Dodgers’ Offense Could Soar if Grandal Stays Hot

(Photo Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports)

Having been mired in a nasty slump for the entirety of the season’s first half, catcher Yasmani Grandal‘s bat came through in a big way on Friday night, rescuing the Dodgers from a three-game losing streak and propelling the club to a 10-6 win against the Padres at Dodger Stadium.

Grandal ended up having a career night at the dish, going 5-for-5 and scoring three runs, highlighted by three home runs and six RBI. He even bunted for a single down the third base line against a defensive shift in the eighth inning.

Grandal joined legends Mike Piazza and Roy Campanella as the only Dodgers catchers to hit three home runs in a game, and became the first Dodgers catcher with five or more hits in one contest since Paul LoDuca went 6-for-6 in May of 2001.

“Today just seemed like it was my day,” he said. “I’ve been hitting the ball, hard contact; it’s not showing numbers-wise. I kept doing what I was doing and tried to make adjustments here and there.”

With the five hits, the 27-year-old switch-hitter raised his average to .204, after hitting a dreadful .183 in over 200 plate appearances upon entering Friday’s contest. He now has 12 home runs and 37 RBI on the season, and has elevated his OPS+ to the favorable side at 102.

Despite a very gradual ramp of improvement over the course of the first half, the Dodgers’ offensive numbers have ranked towards the bottom of the National League for the majority of the year. Before Friday’s game, the club ranked 12th in two critical categories, logging a .239 team batting average and a .701 team OPS. Los Angeles was ranked 10th in the NL with 365 runs scored, while placing 14th as a team with a .388 slugging percentage and 10th with a .313 OBP.

As for the lineup that skipper Dave Roberts penned on Friday evening, only three batters — Chase Utley, Corey Seager and Adrian Gonzalez — had season averages over .260.

The Dodgers’ muddled offense was not apparent on Friday, however. Third baseman Justin Turner put the team on track in the first inning with a two-out homer to center, his 13th of the season. Gonzalez then singled and scored from first on Yasiel Puig’s double to the gap in left-center, setting the stage for Grandal’s first HR of the night, a two-run blast into the right-field pavilion off a 96 MPH fastball from Padres’ starter Andrew Cashner.

The Dodgers extended their lead to 7-3 in the third frame when Grandal hit a three-run homer, his second of the night, with Kendrick crushing a solo shot in the next at-bat, making it the second time this week the club had back-to-back homers. Grandal’s third home run came in the seventh inning against Padres reliever and former Dodger Jose Dominguez.

If Grandal can show steady production at the dish in the lower-middle part of the lineup, it could provide a critical component in turning the tide for an otherwise sub-par Dodger offense. Although a handful of players had their own respective hot streaks at some point in the first half, it certainly seemed as if there was rarely an occasion where two or more hitters heated up at the same time.

There’s a chance that the team may get a small infusion of offense when outfielder Joc Pederson comes back sometime after the All-Star break, and when veteran Andre Ethier finally returns in early August.

In the meantime, the Dodgers are hoping their bats remain ignited on Saturday night in the third game of the four-game set, when Brandon McCarthy opposes 23-year-old righty Luis Perdomo on the bump.

First pitch is slated for 4:15 p.m. local time.


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