Here’s a thing I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before: one player taking two bases on an infield grounder more than once in a single game. I don’t know how to look that sort of thing up; I don’t know if it can be looked up, and either way, it’s sort of like an RBI or a triple play, in that it’s not just about the player, it’s about being in fortunate enough circumstances to even do it. (Obviously, the ball has to be placed just so.) But really, the one indisputable fact is that it can’t be done without a hell of a lot of hustle, and that’s exactly what Matt Kemp showed tonight, along with a bit of jump in his legs that we haven’t seen in a while.
In the bottom of the sixth, Kemp advanced from first to third, on a Juan Uribe infield single to second. That was fun, but he was stranded there by A.J. Ellis, so this, in a 1-1 game in the eighth inning, was better:
(That this was even considered “an infield hit,” and not just “a single to center,” is almost entirely due to the wonderful play of Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons, of course.)
And why was it even 1-1 to make that run so important? Because Kemp had homered earlier in the game, an absolute no-doubter blast off of Alex Wood, his third in two days. His wRC+ is now 134, which is not only better than his career average, it’d be the third-best of his career. It’s one of the 35 best marks in the game. The last week or so is something of an unsustainable hot streak, I’m aware, but it doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it.
Otherwise, Zack Greinke was so, so good tonight — 13 strikeouts, one walk, and just a single run — that I’m not even going to really dwell on the fact that six of those whiffs came from B.J. Upton (4), who is awful, and Wood (2), who is a pitcher. If not for the walk, which came with two outs in the eighth inning, he would have joined only Clayton Kershaw and Jose Fernandez as pitchers this season to have at least 13 whiffs without a walk. You might remember that Kershaw game. It was fun. Unfortunately, and unfairly, Greinke’s evening is going to be forgotten, not only because of Kemp, but because…
… Kenley Jansen, in relief in the ninth, hung a pitch that Justin Upton nearly hit into the sun. Yes, even though it was night time. That’s how far he hit it. I mean, there’s no-doubters, and then there was that. I wasn’t even mad, I was impressed. Except, for the part where I was also mad. Though it seems like we have to defend Jansen a lot, it was his first earned run in more than six weeks, so I’m not going to bother. He’s still really good. He threw a lousy pitch, which is funny only because Brim wrote earlier today on exactly that. It should be noted, I think, that Jansen then retired the next three Braves in order.
On to extra innings
J.P. Howelll, good on you, for getting through the tenth and making Jordan Schafer look foolish by picking him off second, despite the fact that you walked two. Justin Turner, good on you for leading off the bottom of the tenth with a pinch-hit single and then getting to second base on a wild pitch, continuing your unexpected season of being pretty damn useful. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez, good on you most of all, for continuing to forget that Craig Kimbrel even exists, because when not-Kimbrel David Hale had to face Kemp again, it ended with Kemp’s third hit of the day, a single to left that scored Turner.
Was it fun?
It sure looked fun. I don’t know how long this is going to last. Maybe it’s a fluke. I don’t care. I missed this Matt Kemp. I missed it a lot.