Jun 23

Ten questions with Albuquerque play-by-play announcer Robert Portnoy


Richard Drew/AP
Tim Wallach, shown here as a Dodger coach, has handled all kinds of challenges as Albuquerque’s manager.

With the Albuquerque-Los Angeles shuttle in overdrive, I thought this might be a good time to check in with Robert Portnoy, friend of Dodger Thoughts and the play-by-play broadcaster for the Isotopes. And with that largely ado-free introduction, here’s the interview:

1) First, can you update us on when we might see James McDonald and Scott Elbert back in action? What can you tell us about Elbert’s situation?
I don’t have anything to tell about Elbert’s situation. He is not with the team and we haven’t received word when he might return. McDonald’s recovery from his hamstring strain is coming along well in Arizona. He has thrown a simulated game and is scheduled to make his first start in an Arizona League game. [Note: McDonald pitched two hitless innings Tuesday, after this interview was completed.] His return date is not set, but it’s not too far off.

2) How is McDonald handling things in a year he probably thought he’d be in the majors? Especially when things just seemed to be coming together for him before he got hurt.
He was very disappointed when the injury occurred, that was evident. There’s no doubt he was pitching better than he had all season at the time he went down. He was handling being in Triple-A quite well. He realized he had things to work on, and he made great strides. At the start of the year, A.J. Ellis told me J-Mac’s changeup has always been his best secondary pitch, the one that’s always there for him, his most reliable. J-Mac said his changeup was terrible at the start of the year. He was throwing it much better before the injury. His rehab has been exclusively in Arizona, so I can’t comment on how he’s handled that process.

3) The roster comings and goings have been endless. How crazy has it been, particularly in the Isotopes starting rotation? How does Tim Wallach handle it?
Wallach is as even-tempered as they come, unflappable. The kind of manager who watches a terrible base running mistake, pulls the player aside for a brief moment, asks if that player’s aware what he should have done, then tells him to put it behind him so he can help win a ballgame. He realizes that the primary goal is get players ready to help the Dodgers, and if that leaves his rotation depleted, he’ll adjust. The injuries to key guys don’t help, obviously. Yesterday, big league veteran Tim Corcoran, a reliable starter since joining the rotation, had to leave his start early. We hope he won’t miss a turn.

4) What do you think of Wallach as a managerial prospect?
Fantastic. He’s a players manager who keeps proper distance and maintains full authority. One step ahead, it seems, all the time. When he pitches out, they’re running. His instincts are great. Always gets the matchups he wants. One game I distinctly recall talking about multiple scenarios on the air, then asking him about them after the game. He discussed those and gave three or four others he had considered. He can play the chess game with the best of them.

5) Is it a relief to see Josh Lindblom moved to relief?
Josh has a tremendous head on his shoulders, and he’s a real student of the game. Talks about Clemens, Halladay, Carpenter as starters he tries to emulate, even gave me a Goose Gossage reference when talking about his favorite closers (mentioned Goose getting six outs or more for many of his saves). I had a great conversation with him on our recent road trip in Iowa. Here’s the thinking: He has been a reliever, has never even thrown 100 innings in a season. His arm isn’t accustomed to logging that much work yet. So, the past two seasons he’s gotten run down, lost his arm strength. I think he has the stuff, the fastball command, and the makeup to be a big league starter, a real innings-eater, IF his body can adapt. If not, he’ll make an above-average middle innings or setup guy who can get you up to three innings because he has four quality pitches. He’s a big leaguer for sure.

6) Are you able to see what weaknesses John Lindsey has to keep him from the majors? (And when will he return to the field?)
John might rejoin the team when we get back to Albuquerque this weekend, but he could still have a bit more rehab to do before getting back on the field. He has been recovering from his calf strain in Arizona. John’s a professional hitter, he could help the Dodgers with his bat right now. He’s not James Loney at first base, but he can hold his own. Defense might be the only thing that’s holding him back.

7) Jay Gibbons is a potential lefty bat off the Dodger bench with major-league experience. What do you see as his strengths and weaknesses at this point in his career?
Gibbons’ only weakness, if you can call it that, is how hard he plays. At 33, he still leaves it all out there every day. But as a lefty bat off the bench, there’s no wear and tear. He would be ideal, because he could stay in the game and play either corner OF position or 1B adequately, and he’d be great for multiple ABs because he’s actually BETTER against lefties than righties, the numbers don’t lie. His bat is level through the hitting zone longer than anybody I’ve ever seen, period. And he threw two guys out on the bases from RF in one inning in Iowa last weekend.

