On July 22, Manny Ramirez provided one of the most memorable moments of the season, with his pinch-hit, tie-breaking grand slam against the Reds, on his own bobblehead night. Dodger Stadium was rocking, the Dodgers won their fifth straight game, an enjoyed a nine-game lead over the Rockies in the NL West.
The Dodgers have gone 10-16 since then, and now their lead is a mere 3½ games over the Rockies. This doesn't bode well for people foolish enough to declare the division race over two months ago. There have been many reasons for the slump, ranging from Jonathan Broxton to the struggling trio of James Loney, Russell Martin, and Rafael Furcal (as pointed out by Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts). However, the biggest difference between expectations and performance has been from Manny Ramirez.
Since the Bobbleslam, Manny is hitting .242/.345/.379, with two home runs, eight runs batted in, nine runs scored in 25 games. Those are Rafael Furcal numbers. I like Furcal a lot, but the Dodger offense would be in grave danger if Furcal regularly batted third or fourth. Manny has also struck out 28 times over that span, one more than he had in his first 43 games this season.
Manny has four hits in his last 20 at-bats with runners in scoring position, to go along with eight walks. He is hitting .200/.429/.300 with RISP over that time, but you have to wonder what those numbers would be like without six intentional walks. The teams that have challenged Manny over the last month or so have benefited greatly.
Last night was Matt Kemp bobblehead night at Dodger Stadium. Who knows, maybe Manny's problems were only of a bobblehead to bobblehead time frame. The Dodgers desperately need Manny's bat back if they plan on making any noise in the postseason, let alone getting there. With a productive Manny, this lineup transforms into a force to be reckoned with.
Tonight against the Cubs would be a nice time to start a hot streak. The Dodgers need it.