The outfield sculpture at
As the baseball rose through the recycled air, soaring toward the shores of the sculpture,
There was bedlam inside his dugout after Puig took Marlins closer
“Big players make big plays in big moments,” manager
The start of the second half looked much like the first, as the Dodgers extended their lead in the
And yet, down to a final strike in the ninth against Ramos, outfielder
In previous situations, Roberts said, Puig often let his swing become too aggressive. In this instance, Puig passed on a low slider. When Ramos then fired a 94-mph fastball, Puig was ready. "I've been trying to get better at batting with two strikes, trying to remain calm," Puig said through a translator.
He would save the excitement for after the homer. His blast thrilled his teammates and provided comedic fodder for closer
"I've been joking around, like 'Thank God I signed back here,'" Jansen said. "It's a nightmare for a closer."
Before Puig ruined Ramos’ evening, the Dodgers were drifting toward defeat. In the afternoon, the players reconnected after a four-day break. Six Dodgers represented the team in the
In the baseball calendar, the start of the second half ignites gossip about the July 31 trade deadline. A chyron on
"I checked the pulse of the clubhouse: The energy is good," Roberts said. "Guys are excited to get going again."
It took a little while. The Dodgers nabbed a run in the fourth. Miami tied the game two innings later. In the fifth, the Dodgers strafed Marlins starter
McCarthy could not protect the lead. He lost command of a cutter, the pitch he has struggled to control in his last three outings, and plunked pinch-hitter Ichiro Suzuki to start the fifth. Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton doubled Suzuki home. After a walk, Roberts let McCarthy face All-Star first baseman Justin Bour. McCarthy spotted a 2-2 sinker at the knees, but Bour still stroked a two-run double.
"I wasn't very good," McCarthy said. "It was not good enough, but fortunately not bad enough to set us behind and make it a game that was unwinnable."
The Dodgers offense went quiet until the ninth. Then Pederson singled, Grandal walked and Puig crushed Ramos' fastball. His teammates went wild, and the hilarity extended to the post-game scene.
As Puig spoke to reporters, a few other Dodgers filtered through the room. A reporter mentioned to Puig that with 18 homers, he was one shy of his career-high from his rookie season in 2013.
"I'm just trying to get to 20," Puig said. "I'm just trying to beat all the personal records that I have."
The comment cracked up those nearby. Jansen let out a high-pitched giggle. “Kenley!” Puig shouted.
Life feels idyllic for the Dodgers as the second half begins. On pace for 110 wins, apparently unbothered by any deficit, each day offers a chance for more amusement. Puig considers himself a beneficiary of the environment.
"The team's been playing so great," Puig said, "that it gives me joy."
Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes