For a second consecutive game, the Los Angeles Dodgers received a strong outing from one of the aces on their pitching staff. Zack Greinke threw seven shutout innings and exited the game with the Los Angeles Dodgers leading the St. Louis Cardinals, 2-0.
The decision to remove Greinke was one he and Dodgers manager Don Mattingly previously discussed, but it also backfired. J.P. Howell gave up a leadoff single and his next pitch was hit halfway up the right-field pavilion by Matt Carpenter.
For as quickly as the Dodgers lost the lead, Matt Kemp put them back ahead with his solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Following the Dodgers’ win, Kemp put the home run into perspective, via Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com:
That’s pretty big right there. In the playoffs, when you get big hits like that to help your team win, I think it is very big. That’s definitely at the top as far as one of the big ones I’ve hit. That was definitely fun and I’m glad I could do that to help the team win.”
Kemp was shut down on the final day of the regular season in 2013 due to an ankle injury that could’ve cost him his career had he continued playing on it. Now healthy and contributing, Kemp is thankful for his postseason opportunity:
I feel just blessed, man. It’s been a grind the last two years. Last year was a disappointing year for me as far as just sitting there and watching my team be successful. I thought I could have helped them a lot, but they did a really good job last year of getting as far as they did. I’m just blessed to be able to be on this stage and be able to be healthy and to help the team try to accomplish a big time goal.”
While Kemp is very much a part of the Dodgers’ success, it wasn’t necessarily the case in the early stages of the season. He struggled to find his timing at the plate upon returning from injury, was a step slow in center field, then endured endless trade rumors.
Kemp was benched and moved to left field, wasn’t entirely pleased, and was eventually moved to right field, where he’s flourished. The 30 year old hit .309 with 17 home runs and 54 RBIs after the All-Star break, and was named the National League Player of the Month for September.
Through Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS, Kemp is 5-for-9 with one home run and two RBIs.