Los Angeles, CA - It's been almost a year since his trade from the Florida Marlins and he's already made his mark with his new team. Since returning from the disabled list on June 4, Hanley Ramirez has been unstoppable. He has the second highest batting average in the Majors and has reached base safely in 39 straight games.
But if you ask him what's the key to his success, he'll simply say "as a team we need to do this..." No accolades for this shortstop, Ramirez wants to win games and help the Dodgers reach the playoffs but before that happens they need to win one day at a time.
"Everybody's contributing out there and we're pulling for each other," said Hanley. "We're in a good position right now but there's still a lot of work to be done. "There's two months left so we've got to keep going hard and adding wins everyday."
Los Angeles added another win today when they beat the Cincinnati Reds 1-0 with a walk-off home run by Yasiel Puig. It was their third consecutive win and third walk-off of the season. They now lead the National League West and are up by 2.5 games over the Arizona Diamondbacks who lost today.
It was a pitchers duel on the mound, through ten innings both the Dodgers and Reds combined for six hits. Cincinnati however struck out Los Angeles 20 times, setting a record for the most strikeouts since the franchise moved to LA in 1958. The previous number was 18 on May 2, 1995 in a 15-inning loss to the San Francisco Giants.
"He did his job and the pitching staff did their job," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "We just have to score some runs."
Puig came to bat with two outs in the eleventh. Elian Herrera struck out swinging and Mark Ellis popped out to shortstop Cesar Izturis. Yasiel watched as did the sellout crowd his solo home run go deep to left field. While his teammates knew he would be the last batter to hit, his manager thought the opposite.
"I knew when he hit it, that it was gone," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "I hate to say this but... I was shocked."
After a grueling game with no runs scored, the defense played well on both sides. It was hard to figure out when Los Angeles offense would get a break. They got their first hit in the eighth, followed by two more in the ninth and tenth fames. Puig struck out three times and got a free pass to complete his four plate appearances before he hit his first walk-off homer.
"Even if three of those strikeouts out of twenty were mine, I just kept giving it everything I had," Yasiel said through an interpreter.
The Dodgers have improved to 26-6 since June 22, matching the best 32-game stretch in LA history, April 12-May 18, 1977. They won the series against Cincinnati 3-1 and look ahead to the New York Yankees two-game series in a few days. Just as Ramirez said, the contribution from everyone has been the key to their success.