Gwynn Looks Right at Home in Left

They've tried the future in left field. They've tried the past. And now the Dodgers are trying the defensive replacement in left field. Over the last few days, it has worked out. Tony Gwynn Jr. is the hottest hitter on the Dodgers, and the timing is excellent for both him and the team.

Gwynn had four hits and two stolen bases, which both led to runs in the first four innings, en route to their most lopsided win of the season, 15-0, over the Minnesota Twins at Target Field on Monday, a day that otherwise was quite possibly the darkest in team history with the team filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The day before, Gwynn tripled home the tying run in the seventh inning to tie the Angels 1-1, then drilled a walk-off single to right in the ninth off closer Jordan Walden for a 3-2 win.

Jerry Sands (the future) is starting to heat up again in the minors, making a bid to get called back up to the majors. Sands homered on Sunday, his fourth in three days and fifth in five days.

Marcus Thames (the past) has a strained calf that allows him to hit but not play the outfield. So the only options are Gwynn and Trent Oeltjen -- and with games in American League ballparks this week, a designated hitter is needed, too.

Even with six hits the last two games, Gwynn's batting average is .250 overall. The Dodgers weren't expecting a lot, but he needs to keep hitting to justify more playing time. Gwynn has more than justified his place on the roster with his defense.

Gwynn has made two full-extension, diving catches on the final play of the games that saved victories. Those are the highlight plays, but he consistently turns doubles into singles and added his sixth outfield assist Monday by quickly getting to a ball in the corner and hitting cutoff man Dee Gordon for a 7-6-2 putout at home.

Big Night at the Plate
The Dodgers pounded out 25 hits in their 15-0 win last night, tying a Los Angeles club record set on May 19, 2006 against the Angels and setting a Major League season high. The 15 runs set a season high and were the Dodgers' highest tally since beating the Phillies 15-9 on Aug. 10, 2010 at Citizens Bank Park.

  Every Los Angeles starter posted at least one hit, one run and one RBI, marking the first such occurrence for the Dodger franchise since April 29, 1930 in the Brooklyn Robins' 19-15 win over the Giants (Source: Elias).

  In addition, the Dodgers became the first team to have nine players with at least two hits, a run scored and one RBI since the Red Sox on July 14, 1997. Since the dawn of the liveball era, the Dodgers had never previously had nine players do this in a game (Source: MLB.com).

  According to Elias, The Dodgers' 15-0 win was the largest margin of victory ever posted in a shutout by the visiting team in an Interleague game.  It also matched the second-largest margin in a shutout in Dodger history behind only the club's 19-0 win over the Padres on June 28, 1969 and tied with a 15-0 win over the Phillies on Aug. 16, 1952.

  Matt Kemp set a season high with four hits last night, including a towering solo home run off the batters' eye wall in center field that traveled an estimated 444 feet. It was Kemp's National League-leading 22nd home run through 80 games, which puts the 26-year-old in some elite company in club history:

Most HR's Through 80 Games, Dodger History
 
T-1. Gil Hodges (1951)       28
T-1. Duke Snider (1955)      28
3. Gary Sheffield (2000)     27
4. Shawn Green (2002)        25
5. Eric Karros (2000)        23
T-6. Matt Kemp (2011)        22
T-6. Steve Garvey (1977)     22          
T-6. Gil Hodges (1954)       22
T-6. Roy Campanella (1953)   22
 
          Source: MLB.com
 
Kemp is making a bid to become the first big leaguer 
to lead the league in all three Triple Crown categories at 
the All-Star break since Hank Aaron in 1957 (Source: Elias).  
Kemp ranks second in the NL in batting average with his .336 
mark behind only Jose Reyes (.341) and his 62 RBI are tied 
for second with Ryan Howard, six behind Prince Fielder's 68.
 
Los Angeles leads the National League with a .283 team batting average 
in 24 June games and four Dodgers rank among the Senior Circuit's top 
hitters this month:
 
Highest June Batting Average, NL
 
1. Aaron Miles, LAD        .414 
2. Matt Kemp, LAD          .395 
3. Justin Upton, ARI       .394
4. Andrew McCutchen, PIT   .373
5. Chase Headley, SD       .357
 6. Prince Fielder, MIL    .356
 7. Jose Reyes, NYM        .356
8. Tony Gwynn, Jr., LAD    .347 
9. James Loney, LAD        .345
             
Kemp ranks second in the NL with nine home runs 
and is tied for second with 22 RBI in 24 June games.
 
Loney ranks fourth among NL hitters with a .415 
batting average (17-for-41) during Interleague Play.
NOTES, QUOTES
--LHP Clayton Kershaw was named National League player of the week, after throwing consecutive complete games with 11 strikeouts in each effort. The last Dodgers pitcher to whiff 10 or more in consecutive starts was Chan Ho Park, with 13 each time, in September 2000. The last Dodgers pitcher to go the distance in consecutive starts was Jeff Weaver in 2005.

--RHP Chad Billingsley received a month's worth of run support and barely needed any of it. He pitched six scoreless innings, throwing 107 pitches, and struck out four.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton's rehab is delayed more than just a couple of days. Broxton underwent an MRI on Monday to examine why he continues to feel soreness in his elbow. Broxton pitched in two rehab games last week, but his next scheduled outings on Sunday and Monday were canceled because of the elbow pain. Broxton avoided elbow surgery when he initially went on the disabled list May 6. The newest test results will determine if he needs surgery or more time off.

BY THE NUMBERS: 25
-- Hits Monday by the Dodgers, their most since they had 25 against the Angels in 2006. Three players had four-hit games. Every starter had at least one hit by the fifth inning. Every starter had at least one RBI, and 10 total players drove in a run. Every starter also scored at least one run. It was the first time in LA Dodgers history that every starter had at least one hit, run and RBI in the same game.

QUOTE TO NOTE:
"The fact that he had two outings, taken a lot of time off and slowly came back with two outings, and then had maybe a day and a half, two days later he's feeling the same pain. Obviously, that's not a good thing, and it kind of shuts the rehab to a point where we've got to find out what's going on again." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on the news that former closer Jonathan Broxton's elbow pain has not gone away and he's going for more tests.

*M*A*S*H* 4077 MEDICAL WATCH:
--3B Casey Blake (pinched nerve in neck) started June 26 for the first time since June 19, and for the third time in the last 14 days, though he had pinch-hit almost every day. Blake was expected to start testing the injury by playing to see if it gets worse and a trip to the DL is merited.

--OF Marcus Thames (strained left calf) left the June 24 game, and he didn't play June 25-26. He will probably avoid the disabled list, with an assist by the schedule. The Dodgers have six interleague games this week in the American League, so Thames could be used as a designated hitter or pinch hitter and wouldn't have to play the field.

--C Rod Barajas (sprained right ankle) went on the 15-day disabled list June 19.

--SS Rafael Furcal (strained left oblique muscle) went on the 15-day disabled list June 4. He was getting ready to go on rehab assignment, but as of June 22, the switch-hitter still could not swing a bat from both sides without pain. He began rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on June 26. He's expected to play at least four rehab games, if not an entire week, to shake the rust off before he's activated.

--RHP Jon Garland (right shoulder inflammation) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to June 2. He played catch June 21 but had to shut it down quickly.

--RHP Vicente Padilla (right radial nerve irritation) went on the 15-day disabled list May 14. He began a rehab assignment with Class A Rancho Cucamonga on May 29, but was shut down in early June due to a neck ailment. He underwent neck surgery June 16, and he will likely miss the rest of the season.

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