Kemp, Ramirez Spark Dodgers
By Steven Lieberman
If there are “Twin Towers” in baseball, they would have to be Dodgers sluggers Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp as they both cranked out two homers in the final game of the three-game Opening Series at Dodger Stadium on Sunday against the rival Giants. Dodgers won, 6-2, and prevented the series sweep.
Both of Kemp’s four-baggers came off of Giants ace starter Matt Cain.
Ramirez and Kemp are both back in the starting lineup after being injury-plagued last season and Dodger fans got treated to what they have been waiting for so patiently. Kemp suffered with shoulder, ankle and hamstring injuries and began this season on the disabled list after offseason ankle surgery. Ramirez was in and out of the lineup with hand and hamstring injuries.
Last season, when Ramirez rejoined the team on June 4, he reignited the Dodgers offense as they went from a remarkable last place in the National League West to first place, which included a 46-10 record to mid-August. In just 86 games, he hit .345 with 20 home runs and 57 RBI and reached the playoffs for the first time in his career.
“He is dangerous all the time,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after the game on Sunday about Ramirez.
After the game on Sunday, a reporter asked Kemp if the beast was back.
“Is the beast back? We’ve got a long road ahead of us,” Kemp said. “I hope the beast is back. I’m just getting my legs under me and taking it game by game. It always feels good to hit home runs here, to hear the crowd. It has been a while, so it feels good.”
Mattingly was delighted to see Kemp back to his slugging ways.
“We saw it early in batting practice in the spring. His BP was different,” Mattingly said. “He had that high finish, and we saw the carry on the ball. It’s good to be able to see him do that.”
Kemp made his season debut Friday, starting for Yasiel Puig, who was benched for arriving late to batting practice that day. He finished the 2011 season as the runner-up to Ryan Braun for the National League Most Valuable Player Award.
Mattingly lit up like a pinball machine when asked about having Kemp and Ramirez in the starting lineup together.
“We’ve never really put our full club out there on a consistent basis,” Mattingly said. “Both Hanley and Matt can hit the ball out of the ballpark, and steal bases.”
If they both stay healthy this season, the sky’s the limit.