Just when doubts about his ability to hit were resurfacing, Dee Gordon did something Monday night that no other player on the Dodgers can do.
Had it happened in Little League, Gordon would have been credited with an inside-the-park home run in the third inning of the Dodgers' 6-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies.
Officially, the play went in the scorebook as a triple for Gordon and an error on left fielder Charlie Blackmon.
Whatever it was called, it was electrifying.
Gordon hit a liner past diving third baseman Charlie Cluberson into the left-field corner and rocketed around the bases as Blackmon fumbled the ball. Gordon could have reached the plate standing.
Dodger Stadium exploded. The fans stood and applauded. Gordon's teammates danced in the dugout, then added another run that inning, as Matt Kemp's single drove in Hanley Ramirez to double the Dodgers' lead to 2-0.
The game was a reminder of why the Dodgers have remained patient with the speedy player who lost his position as their everyday shortstop two years ago.
For Gordon, this came at what could be a crucial juncture in the season.
His spectacular April, in which he batted .344, already feels like a distant memory.
Heading into Monday, Gordon was batting .237 since May 1. His season average was down to .274.
That has raised the question: Is Gordon the player he was in April or the one who batted .228 in his ill-fated tenure as the team's everyday shortstop in 2012?
By Gordon's estimation, he's something in between.
"I think it's evening out," Gordon said. "That's part of the game. I wasn't going to hit .340 the whole year."
Gordon said he is confident he will emerge from his funk. His optimism is largely based on his emotional response to this offensive dead period.
"The good thing is I'm not panicking," he said. "I still believe in my game."
That makes this slide different from the ones in the past.
"I panicked in '11, '12, '13," he said.
The Dodgers have no other viable options at second base. Alex Guerrero, who was batting .376 in triple-A Albuquerque, remains sidelined as he recovers from an in-game fight in which a significant piece of his ear was bitten off.
But Gordon said he doesn't take any comfort in the lack of organizational depth at his position.
"There wasn't anyone when I was playing short and they found somebody," he said.
Gordon was sidelined because of a broken thumb in 2012, when the Dodgers acquired Ramirez from the Miami Marlins.
Gordon might not be hitting as much as he was in the first month of the season, but he continues to steal bases at an astounding pace.
He began the series with the Rockies as the major league leader in steals with 36. No other player had more than 25.
Gordon has also made up for his offensive downturn with his defense at second base
His six errors are second-most in the National League, but he has made only one error in his last 25 games.
Gordon's athleticism has allowed him to reach balls few other second basemen could reach.
His defensive efforts have been noticed by the pitching staff.
"I'm proud of him, the work ethic that he has," Clayton Kershaw said. "I think he's a very above-average second baseman right now. The range that he has and the plays that he's making, he looks confident.
"I've been spoiled. I've had guys like Mark Ellis and Nick Punto at second base and Dee's making plays that are really, really impressive. It's a bonus for me."Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times