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The Dodgers have erased a nine and a half game deficit in 21 days

Jun 30, 2014, 8:55 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-06-30 at 8.43.49 AM AP

Less than a month ago, a lot of people were asking whether the Dodgers were in big trouble. Don Mattingly and Andre Ethier had a heated argument in the Dodgers dugout. Mattingly called his team “sh***y.” On June 8, they found themselves nine and a half games back of the Giants. This matched their biggest deficit of the 2013 season as well. Last year they went on a near-historic run to take control of the division and cruise into the playoffs. No such thing would happen again this year, would it? I mean, you can’t count and that kind of stuff happening two seasons in a row.

Except there they were when they went to bed last night, 21 days after getting to the bottom of that nine and a half game hole, tied for first place after winning 14 of 19 games.

On June 8, Clayton Kershaw helped the Dodgers beat Colorado 6-1. Yesterday he bookended things with a 13-strikeout performance. He has been a big part of the surge, going 6-0 with era of 0.82 in June and ending the month with a still-active 28-inning consecutive scoreless innings streak. Overall, Dodgers pitchers led the NL in team ERA for June with a 2.63 ERA.  Dodgers hitters were not as impressive, but you can be fifth in the NL in team OPS for a month when you got pitching like they have.

Also helping the Dodgers’ surge: the San Francisco Giants. They’ve been in a tailspin dropping 15 of 19 games. Their pitchers are 14th in the NL in ERA for the month, their hitters are eighth in OPS in June. Their defense has been among the worst in the NL. It’s going wrong for the Giants any way you slice it.

It may still be too much to ask for the Dodgers to replicate 2013. I mean, the surge so far has been nice, but it’d be hard to bet on them winning this division by 11 games again. The Giants won’t play this poorly all season. But no one saw that happening last year either. And as they’re showing at the moment, the Dodgers appear to have a higher gear the other teams don’t seem to have.

  1. sdelmonte - Jun 30, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    The weird part is not the higher gear. It’s that they start from so low. Is it possible that one of these days, despite all that talent, that Mattingly will push one wrong button too many and they won’t play well as a team? Does this signal a new attitude towards April and May for any future super-teams?

    • koufaxmitzvah - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:09 AM

      The attitude is to not panic. The Dodgers are a veteran ballclub being paid a lot of money to perform well. If it takes a month for the circuits to start clicking together, then so be it. This is a 6 month season. If a main cog isn’t doing so hot, sit him down for a bit and try out the Plan B. If Matt Kemp is consistently having trouble in CF, move him to LF and keep him there for awhile. See what transpires after a month or so. The strength of the Dodgers right now is their investment in the full 40-man roster. They have allowed themselves many options to see what works besides the grand scheme on paper.

      • thetoolsofignorance - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:47 AM

        Yes, not to panic, but also don’t turn on each other and never mind the press. the way Puig was being attacked for having fun playing baseball you would think they would have had some serious internal conflict. Instead they have pulled together and kept playing well. It helps that key players are having career seasons. Its fun being a Dodger fan right now. Go blue!

  2. kingscourt25 - Jun 30, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    They weren’t even that bad at any point so far this season as they were in May and early June of last year. Things looked bleak early because the Giants were playing well over their heads.

  3. thebadguyswon - Jun 30, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Very similar to their rise last year. Right around the same time.

  4. cabrera24 - Jun 30, 2014 at 9:30 AM

    Yasiel Puig !!!!!!!!!

  5. happytwinsfan - Jun 30, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    This just goes to show how precarious the Tiger’s eight game lead over the Twins is.

    • Shayna - Jun 30, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      Let alone the Blue Jays’ little dance along the edge of the abyss. Thank goodness that our compatriots in the AL East haven’t been able to step up and push the Jays over the edge.

  6. kaleidoscopictreats - Jun 30, 2014 at 11:31 AM

    So which inane narratives can we expect to replace

    “This team has no chemistry!”

    “Puig is ruining everything!”

    “This team has too many starting outfielders!”

    in the second half of the season?

  7. beavertonsteve - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:28 PM

    One thing that both slow starts had in common was a constant stream of players getting dinged up or on even hitting the DL before finally getting healthy. As big as the Dodgers payroll is, it is still pretty top heavy, which means when Kershaw and Ryu weren’t starting the dropoff was pretty steep at the back of the rotation.

  8. thisdamnbox - Jun 30, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    The Dodgers “surge” is related to 2 or 3 things: Giants losing Angel Pagan and crapping the bed again, and Kershaw coming back. When the team ahead of you loses 14 of 19, is it really a surge?

    • beavertonsteve - Jun 30, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      It’s only a surge when you win 14 of 19 to go along with the other team’s colapse.

    • mkprz - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      Okay, it’s not a surge.
      It’s called “losing a 9.5 game lead in a month.”

  9. kc114 - Jun 30, 2014 at 2:23 PM

    Viva Los Doyers!

  10. sdelmonte - Jun 30, 2014 at 4:23 PM

    From the Dodgers Twitter feed via Jonah Keri: Sunday marked the 33rd consecutive game in which a Dodgers starter walked two or fewer batters, the longest such streak in at least a century.

    That’s one way to win games.

  11. Homesforsaleinfriscotx - Jul 1, 2014 at 12:29 PM

    WHen was D-Day? June 6 I believe, when the US Army stormed the beaches at Normandy.

    This Dodger surge, or whatever you call it, reminds me of the way the (US Army/Dodgers) overcame the leader (Nazis/Giants) in a blitzkrieg of their own, and two straight years they stormed past the Giants, making it all the sweeter.

  12. jkaflagg - Jul 1, 2014 at 5:14 PM

    You knew the Dodgers would be ok with that starting pitching, no matter how erratic the lineup was…..just didn’t know the a Giants would suddenly fall apart….and with the rest of the division in the tank, you hope SF can get their act together so that the Dodgers can’t just coast through the summer.

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