Matt Kemp’s eyes never left the ball as he sprinted toward the center field wall in the first inning of Tuesday night’s game in Colorado.
And before he ever saw the wall, he felt it — with the full force of his body as he crashed into the padding with his right knee, upper body and face.
While the Los Angeles Dodgers initially said its all-star slugger suffered a right knee contusion but did not show concussion-like symptoms, even a brief DL stint for Kemp could be the difference between an NL West title and no postseason at all for Los Angeles.
Kemp, who remained on the warning track for several minutes while team trainers attended to him, was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on the knee and a CT scan on his jaw after the game. The play came one night after Kemp crashed into the same wall during Monday’s game.
What’s worse, the Dodgers lost the game 8-4 and now find themselves 3 1/2 games behind the San Francisco Giants in the division race and 2 1/2 games back in the wild-card race. After a strong start to the month, L.A. has now lost 8 of its last 12.
(Watch the MLB.com video of Kemp’s wall-collision below.)
The blockbuster deal that brought Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett and Carl Crawford to L.A. coupled with the additions of Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and Joe Blanton, signaled a full commitment to winning now at all costs. But without the most talented player on their roster anchoring the middle of a potent lineup, can the Dodgers make the playoffs?
Kemp, who finished second in NL MVP balloting last year, began the season on an absolute tear at the plate but played only two games between May 14 and July 12 because of an injured hamstring. Without Kemp, the Dodgers remained atop the division, but they were never able to separate from the Giants.
Despite playing only 78 games, Kemp leads the team in home runs (17), batting average (.337) and
on-base percentage OPS (.988).
The Dodgers are hoping Kemp can return to the lineup soon. They’ll need his bat in the lineup when they visit the Giants for a crucial three-game series on Sept. 7.