Adjustment gives Puig hope of turnaround
LOS ANGELES -- Yasiel Puig broke out of his own funk at the plate to help the Dodgers get over a season-long losing streak.
Puig tied a career high with five RBIs and the Dodgers snapped a four-game losing streak by beating the Nationals, 5-0, at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night.
Puig was 2-for-4 with a two-run home run and a bases-clearing triple to provide all of the Dodgers' offense. Entering Tuesday, Puig was in a 1-for-14 slump over his past five games.
"The swing is good right now, which helps him as much as anything to handle all pitches," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Momentum comes from having success. So when you put some success down, you have to start from somewhere."
Since the Dodgers' road trip last week in Philadelphia, Puig has opened his stance more by putting his front foot closer to the third-base dugout. The right fielder said the adjusted stance helps him to better identify pitches.
If Tuesday was any indication, it's working.
On a 0-1 hanging slider from Washington starter Joe Ross, Puig smacked his ninth home run of the season -- a moonshot to left-center field which Statcast™ estimated traveled 435 feet. Rather than a Puig-worthy bat flip, he just took an extra second or two to admire the homer before starting his home run trot.
Eight of Puig's nine home runs this year have come on the first or second pitch of the at-bat, and Puig leads the Dodgers with five home runs since the All-Star break, but is hitting just .213 in the second half.
"I have the same swing, I've just been having trouble connecting," Puig said. "What I've been working on is being able to pick better pitches. Changing that, hopefully I'll be able to connect better based on my stance."
Puig wasn't done with the homer. In the next inning, Puig cleared the bases with a short flare to right field that got past a diving Clint Robinson. The only other time Puig drove in five runs was in his second career game, on June 4, 2013.
Puig said he didn't remember the last time he had that many RBIs in a game but joked he also couldn't remember the last time he had two hits in a game.
The Dodgers maintained their 2 1/2-game lead over the Giants in the National League West, and Puig could be one of the most important X-factors for the club heading down the stretch. He's shown the ability to be a catalyst for the team in the past, and if he can break out of his slump, the Dodgers will be dangerous.
"If anyone gets going, it's great," Tuesday's winning pitcher Zack Greinke said. "But maybe his level of being hot is better than some other guys' level of being hot. But it'd obviously be nice."