8) Does Xavier Paul have anything left to prove in the minors? What is he working on?
No. He’s an everyday big leaguer waiting for his chance. He’s working on his defense constantly, looking to continue to improve in that area any way he can. His arm is unquestioned. Just in the last week, naive hitters have tried to stretch singles into doubles when he’s playing left and paid the price twice. Strong and accurate thrower. RF arm in LF when he plays there. When he keeps his focus in the field, he’s an above-average defensive OF. He has shown how he can hit when he’s been with the Dodgers this year. He is tearing up PCL pitching, and now he’s hitting for power, which adds the final piece.

9) How is Ivan DeJesus’ comeback going?
Talked with Ivan in Iowa as well. He’s still working to get strength back in the surgically repaired left leg. It’s a process. He told me that his rehab was rushed a bit last year, when he first tried to run his leg wasn’t ready. They had to shut him down and reset the timetable. He hasn’t had any problems, though. Going very smoothly. He looks great, and his swing is terrific, uses right-center a lot, and can drive the ball that way. Best of all, he’s already had multiple plays this year at home plate, where he’s beaten throws with a variety of slides, and he says he doesn’t think about the collision that caused the injury anymore.

10) Anyone under the radar on the Isotopes roster that you like?
There are several, but if I had to pick one, I’ll go with Russ Mitchell. Has been solid at the plate all year, consistent approach, hits for average and power. Really impressive at 3B, good first step and strong arm, equally good going left, right, and coming in. And he can play 1B and 2B capably as well. He’s even played OF in his career, though we haven’t seen him there yet. But he’s not a utility guy, I like him at 3B every day. He’s the one keeping everybody loose, always talking, laughing. Clearly loves coming to the ballpark, loves what he’s doing.

* * *

  • Claudio Vargas pitched 3 2/3 innings for Albuquerque on Tuesday, allowing two unearned runs on five baserunners with five strikeouts and throwing 77 pitches.
  • A step forward for Brent Leach? Converted into starting, Leach threw five shutout innings for Chattanooga, allowing four baserunners and striking out six.
  • Dodger farmhand Nathan Eovaldi allowed two runs in an inning of relief in the California League’s 15th annual All-Star game against the Carolina League on Tuesday in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
  • Dee Gordon and Pedro Baez will play in Sunday’s Futures minor-league All-Star game at Anaheim Stadium. Baez was given a spot even though he’s been on the disabled list in recent weeks.
  • A film about a Warren Cromartie-managed Japanese team on a 90-game road trip in California’s independent Golden League, “Season of the Samurai,” will premiere on the MLB Network at 4 p.m. Friday, reports Ben Bolch of the Times.
  • Jerry Manuel pulled a Joe Torre/Hiroki Kuroda with Jon Niese on Tuesday, and is getting grief for it.

* * *

For Dodger fans feeling down about the team’s losing streak, this should cheer you up.

Jun 22

Dodgers shot down again, 6-3

The Dodgers dodged a bullet when Russell Martin picked off the go-ahead run at third base with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning Tuesday.

Then they got hit by a fusillade.

Clayton Kershaw, who had a one-hit shutout for five innings, ended up the losing pitcher as he and Ronald Belisario combined to allow four consecutive two-out hits in that destructive seventh, the Angels completing their comeback from a 3-0 deficit for a 6-3 victory. The Dodgers lost their fifth straight game to fall three games behind San Diego in the National League West and 1 1/2 behind second-place San Francisco.

Andre Ethier and James Loney, who each reached base twice Tuesday, had RBI hits in a two-run third inning, and Matt Kemp homered to right-center in the fourth, to give the Dodgers their lead. But in the bottom of the sixth, Kershaw walked No. 9 hitter Brandon Wood, then surrendered a single to Howie Kendrick and a booming homer by Bobby Abreu to tie the game.

And then after nearly getting out of the next inning thanks to Martin’s laser throw, the Dodgers were buried.

