Back in late May, when the Los Angeles Dodgers were sapped by injuries and buried under expectations, the pitchers were careful not to complain about the paltry run support they were getting night after night.
Even Clayton Kershaw, who saw nothing but zeroes and ones in the Dodgers’ line score virtually every time he pitched, held his tongue.
And this is why.
The Dodgers are a whole lot easier to pitch for when they’re battering down fences and pounding all the bases. As Kershaw had Sunday, Hyun-Jin Ryu (8-3) was able to coast behind a big early lead, making it stand up in a 14-5 Dodgers win over the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
It was the Dodgers’ fourth win in a row, all after the All-Star break, and their 21st win in their past 26 games. It put them in a first-place tie atop the National League West. Should the Arizona Diamondbacks lose Monday night, the Dodgers would be alone in first place for the first time all season.
This offensive surge is something to behold. What once was confined to isolated pockets of the lineup -- namely the ones in which Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez batted -- has now broken out all over the place. Catcher A.J. Ellis drove in five runs, including on a two-run homer off Josh Johnson in the second inning, and scrappy utility guy Skip Schumaker drove in three more, all on a rare home run.
Otherwise, the Dodgers just sat back and let Toronto collapse. The Blue Jays, who entered the season with similar expectations but remain stuck deep in last place, made five errors.
Puig didn’t quite break out of this enduring cold spell (though he snapped an 0-for-12 skid with his third-inning RBI single), but he did continue to dazzle with his feats of daring in the outfield. Puig robbed J.P. Arencibia of extra bases in the eighth inning with a running catch before colliding with the wall once again.