Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon


MLB News

Dodgers in the midst of magical season

Rookie manager Roberts has LA atop division despite numerous injuries

Pay attention, Cubbies, despite looking totally blessed.

And, yes, LeBron James brought Cleveland its first world championship for a major sports franchise in 52 years, but the Indians aren't necessarily the next Chosen Ones.

Pay attention, Cubbies, despite looking totally blessed.

And, yes, LeBron James brought Cleveland its first world championship for a major sports franchise in 52 years, but the Indians aren't necessarily the next Chosen Ones.

The same goes for the Nationals, Rangers, Red Sox and those other special teams this year, for whatever reason.

Given what nearly happened Thursday night in Chavez Ravine, the Dodgers reminded us that they are the most charmed of them all. Well, for now.

Since more than a month remains in the regular season, the title of baseball's "Team of Destiny" could jump from L.A. to Miami to St. Louis to Toronto to wherever between now and Labor Day, and then right up to when somebody hoists the World Series trophy around Halloween.

This is just the Dodgers' time. It has to be, because nobody stays vibrant through late summer after having 10, 15 or 19 guys on the disabled list at some point during the season. But 27? Clayton Kershaw is one of the best pitchers of his era -- no, of any era. Courtesy of a creaky back, he hasn't thrown a pitch since June 26, but his teammates keep rolling. In fact, they've done so even more with Kershaw gone.

Video: LAD@CIN: Kershaw plays catch with Anderson pregame

I'll explain in a moment. But speaking of gone, Yasiel Puig was considered a huge part of the Dodgers' present and future. Puig is in the Minor Leagues.

The bottom line: When Kershaw left the roster on June 26, with others joining him weekly on the disabled list, and with Puig quickly becoming yesterday's news around L.A., the Dodgers were 41-36 and trailed the National League West-leading Giants by eight games. That was their largest deficit of the season. Now they're 71-56, and they're leading the division by two games.


Which brings us back to what nearly happened to the Dodgers on Thursday night against their dreaded rivals from San Francisco inside of normally home-team-friendly Dodger Stadium: They were nearly no-hit.

I mean, teams of destiny don't get no-hitters thrown against them. Giants left-hander Matt Moore spent eight innings and two outs retiring batter after batter with help from a couple of miracles catches by Giants center fielder Denard Span, but miracles mostly apply to the Dodgers these days.

On Moore's 133rd pitch, shortstop Corey Seager (who else?) dropped a single into an empty spot in right field. So despite San Francisco snapping Los Angeles' four-game winning streak with a 4-0 victory, Seager turned a no-hitter into a one-hitter, and all was well for Dodger Blue.

Video: SF@LAD: Seager on his late hit to end Moore's no-no

That's partly how this charmed thing works, and guess whose bobblehead day it was Thursday night? Yep, we're talking about Seager, who is flirting with grabbing both the Rookie of the Year Award and the Most Valuable Player Award in the NL. He leads the team in batting average (.322), on-base percentage (.377) and hits (159), and he also has contributed 22 home runs and 61 RBIs.

Third baseman Justin Turner joins Seager as a terror at the plate for opposing pitchers with his team-high 24 homers and 74 RBIs. Veteran Adrian Gonzalez remains as steady as they come at first base and on offense (.299 batting average, 15 homers and 73 RBIs). With the Dodgers' trade that just brought them catcher Carlos Ruiz from the Phillies on Thursday, they now have Ruiz and Chase Utley, who were prominent during the Phillies' run to five NL East titles, two pennants and a World Series championship from 2007-11.

Video: Justice on Dodgers upgrading bench in trade for Ruiz

Plus, Kenley Jansen is one of the game's premier closers (37 saves, 1.86 ERA), and despite their ailing starting pitchers, Los Angeles still has enough healthy ones to rank sixth in the Major Leagues with a 3.78 team ERA.

Optimism is everywhere for the Dodgers, which doesn't make sense. Not if you go by what should have happened to them this year: Disaster. It begins and ends with those injuries. Just this week, they placed pitchers Scott Kazmir and Brett Anderson on the disabled list. They were the team's sixth and seventh hurlers on the DL this year among those 27 players overall. According to 30 years worth of official records, only the 2012 Red Sox could match that number, and those Red Sox finished fifth in the American League East at 69-93.

These hobbling-yet-surging Dodgers can't relate to that, and their injury situation is even worse than what I just mentioned. For instance: Anderson became their fifth guy to make the disabled list twice this season. Not only that, but Los Angeles began the season with 10 players on the DL after hiring Dave Roberts for his first Major League managing job.

Then again, Roberts knows about miracles. He's a cancer survivor since his 2010 diagnosis of Hodgkin's lymphoma. He's overcome baseball issues, too. Despite spending nearly a decade in the Minor Leagues, he impressed Dodgers officials enough in 2002 to start as their center fielder, where he stayed for three years before he left for other Major League teams and retired from baseball after the '08 season.

Roberts followed his playing with broadcasting. He worked for the New England Sports Network, and then after he left for the Padres' front office in 2010, he was five years away from the omniscience of Dodgers officials. They ignored others who were rumored to take over baseball's most expensive roster of players, and they hired Roberts, who has an African-American father and a Japanese-American mother. As a result, Roberts is the Dodgers' first minority manager. And since he was 43 when Los Angeles hired him, Roberts became their youngest full-time guy since Walter Alston took over the position at age 43 in 1954.

So, there's the key to the Dodgers' run out of nowhere … Roberts.

That and pixie dust.

Terence Moore is a columnist for

Los Angeles Dodgers