said, referring to Mike MacDougal and Jamey Wright.
  • James Loney had two hits, including a double, and is now 3-for-8 since his 0-for-16 start to the season.
  • The Dodgers are 33-11 in their last 44 games.
  • The Dodgers are 19-5 in their last 24 games at Dodger Stadium.
  • The Dodgers have beaten the Padres eight straight times in Los Angeles.
  • Padres catcher Nick Hundley went 0-for-2, extending his season-opening slump to 0-for-21 (with six walks), the longest hitless streak to open the season by a Padre since Ozzie Smith began the 1979 campaign with a San Diego record 0-for-32 skid.

Up Next

Clayton Kershaw starts the series finale for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon as they go for the sweep. With Edinson Volquez pitching for the Padres this is a rematch of opening day, minus the stomach flu for the Dodgers ace.

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