Matt Kemp was not quite himself for nearly a month after crashing into the center-field wall at Coors Field in Denver. But in the final week of the season Kemp has caught fire at what the Los Angeles Dodgers hope is the right time.
Kemp homered twice on Saturday, including a 461-foot blast to nearly the top of the left-field pavilion at Dodger Stadium that is the longest home run hit by a Dodger this season. He homered again Sunday, a two-run blast to give the Dodgers a lead in what became their fifth straight win.
After hitting just .159 (13-for-82) in a 20-game stretch after colliding with the outfield wall in Denver, Kemp has four home runs and three doubles in his last five games, hitting .550 (11-for-20) during that span. Manager Don Mattingly admires Kemp's ability to deal with the pain.
"We know Matt's banged up, but banged up doesn't mean that every swing you take hurts," Mattingly said. "You have trouble getting loose, you get stiff in the morning, you have stuff going on. It doesn't mean you can't play and still do some things."
The Dodgers trail the St. Louis Cardinals by two games for the second National League wild-card spot, with just three games remaining. But they remain confident with Kemp, as the team is 58-44 (.569) when he has started this season and 26-31 (.456) when he hasn't.
"I feel like any other player would feel when you get into September. Everybody is a little banged up in September. I'm not going to make excuses," Kemp said. "It feels good to hit balls that hard. Hopefully I can do that for the next (three) days."