Aug 10

August 10 game chat


Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesLike his fans, Dee Gordon winces in pain after this eighth-inning swing.

Dee Gordon is having an MRI on his right shoulder today, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Jackson also passes along word that the Dodgers believe they are close to signing first-round draft pick Chris Reed. The deadline is Monday.

Aug 09

The beat generation

In football, the good teams beat the bad teams 49-0 or 62-21.

In baseball, the good teams might only beat the bad teams 5-3 or 2-1. The difference over nine innings might not actually be that much.  But the real difference is that the good teams just find the way to have that edge again and again and again.

The Dodgers are 23 1/2 games worse than the Phillies this season, but in five games, Los Angeles has yet to lose by more than two runs. Philadelphia is beatable when it plays the Dodgers.

But beatable doesn’t mean deficient. We’re all beatable. In the end, the question is just whether or not you’re beaten. And this is one beaten Dodger team.

Oh, and Dee Gordon re-injured his shoulder.

Aug 09

Duke Snider Night


APDuke Snider

Tonight, the Dodgers honor Duke Snider, who passed away in February:

The Dodgers will celebrate the life and career of the late Hall of Famer Duke Snider with pregame ceremonies honoring the franchise’s all-time leading home run hitter and special presentations throughout the game. In addition, fans at the game will receive a Duke Snider bobblehead, presented by State Farm, and will be able to pose for photos with Snider’s Hall of Fame plaque (in Lot G Autograph Alley area from 5:10 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), which is making a rare trip to Dodger Stadium from the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York for the event.

Snider’s wife Bev, four children, Kevin, Kurt, Pam and Dawna, several grandchildren and other family members will all be at the game and will participate in the pregame ceremonies.

Also participating in the Kids Run onto the Field segment tonight will be Young Master Weisman. Running across the field in unpredictable directions was one of his favorite things to do at the end of coach-pitch practice, so it seems fitting. He’s excited.

Aug 08

Nine innings, 16 baserunners, three runs, one more loss


Kevork Djansezian/Getty ImagesMatt Kemp, who went 2 for 5 but stranded five runners, reacts to his inning-ending double play in the first inning.

Anatomy of a loss:

  • First inning: Two on, one out, Matt Kemp grounds into double play. (0/2)
  • Second inning: James Loney stranded after singling with one out. (0/3)
  • Third inning: Two on, two out, Kemp pops out. (0/5)
  • Fourth inning: no baserunners. (0/5)
  • Fifth inning: Second and third with one out, Dodgers get one run on an RBI grounder by Casey Blake. (1/7)
  • Sixth inning: Leadoff singles by Kemp and Aaron Miles, wasted. (1/9)
  • Seventh inning: Two on, one out, Andre Ethier fouls away a 3-0 pitch, hits into double play on 3-1 pitch. (1/11)
  • Eighth inning: Leadoff singles again by Kemp and Miles, who singles in Kemp from second. After Rod Barajas walk, Miles scores on Juan Rivera single. Two runners stranded. (3/15)
  • Ninth inning: Leadoff single by Blake, Ethier pops out, Kemp strikes out, Miles grounds out. (3/16)

Thirteen hits, three walks, no extra-base hits, no victory. Believe it or not, the Dodgers haven’t had a game quite like this all year: getting at least 16 baserunnners while scoring less than four runs. According to Baseball-Reference.com, it was also only the fourth time this century that the Dodgers had at least 16 baserunners without an extra-base hit.

It was a new kind of run non-support for losing pitcher Hiroki Kuroda.

Aug 08

The series that might have actually meant something

I have a little confession to make. Sunday afternoon, I was plotting the idea of making the Dodgers’ three-game series with Philadelphia that starts tonight into a mini-National League Championship Series showdown — in my mind.

Though I basically gave up hope for the Dodgers’ reaching the playoffs weeks and weeks ago, I was thinking that I might give the series with the Phillies some actual meaning. The rationale?

