Matt Kemp reacts to striking out in the sixth inning against the Giants. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
It happens to every hitter at some point -- no matter how great a run they've been on, no matter how great the player.
And right now it's happening to Matt Kemp.
For the first time in two seasons, he's in a real slump. He is without a hit in his last 19 at-bats, without a single hit since he was ejected from Thursday's game in Pittsburgh.
He had one of the greatest offensive seasons for a Dodger ever last year, and finished second in the National League MVP voting. Then he started this season like that was only an opening act.
But right now, it's not happening for Kemp. Right now, he's scuffling.
"A little bit," said Manager Don Mattingly. "It seems like the first time it's been any kind of extended kind of period."
It's the first time Kemp has had an 0-for-19 skid in five years. He's owned left-handers all season (.429 batting average, .831 slugging percentage), but Monday night against tough Giants left-hander Madison Bumgarner, he went 0-for-4.
"Tonight, this guy is a tough matchup," Mattingly said. "It's a tough matchup for a lot of guys with [his arm] angle. Matt's killed left-handers all year long, but this guy's a tough angle. He's a tough see.
"I think [Kemp's] been a little impatient, swinging at balls out of the strike zone a little bit. They kind of pounded him [inside] in Pittsburgh, and he kind of got a little conscious. That'll get you in trouble. He needs to stay with what he does. You start looking for that ball in, you're in trouble.”
Kemp, batting a stunning .359 before his slump, has seen his average drop to .333.
It is, of course, a slump, not a season's sentence. Kemp will no doubt come out of this, although a really good time would be while playing the Giants with first place on the line.
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