To illustrate how things seem to be going for the Dodgers, Kendrick and Kemp both hit grounders up the middle tonight. Kendrick’s went through for the single that set up Abreu’s home run. Kemp’s, with runners on first and second in the eighth and none out, was smothered on a diving stop by Wood, the Angels’ emergency shortstop, and turned into a double play.

* * *

The Dodgers signed second-round draft pick Ralston Cash with a signing bonus estimated at $464,000. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details.

Jun 22

Once more, with feeling: Haeger gets Thursday start

The Dodgers confirmed this evening that Charlie Haeger would come up from Albuquerque to give it another go for the big club Thursday.

I want you all to say it loud, and say it proud: “He’s due!”

* * *

Dodger manager Joe Torre told reporters that Chad Billingsley had a good bullpen session and is on track to be activated from the disabled list in time to start Monday in San Francisco.

Rafael Furcal flies back to Los Angeles today, but might not play until Wednesday, Torre said.

* * *

Cory Wade pitched the first inning of the Dodgers’ Arizona League game Monday. With one out, he hit a batter and gave up a triple and a single for two runs. He got the next two batters and was done.

Jun 22

My all-time Dodgers team (for today)


AP
Brooklyn Dodgers first baseman Jack Fournier and outfielder Zack Wheat, left to right, in the dugout at Ebbets Field, 1921.

ESPNLosAngeles.com has a fan poll for you to pick your all-time Dodgers team, and I’ll show you my choices to help kick things off.

I approached my picks for the team as sort of a test of myself.  I’ve studied the Dodgers long enough — wrote a book on them, after all — I didn’t want to look up any statistics. I wanted to pick a team based on my knowledge and feelings for the players. If I made any bad picks, I figure I’ll learn what my blind spots still are.

Left field
I started near the bottom of the alphabet to find my top guy.  Zack Wheat was an extraordinary player, a Hall of Famer with such talent that he was actually able to work the system long before the free agent era to get real raises. He’s the Dodgers’ all-time hit leader and, if I recall correctly, was a fine fielder to boot.

Center field
Just a few stops up the alphabet elevator from Wheat was Duke Snider, and I don’t think I need to explain his choice. I also would note that I’m trying to pick a true fielder for each position — a right fielder, center fielder and left fielder — and Snider nicely fills the middle spot.

Right field
Several players would have been suitable here, but I had to go with one of my earliest childhood favorites, Reggie Smith. His time in Los Angeles was relatively short, but he’s just my guy.

Toughest outfielders to leave off: Gary Sheffield, Tommy Davis, Willie Davis, Babe Herman, Shawn Green, Pete Reiser … really, just about all of them, with few exceptions.

Third base
Pedro Guerrero might be better suited for the outfield, but I’m glad he’s here butchering the ball in the hot corner rather than forcing me to choose between him and Wheat. Choosing Guerrero over Ron Cey is no easy task, either, but I am just too partial to Guerrero’s hitting brilliance.

Shortstop
Pee Wee Reese is a relatively easy pick for me here — in my mind, as complete a shortstop as the team has ever had in the long run.

Second base
Davey Lopes had a great Dodger career — and so, though some might not realize it, did Jeff Kent. But there’s no question that Jackie Robinson is the choice for all-time Dodger second baseman, objectively and subjectively.

First base
I didn’t think long before choosing Gil Hodges over Steve Garvey, who would be my Los Angeles pick.

Catcher
Cheating a little here: I very well should be picking Roy Campanella, but it’s clear that places for the guys I watched play are rare on this team. Mike Piazza was the greatest hitting catcher I ever saw, for any team. Part of this pick is a protest that he was ever traded.

Starting pitchers
Tough stuff here — about as tough as the outfield.  Reinforcing my Piazza pick is my partiality for ye olde Brooklyne players. I almost indulged myself with stingy Jeff Pfeffer, but the nagging reality that his ERA took advantage of his era made me reconsider in favor of the more memorable Burleigh Grimes, whose book chapter I really enjoyed writing. I then added Dazzy Vance, a late bloomer but probably a more defensible choice than either of those two. Then after obviously adding Sandy Koufax, I debated Don Drysdale, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela and Orel Hershiser before settling on the Bulldog. While Drysdale and Sutton are Hall of Famers, and Valenzuela the one that evokes the most passion in me, right now I just can’t picture Hershiser doing anything but shutting his opponents down. Tomorrow, I’d probably pick someone different.