  • Los Angeles had won 10 of 15 games to eliminate exactly one-third of its 13 1/2-game deficit in the NL West.
  • With Clayton Kershaw on the mound against Arizona and San Francisco playing the Phillies, there was a decent chance that the Dodgers would close the divisional gap to eight games with eight weeks to go.
  • If the Dodgers won the series from the Phillies, that would most properly considered a fluke, but it would also, however temporarily and minimally, mark the Dodgers as a team looking for a glass slipper.

Sunday’s turnaround loss sapped much of my drive for my mini-NLCS frame of mind. I don’t think I’m going to be much more invested in this series than I was going to be before this flight of rather delusional fancy.

Knowing that the Dodgers actually could have stayed in the race does haunt me a little bit. One more week of winning combined with a week of losing by the division leaders, and the entire division would be thrown into doubt.  It really hammers home just how absolutely awful the Dodgers had to be this year to be considered out of the running for a division title with so many games to play.

* * *

ESPNLosAngeles.com has launched the ESPN Los Angeles Hall of Fame, with 20 initial nominees for five spots. Nominees could not be active, which explains why Vin Scully isn’t present.

I’d have been happy to vote for all 20, but forced to pick five, I went with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Chick Hearn, Magic Johnson, Sandy Koufax and John Wooden. Yes, I’m aware I did baseball a disservice in the process.

* * *

Yes, a $27 million loss does seem like a lot. My recollection is that losses were routine when Fox owned the team, but the company was large enough to withstand them to some extent (Piazza trade notwithstanding).

Aug 07

Kershaw suffers first late-inning loss of 2011

Everything was falling into place for the Dodgers’ first road sweep of the season. Clayton Kershaw, after allowing a walk and home run to his first two batters, was on a roll, retiring 18 of his next 21 batters, while the Dodgers pushed across one run in the fifth inning (on a rare James Loney home run) and two more in the sixth to take a 3-2 lead.

But after Collin Cowgill singled with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Cody Ransom came to bat. Ransom had 26 home runs this year, but all of them were in the minors, where he had spent the 2011 season until two weeks ago.

The ball went out of the park, and so did the Dodgers’ sweep. Kershaw and Los Angeles had lost, 4-3.

Kershaw took a lead into the seventh inning or later for the 16th time in 24 starts this season, and this was only the third time that he had let a slip away.  More than that, it was the first time all year that Kershaw was charged with a loss after having led a game in the seventh inning or later.

  • April 21 vs. Atlanta: One strike away from a complete-game, 2-1 victory, Kershaw allows a two-run single to David Ross. But the Dodgers tie the game in the bottom of the ninth and win in the 12th on a Matt Kemp walkoff home run.
  • June 9 at Colorado: Leading 4-0 in the sixth and 7-3 in the seventh, Kershaw allows seven of nine baserunners to reach base over the course of those two innings. Six of them score in what becomes a 9-7 Dodger defeat.

Suffice it to say, what happened to Kershaw today was pretty shocking.  And yet, given the Dodgers decidedly uneven fortunes this season, not too shocking.

Aug 06

Eovaldi shoulders the load in 5-3 win

Ross D. Franklin/APDee Gordon dives to tag Kelly Johnson, but ends up not sticking the landing.
Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesNathan Eovaldi followed through on his first big-league start.

Hey #dodgerfans I’m gonna be ok, just tweaked my shoulder alittle bit…I’ll be back really soon!!!
Dee Gordon on Twitter

So, yeah, to lose Rubby De La Rosa and Dee Gordon in one week? That would have been unreal.

Instead, despite Gordon’s awkward tag on a rundown play in the third inning tonight that forced him out of the game following his thud on his right shoulder, the report is that he did not suffer a sprain or dislocation, and should be back in a few days (allowing for the math of Dodger medical reports).

And so a good first start for Nathan Eovaldi was not spoiled. The 21-year-old allowed two runs in five innings and was the winning pitcher in the Dodgers’ 5-3 victory over Arizona.

Eovaldi struck out two batters in a perfect first inning and was a strike away from re-feating in the second when Ryan Roberts worked out a walk. Eovaldi then allowed a single, another walk, and then a two-run single to opposing pitcher Joe Saunders that seemed like it had removed all the pixie dust from the youngster’s debut.

