On a night when Andre Ethier was looking more comfortable than ever as the Dodgers’ new center fielder, they lost left fielder Carl Crawford because of an ankle injury.
The move of Ethier to everyday center fielder is about his defense, the Dodgers’ new mantra.
On Tuesday they received an offensive addition from their defensive move, Ethier rediscovering his power stroke with a four-RBI night in the Dodgers’ 6-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 46,013.
But Crawford’s left ankle gave out from under him as he entered the warning track chasing a Chris Heisey double into the left-field corner in the eighth. It rolled almost completely under him. He came up limping and immediately left the game.
He was not replaced in left by Matt Kemp, the man suddenly without a position, but by Scott Van Slyke. This, of course, is why the Dodgers have been less than eager to trade one of their extra outfielders.
Crawford had been particularly hot of late, batting .362 (25 for 69) in his last 22 games, with four homers. The Dodgers were simply calling it an ankle sprain, but it appeared severe enough to keep him out for awhile.
Ethier started the Dodgers’ scoring with a solo home run in the second and added a bases-loaded triple in the fourth.
With Zack Greinke in firm command on the mound until the eighth, Ethier powered the Dodgers to their sixth victory in their last eight games.
The home run was only Ethier’s third of the season. He entered the game with a slugging percentage of .372 this season, almost a full 100 points below his previous career average (.470).
For his career, Ethier has averaged a home run every 29 at-bats. Entering Tuesday, he had averaged one every 69 at-bats this season.
But Ethier had been hitting well of late (.333 in his last 21 games) and his four-RBI night leaves him third on the team.
Greinke had allowed only one fifth-inning run and was cruising until possibly tiring in the eighth. Devin Mesoraco followed Heisey’s double with a two-run homer that ended Greinke’s night.
He left the game after Mesoraco’s sixth home run of the season. Tuesday marked the end to Greinke’s streak of having allowed two or fewer earned runs in 22 consecutive starts.
In his 7-2/3 innings, Greinke (8-1) allowed the three runs on eight hits. He struck out 11 and did not walk a batter.
Kenley Jansen pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his 16th save.