As the MLB season gets into the final month of the regular season the Los Angeles Dodgers are three games ahead of their division rivals, the San Francisco Giants. For much of the season the Dodgers trailed the Giants, but since the All-Star break San Francisco hasn’t been playing as well as they did in the first half of the season.
The Dodgers, on the other hand, have begun to surge. They have had a revolving door of starting pitchers to make up for the injuries to the starting rotation the team started with in April. As a result they have found two young pitchers, a lefty and righty, that can command the field when they pitch, for at least six innings. Julio Urías and now José De Léon have had some success coming up from AAA Oklahoma City.
Also coming up from Oklahoma City is outfielder Yasiel Puig. He was sent down to the minors on August 2 and then put on waivers. The Milwaukee Brewers made a claim on Puig, but were unable to make a suitable deal with the Dodgers, so Puig was recalled to Los Angeles.
Since his return, Puig has played in two games against the San Diego Padres getting three hits in six at-bats, one a three-run homer in the third inning that put the Dodgers ahead in the game.
After the game Puig told the media, “I’m very happy with the opportunity my teammates have given me, very thankful for their support, and it motivates me to do better on the field.”
Puig was asked if he heard and saw the fan reaction to his homerun Sunday and he said, “Everyone was very happy and I’m thankful for all their support, for wanting me to come back.”
Manager Dave Roberts was happy to have Puig back in the dugout and especially on the field. After Sunday’s game he said, “The homer was great. It was a big hit for us, but the at-bat quality he had throughout the day, hitting the cutoff man, throwing to the right base, backing up — there’s a lot of things Yasiel did today to help us win a baseball game.”
Before Friday’s game Roberts told the media he hadn’t seen much of pitcher José De Léon, but knew he had a very good fastball, a plus-change and a breaking ball. He told our reporter, Claudia Gestro, “What I do know about José is he’s a great young man, he’s a hard worker, he’s got a lot of character, and he’s from Puerto Rico. So I’m anxious to learn a little more about him,” which got a laugh from the media in the dugout.
After Sunday’s game it appeared Roberts had learned a little more about his newest starter. “Obviously the punchouts (strikeouts) were great, but throwing strikes, holding base runners, picked a guy off; even when there were a couple … a soft liner, the bunt base hit, and a close play by [Travis] Jankowski that got away from him and scored a run, but you know he kept his composure.” Roberts added, “ I think for a young kid to make his debut in this environment says a lot about José and how much we’ve seen him grow — from what I hear he’s grown — it’s a credit to our development to have guys like that. ”
After the game on Sunday De Léon told the media, “I was pretty calm, until I saw my brother. He went up to the rail and I saw him. Usually when I pitch I stick with my routine, but when I saw him I went up to him and hugged him and told him I did it. That was pretty special. I got emotional there.”
His parents were at Dodger Stadium for his debut as well. “My first strikeout my dad jumped all over the place.” De Léon added, “It was my first time actually seeing them in the stadium since I signed with [the Dodgers] in  and now I know what they go through when they see me on TV.”
Roberts commented on the starting pitcher situation as well. “In the last seven days we’ve had seven starters. These young kids are coming in and contributing — really contributing.”
It should be noted a lot of Dodgers contributed to the Dodgers wins over the weekend. Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez, and Yasmani Grandal especially, who hit two homeruns and batted in six RBI Saturday and Sunday. Starter Rich Hill threw six scoreless innings on Saturday.
Over the weekend it was leaked that the Dodgers expressed an interest in getting Zack Greinke back from the Arizona Diamondbacks, but that rumor faded pretty quickly. But for Dodgers fans, they can look for Clayton Kershaw to return on Friday when the Dodgers play the Marlins in Miami.
Today the DBacks will be at Dodger Stadium for a three-game series. The game starts at 5:10 p.m. and starting for Arizona will be Greinke. He has a record of 12-4 and an ERA of 4.17. Kenta Maeda will get the start for Los Angeles. His record is 13-8 and his ERA is 3.38. The former Dodgers ace facing the guy who was brought in to fill the hole left when Greinke went to the Diamondbacks.
This will be a great game for the fans and it starts at 5:10 p.m.
Below are Claudia Gestro’s video reports from the weekend.
Claudia Gestro contributed to this article.
All photos by Claudia Gestro. Top photo: José De Léon and Kenta Maeda
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