Instead, Eovaldi only faced one batter over the minimum (thanks in part to Gordon) for the remainder of his outing, striking out seven in all, and even got his own first major-league hit and run.

Eovaldi was said to be on a 90-pitch limit for the day, but came out after 77 when the Dodgers put together a two-run top of the sixth to take a 4-2 lead. The bullpen allowed one run over four innings, with Scott Elbert giving Javy Guerra a rest and picking up his second save of the season.

Sunday, Clayton Kershaw pitches to try to give the Dodgers their first road sweep of 2011.

Aug 06

Rivera leads red-lukewarm Dodgers into not uninteresting game


Jake Roth/US PresswireJuan Rivera

Here’s a tip of the hat to Juan Rivera, who has performed above my expectations (but not above those of the guy who hounded me on Twitter last month saying he was a great pickup).

Rivera has a .359 on-base percentage and .416 slugging percentage in 64 plate appearances since coming to Los Angeles, which is superb by 2011 Dodger standards. He has effectively become an everyday player with starts in 17 of 20 games, counting tonight, when he makes his eighth start at first base.

The Dodgers begin play tonight 9 1/2 games behind San Francisco and Atlanta, their narrowest deficit since June 27. The same team that has enabled them to get over the double-digit hump, Philadelphia, will travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles to be the Dodgers’ opponent Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, while the Giants travel to Pittsburgh and the Diamondbacks to Houston. If that somehow doesn’t provide a reality check, it will mean that someone has gone into the garage to try to jump-start their Miracle Machine. In the meantime, we’ll see what youngun Nathan Eovaldi can do.

Aug 05

Gordon lights Dodgers’ fire in 7-4 victory


Mark J. Terrill/APAnd he shall be Trayvon. And he shall be a good man.

Short-lost Dodger prospect Trayvon Robinson not only singled, he made a dazzling catch over the left-field fence for Seattle in Anaheim in his major-league debut tonight.

At least the Dodgers still have Dee Gordon.

Christian Petersen/Getty ImagesAndre Ethier congratulates Dee Gordon after the rookie scored the Dodgers’ first run.

Gordon laid a perfect bunt down the third-base line to start a six, count ‘em, six-run outburst in the third inning, and then outfought some ants for a diving grab in the seventh to help keep the Dodgers from blowing what remained of their lead, and Los Angeles outlasted Arizona, 7-4.

Gordon’s catch came with the bases loaded and the Dodgers’ 6-0 lead down to 6-3.  He dove to his right to catch a Justin Upton liner inches off the ground, then doubled up Sean Burroughs at second base.

Rod Barajas, whose two-run double capped the Dodgers’ scoring in the third inning, in the eighth became the third Dodger with double-digit home runs this year, giving the Dodgers an extra run to work with. After Mike MacDougal allowed a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, Javy Guerra came on for a career-best four-out save.

The Dodgers had 11 hits and five walks, led by Juan Rivera’s perfect night (single and three walks), Casey Blake (3 for 5), Andre Ethier (single, double, walk) and Matt Kemp (single, walk). Chad Billingsley was charged with three runs in six innings. And, by the way, Tim Federowicz, who came in the Robinson deal, homered for Albuquerque tonight.

The Los Angeles youth movement continues Saturday with the promotion of Nate Eovaldi, whose contract was officially purchased by the Dodgers. John Ely was sent back to Albuquerque without pitching this week.

Aug 05

Zesty pregame souffle

If Dodger fans ever sue the McCourts, they could do worse than Sally Jensen for representation. Unless Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer is available …

Elsewhere:

  • Trayvon Robinson is in fact making his major-league debut tonight in Southern California, suiting up for Seattle against the Angels. “These are probably the best four days of my life,” Robinson told Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times. (In case you missed it, be sure to read Christopher Jackson’s Wednesday feature on Robinson for Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.)
  • More from the In Case You Missed It Files: “Clayton Kershaw: The stuff of legend?” by Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Stephen Colbert took over the MLB Twitter feed today.  Sample: “Go Tiburones de la Guaira! Oh, do you guys not follow the Venezuelan league? Sorry, I thought I was tweeting to real fans.”
  • Tony Phillips is still playing pro ball at age 52, believe it or not, notes Carson Cistulli of Fangraphs.
  • Mark Heisler, the longtime NBA writer for the Times who was laid off after 32 years, sent a farewell piece to Poynter.
  • Reporter on the Television Critics Assn. press tour to Zooey Deschanel today: “When did you first know you were adorable?” It wasn’t my question, but I understood it.
Aug 04

Hocus focus

I’m no ballplayer, nor do I play one on TV. But though I don’t have to recognize the spin on baseballs coming at me at 132 feet per second, I do depend on my vision for my work quite a bit.

