Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — He can hit. He can throw. He can run. He can undoubtedly get Dodger fans excited.
And, obviously, he can certainly cause a hype.
But at Dodger Stadium, before the Dodgers hosted their divisional rival San Diego Padres on Monday afternoon, everyone had the same question — could the man match the moment?
Cuban defector and phenom prospect slugger Yasiel Puig came up to the plate for his first major league at-bat to a rumble at Dodger Stadium.
Moments later, Puig recorded his first major league hit.
Puig went 2-for-4 in the leadoff position in his major league debut and impressed with both his speed and his arm as the Dodgers beat the Padres 2-1.
Padres starter Eric Stults had come off one of the best starts of his career, in which he worked eight innings of one-run ball striking out 12, walking no one, and giving up just three hits.
Even more, the Padre hitters had come into Dodger Stadium on Monday batting .319 against Dodger pitchers this season.
For the Dodgers, Puig wasn’t the only player called up. Stephen Fife was recalled to start today after Chris Capuano was a late scratch.
Fife walked his first batter, and got into a pickle when Alexi Amarista followed with a bloop-single.
However, Fife got out of the inning after a strikeout and a double play.
Puig singled to left center in his first at-bat. He had a grin on his face after first base umpire Laz Diaz said something to him. Nick Punto, however, was unable to advance him, and grounded into a double play.
Adrian Gonzalez then hammered a ball so hard to right that it threatened to leave the ball park. The ball hit the back of the visitor’s bullpen, and the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead on Adrian Gonzalez’s eighth homer of the season.
Scott Van Slyke, another Dodger who had singled in his first major league at-bat, then continued the assault on Stults when he connected to send his fifth home run of the year into the left field bleachers, giving the Dodgers a 2-0 lead.
The Padres struck in the top of the sixth inning, when Chase Headley singled in Amarista to cut the deficit to one run. Fife was pulled from the game and Mattingly went with Peter Moylan, who promptly gave up a single to Jedd Gyorko. However, Moylan recovered by getting Chris Denorfia, who came into the game batting .429 against the Dodgers this season, to ground into an inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the inning, Puig became the first Dodger to record a multi-hit game in his major league debut since Russell Martin in 2006.
Puig hit his second single when he hammered a hard grounder off first baseman Kyle Blanks. To give you an idea how hard he hit the ball, it went off Blanks, and then flew about 20 feet into the air.
This time, Punto knew what to do.
Punto singled and Puig, who had already showcased his bat, put his speed on display, as he rounded second and beat a throw to slide safely into third base with one out.
However, Gonzalez grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Dodgers maintained a 2-1 lead going into the ninth inning. But, as ever, current closer Brandon League made the ninth inning interesting.
League walked Denorfia to put the tying run on board with one out and almost gave up a shot to Blanks.
Of all the players on the field, it was the rookie, Yasiel Puig, who made a great catch and then displayed another powerful weapon in his arsenal — his arm.
Puig fired an absolute cannon shot to Adrian Gonzalez at first double up Denorfia and get the out to end, giving the Dodgers a 2-1 win.
Moments later, Puig took part in his first victory jump with fellow outfielders Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke.
The Dodgers turned four double plays to help Stephen Fife record his first win of his career.
The club called up Puig, who was sensational at Double-A Chattanooga (.313, 13 steals, 12 doubles, three triples, eight homers, and 37 RBI) to provide a boost to a Dodger outfield that looks completely different now than it did at the end of Spring Training.
He ended up providing a boost to more than the outfield.
“It’s exciting,” manager Don Mattingly had said before the game. “He has a chance to give you some energy.”
The club had felt drained, going 1-4 on their five-game road trip, and losing six in a row to divisional opponents.
After Monday night’s win, and the spark of a tremendous new talent on the field, the Dodgers may yet find that very thing they have lacked all season — energy.