Closer
An embarrassment of riches here, but I have to go with Eric Gagne. I sure do have a soft spot for Takashi Saito, though.

Manager
Walter Alston won the Dodgers’ first two World Series titles, arguably their two most important: the long-awaited Brooklyn championship in 1955, and the one that galvanized the fan base in Los Angeles in 1959 after a poor first season — a title that ranks with 1988 on the improbability scale. Alston then added two others. He had his own disappointments, and his teams didn’t have much to show after Koufax retired, but I still consider him an underrated manager. In somewhat similar fashion, Tommy Lasorda had great success early on, punctuated later by an unforgettable title in ’88. At times I have underrated him as a manager, but I’m not going to go so far as to choose him over Alston. Either, frankly, would be a fine pick. Had Leo Durocher stayed longer with the Dodgers, maybe he’d be the one.

Jun 21

Yankee standout Phil Hughes held out of Dodger series

Chris McGrath/Getty Images
The Yankees have won 11 of Phil Hughes’ 13 starts this season.

This one’s interesting on two levels. As Ben Shpigel of the New York Times reports, Phil Hughes won’t make his scheduled start Friday at Dodger Stadium.

Level one: The Dodgers avoid facing Hughes, who has a 3.17 ERA and 78 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings (against 93 baserunners). Opponents have a .610 OPS against Hughes this year.

Level two: Hughes isn’t hurt. New York is resting the righthander, who turns 24 Thursday, in order to limit his innings this season. Hughes has averaged 6 1/3 innings (and 105 pitches) per start, and he’s on pace to throw 193 innings this year. Last year, pitching more in relief, Hughes only threw 86 innings in the majors along with 19 1/3 in the minors.

Hughes grew up in Southern California and, after missing the Yankees’ April series in Anaheim by the luck of the rotation draw, will miss another opportunity to pitch in front of family and friends.

The Yankees might be the best team in baseball but don’t have a playoff spot locked up by any means, so it’s interesting to see them exercise this caution.

Update: Oh, almost forgot to mention whom the Dodgers will face this weekend. According to Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com, three nobodies: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and A.E. Pettitte.

“It’s definitely a disappointment,” Hughes told Matthews. “And there’s really not talking them out of it. It’s an organizational decision and that’s that. I knew it was coming. It was just a matter of when they were going to do it.”

* * *

Yet another reason for San Diego’s success this year: The Padres bullpen has allowed only 10 inherited runners to score all season, according to Stat of the Day. By comparison, George Sherrill by himself has allowed 15, and Ramon Troncoso 13.

Jun 21

Albuquerque hits two grand slams in 16-12 comeback win

Lucas May had a grand slam in the third inning, and then Michael Restovich hit another as a pinch-hitter in a six-run eighth to help the Dodgers’ AAA farm team in Albuquerque rally from a 12-9 deficit to a 16-12 victory.

Xavier Paul and J.D. Closser also homered, while Prentice Redman and Jay Gibbons each reached base four times. Jon Link pitched two shutout innings for the save.

Jun 21

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 7


Courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers/Jon SooHoo
Roberto Baly, blogger of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy, at Fenway Park.

Remember back when all the Dodger pitchers were on a roll? Good times.