Basically, I spend most of my waking moments staring at small type on a computer screen. And sometimes, staring at even smaller type on my cellphone.  And at night, I go back and forth between staring at the small type and images on a TV screen. Food and shelter for a family of five largely depends on my ability to perform these tasks and then move my fingers on a keyboard while I do it.

Historically, this has been as easy as blinking. But in this, my 43rd year, it has finally gotten more difficult. I look up from looking down for a while, and at first the TV is blurry. I look down from looking up, and so is the fine print.  Most of the time, it comes into focus, but sometimes, I can’t focus at all, except maybe if I move into some much better light. A few times, I’ve given up.

My eye doctor’s diagnosis is blunt. Turns out, I am not immune from getting older.

Not that I ever thought I was. I mean, I was in sixth grade when I first noticed that the numbers on the clock on the other side of my bedroom seemed to change as I was looking at them. I got my first pair of glasses at age 11 and my first set of contact lenses two years later. But nearsightedness (to go with my congenital color-blindness) had been my status quo for three decades.

Now, I’m heading down the other side of the cliff. Or at least a lovely rolling hill – let’s imagine one in bonny Ireland, just because I’ve always wanted to go there. It’s one thing to understand you’re going to get older, and another thing to be socked in the eyes with it.

Relatively speaking, I understand, it’s a minor condition. It’s just weird, man. It’s weird to me that something can be working and then stop. It’s weird to me that I find this weird. But there it is. My baby blues have the blues.

Inevitably, when I think of eyesight and writing, it’s impossible for me not to think of Jim Murray, who unforgettably chronicled his vision loss in a series of columns including this one.

OK, bang the drum slowly, professor. Muffle the cymbals and the laugh track. You might say that Old Blue Eye is back. But that’s as funny as this is going to get.

I feel I owe my friends an explanation as to where I’ve been all these weeks. Believe me, I would rather have been in a press box.

I lost an old friend the other day. He was blue-eyed, impish, he cried a lot with me, saw a great many things with me. I don’t know why he left me. Boredom, perhaps.

We read a lot of books together, we did a lot of crossword puzzles together, we saw films together. He had a pretty exciting life. He saw Babe Ruth hit a home run when we were both 12 years old. He saw Willie Mays steal second base, he saw Maury Wills steal his 104th base. He saw Rocky Marciano get up. I thought he led a pretty good life.

One night a long time ago he saw this pretty girl who laughed a lot, played the piano and he couldn’t look away from her. Later he looked on as I married this pretty lady.

He saw her through 34 years. He loved to see her laugh, he loved to see her happy.

You see, the friend I lost was my eye. My good eye. The other eye, the right one, we’ve been carrying for years. We just let him tag along like Don Quixote’s nag. It’s been a long time since he could read the number on a halfback or tell whether a ball was fair or foul or even which fighter was down.

So, one blue eye missing and the other misses a lot. …

I’m not Jim Murray (you can say that again). For now, I’ll make the necessary adjustments. The computer is a stationary target, fortunately. This is not the end. But that last sentence is a double-edged sword, if you can see what I’m gettin’ at …

Aug 03

What’s so funny about … you know

The day began when Young Master Weisman came out of his bedroom at 6:30 a.m. on this, his seventh birthday. I called him over to me, and he gave me, well, he gave me a hug that was the biggest, longest hug any of my children has ever given me.

I would say that roughly 75 percent of that hug was pure excitement about his birthday, but you know, I think maybe a quarter of it had something to do with me. And I’ll take that combination. It felt really, really good. Just the fact that he was that purely happy … I’ll take it.

