Matt Kamlet, CBSLA.com
LOS ANGELS (CBSLA.com) — In the story that is the rise of Yasiel Puig, the chapters are going by faster than a Rhodes Scholar reading a children’s bedtime story.
Yasiel Puig hit two home runs and knocked in five RBIs in the second game of his career as the Dodgers beat the Padres 9-7 on Tuesday night.
Ted Lilly did not start the game off on a good note, giving up a leadoff home run to Chris Denorfia in the top of the first inning. It was just the second pitch of the ball game.
What may have hurt worse, for the crowd anyway, was that Lilly gave up a single to Carlos Quentin, and the boos were louder than they had been the last time Matt Kemp grounded into a double play.
Quentin took the field for San Diego to face the Dodgers for the first time since he charged the mound on April 11 and broke Dodgers pitcher Zack Greinke’s collarbone. What made the night especially unfortunate for Quentin, who missed the series opener with a hurt shoulder, was that he had to play defense in left field.
The left field pavilion, with a reputation as being loud and boisterous, is not known for it’s welcoming attitude toward visiting left fielders. For a left fielder playing for a divisional opponent, the jeers are generally enhanced. For a left fielder who knocked the home team’s second best pitcher out of the game for a month — well, Quentin may have preferred to play with earplugs in.
Puig, who formed the center of the Dodger media attention this week in his major league debut on Monday night, led off the bottom of the first with his first career extra base hit when he doubled to right.
He would be nowhere near done.
He moved to third on a grounder by Mark Ellis. But Adrian Gonzalez was unable to bring him home with an infield grounder, and Hanley Ramirez hit a line drive to short to end the inning.
Lilly then gave up a 2-run home run to Kyle Blanks in the second inning, giving San Diego a 3-0 lead. It was a significantly more productive at-bat for Blanks, who, in his previous at-bat, had hit a fly ball to Puig in right field in the series opener, only to have Denorfia doubled up at first base to end the game.
Tim Federowicz belted a homer to left field with Juan Uribe aboard in the bottom of the second inning to cut the deficit to one run. It was the second home run in Federowicz’s career.
In the top of the fourth, Puig earned his first career error.
Jesus Guzman singled to right, and Blanks rounded second and ran for third. Puig attempted a similar throw a similar cannon shot to the one that ended Monday night’s affair, but Juan Uribe was unable to handle it. Blanks headed home, taking Ted Lilly down with him when he found himself on the basepath, and the Padres led 4-2.
To add insult to injury, Padres starting pitcher Clayton Richard knocked in Guzman later in the inning with a single to left.
The Dodgers mounted their comeback in the fifth inning — and wouldn’t you believe, it was Puig that provided the fireworks.
Yasiel Puig hit his first career home run with two runners on, a deep shot half way up into the left field pavilion, to tie the game at five.
It was an estimated 439 ft. blast, a Cuban missile, if you will.
Puig gave a curtain call after the shot — his second in as many games.
Yasiel Puig became the first Dodger with a 3-RBI game within the first two games of his career since Dick Gray in 1958.
After Ellis got on base, Gonzalez connected for his 12th double of the season, and there were runners on second and third with one out.
Ramirez flew to right, just missing his second homer of the season, which was enough to bring Ellis in and give the Dodgers a 6-5 lead.
Yet, as ever, Ronald Belisario came in for relief, and almost instantly sucked the momentum from the ball park.
Belisario gave up a single and a double, before Denorfia knocked in his second RBI of the night to tie the game at six. J.P. Howell took the mound relief.
Then, some more of the Brooklyn bloodline emerged on the field.
With runners on the corners, Everth Cabrera laid down a bunt right in front of home plate. Adrian Gonzalez ran to field the ball, Hanley Ramirez and Luis Cruz both ran to cover third, nobody covered second, and the bases were loaded with one out.
Chase Headly, however, grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Luis Cruz came to the rescue in the bottom of the sixth after Schumaker advanced to second on a throwing error. Cruz smacked a double to right to score Schumaker, and the Dodgers retook the lead 7-6.
Then, what had looked like glimpses of a potential great player earlier in the game, impersonated greatness in the bottom of the sixth.
Yasiel Puig stepped up to the plate, took a deep breath, and fired a shot into right field, into the stands, and into the record books.
If you were lucky enough to witness the game, you saw Puig become the first player since 1949 to have a two home run, five RBI game within the first two games of his career, and only the second player in history ever to do so.
In addition, he is the only Dodger in history to record a multi-homer game within the first two games of his major league career.
The Dodgers extended their lead to 9-6.
Brandon League, to the relief of Dodger fans, was solid in the ninth, and the Dodgers held on to win with a score of 9-7.
Not far from the minds of any Dodger fan is the thought that, without so many injuries that have been the cause of so much disappointment this season, the opportunity for Puig to come up may never have materialized.
It took the disabling of both Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford for the Dodgers to swallow the pill and make that call.
And so it was, in the timeless style of the great game of baseball, it took weeks of suffering and injuries to great ball players to save a team from fading completely into the shadow of despair, and to give them a better look at the bright light of summer.