6/21 . 6/10 . 5/24 . 5/13 . 5/3 . 4/19 . 4/12 . Player Comment
1 2 3 5 6 10 20 Clayton Kershaw 10.3 strikeouts per nine innings. Tossup between him and Kuroda.
2 3 2 2 2 3 1 Hiroki Kuroda Has held opposition to three earned runs or less in 12 of 14 starts.
3 1 1 1 1 2 11 Andre Ethier Faced with the fact that he’s a non-contributor since May 14.
4 10 14 9 7 8 4 Rafael Furcal At the top of his game before father’s tragic death.
5 12 5 3 4 4 9 Manny Ramirez Snaps out of his slump just as several Dodgers enter one.
6 4 11 10 5 6 13 Jonathan Broxton One batter faced in past eight days.
7 8 16 18 NR NR NR Hong-Chih Kuo Wowed ‘em in Fenway.
8 13 10 6 8 9 24 James Loney I kind of get excited when he’s up now. That stopped being the case last year.
9 9 4 4 3 1 5 Matt Kemp Everyone has a theory about his struggles, but who’s got the answer?
10 6 8 11 12 12 10 Chad Billingsley That was an ill-timed injury, but hopefully it’s being nipped in the bud.
11 5 7 8 26 NR NR John Ely The big test is coming: Can he keep the ball in the park?
12 11 9 16 11 7 6 Casey Blake .551 OPS, one extra-base hit in 49 June plate appearances.
13 14 12 12 15 14 14 Blake DeWitt HBP won’t keep him out of any games, according to Tony Jackson.
14 15 6 7 10 5 2 Russell Martin OBP is 99 points above batting average, thanks to team-high 31 walks.
15 16 13 17 18 21 18 Jamey Carroll A walking machine whose .385 OBP leads Dodger position players.
16 18 21 22 21 17 15 Jeff Weaver Guy has really created a second career for himself as reliever.
17 17 25 24 NR NR NR Ronald Belisario Six straight scoreless appearances before Saturday.
18 7 18 14 16 18 21 Carlos Monasterios It doesn’t need to be a serious injury to be an injury.
19 21 19 13 14 13 7 Ronnie Belliard Has highest OPS (.747) of Dodger reserves.
20 20 20 20 17 20 8 Reed Johnson In 43 plate appearances since May 17, 16 for 40 (.400) with two walks, two doubles.
21 22 15 19 19 NR NR Xavier Paul Anderson’s hot streak has him waiting for the next injury.
22 19 17 15 9 11 12 Ramon Troncoso Just needs the shoulder surgery to seal Cory Wade Award.
23 24 NR NR NR NR NR Travis Schlichting Scoreless streak at 7 2/3 innings now.
24 23 NR NR NR NR NR Justin Miller Struck out seven of 13 batters faced in three shutout innings on roadtrip.
25 25 22 23 20 15 25 Vicente Padilla Encouraging comeback start spoiled by sixth-inning HR on Saturday.
26 26 23 25 22 19 19 A.J. Ellis Would like to see him get his second career two-hit game.
27 27 29 29 28 25 NR Jon Link If Haeger blows up again, we might see him arrive on the roster shuttle this weekend.
28 28 24 26 24 23 23 Brad Ausmus Taking batting practice but a long ways from returning, says Ken Gurnick.
29 NR NR NR NR NR NR Chin-Lung Hu An infinitely good hitter and fielder for the Dodgers this season.
30 33 32 32 30 22 16 Garret Anderson In past eight games, 8 for 18 (.444) with homer and three doubles.
31 29 26 21 23 24 17 Ramon Ortiz Twenty different batters had 1.000 OBP against him this year.
32 30 27 27 NR NR NR Nick Green Entered game in ninth inning and flied out in first at-bat for Toronto on Sunday.
33 35 NR NR NR NR NR Scott Elbert Hope things get better, Scott.
34 31 28 28 27 26 26 George Sherrill Four straight scoreless appearances (thanks in part to Miller bailing him out after leadoff triple Sunday).
35 32 30 30 29 27 22 Russ Ortiz Had a 0.25 ERA with 63 strikeouts in 36 2/3 innings with San Jose in 1996.
36 34 31 31 25 16 3 Charlie Haeger Pitched much better Sunday, but still walked four in six innings.
Jun 20

Your 2010-11 offseason headlines today

Dodgers look for pitcher to replace free agent Kuroda
36-year-old priced himself out of range with standout campaign

Matt Kemp vows to focus on fundamentals in repairing five-tool kit

Casey Blake returning, but Dodgers seek more production at third

Something disturbing about a McCourt or two

Who will fill the Manny Ramirez void?

L.A. reports numerous cases of post-traumatic stress syndrome
2011 Dodger interleague schedule released

First crack in the core: Broxton enters final season before free agency

Despite Kershaw, Dodger World Series hopes are dimming

* * *

What can you say? This weekend in Boston, the Dodgers hit when they couldn’t pitch and pitched when they couldn’t hit, getting swept with tonight’s 2-0 loss. Andre Ethier went 0 for 12. The team has lost seven out of nine, its worst stretch since April, dropping Los Angeles into third place in the National League West.

Kemp and Ethier will rebound – look at what Ramirez has been doing lately as a guide. But watching Kuroda, who went seven innings and arguably allowed only one earned run in another outstanding 2010 performance, made me think how much I’ll miss him after this season. And this is not a campaign to re-sign him, because just like Randy Wolf and Derek Lowe before him, Kuroda’s next contract after Dodger success might not make any sense. But I’ve just really enjoyed having him on the team.

