|Dee Gordon and the Dodgers have been in first place for all but two days this season. (Getty Images)|
The Weekend Buzz while you were giving that Weber grill a good working over on Father's Day. Maybe with a thick steak, or some ribs. ...
1. Maybe it's the Randy Newman Effect: A scout last week said this of the Dodgers:
"I'm trying to figure out how they win. They chip away and then they get the big hit."
Vin Scully on Friday night said this of the Dodgers after they erased a 5-1 deficit against the AL ERA leader, Chicago's Chris Sale, to steal another win:
"A Dodger team that is a wonder. You wonder how they do it."
With disabled Matt Kemp having played in only 36 of the club's 67 games, and with Cy Young winner Clayton Kershaw slumping (5.26 ERA in his past four starts), the Dodgers continue to steamroll the rest of the league.
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That they owned baseball's best record on Father's Day (42-25, .627) makes about as much sense as manager Don Mattingly recently having been diagnosed with tennis elbow.
Mattingly does not play tennis.
"I've been giving too many bunt signs," the manager, dinged by critics for his reliance on the sacrifice, joked by way of explaining his condition.
Their plus-52 run differential into Sunday's series finale with the White Sox ranked behind only St. Louis' plus-55 in the NL. In the AL, only Texas (plus-81) and the Yankees (plus-53) have outscored opponents by more.
And yet ... the Dodgers' 30 one-run games -- in which they're 17-13 -- were the most in the majors.
Again: Go figure.
New math, old math, however you work the numbers, they're crazy.
All season in Los Angeles, it has been a case of mind over matter ... whether the matter is Kemp's hamstring, second baseman Mark Ellis' devastating knee injury, the once-believed notion that Juan Rivera and Bobby Abreu were finished, everything. Like a recent run of playing 20 games in 20 days, which included 10 in a row in Colorado, Philadelphia and Seattle.
The Dodgers were no-hit by six Mariners pitchers in the series opener in Seattle, but they swept four in Philly, survived the trip and continued on with baseball's best winning percentage.
"If you start talking about it, you get tired," Mattingly said. "If you start saying, 'We've played 13 straight' and start moaning about it. ..."
Mattingly's Dodgers don't moan. They didn't the first time they lost Kemp. Didn't the second time they lost him.
Instead, they're pulling things like this: Elian Herrera, 27, has risen from sub-anonymity to emerge as a hero. In 30 games, he has cracked three game-winning RBI, compiled eight multi-hit games and started at third base, second base, center field and left field.
Reclamation project Chris Capuano on Sunday was vying to become only the fourth major-leaguer with nine victories, behind the Mets' R.A. Dickey (10), the Cardinals' Lance Lynn (10) and the Phillies' Cole Hamels (9).
Catcher A.J. Ellis has emerged as one of the game's most pleasant surprises, ranking fourth in the majors with a .434 on-base percentage.
These Dodgers are a monument to the acumen of general manager Ned Colletti, and to the steadfastness of Mattingly.
They're fun. They're surprising. They're -- as Scully says -- a wonder. And maybe most important of all, they're dangerous.
2. Those sneaky Yankees: As colleague Danny Knobler noted from Washington the other day, the Yankees don't do things quietly. But the nine-game winning streak that has catapulted Joe Girardi's club into first place in the AL East hasn't exactly come with noisemakers and party music.
Baseball's hottest team is so scorching that it even defeated the Nationals without the aid of a home run on Saturday (the Yanks had been 0-12 in games in which they failed to homer) and so hot that it held Bryce Harper to 0 for 7 with five strikeouts Saturday (with Andy Pettitte fanning him in each of his first three at-bats).
3. Clown appeal, bro: Only thing missing Friday in baseball denying the Mets' appeal to try to get R.A. Dickey a no-hitter was the phrase, "And don't come back here again!" That and a Mets apology to David Wright for trying to stick him with the error.
4. First-place White Sox: There's less mystery here than you think. Adam Dunn and Jake Peavy are having extraordinary comeback seasons. Dunn and Alex Rios combined for 30 home runs and 85 RBI through 64 games after having, as STATS_LLC notes, 24 and 86 total through all of 2011.
"We were talking in spring training," reliever Matt Thornton says. "Everyone was saying, 'The White Sox are going to be terrible. They didn't add anything. They didn't make any moves.'
"Well, if you just looked at the back of the baseball cards and thought Dunn could get back to what he's done, Rios could get back to what he's done and Peavy could get back ... I think Dunn said at FanFest over the winter, our acquisitions were going to be them bouncing back."
5. The NL's annual beating: Interleague play scoreboard into Sunday: AL 82 wins, NL 69. And heading into realignment next year, the schedule currently continues to make little sense. The Dodgers and White Sox drew each other for a second successive season for no apparent reason.
"I don't like interleague play much," Mattingly says. "And I definitely don't like playing the same team every year."
6. As long as World War I isn't repeated: Five no-hitters and counting this season -- most by this date since 1917 -- with a dizzying number of false alarms. This weekend alone, the Angels' Ervin Santana took a perfect game into the seventh inning against the Diamondbacks, the Orioles' Jason Hammel no-hit the Braves into the seventh and the Athletics' Tyson Ross took a no-hitter into the sixth against the Padres despite entering the game with the second-worst opponents' batting average in the majors.
7. Burn, Pirates, burn: No small reason why the Pirates are hanging around in the NL Central: A.J. Burnett is the first Pittsburgh pitcher to win six consecutive starts since Doug Drabek in his Cy Young Award season of 1990.
8. Gibson graduate school: Did you see Kirk Gibson skipped his son's high school graduation in Michigan to manage the Diamondbacks? "You're supposed to graduate," Gibson growled. Don't even ask what he thinks about today's players taking paternity leave.
9. Dog bites man, Manny quits: Out of patience because it didn't appear there was a spot for him with Oakland, Manny Ramirez asked for his release from Triple-A Sacramento, which means Manny now has quit on the Red Sox, Dodgers, Rays and Athletics (his time with White Sox was marred by a pulled muscle). He had zero home runs in 17 games for Sacramento, and 16 of his 19 hits were singles (the other three were doubles). In other words, Manny never was the same player -- anywhere -- since being busted for steroids (the first time) with the Dodgers in 2010.
10. Pepperoni, or mushroom? By whiffing 10 or more times, the Marlins did wonders for pizza lovers in Tampa Bay. All Rays fans attending each game this weekend were eligible for free pizza because of the whiffs. Mmmm, the Marlins. Baseball's most delicious team.