Ethier tinkers successfully, Gonaflon Gonzalez leaves ever so little to chance in triumphant Dodger debut

Billingsley back to DL

For the second time this season, Chad Billingsley has gone to the disabled list with right elbow issues. Josh Beckett will enter the rotation and start Monday. Also, Alex Castellanos was optioned to Albuquerque, with Nick Punto taking his roster spot.

A pure “Wow!” moment.

Adrian Gonzalez, piled to the sky with expectations as big as the Louisiana Purchase, set up for glory when the Dodgers started their first inning Saturday with three consecutive hits, pulverized a Josh Johnson fastball down the right-field line at Dodger Stadium for an era-opening three-run home run.

The blast gave the Dodgers a lead and a headline they would never relinquish on their way to an 8-2 victory that cut their deficit in the National League West to two games, though Andre Ethier has done his best to steal the show.

Going 4 for 4 for the second night in a row (with two singles, a double and a homer), Ethier has broken the 35-year-old Los Angeles Dodger record held by Ron Cey and tied the 93-year-old franchise mark of Ed Konetchy with hits in 10 consecutive at-bats. Ethier, left in the on-deck circle when the Dodgers made their final out of the night, had a bloop single to center for the milestone hit – and his home run, it should be noted, came off Marlins lefty Wade LeBlanc. Ethier, who is within two of the major-league record, has credited his streak with choking up on the bat slightly and shortening his swing, in response to the blister he has on his palm.

Johnson withered under the Dodgers’ revamped offense (even without Shane Victorino, who was a late scratch with back pain). He threw 46 pitches in the first inning, only escaping further damage when a borderline 3-2 pitch to Clayton Kershaw was called for strike three, and exited the game after a mammoth 89 pitches in only three innings.

The Dodgers had 10 hits off Johnson, 16 in all, including three by Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp and two apiece for Luis Cruz and A.J. Ellis. Ethier and Mark Ellis each came within a triple of the cycle. Gonzalez ended up 1 for 5.

In the records kept by Baseball-Reference.com, Johnson is only the third starting pitcher to have thrown at least 89 pitches against Los Angeles in a start of three innings or less. Over the past two nights, Johnson and Nathan Eovaldi have combined to throw 165 pitches in only six innings, while allowing 12 runs (including five homers) on 20 baserunners.

Amid all this, Kershaw quietly shut down the Marlins over eight innings. After allowing a leadoff double that came around to score on two groundouts in the first inning, and a Giancarlo Stanton special for another run in the second inning, Kershaw held Miami hitless save for an infield single that replays (and my naked eye, for that matter) concluded should have been an out. Kershaw struck out eight, walked two and threw only five more pitches than Johnson.

The Dodgers have as many homers in the past 26 hours, six, as they had in all of June. The atmosphere at Dodger Stadium … jovial, to say the least.

  • Anonymous

    I can see a big winning streak on the way

    • Anonymous

      Yep – after finishing up with the Fish tomorrow, 3 games with the Rockies, 4 with the Snakes, 3 with the Pads, then the Giants again – I predict by the time the Dodgers face the Giants up in ‘Frisco, they’ll be back in 1st place.

      • Anonymous

         During that time the Giants will “face” the Astros, the Cubs, and the D’Backs. I don’t see why  the Dodgers should gain on the Giants while that’s going on. I mean – the Astros? And Cubs? The Giants should easily sweep the Astros, possibly the Cubs too, and should take the Dbacks 2-1. It doesn’t mean they will, but they have a good chance, The Dodgers should be able to count on sweeping the Marlins, but we’ve often had trouble with the Rockies, so 2-1 (though our new ;ineup might really benefit from Coors), and let’s hope we can do better than split with the D’backs. I think we’ll do as well as the Giants and be in  the same place at the end as we are now, aside from the 1/2 game that could go either way. We’ll have to beat the Giants to even things out more.

        • Anonymous

           You overrate the Gnats.

          • peter drysdale

            They are in first place.

        • Anonymous

          Gonzo has a cool OPS of 1.022 in 215 PA in Coors.

          • Anonymous

            from the muppet show ;)

          • Anonymous

            Gonzo also has a cool OPS of 1.000 as a Dodger now.  :)

  • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

    “I’m going to Disneyland” was heard from the crowd after Gonzo showed off his Mickey Mouse T-shirt

  • Anonymous

    Good stuff!

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone even remember the feeling they had 48 hours ago??