The sweep in Boston is pretty insignificant – a moment in a 162-game season. None of the recent losses to American League teams tell us much about the Dodgers’ ability to win the NL, and I think we all pretty much would have agreed before Friday that the Dodgers would be the underdog in any World Series if they got that far. But after this season, win or lose, the Dodgers are going to have a great many questions. They might find answers for some of them, but there’s a level of uncertainty that makes me really want to see this year’s team step up.

Jun 20

Dodgers juggle starting rotation again

The Dodgers will do the emergency starter thing on Thursday instead of Saturday, Joe Torre told reporters today. Vicente Padilla’s Thursday start has been pushed to Friday, Hiroki Kuroda’s Friday start to Saturday.

On the surface it’s a strange move, because the Dodgers have an off day July 1, five days after Saturday. So by starting someone – either Charlie Haeger or Claudio Vargas, Torre hinted – on Thursday, they’d have to use that person two times instead of once.

What this hopefully means is that the Dodgers are confident that Chad Billingsley will come off the disabled list in time to start June 29 at San Francisco. Nevertheless, it pushes Hiroki Kuroda out of the San Francisco series, which seems a downer to me.

Here’s how things now shape up. Of course, this remains subject to change.

Monday: off day
Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw
Wednesday: John Ely
Thursday: Charlie Haeger or Claudio Vargas
Friday: Vicente Padilla
Saturday: Hiroki Kuroda
Sunday, June 27: Clayton Kershaw
Monday, June 28: John Ely
Tuesday, June 29: Chad Billingsley
Wednesday, June 30: Vicente Padilla
Thursday, July 1: off

Jun 20

Revenge of the beleaguered

Look who’s off the mat: Charlie Haeger threw six shutout innings for Albuquerque today. Josh Lindblom followed with two shutout innings in relief.

Also of note: Kiko Calero has not been scored upon in six innings since joining the organization. The 35-year-old had a 1.95 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 60 innings for Florida last year and a 3.24 ERA in his career. He made his major-league debut at age 28.

Jun 20

Just make Saturday’s game a bullpen game


Chris Williams/Icon SMI
Opponents have a .282 on-base percentage and .321 slugging percentage against Jeff Weaver this season. Since returning to the Dodgers in 2009, his home ERA is 2.68.

The Dodger rotation after today’s game in Boston:

Monday: off
Tuesday: Clayton Kershaw
Wednesday: John Ely
Thursday: Vicente Padilla
Friday: Hiroki Kuroda
Saturday: ???

Those question marks shouldn’t be filled by a pitcher who isn’t major-league ready, just because he’s a “starting pitcher.”

Right now, the best solution for the Dodgers might just be to start Jeff Weaver even if he can only go for two or three innings, and then follow him with a bevy of relievers. And then make a roster move the following day to help rebuild the bullpen if necessary.

Jun 20

The Jonathan Broxton lament


Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Jonathan Broxton (shown earlier this month) has not allowed any runs or inherited runs to score in 25 of 30 appearances in 2010.

I like Andre Ethier. Like him a lot. I like Jonathan Broxton a lot, too.

I don’t like that Andre Ethier is allowed to fail, but Jonathan Broxton isn’t. Or maybe that’s the wrong way to put it – maybe it’s just that Broxton’s excellence is taken for granted in a way Ethier’s isn’t.

Because of Ethier’s history of walkoff success, no one holds it against him when he doesn’t come through in the clutch – which, quite frankly, is often. Part of that is the nature of hitting, which is very difficult.

Nevertheless, it’s something that when Ethier walks off with a victory, the fans build statues in his honor, and when Broxton walks off the mound with a Dodger victory, people shrug. That includes the past two postseasons. In his 11 appearances, Broxton did his job nine times.

Oh, but he didn’t do it 11 times.

In Game 4 of the 2009 National League Championship Series, Broxton entered the game in the same situation he entered Saturday’s game against Boston: runners on first and second, two out. And he got the out.

Then, after having had four consecutive scoreless appearances against the Cardinals and Phillies in the playoffs, he gave up the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. But does anyone remember what happened in the top of the ninth, with Rafael Furcal on third base and two out against Phillies reliever Brad Lidge?

