With Jackie Robinson's memory honored by 42 jerseys on both teams, the Dodgers went out today and took the bull by the horns, going against their tendency for dramatic come-from-behind victories. Sure, Nelson Cruz got yet another home run off a Dodgers starter (this time, Brett Anderson: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB and 3 Ks).
But unlike the last two nights, the Dodgers came out strong: three runs in the first inning (Andre Ethier with a two-out single to score Yasmani Grandal; Scott Van Slyke doubling to score Ethier and Howie Kendrick), to grab the team's first first-inning lead all year. Adrian Gonzalez singled to right in the second inning to score Jimmy Rollins. And Joc Pederson added a fifth run in the third inning to score Ethier. The Mariners got single runs in the fourth and sixth innings but came no closer.
And so, nine games in, the Dodgers' offense looks...surprisingly good. Jimmy Rollins is only batting .243 in the leadoff slot, but Gonzalez is at .528 in the three-hole and Kendrick .324 in cleanup; Joc Pederson is batting .310, and our overflowing outfield has Ethier at .333, Van Slyke at .286, Carl Crawford at .269, and Yasiel Puig still lying dormant at .222. Gonzalez leads the majors in batting average, OBP (.595), and slugging (1.111) (which, obviously, puts A-Gon in the lead for OPS with 1.706); he also leads in hits with 19 and is second with 5 HR to aforementioned Cruz (6). Pitching has been the Dodgers' backbone with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke leading the way, but the Dodgers' lineup has been able to overcome spotty starts in the rest of the lineup with a barrage of hits.
Defensively, Pederson had a sweet catch in center in the top of the second, as well as a putout from center in the fifth. On top of that, the Mariners' Robinson Cano got caught napping at third base in the sixth and got tagged out by Juan Uribe (not a very effective way of honoring Jackie, Cano!).
The Dodgers keep pace with the Rockies, who swept the Giants (which is fine by me). Rox come to town Friday for a weekend series.
Happy Jackie Robinson Day!