video thumbnail

LAD@ARI: Kemp blasts his 39th homer of the season

PHOENIX -- There would be no Triple Crown for Matt Kemp and he fell one home run short of the 40/40 club he boldly predicted a year ago that he'd join.

But when the Dodgers had finally put away a season-ending 7-5 win over the D-backs on Wednesday night, Kemp, who blasted homer No. 39 in his next-to-last at-bat, admitted he was surprised at some of his achievements.


Kemp finished the season as the league leader in home runs (39) and RBIs (126), the first Dodger with that Double Crown since Dolph Camilli in 1941. Kemp finished third in the league with a .324 batting average.

Kemp also finished the season as the league leader with 115 runs and 353 total bases and became the first Dodger to lead the league in homers, RBIs and runs scored. The RBI total is the second-highest in Los Angeles Dodgers history behind Tommy Davis' 153 in 1962. He has the longest active games-played streak at 364 and a 12-game hitting streak.

"You all remind me of that," he said of the milestones. "I'm surprised. They told me on the postgame interview that I did something -- I don't even know what it is, but it's pretty cool. There have been some great players in this organization, a lot of history."

And now Kemp has written a couple of chapters of his own, with an MVP award and a contract extension as possible winter rewards.

What's next? Maybe an offseason of texting recruiting messages to free agent Prince Fielder to join Kemp in the Dodgers lineup?

"He's a grown man and can make his decisions," said Kemp, "but I would love him here. Add his 100-some ribbies to our group and we'd be sitting pretty. You can always add more pitchers and hitters and be even better."

Despite the ownership turmoil, Kemp wants to stay in Los Angeles. He has one year left of arbitration and general manager Ned Colletti said he wants to sign Kemp long term. That will probably take seven years and nine figures.

"It's been a disappointing two years, but the front office wants to win just as much as we do," he said. "I'm sure they'll do whatever it takes. We don't want to miss the playoffs three years in a row."

Kemp came into the game with 38 homers and 40 stolen bases. He was hit by a pitch in his first at-bat, flied out in the third inning, grounded out in the fifth, homered to left in the seventh and struck out on three fastballs from Ryan Cook in the ninth. Manager Don Mattingly greeted him with a hug when he returned to the dugout after his final at-bat.

Mattingly and Kemp were impressed, if not surprised, that Cook, a September callup, would challenge Kemp.

"Yeah, he did," said Kemp, who took strike one, then swung hard and missed the next two. "He gave me a couple pitches to hit. I just swung through them. He came right at me. Got a pretty good arm. Got to shorten the swing."

Kemp said he was most proud of the way his club played over the second half of the season. At one time 14 games below .500, the Dodgers went 45-28 since July 7 to finish 82-79 and in third place, 11 1/2 games out. They won 10 of the last 12.

"I feel we accomplished a lot of things. We can really play," he said. "We beat some great teams, beat some great pitchers. We've got to come out of the gates quick next year winning games."

Many of the reasons for the Dodgers' second-half turnaround were on display in the finale. Ted Lilly was a winner for the fifth time in his last six decisions, throwing seven scoreless innings, finishing the season 12-14 and even singling in a run.

James Loney, whose second-half revival might have put him back into the team's 2012 plans, homered in the sixth inning on the five-year anniversary of his nine-RBI game in Colorado. Dee Gordon, virtually declared next year's starting shortstop before the game by Mattingly, showed why with two hits, two runs and a stolen base, raising his average to .304.

Juan Rivera drove in his 46th RBI in his 62nd Dodgers games, which makes him a free agent the Dodgers are interested in re-signing. Jerry Sands had a pair of hits and batted .407 over the last 16 games to rehab his reputation after a tough early-season callup. Justin Sellers, who proved his value as a utility man and might get a look at the starting second-base job, had a pair of doubles and gave himself up with a ground ball to set up a run. Jamey Carroll kept grinding with a triple and single.

Having pulled off a six-run miracle in the bottom of the 10th inning the night before, Arizona got back into the game with five runs in the bottom of the ninth off Ramon Troncoso, Cole Gillespie (grand slam) and Henry Blanco homering back to back. But Kenley Jansen got the final two outs and finished up with 96 strikeouts in 53 2/3 innings, 16.1 K's per nine innings and an MLB record.

Eugenio Velez grounded out in a pinch-hit at-bat, finishing the season 0-for-37 and 0-for-46 dating to last season, both Major League records. Comments