Former 2013 Lookout Yasiel Puig Continues To Dazzle For Dodgers

Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Yasiel Puig
Yasiel Puig
- photo by Tim Evearitt

Yasiel Puig did it all for the Dodgers on Monday night.

Puig homered, had three hits and drove in the winning run in the eighth inning as the Dodgers beat the Giants, 3-1, at Dodger Stadium. The victory was the third straight for the Dodgers and snapped a five-game losing streak against their National League West rivals.

Three weeks into his Major League career, Puig already has five games with at least three hits and 12 with at least two. The Cuban raised his average to .442 and is second on the Dodgers with seven homers.

"I'm surprising everybody," said Puig, who has played just 20 games.

Nick Punto started the rally with a double down the right-field line, moved to third on a sacrifice by Mark Ellis -- who reached on an error by Giants starter Madison Bumgarner -- and scored on Puig's single past shortstop Brandon Crawford.

"He really thrives in the moment," Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said of Puig. "It's no secret that he loves the spotlight and being out there on center stage. He's been producing and doing an amazing job."

Hanley Ramirez provided an insurance run with an RBI groundout that scored Ellis. The shortstop went 1-for-4 and is batting .462 with two doubles, three homers and eight RBIs over the past seven games.

The Dodgers' offense had been quiet before that, aside from Puig's solo shot to right in the first.

Puig is 11-for-16 (.688) this season in the first inning, with three extra-base hits. Five of his seven home runs have been to right.

"For him to go the other way his first time seeing [Bumgarner] and hit a home run, it just exudes talent," said veteran Jerry Hairston. "His talent is really second to none. He's fun to watch."

That lead didn't last long, though, as the Giants tied it in the top of the second on Andres Torres' double down the left-field line. Jerry Hairston was unable to field the ball cleanly in the corner, which allowed Joaquin Arias to score from first. But Arias was injured on the play and was removed from the game due to a strained left hamstring.

Bumgarner settled in after Puig's homer and retired 16 of the next 17 Dodgers, including 11 straight after walking A.J. Ellis to lead off the third, until Puig singled through the right side in the sixth.

"He's hot right now," said Bumgarner, charged with three runs (two earned) on five hits in seven-plus innings. "He's been hot since he's been here. When he's getting something to hit, I don't think he's missing it."

The Dodgers escaped trouble again in the seventh, when Ronald Belisario relieved Ryu and struck out Hunter Pence to end the frame and strand Posey on second. Posey doubled to right on a fly ball that Puig was unable to catch at the wall. As Puig backed into the chain-link fence that covers the scoreboard embedded in the wall, his glove jerked and the ball bounced off the fence.

Puig delivered in the eighth and gave the Dodgers their first win over the Giants since Opening Day.

The last time these two clubs met, the Giants swept a three-game series in San Francisco, including two wins of the walk-off variety. This time, the Dodgers returned the favor.

The Dodgers hadn't won three in a row since sweeping the Pirates at home April 5-7. But with Puig in the mix, Ramirez heating up and Matt Kemp and Scott Van Slyke close to coming off the disabled list, the Dodgers believe more win streaks are on the horizon.

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A Comparison With Stan Musial

In the second game of a doubleheader on Sept. 17, 1941, in St. Louis, a right fielder named Stan Musial made his Major League debut. Life in the big leagues began quite nicely for the 20-year-old, who -- thrust immediately into the No. 3 spot in the batting order -- drove in a pair of runs and finished with a double and a single. Musial would play in 11 more games that season, furnishing the game's texture with one of those special September callup lines: a .426 batting average, a .574 slugging percentage, 20 hits (five for extra bases) and seven RBIs.

And then, even after a six-month hiatus from real games, Musial picked right up where he left off, opening the 1942 season with 13 hits (four for extra bases) and eight runs scored in his first eight games of the season. The performance early on in '42 left Musial with the following numbers through his first 20 games: a .413/.440/.613 line, 33 hits (nine for extra bases), 16 runs, and 10 RBIs: a 20-game start that offers an interesting backdrop to what 22-year-old Yasiel Puig has done through his first 20 contests.

Puig completed his 20th Major League game, after which he -- who owns a .442/.476/.753 slash line -- had 34 hits (10 for extra bases) and 14 RBIs. 

Since 1916, for players through their first 20 games:

  • Puig's seven homers tie him with 14 others for the sixth most. Those with more: George Scott (9), Alvin Davis (9), Dusty Rhodes (8), Mandy Brooks (8) and Carlos Delgado (8). Puig's seven tie him with Matt Kemp for the most for a Dodgers player.
     
  • Puig's 10 extra-base hits tie him with Ed Stevens and Tony Abreu for the fourth most for a Dodgers player. Del Bissonette (13), Gibby Brack (12) and Spider Jorgensen (11) are ahead of him.
     
  • Puig's 34 hits are the most for any Dodgers player, ahead of Gibby Brack's 33. Those 34 place him in a tie with Danny Litwhiler, Terry Pendleton and Mark Lewis for the fourth most overall. Joe DiMaggio and Tom Oliver lead, with 37 apiece. Kirby Puckett had 35.
     
  • Puig's 12 multihit games tie him with DiMaggio, Oliver and Roy Weatherly for the second most, behind Mark Lewis' 13.
     
  • Puig's 14 RBIs tie him with Ed Stevens and Russell Martin for the ninth most for any Dodgers player. George Shuba leads with 20.

---- Source: MLB.com

Yasiel Puig on the steps of the Lookouts' dugout demonstrates his dexterity.
Yasiel Puig on the steps of the Lookouts' dugout demonstrates his dexterity.
- Photo2 by Tim Evearitt

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