Ugly fallout from the Quentin-Greinke, Padres-Dodgers brawl
I was sickened by events in San Diego this week, when a clinical Dodgers victory was marred by the opportunistic thuggery of one player: Padres slugger Carlos Quentin, who mindlessly stormed the mound and broke the collarbone of Zack Greinke in an ugly fracas.
In the sixth inning of Thursday’s game, Quentin worked a 3-2 count with his team guarding a one-run lead. No pitcher would intentionally throw at a batter in that situation, least of all a proud, unassuming ace who suffers from a social anxiety disorder. Nevertheless, Greinke’s next delivery plunked Quentin on the arm, before all hell broke loose.
Perhaps jealous of this expensively-assembled Dodgers club, Quentin saw an opportunity to rebel against the elite. He took it, slamming shoulder-first into Greinke as both benches and bullpens raced to the diamond.
The San Diego fight was almost apologetic. They could not believe that they had been dragged onto the field in defence of their Quentin's blind stupidity. A lot of pushing, shoving, and hollering ensued, with Matt Kemp and Jerry Hairston particularly animated. The greatest loss, however, was Greinke - the Dodgers' co-ace, so stellar thus far, requiring surgery and a two-month stint of the disabled list.
Thus, when Clayton Kershaw took the ball Friday, it felt like deja vu all over again. In the gloomy days of yore, the Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw and little else besides. Greinke was the solution, and his absence gave the Dodgers a retro feel in Arizona. With a struggling offence and an over-dependence on Kershaw, we were missing only Casey Blake and Aaron Miles for an authentic reconstruction of 2011. In a frustrating 3-0 loss, Clayton pitched into the eighth, allowing three runs on six hits while striking out nine.
As the dust settled on Greinke’s injury, and Quentin’s meek eight-game suspension, Dodgerdom was forced to comprehend a substitute in the rotation. The long-awaited return of Chad Billingsley was fresh in the mind, with many optimistic that he could step up. Billingsley is somewhat enigmatic, but such is his penchant for streaky domination, it was imperative that he started his season with a firm foundation. A clean six-inning performance, during which he scattered only five hits and one run, was just the kind of start Billingsley needed in victory. Like Dodgers fans have been saying for a half-decade: perhaps this is Chad’s year.
Nonetheless, Hyun-Jin Ryu continues to show the Dodgers that he is ready to step up. In the continuation of his smart transition to MLB, Ryu did it all Saturday; the exciting Japanese hurler dazzling with a wide repertoire and fearless persona on the mound, yet also getting it done with the bat! In an important early-season victory over Arizona, Ryu went 3-for-3 with a double and also scored a run. However, it was on the mound that he was most effective, helping Los Angeles snap an unpleasant six-game Chase Field losing streak with six solid innings.
Ryu’s offensive aberration came during a progressive week for Dodgers hitters. Aside from a poor showing in ‘support’ of Kershaw against Arizona, the offence is beginning to heat up. At the heart of it all, two mightily-impressive ballplayers: Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
Crawford has 16 hits in 39 at-bats over 11 games, good for a searing .410 average. Also, he is beginning to find the same on-base-speed-power combination which made him a menace with the Tampa Bay Rays. At one point this week, Crawford had a four-game multi-hit streak, and has seven total on the season. Away from the statistics, the calculations and the game notes, Carl just looks like his old self: the speedy swagger on defence, the explosive power about the field, the personification of energy! Carl Crawford is fast becoming the superstar of this Dodgers team.
During the week, many joked of Ned Colletti's genius in eating Adrián González' contract in order to get Crawford out of Boston. However, González looks to have rekindled the power many thought he had lost. In the San Diego brawl game, he socked an awe-inspiring home run deep to right field. He absolutely crushed it. González also went yard in Arizona, kick-starting the offence in support of Ryu’s 7-5 victory. The guy is an RBI-machine and could drive the Dodgers to great things this year.
This was about as eventful as the second week of any season can be. This week of unpredictable thrills, spills and brawls has been so crazy that even Juan Uribe parked a couple homers! As seasoned competitors prove again their class, Dodgers fans rue the loss of their newest star. The absence of Zack Greinke will be difficult to counteract.