LOS ANGELES -- They have sensed it coming for a while, but until now, they couldn't see it or touch it. Are the Los Angeles Dodgers finally heating up?
Such things are hard to predict, but the Dodgers are on their steadiest roll of the season, with Tuesday’s 6-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds their sixth win in the past eight games. The starting rotation is on fire, the defense has been vastly improved and Hanley Ramirez is healthy again. There’s a lot to like about the direction things are heading.
How it happened: The no-hitter was over by the second inning, which, by recent standards, was a dud of a performance. Zack Greinke’s only problem was that he followed Josh Beckett (no-hitter) and Hyun-Jin Ryu (perfect game through seven innings). He was absolutely in command, holding the Reds to one run while striking out 11 batters without a walk.
Andre Ethier, the player the Dodgers inserted into their everyday lineup for defensive reasons, is showing signs at the plate lately. He homered and tripled in his first two at-bats, staking Greinke to a five-run lead by the fourth inning. It’s hard to beat early runs and good pitching.
Hits: When the Dodgers committed to Ethier as their everyday center fielder last Thursday, he was batting .262 with two home runs. They were willing to sacrifice some offense for a steadier hand in the outfield. But Ethier’s bat has responded to the extra playing time, going 7-for-19 with four extra-base hits in the five games.
Misses: Dee Gordon continues to play strong second base and to ignite action when he gets on base, but the Dodgers are seeing his hitting come back down to earth. After sprinting out to a .336 batting average on May 10, Gordon has gone 9-for-59 (.153) since. It’s going to be hard for him to become baseball’s first 100-base stealer in 27 years if he doesn’t start getting on base more.
Stat of the game: Greinke has struck out 75 batters this season and walked just 13 unintentionally.
Up next: Two of the game’s best pitchers meet Wednesday night when Clayton Kershaw (3-1, 3.49 ERA) works for the Dodgers against Homer Bailey (4-3, 5.34 ERA), but Bailey is off to a rough first two months. He has been better in May (4.65 ERA) than April (6.15 ERA). Kershaw bounced back from arguably his worst career outing in Arizona with six strong innings in Philadelphia. The game begins at 7:10 p.m.