Did a frayed labrum in his shoulder keep Matt Kemp from blasting the Rockies on Saturday? Afraid not, for Jim Tracy's Colorado crew, as Kemp hit two home runs in the Dodgers' 3-0 win over Colorado at Dodger Stadium.
Kemp was hitting .159/.216/.256 (13-for-82) in 20 games since hitting the center field wall at Coors Field in Denver on Aug. 28. Kemp suffered a right knee contusion in the collision, had to have x-rays on his jaw, and also damaged his left shoulder, which contributed to his long slump.
But that slump is history, judging by the last four games, during which Kemp has three home runs and three extra-base hits. Is Beast Mode, in fact, back?
"It looked like it. We'll see. Matt looked good. We know Matt's banged up," manager Don Mattingly said. "Banged up doesn't mean that every swing you take hurts. You have trouble getting loose, you get stiff in the morning, you have stuff going on. It doesn't mean you can't play and still do some things."
Kemp doing some things has helped the Dodgers to four straight wins, and a little bit closer to the Cardinals for the second wild card spot in the National League.
"It feels good to hit balls that hard," Kemp said. "Hopefully I can do that for the next four or five days."
Kemp shied away from using his injuries as an excuse for his slump.
"I feel like any other player would feel when you get into September," Mattingly said. "Everybody is a little banged up in September. I'm not going to make excuses."
On a night when his banged up superstar hit two home runs, just one night after Clayton Kershaw pitched eight scoreless innings with no hindrance from a right hip impingement, it's no wonder that Mattingly agreed with Kemp's assessment.
"There's some maintenance going on just to get [Kemp] ready before the game. But with a lot of our guys, not just him," Mattingly said. "This time of year, everyone's a little banged up."
That everyone includes Luis Cruz, who was hit just behind the ear while in the indoor batting cage before the game. Cruz suffered a headache and eventually left the game after the seventh inning.
"They told me if I don't feel 100% to tell them, and I came out as a precaution," he said.
"He was just a little fuzzy," Mattingly said. "He looked a little funky out there too."
Cruz underwent tests after he exited the game and said he felt fine afterward. He expects to play on Sunday, which might actually save Cruz, as he was hit by his own batted ball that took a weird ricochet. The blow didn't sap his sense of humor.
"It was my fault," Cruz said, laughing. "I blame myself."
Joe Blanton was hit in the leg by a grounder off the bat of Jordan Pacheco in the sixth inning, a play that took Blanton a while to find the ball, allowing Pacheco to reach safely with an infield single. After the game Blanton said his leg was fine.
The Dodgers go for a series sweep on Sunday afternoon, as well as their third straight shutout and fifth straight win in the series finale against the Rockies. Would-be wild card game starter Josh Beckett gets the call for the Dodgers, facing Jorge De La Rosa for Colorado.