Hanley Ramirez continued his assault on major league pitching on Wednesday night, helping the Dodgers to a 4-2 win over the Giants to complete a three-game sweep at Dodger Stadium. He had two more hits, scored a run and drove in another, and is hitting .485 (16-for-33) over his nine-game hitting streak.
Ramirez crushed a ball in San Diego on Saturday, off the rarely reached third deck of the Western Metal Supply Building down the left field line at Petco Park. Ramirez followed that Tuesday with a ball 442 feet down the left field line at Dodger Stadium that caromed off the foul pole for another laser.
The bottom line is that Ramirez is crushing the ball right now, so much so that Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times asked the question of who hits the ball harder between Ramirez or Yasiel Puig?
Ramirez and Puig have been absolute saviors for the Dodgers' offense in June. Puig we know about, with his sixth three-hit game in 22 games on Wednesday, who is hitting .435/.467/.729 with seven home runs. Ramirez is hitting .358/.397/.642 in June with four home runs, and has been every bit as important, especially during this five-game winning streak.
Mattingly on Hanley: "I'm watching him tonight, I'm thinking about Manny."— Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) June 27, 2013
High praise indeed, but well deserved.
Ramirez has been sorely missed this season as he has missed two huge chunks of time. A torn thumb ligament cost him 24 games to open the season, then he missed 28 more games with a strained left hamstring. Even after returning from the hamstring strain the Dodgers were cautious and he went another week without starting he suffered a setback.
But when he has played, Ramirez has been awesome, every bit the player manager Don Mattingly raved about in spring training, saying his shortstop at any given time could be the best player on the field.
Ramirez has played 22 games this season, including 16 starts. He is hitting .375/.414/.688 with five home runs and five doubles in 70 plate appearances. All other Dodgers shortstops this season have hit .158/.240/.217 with three home runs, two doubles and a triple in 248 PA.
This is like in previous seasons when the Dodgers needed something, anything to replace automatic outs in their lineup. Juan Rivera hitting an ordinary .274/.333/.406 in 2011 looked ridiculously great compared to the previous nonexistent production that season in left field (.231/.305/.313) and first base (.263/.308/.332) at the time he was acquired.
But Ramirez isn't replacing crap with ordinary. He has helped the Dodgers turn absolutely nothing into MVP-type production.
The Dodgers have dug themselves quite a hole, though one that is a bit smaller now at six games back in the National League West. But with Ramirez back, with Puig taking the league by storm, with Kemp back, and with Carl Crawford close to returning, the Dodgers just might have some semblance of the team they envisioned during spring training.
"Injuries are going to happen, that's part of it," Clayton Kershaw said after the game, as shown on Prime Ticket. "However long these guys are healthy, we've just got to make a run. We've just got to play good baseball, and we're on a good start right now."