Then I learned that Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods became a father. It was on July 30, the same birthday as baseball’s youngiest youngster, Joe Nuxhall. How absolutely great.

That brings me to Grant Brisbee’s piece for Baseball Nation today. Brisbee, some of you know, runs San Francisco Giants blog McCovey Chronicles. He happens to be one of the best, funniest and most imaginative and insightful baseball writers around, in any medium. And today, he wrote a very nice column entitled, “The Los Angeles Dodgers Are Not Having A Good Season.”

As a Giants fan growing up in the ’80s, I went to baseball games in a concrete abomination known as Candlestick Park. The Dodgers had a quaint and airy ballpark. I stuffed tauntaun blubber down my jacket to stay warm during the day games. Dodgers fans wore short-sleeve shirts to the ballpark at night. I watched a team lose year after year. The Dodgers won every year. When the Giants did win something, it would be immediately followed by a sharp, piercing playoff exit. When the Dodgers made the playoffs, they’d skip through and win the World Series.

So the dislike is true and pure, forged in the fires of youthful resentment and envy. Not a fan of the Dodgers. And I figured if they ever became the 1899 Cleveland Spiders — earning every bit of a 20-134 record — it would be delightful. When the McCourt madness started happening, it was somewhat amusing. When Selig took financial control of the Dodgers, it was hilarious. And then there were allllll those losses. The German word for taking pleasure in the suffering of others is schadenfreude, and this season has been the freudiest.

At this point, though: enough. We get it.

The tipping point was Rubby De La Rosa needing Tommy John surgery. Fans of under-.500 teams are people too. They have certain rights — things you can’t take away. And the most important, inalienable right of the fan of a bad team is the right to watch a top prospect’s rookie season. The Royals, for example, have stunned the world by not contending, but every Royals fan in the world can turn on a TV and watch Eric Hosmer and Danny Duffy and Mike Moustakas play. The performances are up and down, but that’s not the point. The point is that they can watch a bad team and project how the prospects will be responsible for the eventual turnaround.

De La Rosa came up and featured a right-handed repertoire that the Dodgers hadn’t seen from one of their young pitchers since the days of Eric Gagne. And then as quickly as he was up, he was gone in a puff of smoke.

That’s not right. I know I’m supposed to be a partisan fan of a team in a historic rivalry … but, come on … really, when Rubby went down … that’s too much.

The reaction some would say I should have to this is horror. A Giants fan taking pity on us — can things sink any lower?

But that’s not me. I’m glad when someone understands, when someone extends me a hand instead of kicking me when I’m down. That’s the way the world should be.

Giants fans want to win. Dodger fans want to win.  Those are two missions forever in conflict.  But there are moments, such as when Giants and Dodger fans joined forces to condemn the Bryan Stow violence, when our shared humanity — not to mention some “There but for the grace” knowledge — transcends our differences. And I don’t care how trite that sounds — I’m a flat-out sucker for it.

Happy birthday, my boy.

Aug 03

Kershaw named NL Pitcher of the Month

Clayton Kershaw started July by allowing six runs in his first four innings.

A month later, he was named National League Pitcher of the Month.

After Bobby Abreu’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth inning in Anaheim, Kershaw pitched 32 innings in the remainder of July and allowed 25 hits, seven walks and two earned runs — an 0.56 ERA — while striking out 39.

That gave him a svelte enough 2.02 ERA for the month with 45 strikeouts in 35 2/3 innings, enough to beat competitors like Cincinnati’s Johnny Cueto (41 1/3 innings, 19 strikeouts, 1.52 ERA) and San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum (30 innings, 30 strikeouts, 1.80 ERA).

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a couple of added notes: Kershaw was second in fielding-independent ERA (1.96) and WAR 1.3), just behind Madison Bumgarner’s 1.92 and 1.5, first in expected FIP (2.15). Also, Stephen says Kershaw is the Dodgers’ first NLPiOM since Derek Lowe in August 2006.

Kershaw ended up allowing the same number earned runs in July as Edwin Jackson allowed in 2 1/2 hours this afternoon.