LOS ANGELES -- There's a reason "Lazy Sunday" is an expression that never has gone out of style. As a society, we're accustomed to celebrating the "day of rest" by rolling out of bed as late as possible, then meandering away at the pace of a snail hopped up on Xanax. For those not on the clock, no harm, no foul. But if Sunday happens to be a work day, and a (relatively speaking) early work day to boot, some time may pass before collective productivity kicks in around the proverbial office.
Such was the case for the Los Angeles Dodgers during Sunday's eventual 6-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. With the exception of starter Clayton Kershaw, dominant from start to finish, nobody appeared to have arrived at the Ravine bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, sleeves rolled up. (Either that or folks were reeling from Mexico's heartbreaking World Cup loss to the Netherlands. In particular, it's easy to assume Yasiel Puig and Adrian Gonzalez, who watched the game in the clubhouse while donning green soccer jerseys, were crestfallen by the result.) The blue bats were absolutely silent for the first three innings, with only one man reaching first base. But the fourth inning finally witnessed some pop, followed by an explosive fifth inning. Six runs in all, which is generally more than ample support with a certain lefty on the hill.
As another popular expression goes, it's not how you start, but how you finish. The Dodgers overcame their sluggish beginning to take care of business, putting the bow on a strong series against the team that dashed their hopes of reaching the 2013 World Series. And combined with the San Francisco Giants' loss, the victory simultaneously put the Dodgers in a tie for first in the NL West, so it was fine day against rivals.
How it happened: With Puig having walked to first, Gonzalez shocked everyone (and I do mean everyone) in the stadium by squaring up and dropping a perfectly placed bunt down the third-base line for no play at either base. Cards starter Shelby Miller, heretofore riding a no-hitter, proceeded to unravel. Matt Kemp sliced a shot over former Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis' head, scoring Puig and moving Gonzalez to third. Juan Uribe's towering sacrifice to center later pushed Gonzalez across the plate. Two runs in all, which was all that was ultimately needed.
Because, you know, Kershaw.
Hits: The fifth inning featured Puig turning on the jets to (barely) leg out Matt Holliday's throw for a double. This put him in prime position to score after Gonzalez scorched a ball to center. Kemp then sliced a single over Allen Craig's head, and Andre Ethier capped the rally with a three-run homer to right center. Granted, the game was already in hand by then, but the fireworks were still fun to watch.
Uribe saved a fourth-inning infield single by barehanding a dribbler from Yadier Molina then rifling the throw to first. He then capped the sequence by gracefully backpedaling down the third-base line in celebration, a reminder of the remarkable agility possessed by this bear-like presence.
Misses: Is it possible to "layup" a bunt? If so, that's the best way to describe Miguel Rojas' third-inning attempt, which popped all the way to first base. Craig barely had to move to catch it. (The telecast then cut to Don Mattingly's wholly perplexed expression.) The blunder ultimately proved inconsequential, but given the rarity of such a truly horrible bunt, it's worth a mention.
Uribe also made a ninth-inning error, but by that point, he may have just been bored.
Stat of the game: 28. As in, the number of consecutive innings in which Kershaw hasn't given up a run. Seven innings came Sunday.
Up next: The Dodgers play host to the Cleveland Indians (39-42) for a three-game set beginning Monday. The Indians, in third place in the AL Central, probably will face the trio of Dan Haren, Josh Beckett and Hyun-Jin Ryu respectively on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. For their part, Cleveland will test the blue bats with Corey Kluber, Justin Masterson and Trevor Bauer.