Yasiel Puig is just 22 years old, and already has established himself as one of the most dangerous hitters in the major leagues — as well as a role model for his teammates who enjoy his gung-ho style in the outfield and on the base paths.
Puig singled home the tying and go-ahead runs in the seventh inning, Andre Ethier had a two-run double, and the Los Angeles Dodgers opened a four-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies with a 6-4 victory on Thursday night.
“He kind of reminds me of myself,” Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp said of the Cuban rookie sensation. “Sometimes he plays too hard, and sometimes you have to tell him: `Man, calm down. You can’t make every play.’ But he’s done an amazing job in his first month in the big leagues. He’s gotten big hits and made big plays on defense. He’s doing a lot, and I think we’re just feeding off the kid.”
Zack Greinke (4-3) struck out five over seven innings and allowed four runs on 12 hits, including solo homers by Domonic Brown and Chase Utley, to help the Dodgers get their season-best sixth straight win.
Puig was shaken up crashing into the right field auxiliary scoreboard while trying to track Utley’s ninth homer in the top of the seventh that put Philadelphia ahead 4-3. However, Puig was none the worse for wear — as he proved moments later.
The Dodgers loaded the bases in the bottom half against rookie reliever Justin De Fratus (2-2) without the benefit of a hit. A.J. Ellis walked and Juan Uribe reached on a bunt that first baseman Ryan Howard tried to field before slipping and falling on the play. Nick Punto advanced the runners with another bunt, and Hanley Ramirez drew an intentional walk while batting for Greinke.
Skip Schumaker was called out on strikes for the second time, but Puig slapped an 0-2 pitch to left field to put the Dodgers ahead 5-4.
“He was ready to hit, so my plan there was to slow him down and try to use his aggressiveness against him,” De Fratus said. “It worked on the first two pitches. I didn’t think I threw a bad pitch on the next one, but it wasn’t where I was trying to get it and he burned me.”
Puig is batting a robust .427 with seven homers and 16 RBIs in just 23 big league games.
“His energy just feeds into all of us,” Ellis said. “We all dream and wish we could play the way he’s playing, and it makes us want to play better. It’s an energy and a way to play the game that you don’t see too much. When he crashed into the fence, I just wanted to see him pop back up. I love his aggressiveness and love him trying to make a play right there.”
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