One game doesn't mean the Dodgers are out of their slump, just like 5½ weeks of mediocre play isn't any more indicative of their overall talent level than 5½ weeks of great play to start the season. But home runs by Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner were two of the signs of positivity for the Dodgers in a 5-2 victory over the Cubs on Wednesday night at Wrigley Field.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Dodgers.
Gonzalez homered for the second time in four games, one night after downplaying the club's offensive slump. Per Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register:
"Obviously, we lead the National League in home runs. We’re pretty good in most categories if you put it all together up until today. Good teams ride it out and end up doing well in the season as a whole. You guys can write what you want, but I think at the end of the year if somebody says our lineup stinks they’re going to be corrected."
The positive sign for Gonzalez, with his solo home run in the second inning, was that it was hit to left center field. It was the second time this season Gonzalez has homered to left center, the opposite field power usually a harbinger that his swing is on track.
In addition to the two home runs Gonzalez has hit to left center field this season, he has also hit two to center field, six to right center field, and three to right field, per Baseball-Reference.com.
Speaking of great signs, there has been no better sign in the last two years then securing Turner on a minor league contract before the 2014 season. All he has done is hit since joining his hometown team.
Turner's latest big hit was a three-run shot off Kyle Hendricks in the third inning, giving the Dodgers a 4-0 lead. Turner is hitting a robust .353/.397/.647 with a team-leading 16 RBI in June, with his five home runs setting a new career high for a single month. The old record was four home runs, set by Turner last month.
The career-high 10 home runs on the season give the Dodgers five players with double-digit home runs on the season, the first time they have done that since 2000.
Turner's five June home runs have come in his last nine games, during which time he has 11 RBI.
Another positive sign was aggressive managing by Don Mattingly, removing Mike Bolsinger one out shy of a win with a 4-2 lead and one runner on base in the fifth inning. Bolsinger entered the fifth with a 4-0 lead, but began to falter. The third time through the batting order this season, opponents are hitting .326/.436/.457 against Bolsinger, including single, double play, walk on Wednesday.
A quartet of relievers - J.P. Howell, Joel Peralta, Adam Liberatore and Juan Nicasio - combined to record 10 outs and allow no runs, building a bridge to Kenley Jansen, who closed out the Cubs in the ninth for his 10th save of the season.
Another positive sign was the Dodgers tacking on an insurance run in the eighth inning, thanks to a double by Scott Van Slyke and a two-out single by Pederson, widening the lead to 5-2.
It was the first two-out RBI for the Dodgers of the series.
The offense also scored exactly five runs for just the fifth time all season, finding the upper end of the sweet spot that is the middle ground on offense, after 11 weeks of feast or famine.
Before the streets can be cleared for dancing we need only to look at the club's last three series to ground them. The Dodgers lost three to the Rangers before beating them, then dropped two to San Francisco before taking the finale. Similarly, the Dodgers lost two in Chicago before beating the Cubs, with one game remaining to go for the split.
But for now, a win is a win, and the Dodgers need as many as they can get.
Bolsinger was on base when Turner homered, thanks to a one-out double over the head of Matt Szczur in center field in the third. The hit was the first of the season for Bolsinger, now 1-for-22 on the year. It also snapped an 0-for-35 skid for Bolsinger, dating back to April 14, 2014, when he got his last hit, also at Wrigley Field, against Edwin Jackson.
Bolsinger is now 3-for-41 (.074) in his career with 17 strikeouts, and one double.
Dodgers pitchers have hit five doubles this season, most by any staff in the majors.
After three night games in Chicago, Thursday brings us baseball as it was meant to be played at Wrigley Field, under the sun with an 11:20 a.m. PT start. Carlos Frias gets the call in the series finale, facing left-hander Jon Lester for the Cubs.
Home runs: Adrian Gonzalez (13), Justin Turner (10)
WP - J.P. Howell (3-1): 1⅓ IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout
LP - Kyle Hendricks (2-4): 5 IP, 4 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
Sv - Kenley Jansen (10): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout