Aug 15

Triple, double, toil and trouble: Dodgers burned, 3-0


Jeffrey Phelps/APMatt Kemp pleads for mercy.

There’s probably no correlation between being on the wrong side of a triple play and being on the wrong side of the pennant race. But poetry doesn’t fret over correlations.

And so you had the Dodgers reentering the world of competitive baseball after that three-day break against Houston, and before the sun set finding themselves poetically on the wrong side of a triple play. On top of that – and this is what lifts tonight’s reading above mere doggerel – you had the Dodgers knocking out a full stanza of double plays, four in all, coda-ized by a game-ending line-drive twin-killing off the bat of Juan Rivera, closing the book on a 3-0 Dodger loss to Milwaukee.

Consider the night Matt Kemp had – ruled out at home to complete the triple play in the second inning, lining into a double play to end the fourth inning and finally helpless when Rivera’s drive went right to Prince Fielder’s glove to end the ninth. Consider that the man who started tonight’s triple play, Josh Wilson, started the last triple play against the Dodgers two years ago. Consider that when baseball witnessed its first 4-6-3-2 triple play since 1973 (see here), the on-deck hitter was Dioner Navarro, who five years ago started and finished baseball’s first 2-6-2 triple play ever.

And seriously, I hazard that if Vin Scully were broadcasting tonight, he would have said he had not seen anything like he had seen tonight, when the Dodgers’ first five innings went like this: double play, triple play, runner (Dioner Navarro) thrown out at home, double play, double play. Overall, Los Angeles had 12 baserunners tonight, and seven of them were eliminated on the basepaths.

But honestly, it wouldn’t have been a 2011 Dodger game if they hadn’t teased the possibility of winning despite it all. The Dodgers trailed only 1-0, thanks to the requisite home run allowed by an otherwise slammin’ Ted Lilly (his 26th), when they avoided the double play and loaded the bases in the top of the seventh inning. But Navarro flied out, and an inning later, the bullpen suffered a lapse that has been relatively rare of late, with Scott Elbert and Mike MacDougal each allowing another solo homer.

You can’t say it wasn’t entertaining. Let’s face it: This game was like a Far Side cartoon.

Aug 15

Brewers turn triple play on Dodgers

Matt Kemp walked to lead off the second inning for the Dodgers at Milwaukee tonight, then went to second on a single to left by Juan Rivera. (Kemp, running on the pitch, was looking at the third-base coach but was sliding into second base before he could make up his mind to try for third base.)

The next batter, James Loney, hit a hard grounder up the middle. Second baseman Josh Wilson reached it behind second base and glove-flipped the ball to shortstop Yunkesky Betancourt to force Rivera. Betancourt’s throw to first baseman Prince Fielder doubled-up Loney.

Kemp rounded third and tried to score, but was tagged out by catcher George Kattaras at home on a hands-first slide. Replays indicated that Kemp might have gotten his hand on the plate before being tagged on the waist, but no matter – it was a triple play.

Aug 15

August 15 game chat

As we wait for the third-place Los Angeles Dodgers to take the field …

  • Beating victim Brian Stow is making what his doctors say is “significant” improvement, according to The Associated Press, but his ultimate prognosis remains unclear.
  • Sweep or no sweep, Evan Bladh of Opinion of Kingman’s Performance is jealous of the Houston Astros for stockpiling prospects.
  • Matt Kemp guested on the Dan Patrick Show today – Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy passes along the link. Kemp said that “of course” he wants to stay with the Dodgers.
  • In case you missed it Sunday, catch up with Tony Jackson’s warm piece on Dodger shortstop Justin Sellers at ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Kind of a fascinating story from Joshua Prager in the New York Times about former Dodger Ralph Branca discovering his heritage.
Aug 15

Dodgers sign O’Sullivan to round out agreements with top nine draftees

The Dodgers have signed their top nine draft picks with this news from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

The Dodgers reached agreement on Monday with former Oklahoma City University right-hander Ryan O’Sullivan, their fourth-round selection in this year’s amateur draft. The agreement came hours before the deadline for signing this year’s picks and just four days after the club finalized an agreement with first-rounder Chris Reed, a pitcher out of Stanford University.

O’Sullivan, who will turn 21 next month, is the brother of former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Sean O’Sullivan, now with the Kansas City Royals. He never actually pitched at Oklahoma City, redshirting there this season after transferring from San Diego State, where he went 4-4 with a 6.71 ERA in two seasons. He was drafted out of high school three years ago by the San Francisco Giants, in the 10th round, but opted to attend college instead.


Aug 15

Matt Kemp really can win the NL MVP Award, but will he?


Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireMatt Kemp has had every reason to smile in ’11 — except the biggest: contending for the playoffs.

Like drivers who see a good parking space but hold out hope for a better one, even though, for crying out loud, the parking space right in front of them is absolutely all they need, the National League Most Valuable Player voters will select the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp for the honor only if they can’t envision an alternative.

With barely 25 percent of the 2011 regular season remaining (and if you thought “That much?” you’re not alone), Kemp and his .975 OPS, 31 steals in 36 attempts, 28 home runs and exceptional advanced stats (an NL-best .351 total average, according to Baseball Prospectus) are clearly in the thick of the MVP discussion — and he’s there despite playing the majority of his games in the same pitchers’ parks that some will hold against Clayton Kershaw in the NL Cy Young vote.

But by playing for a team that is on the express track to a losing season, Kemp will battle those who feel that the MVP must come from a more close-to-the-action team rather than one on the outer reaches of the mall.

Personally, long before I thought a Dodger would be in this kind of discussion, I’ve been in favor of giving the award to the best player regardless of the team’s record.  Your value isn’t diminished by your surroundings, even if your surroundings are grim. I mean hey, would you dock Mother Teresa any Most Valuable Saint points because she was surrounded by also-rans? Heck no.

But the reality of a vote that hasn’t seen an NL MVP from a losing team since Andre Dawson in 1987 is fairly easy to suss.

As recently as 2009, Adrian Gonzalez of the San Diego Padres had a .407 on-base percentage, a .551 slugging percentage, 40 home runs and 99 RBI playing in a ballpark that is as smothering to batters as any in the NL. In wins above replacement, Gonzalez ranked fourth in the NL according to Baseball-Reference.com’s formula, sixth according to FanGraphs. In total average, Gonzalez was third.

Now, you’ll notice that Gonzalez wasn’t first in these categories, even the park-adjusted ones, so it’s not as if he had the right to feel cheated by not winning the MVP, which went unanimously to the dominant Albert Pujols of St. Louis. But somehow, Gonzalez finished not third, not sixth, but 12th, behind players who had inferior seasons at the plate … including Matt Kemp of the NL West-champion Los Angeles Dodgers, with an .842 OPS that was .116 below Gonzalez’s.

Kemp got credit for playing a more valuable defensive position and was viewed at the time as playing it well — that was his Gold Glove year. But Gonzalez finished fifth in the MVP vote even if you sift out first basemen, trailing Pujols, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder and Derrek Lee.

Only Pujols had a better season than Gonzalez when park factors were taken into account. But Howard and Fielder also had more home runs than Gonzalez, and each played on a better team.

If there’s a silver lining to this ’09 flashback for those rooting for Kemp in 2011, it’s that voters put Fielder in fourth place even though he played for an 80-82 Brewers team that wasn’t much more relevant to the 2009 pennant chase than Gonzalez’s 75-87 Padres. Fielder’s 46 home runs (one behind Pujols) and 141 RBIs (tied with Howard for the league lead) were too gaudy to allow him to slide any lower.

Of course, we’re not questioning whether Kemp is Penske material. We’re wondering how likely it is that he’ll become the CEO. Here’s who might be considered the 10 finalists vying with Kemp for the big office.

  • Albert Pujols. Thanks to a rougher-than usual start, Pujols is not as dominant as he was, although he hit his 29th home run Sunday to retake the National League lead from teammate Lance Berkman and Kemp. I’m not sure anyone playing the odds would expect Pujols to land anywhere below No. 1 in homers when the season ends. But the rest of his traditional stats are closer to mundane, and in advanced, untraditional numbers, he’s not really registering. A big September kick that propels St. Louis into the playoffs could certainly reopen his candidacy, but right now there’s almost no chance that a perceived down year for Pujols would outpoll Kemp.
  • Icon SMIJose Reyes’ MVP hopes have gone to the disabled list with him.
  • Lance Berkman. Pujols’ sidekick — who signed with St. Louis for $8 million this past offseason — trails Kemp in total average but by a slim .001. Kemp’s overall body of work (including 31 steals versus zero) should push the other Cardinals slugger aside, though.
  • Jose Reyes. Considered by many to be the other top candidate from a noncontender, Reyes leads the NL in batting average and steals and has shortstop credentials to boot, but his OPS is far lower than Kemp’s, and now hamstring issues have sidelined him indefinitely. Believe it or not, Reyes is still on pace for the most triples in the NL since Kiki Cuyler had 26 in 1925, but Kemp is putting some distance between them.
  • Troy Tulowitzki. Quietly, the Rockies star has become the shortstop to beat in the NL MVP race. According to FanGraphs, he co-leads the NL in wins above replacement and is by himself in fielding value, and he has a nice 23 home runs as the cherry on top. But speaking of Ripley’s, Colorado has actually fallen behind the Dodgers into fourth place in the NL West. That, plus the natural discount on Coors Field-boosted stats, has Tulo in Kemp’s rearview mirror.
  • Andrew McCutchen. The Pirates outfielder’s long-running snub from the All-Star Game, which finally ended with a last-minute selection as a replacement, might have done more to boost his national profile than anything on the field. Pittsburgh was a surprise contender in the NL Central for most of the season, thanks as much to the 24-year-old McCutchen (a Gold Glove candidate with a bat) as anyone else. But like the Pirates, McCutchen has fallen on hard times lately and has a .684 OPS since the All-Star break.
  • Joey Votto. The defending MVP (taking 31 of 32 first-place votes last year) has 19 home runs, barely half of last year’s 37, and his Reds are 11 games out of first place. He’s having a great season, no doubt (.949 OPS, 5.1 WAR, .408 wOBA, league-high 85 walks), but he’s not a threat to outpoll Kemp at this point.
  • Prince Fielder. The aforementioned slugger has marquee stats (.985 OPS, 27 HR, 89 RBI) that resemble Kemp’s. Milwaukee — the Dodgers’ destination Monday — offers a nice showcase between the two players. His plate discipline is better (77 walks, 73 strikeouts), but — are you sitting down? — he has 31 fewer stolen bases. Fielder also plays first base, and not particularly adroitly. The Brewers have a five-game lead in the NL Central, though, and Fielder is the biggest reason, at least in size.
  • Ryan Braun. Every year in Variety as the Emmys approach, we wonder aloud whether two nominees from the same well-regarded TV show will cancel each other out, opening the door for a third alternative. Braun (.965 OPS, 22 HR, 76 RBI, 22 steals) has worthy credentials, but his traditional numbers rate slightly below Kemp’s, as does his 5.1 WAR. The presence of Fielder and Braun on the same team could cause each to lose the inherent advantage of playing for a contender.
  • Roy Halladay. The best players on the best team in the NL are, as you know, pitchers Halladay and Cliff Lee. The Phillies’ top position player, Shane Victorino, hasn’t even logged 100 games yet this year, while Howard’s .840 OPS as a first baseman isn’t gonna cut it. Halladay (154 ERA+, 2.51 ERA, 8.4 strikeouts per nine innings) and Lee (137, 2.83, 9.3), on the other hand, have been so good that one of them (slight edge to Halladay) will be a viable option for voters who don’t see why a great player on the undisputed regular-season champion shouldn’t win. A pitcher hasn’t won the NL MVP since Bob Gibson in 1968, but that might not be any less likely than Kemp’s becoming the first from a losing team to win since Dawson. Halladay is looking like a Hall of Famer, after all — voters aren’t going to dismiss him out of hand just because he’s on the mound. Not this year.
  • Justin Upton. This one’s late-arriving on the radar, but coinciding with Arizona’s surge into the NL West lead is what’s becoming a monster season for Upton thanks to a 1.109 OPS since the All-Star break. Upton’s .379 on-base percentage, .564 slugging, 25 homers, 75 RBIs, 18 steals and .403 wOBA (weighted on-base average) all trail Kemp’s, but in most cases not by a ton — and Upton, a plus fielder, has moved ahead in WAR. This is a classic case of where, by the time the season ends, Kemp might lose the edge not because of what he did but because of what his teammates did.
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireJustin Upton has slid into MVP contention — perhaps the lead position.

There are others who will get looks from voters, but no one better than the best on this list.

The NL MVP award is there for Kemp’s taking. But he’ll have to take it. He is absolutely going to need a finishing kick. Upton, in particular, is exactly the kind of player Kemp needs to watch out for — someone who meshes with his profile but who’s doing it with the pressure of a pennant race.

But it’s not just wishful thinking in a downtrodden Dodgers season to believe that Kemp will win the NL MVP. Not at all.

Aug 14

Just another day in paradise: Dodgers sweep Astros


Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesThe crowd encouraged Justin Sellers to take a curtain call today after his first career home run.

Those involved in the study of contrasts got their Ph. Ds this week if they were following the Dodgers, who followed being swept by the team with the best record in baseball (Philadelphia) with an easy stomping of the team with the worst, Houston.

Today’s 7-0 victory meant the Dodgers held the Astros scoreless in 27 of 28 innings, outscoring them 14-1 and almost matching the three consecutive shutouts Los Angeles threw July 7-9.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven shutout innings, striking out six against seven baserunners, three of whom were eliminated by double plays. The highlight was James Loney’s leaping catch of a Carlos Lee line drive, which Loney turned into an unassisted twin-killing. The third double-play came on Kuroda’s 106th pitch of the game and lowered his ERA to 2.88.

Matt Kemp homered for the second game in a row to tie his career high of 28, while Justin Sellers hit his first major-league homer in his third game, a three-run shot in the sixth. Dioner Navarro also homered, as the Dodgers hit a season-high three home runs for the fifth time this season.

Loney singled twice and walked, while Kemp, Navarro and Aaron Miles each reached base twice. Sellers had a nice moment on the Prime Ticket postgame show, taking a shaving-cream pie with grace, then holding his 2-year-old daughter as he completed his interview.

Aug 14

People who need people

A quick reminder of what’s at stake for Hiroki Kuroda in his bid to become the unluckiest starting pitcher in Los Angeles Dodger history (thanks to Baseball-Reference.com):

Losses in a season
Record:
18, by Claude Osteen (1968) and Don Sutton (1969)
Kuroda: 14

Lowest winning percentage in a season
Minimum 14 decisions:
Rick Honeycutt, .143 (2-12) in 1987
Minimum 15 decisions:
Hideo Nomo, .257 (4-11) in 2004
Minimum 22 decisions: Bill Singer, .273 (6-16) in 1972
Kuroda: .333 (7-14)

Lowest winning percentage with ERA below 3.00
Record:
Mike Morgan, .421 (8-11, 2.53 ERA)
Kuroda: .333 (7-14, 3.01 ERA)

Top ERA+ (adjusted ERA) with winning percentage of .333 or lower
Record:
Tom Candiotti, 109 (7-14, 3.50 ERA)
Kuroda: 122 (7-14, 3.01 ERA)

Aug 13

Gwynnin’ and winnin’


Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US PresswireTony Gwynn Jr., gettin’ dirty.

Paging Mr. Bubble …

This wrapup of tonight’s 6-1 Dodger victory over Houston will be a brief ode to Tony Gwynn Jr, who by the time you read this should be having a good time getting nice and purty, almost as much fun as he did gettin’ dirty.

Gwynn dove into third base with a triple in the second inning, did a wraparound-the-catcher slide on his belly to score on Kershaw’s fifth-inning squeeze bunt, and stole third in the sixth before coming home on Carlos Corporan’s throwing error. If you could forget about the Dodgers’ record and the fact that it was only the 54th win of the season, this was just a whole lot of fun.

Gwynn all but stole the spotlight from one guy who isn’t used to having it (Justin Sellers, who got his first major-league hit) and two guys who are. Kershaw struck out nine in eight innings and didn’t allow a run until J.D. Martinez’s RBI double in the eighth. The lefty, who allowed six hits and a walk and lowered his ERA to 2.72 while raising his 2011 strikeout total to 193, got the run support he needed with Matt Kemp’s two-run home run in the first inning, Kemp’s 27th of the year.

Both first-inning runs were unearned, thanks to the first of several mistakes Houston made on the field and basepaths that made the Dodgers’ night that much easier. But nothing the Astros did tonight could make things easier for the Dodger clubhouse washing machines.

Aug 13

Kershaw CVIII: Kershawp in the Air

Put my little girl on a plane today with two grandparents and a cousin for her first real trip away from us. A week.

She’s about the same age I was, 8 going on 9, when I first went away to sleepaway camp, a journey that I greeted with almost equal parts excitement and anxiety. But from the moment this trip was first put on the table nearly a year ago, to the moment she hugged first my wife and then me goodbye around dawn today, this girl, who sometimes trembles over things you and I would laugh at, never had a single moment of trepidation. Not one.

She shrugged her shoulders for months when we asked if she were ready to go, then when the time came, gave us hugs with nothing but smiles.

I can remember the tears when I first said goodbye to my parents. I can also remember something similar the first time I had to go on a plane and leave my wife and then-newborn daughter behind. But my girl was only looking forward. I have to say, I really admire it.

But … four years, one month and nine days until she’s a teenager. Oh boy …

Aug 12

Dodgers score infinitely more runs than Astros


Danny Moloshok/APLogan White welcomes newest Dodger Chris Reed to Los Angeles before tonight’s game.

Uh-oh or 0-0, it was the Dodgers and the Astros.

Not shockingly, two of the weaker lineups in baseball went into extra innings before they scored a run. Fortunately for the home team, it was Los Angeles that finally scored for a 1-0, 10th-inning victory over Houston.

Dodger rookie Nathan Eovaldi lowered his ERA after two starts to 1.64 with six shutout innings, meaning that 10 of the 11 innings he has pitched in the majors have been scoreless. Tonight, he walked four but allowed only two hits, striking out three.

Eovaldi’s biggest jam was in the fourth inning, when he walked Carlos Lee with first base open to load the bases with one out, but the youngster retired J.D. Martinez and Jimmy Paredes.

But there was similarly little offense behind Evoaldi and one-inning relievers Matt Guerrier (who struck out the side), Mike MacDougal and Javy Guerra. The Dodgers did not get a runner to third base until Rivera’s fourth career triple, just beyond the reach of diving Astros center-fielder Jason Bourgeois, leading off the ninth. Remarkably, even for this offense, the Dodgers didn’t score. After Houston walked James Loney and Dioner Navarro intentionally, Tony Gwynn Jr. struck out, Jamey Carroll weakly grounded into a force at home and Aaron Miles grounded to second.

After another shutout inning by Josh Lindblom to start the 10th, Casey Blake tried to get things going again with a leadoff double sliced down the right-field line. Reliever David Carpenter went 3-1 to Andre Ethier before throwing an intentional ball four, preferring to face the right-handed bat, however dangerous, of Matt Kemp.

(An intentional walk to Kemp to load the bases was an option, even with first base occupied, given that Eugenio Velez was on deck. You know Velez and the fates wanted that opportunity.)

Kemp didn’t hit it hard, but he pushed an 0-2 pitch over first base and down the right-field line as well, and that was it. The Dodgers had completed their rout.

Aug 12

Sellers will start tonight after promotion

Justin Sellers has officially become the 46th member of the 2011 Los Angeles Dodgers, replacing the disabled Dee Gordon. Sellers is making his major-league debut tonight.

Sellers, 25, has a .400 on-base percentage and .537 slugging percentage for Triple-A Albuquerque this season, after going ..371/.497 in 2010. His road OPS this season, however, is .668.

Elsewhere:

  • Chris Reed’s deal with the Dodgers was made official today, and he’ll be introduced to fans at the ballpark tonight. Here’s the newbie.
  • Former Dodger Mike Marshall (the second) and former Angel Tony Phillips brawled, and Steve Dilbeck of the Times has posted video.
  • Just when you least expect it, a Ronald Belisario update, from Evan Bladh at Opinion of Kingman’s Performance.
  • Good news on the health front from fellow baseball writer Dave Cameron, accompanied by the best Win Probability chart ever.
  • For any of you with kids or interested in a fun animated show, I’ll be moderating a panel on the Disney Channel series “Fish Hooks” on Saturday at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. That panel’s preceded by one on “Phineas and Ferb,” moderated by my former Variety colleague Michael Schneider.
Aug 12

Ross Porter hired by iBN Sports

Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter has taken a position with Interactive Broadcast Network Sports (iBN) as a studio host and play-by-play announcer covering high school and college football and basketball.

Porter, whose 28-year tenure with the Dodgers ended after the 2004 season, has been running Real Sports Heroes since 2007. He starts his new job August 26, the day that IBN launches its 2011 prep football coverage. The network also covers sports including mixed martial arts and minor-league baseball.

Aug 11

Signing of first-round pick Reed imminent

Chris Reed is expected to make his first official appearance at Dodger Stadium before Friday’s game, coinciding with the announcement that the first-round pick has signed with the Dodgers. From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Reed accepted a signing bonus of a little less than $1.6 million just four days before Monday’s deadline for signing this year’s draft picks.

The deal is expected to be announced on Friday. The agreement became official after Reed passed a physical examination on Thursday.

The Dodgers now have signed nine of their first 10 picks, the exception being fourth-rounder Ryan O’Sullivan, a right-hander out of Oklahoma City University.

Reed will attend Friday night’s game at Dodger Stadium between the Dodgers and Houston Astros and is expected to be made available to the media either before or during that game. Shortly thereafter, he will report to the team’s advanced Class A affiliate in Rancho Cucamonga, two levels higher than where collegiate draft picks usually begin their careers. …

Reed won’t attend the Dodgers’ Instructional League camp in Arizona after the season because, as part of the agreement, he will be allowed to return to Stanford in the fall to continue working toward his college degree. …

Aug 10

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 8


Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesEugenio Velez

Eugenio Velez gets the star treatment in this month’s edition of Dodger Cogs and Dogs.

Velez, as you’re probably aware by now, is threatening to have a historic season. He is 0 for 21 as a Dodger. Only three players in Dodger history have ever had more at-bats while registering a .000 season: outfielder Jose Gonzalez (28 in 1991, before he was sent to Pittsburgh) and pitchers Sandy Koufax (26 in 1957) and Brett Tomko (24 in 2007).

Now, Velez is a career .247 hitter, so the idea that he will go the final seven weeks of the season without a hit remains remote. So the hope is that he would get released right after breaking the record, but the continued injury problems of Dodger infielders seem to be preventing that (not that he shouldn’t be released anyway).

Nevertheless, hope remains that Velez will set a futility record before he’s done as a Dodger. Former Brooklyn catcher Bill Bergen has the longest streak of hitless at-bats by a non-pitcher, 46 – that’s the record that Milwaukee’s Craig Counsell recently threatened. What you might not realize is that Velez went hitless in his final nine at-bats as a San Francisco Giant last year, which means he’s 0 for his last 30. That puts him within flailing distance of Bergen.

In fact, if not for a 12th-inning single on May 18, 2010, Velez would be riding a hitless streak of 47 at-bats. There but for the grace of Cesar Ramos goes he.

* * *

As always, the ratings below are a combination of subjectivity and objectivity. And as has been the case for the past few editions, a dose of impatience as well.

                 
Today 7/21 6/30 6/16 5/26 5/5 4/28 4/7 Player Comment
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 Matt Kemp Hasn’t homered in past 10 games, but still has .873 OPS in that time.
2 2 2 2 2 4 4 1 Clayton Kershaw His 13 HR allowed matches career high, with seven weeks to go.
3 3 3 3 3 3 3 4 Hiroki Kuroda Leads NL in wild pitches with 11, has 23 in past two seasons.
4 4 4 5 4 2 2 3 Andre Ethier Next double (No. 194) will tie him for seventh in L.A. Dodger history with Wes Parker.
5 5 5 4 5 9 6 5 Jamey Carroll Best perfect season in steals in L.A. Dodger history is Eric Karros and Greg Brock with eight; Carroll is 10 for 10.
6 11 12 10 19 Javy Guerra Has 0.55 ERA, 9.4 K/9 since June 11.
7 9 11 22 17 18 20 24 Kenley Jansen His 14.8 K/9 leads MLB pitchers (minimum 30 innings).
8 8 9 8 22 Rubby De La Rosa Ends up striking out 112 in 100 2/3 pro innings in 2011. Will still only be 24 in 2013.
9 6 6 7 13 20 21 20 Aaron Miles .238 OBP, .286 slugging since All-Star break.
10 29 Juan Rivera In less than a month, has matched or surpassed Thames in virtually every category.
11 10 10 15 15 10 15 22 Blake Hawksworth Lefties were 6 for 60 with one homer against Hawksworth in 2011 before Phillies teed off in sixth inning Wednesday.
12 7 7 16 6 6 7 18 Chad Billingsley In 0-for-15 slump at plate with eight strikeouts.
13 24 21 23 21 Scott Elbert Opponents have .239 OBP, .244 slugging against Elbert since June 12.
14 16 14 11 Josh Lindblom No homers allowed and has lowest WHIP on Dodger staff: 1.00 in 15 innings.
15 13 23 19 8 11 11 13 Mike MacDougal Has 9.53 ERA in ninth inning, 0.98 ERA rest of time.
16 17 15 12 16 7 5 10 Casey Blake Thanks for signing a baseball for my son Tuesday, Casey.
17 20 17 6 10 17 18 14 Ted Lilly NL’s first 25-25 pitcher (homers-steals) since Padres’ Chris Young in 2006.
18 12 18 29 28 14 17 12 Tony Gwynn Jr. Three hits, nine strikeouts in past 21 at-bats.
19 21 19 13 9 13 9 6 Rod Barajas Has 10 HR, seven 2B. Rick Monday had 11 HR, one 2B in 1981.
20 25 26 21 14 12 12 8 Matt Guerrier Eyeing sixth consecutive year with exactly one save. No MLB reliever has ever had seven.
21 18 24 18 11 5 8 Jon Garland His 1.4 K/BB ratio (before injury, of course) worst since 2002.
22 19 16 30 Trent Oeltjen Had two SB in MLB debut, has three in 65 games since.
23 22 22 17 7 16 14 Jerry Sands 1.096 OPS at home, .640 OPS on road in Triple-A.
24 14 13 9 Dee Gordon Current 6.0 SB/BB ratio (12/2) is top-five in NL history.
25 27 25 28 20 21 22 15 A.J. Ellis Has .487 OBP in Triple-A road games this year.
26 26 32 35 27 27 29 Dioner Navarro Had 1.038 OPS in 2008 ALDS.
27 28 27 25 18 30 Jay Gibbons Nice play by Jay here.
28 31 29 26 24 15 19 Vicente Padilla Dennis Martinez reportedly tutored Padilla on changeup as an amateur. Padilla is second all-time to Martinez in strikeouts by Nicaraguan pitcher.
29 Nathan Eovaldi Fifth 11th-round draft choice by Dodgers to reach majors.
30 34 37 36 29 25 27 11 Xavier Paul .331 OBP vs. righties this season. .115 vs. lefties.
31 30 35 32 31 Juan Castro His last name is the same as a longtime ruler of Cuba.
32 32 30 27 25 19 16 9 Jonathan Broxton Not expected to pitch again this season before late September, if then.
33 15 8 14 23 32 23 17 James Loney Worst OPS in NL since All-Star break: .416.
34 23 20 20 12 8 10 25 Juan Uribe Making little progress in recovery, reports MLB.com.
35 35 36 33 30 29 Russ Mitchell Last week’s PCL Player of the Week: 14 for 30 with 31 total bases.
36 36 31 24 33 35 33 Ramon Troncoso In first MLB game, 4/1/08, faced one batter, got double-play grounder.
37 37 38 37 32 26 26 John Ely K/9 ratio in Triple-A goes from 7.4 in 2010 to 5.9 this year.
38 38 40 39 34 28 30 21 Hector Gimenez Three HR in 46 AB at Spring Training, five HR in 159 AB in Double-A.
39 39 41 40 35 31 31 Jamie Hoffmann Set record for consecutive errorless games by PCL outfielder.
40 42 39 38 37 33 27 26 Ivan De Jesus Jr. Had game-winning RBI in Chicago on May 2.
41 33 28 34 26 22 13 19 Marcus Thames Last week, it was reported that Thames had suffered an undisclosed injury and left Yankees’ Tampa facility.
42 44 33 31 36 23 24 7 Rafael Furcal Has played every inning for St. Louis in nine games this month, with .595 OPS.
43 43 42 42 39 34 32 23 Lance Cormier Rough July in Durham: 17 2/3 innings, six runs.
44 41 34 41 38 24 25 16 Hong-Chih Kuo It says something about this town’s appreciation of Kuo that no one has called for his release.
45 40 Eugenio Velez Had a three-hit game against Dodgers in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Aug 10

‘Another day older and deeper in debt’


Almost a year to the day after the Dodgers blew a seven-run lead to the Phillies and lose, 10-9, they blow a six-run lead to the Phillies and lose, 9-8.

Last year, the loss was bitter. This year, it feels just like another day among hobos and drifters.

It was more surprising to see the Dodgers build their 5-0 first-inning lead than lose it. Matt Kemp drove in Casey Blake with the first of four hits, moving Andre Ethier to second base and setting up Juan Rivera’s three-run home run, only the Dodgers’ fifth three-run homer of 2011.

And the team wasn’t done, with Dioner Navarro doubling in James Loney. Navarro was thrown out at third base, however, robbing the team of an additional run when Jamey Carroll then tripled.

And go figure, it mattered.

Chad Billingsley’s day got off to an unusual start thanks to a 15-pitch duel with Jimmy Rollins — if a leadoff hitter for either team in a Dodger game has had a longer at-bat, I don’t remember it. Billingsley escaped that and the next two innings unscathed, but the fourth brought a leadoff walk to Ryan Howard, a two-run homer from Hunter Pence and an unearned run thanks to a Loney error.

In the fifth, a Casey Blake error contributed to two more unearned runs, Billingsley exiting after 99 pitches and zero strikeouts (for the fourth time in his career) with the lead reduced to 6-5. The struggling Hong-Chih Kuo got the Dodgers out of that inning, and the Dodgers even extended their lead to two runs on an RBI double from Loney.

But then the invisible roof that has hovered over the Dodgers all season long did its very visible cave-in, with a Howard homer capping a four-run top of the sixth.

The outcome of today’s game ties into what I wrote Tuesday night: It’s not the margin of defeat for the Dodgers so much as the general reliability of it.

Silver linings are harder and harder to come by: Ethier can no longer even claim the longest hitting streak in the majors this year, now that Dan Uggla has reached 31. We did have Kemp’s 30th stolen base and a day at the plate that moved him within .016 of the National League lead.

And perhaps Dee Gordon’s move to the disabled list should be considered a silver lining of sorts, given that the alternative would be him continuing to aggravate his right-shoulder injury with his all-out style of play.