The Dodgers postgame clubhouse had a little bit of its swagger back on Saturday night, with music blaring smiles everywhere, after Los Angeles snapped an eight-game losing streak with a 7-1 win over the Marlins.
"You could almost feel like it was champagne time in there," manager Don Mattingly joked.
Even little kids were running around with an infectious giggle, causing just about everyone to laugh. It was a welcome change from the last week.
"Right now everybody is having fun. The kids are laughing and running around in the clubhouse. We missed that," said Matt Kemp. "I don't think anyone wanted to be around kids until they got home, with the way the locker room has been in the last week."
Right fielder Andre Ethier did most of the damage on offense with four hits, including two doubles, and scored three runs on the night. After such a slow start to his season, Ethier has been working countless hours with hitting coaches Mark McGwire and John Valentin trying to figure out something that works. It finally clicked on Saturday, with Ethier basically keeping it simple at the plate.
"It's just staying back up the middle, and staying with that frame of mind," Ethier said. It's just a different frame of mind. I had kind of abandoned it for a while. I just went back to the basics and what makes you work."
Mattingly tried to downplay the win, citing the importance of continuing to build on this success. But given what he saw from Ethier the manager can't help but get a little excited.
"Ethier was good. He shoots a ball into left field. He had snap to his bat all day long," Mattingly said. "When you see that, you feel this is what it's supposed to look like. Obviously you can't go 4-for-4 every night, but we know how good Andre is. Matt still to me looks better and better. You start thinking about getting those two guys together, then Adrian can continue, Carl can continue, and you start seeing what you have a chance to be."
A.J. Ellis went 1-for-2 with a walk, and as the hitter directly behind Ethier in the lineup had a great vantage point.
"One of my highlights is being behind Andre Ethier in the batting order. I get to watch him hit from the on deck circle," Ellis said. "He has such a pretty swing."
But it wouldn't be the 2013 Dodgers if Ethier wasn't also dealing with some sort of an injury. He hit his left big toe going after a foul ball earlier in the game, then aggravated the toe while rounding third base in the seventh inning. Ethier stayed in the game and even made a diving catch in right field in the eighth inning. He shrugged off any notion that the injury was serious.
"I've always had some issue with my big toes over the years," Ethier said. "It's no new thing."
The Dodgers look to build off their one-game winning streak as they try to capture a series win on Sunday afternoon. Chris Capuano starts the series finale for the Dodgers, having pitched just six innings total in his two starts so far this season. The Marlins were going to send left-hander Wade LeBlanc to the mound on Sunday, but have switched plans. Now, right-hander Tom Koehler gets the call for Miami on Sunday.