Ethier struck out.

But I suppose some Dodger fans would rather have had Lidge on Saturday. After all, he did win a World Series once.

Here’s Broxton’s game log for this year before Saturday. I mean, it’s incredible. Those of you who can only focus on Broxton’s failures, you’re missing a heck of a show.

Jun 20

A sad Father’s Day for Rafael Furcal

Rafael Furcal’s father Silvino passed away Sunday, three weeks after internal damage suffered from being kicked in the chest by a horse, reports Enrique Rojas of ESPNdeportes.com. So sorry to hear this news.

  • Chris Withrow pitched a seven-inning shutout, striking out 10 while allowing five baserunners, for Chattanooga on Saturday.
  • Nice interview of Dodger communications VP Josh Rawitch by Caleb Bacon of LAist.
  • Here’s a season preview of the Dodgers’ farm team at Ogden, provided by the town’s Standard-Examiner. Garret Gould and Leon Landry are among the team’s players. And don’t forget Pedro Guerrero of San Pedro De Macoris.
Jun 19

Vicente

Carlos Monasterios was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a recurring split nail and blister issue.

Jun 18

Oh, Manny … that would have been something


Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Manny Ramirez is rendered powerless by the final pitch of the game.

Down 10-3 after five innings, the Dodgers actually found themselves not only they poised to send the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning at Fenway Park on Friday, but a tying run in the person of Manny Ramirez.

With two on and one out and Ramirez on deck, eyeing a grand slam that would tie the game at 10-10, a highlight that would have rivaled or even surpassed 2009′s Bobbleslam for radioactivity, the Dodgers suffered a blow when Andre Ethier’s hard grounder was turned into an out by Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youklis.

And then Ramirez, who had made good contact his first three times up this evening, was frozen on a 2-2 slider from Boston reliever Daniel Bard, taking a called game-ending strike that sealed the Dodgers 10-6 defeat.

The end delighted the Fenway Park crowd, which all in all treated Ramirez fairly enough. Maybe more than half booed, but there were plenty of cheers and no significant viciousness.

As badly as Carlos Monasterios pitched today – and he was fooling next to no one, allowing eight hits and in four innings, including two home runs (one by David Ortiz to deadest center, one off the top of the Green Monster by J.D. Drew that was approved via instant replay) – the Dodgers still had chances to wrestle this game away. After rallying from an initial 3-0 deficit to tie the game, Monasterios finally got the hook when he gave up the go-ahead run on a single, walk and double to start the bottom of the fifth.

Ramon Troncoso relieved Monasterios, and everything that has gone wrong for Troncoso this season seemed to crystallize in his five-batter outing. Darnell McDonald singled in two runs, and then Adrian Beltre slugged a two-run homer from his knees. Jason Varitek then doubled and Mike Cameron singled before Troncoso hit Daniel Nava with a 2-2 pitch.

Two so-called productive outs off Travis Schlichting scored the remaining Troncoso baserunners, inflating the beleaguered reliever’s ERA to 5.81 this season. The Dodgers are certainly revisiting some starting pitching worries this week – Ned Colletti is definitely targeting an acquisition at the trade deadline, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com – but Troncoso is a nagging concern. Worse ideas than giving him 15 days of time off continue to occur to me.

But like I said, there were bright spots for the Dodgers – Matt Kemp’s triple to right-center on a 2-for-5 night being one of them. Garret Anderson had a home run in the ninth inning. And the team continued to battle. Aside from the ninth inning, the team’s best look at the game after the Red Sox’ seven-run fifth inning came immediately thereafter, when they scored two runs with none out in the sixth. But Anderson and Jamey Carroll struck out, and Kemp grounded out.

The one player who didn’t reach base for the Dodgers on Friday: Ethier, who went 0 for 5.

* * *

Kemp thinks he has solved his basestealing problems, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

“I saw that I was raising up instead of leaning toward the next base,” said Kemp. “You wouldn’t think that raising up would get you out of whack, but it did. And I need to get bigger leads. I know I’m better than this.

“I ain’t going to lie — I know you’re not supposed to think like this, but you get caught nine times, you start wondering if you shouldn’t go. I’ve got to get back to stealing bags and get into scoring position for Andre [Ethier] and Manny [Ramirez]. I haven’t even tried to steal third base. I’ve got to be aggressive.”