Then, suddenly, the party stopped.
Ramirez was struck on his right hand by Corey Dickerson's sharply hit bouncer, resulting in his seventh-inning departure from the Dodgers' 4-2 victory over the
The worst-case scenario was averted, as X-rays taken of Ramirez's hand were negative, according to the Dodgers.
The team said Ramirez bruised his ring finger and listed him as day-to-day. However, that timetable is probably meaningless, considering the Dodgers' lack of credibility on these matters.
Until Ramirez walked off the field with trainer Stan Conte by his side, the game was turning into another celebration for the Dodgers, who were about to reduce their deficit to the division-leading
The Dodgers danced along their bench when Ramirez launched a two-run home run in the third inning and again when
Before the game, Ramirez spoke at length about how the atmosphere in the clubhouse had changed.
"About time, huh?" Ramirez said. He smiled.
"We need to start having fun and thinking less," Ramirez said. "I think we've been thinking too much. Everybody has to be like me."
As Ramirez spoke,
"Puig, you're lucky I'm not the manager," Ramirez called out.
Pointing to the bench, Ramirez added, "You would be sitting here at seven o'clock, watching me."
The two players shared a laugh.
Ramirez traced the team's turnaround to when Manager
In the days that followed, Mattingly reiterated the message in a team meeting.
"Everybody saw that what Donnie was saying was right," Ramirez said.
Told of what Ramirez said, Mattingly replied, "You'd like to think your words have something to do with it, but I really don't."
Whatever the case, Mattingly said he, too, has a noticed a change on the Dodgers.
Their at-bats are more competitive. The bench players are more emotionally invested in the game.
"The whole last road trip, I feel the energy was good," Mattingly said. "The energy's been good this homestand, even in the game we lost. You could feel that mentality, that fight. It feels pretty good right now. Just being able to pick up a little bit of ground makes you feel a little better. Hopefully, we're at the point where we'll be consistent now."
In Mattingly's view, the improved atmosphere is largely a byproduct of the team playing better.