    • Anonymous

      You know I do.  First and foremost I am a baseball fan.  I don’t like this and I don’t like this at all, forget my feelings about the Dodgers.  The Dodgers were a flawed team and I think at least part of their charm is that they were a flawed team.  The flaws have gone away (James Loney primarily though I have no rational reason why Loney was the starting first baseman) because the owners have gotten out the checkbook. Good for them, but I can’t say that I like it.  The Dodgers have added at the trade deadline Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Brandon League and don’t forget Nick Punto.  I don’t have a problem with a team tinkering at the edges to improve a roster in July and August, but a complete makeover a la the 2012 Dodgers I think is a slap in the face to any baseball fan.  I am not a Dodger fan and have not been one in public since Depo was fired by Frank McCourt.  For sure I am not a Giants fan, so who do I root for in the NL West?  I’m sure Vin would say that Kirk Gibson is an old friend, but regrettably the owners of the Diamondbacks don’t have the money to play moneyball. 

      • Anonymous

         There’s nothing stopping you reading baseball history books and watching old games on DVD if you are unable to enjoy current baseball. Nobody’s forcing or expecting you to be a fan of any particular team, let alone the Dodgers, if what you want is to appreciate the fine points of the game and complain about things. Most people enjoy it more being a fan of one team and supporting any moves that make that team better, but nobody is compelling you to do so. You can slap yourself in the face as much as you want – nobody else is singling you out for that treatment. You seem to have a curious self-centric view of the progress of the LA Dodgers over the years, and you’re welcome to it. Have a nice life.

      • http://www.linkmeister.com/wordpress/ Linkmeister

         Why is this a “slap in the face to any baseball fan?” These kinds of trades have been around forever. It’s just the dollars that are bigger. The Tigers and Indians traded Harvey Kuenn for Rocky Colavito in mid-year once. The Mets traded Tom Seaver to the Reds for Pat Zachry, Steve Henderson, Doug Flynn, and Dan Norman in mid-year. The Dodgers traded Mike Piazza for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Manuel Barrios, and Jim Eisenreich in 1997.

        Putting aside the dollars, the Dodgers improved themselves immediately at first base. They got a starter who’s at least the equal of what Joe Blanton has shown us so far. They may have gotten a left fielder for next year and several years to come, meaning they probably won’t offer Victorino a big contract (he’s the big loser in this deal among the current players, I think).

        • Anonymous

          I remember the trade of Piazza.  I wasn’t against it until Malone signed Kevin Brown.  Are the Dodgers a better team today than they were yesterday?  No doubt they are.  Good for them.  Is this good for baseball?  I don’t think so.  I left out Victorino and Blanton.  How much can a team improve itself in July and August and not make a farce out of the whole process?  I guess the 2012 Dodgers will be the answer to that question.

          The trade of Kuenn and Colovito if I remember correctly (and I am old enough to remember it) was at the beginning of the season.  The Tom Seaver trade was to the Big Red Machine.  I was a Dodger fan at the time and I never wanted to be a fan of a team that was a machine. 

          • Anonymous

            Enjoy pessimismville, Stan.  I feel rather elated about the past two days, even with our farm system being shipped out.  At this rate, we may just buy them all back in a few years anyway and continue smiling at upset “fans of the (April-September) game” like yourself.

            In all seriousness, dig out that LA hat you’ve put away.  It’s time.

          • Anonymous

            It is not time. 

          • Anonymous

             As a fellow Tacoman, by origin, I think the Dodgers are reasserting their rightful place in the NL.

      • Anonymous

        Root for the Friars.

        • Anonymous

          Now there is at least the O’Malley connection in San Diego.  I like Buddy Black.  I don’t dislike Ned or Don Mattingly, but I have never been able to get it out of my head that they are Giants and Yankees   Vin was a Giants fan when he was a kid, but I don’t hold it against him.  Vinny though is in a whole different league than Ned Colleti and Don Mattingly. 

        • Anonymous

          Honestly, right?

          LA didn’t slap the game in the face, they took the biggest chance money wise any club ever has in a trade.  Nobody bought a win.  They bought a chance.  If it implodes he’ll be singing a different tune..

          • Anonymous

            Think about what you’ve written.  Is it a good thing that the Dodgers have taken the biggest chance money wise any club ever has in a trade?  I’m not sure it is true, but if it is true, is that a good thing?  I don’t think it is.  

      • Anonymous

        It appears the Dodgers did not give you anything you want.  A losing team, a so-so farm and a lousy front office, not to mention a thrown together club except Kemp, Ethier, Kershaw.  Well, they gave me everything I wanted!!  I have always complained about the Dodgers not spending any money and have been shot down so many times on this blog because many of the folks acted like it was their’s and made more excuses for poor play than should be acceptable.  Well, now there is not a money issue and the Dodgers are playing with the big boys and it is happy time!  You have a front office that knows baseball but most of all, knows how to manage and build.  They will also build a farm that is second to none.  Watch!  I hope you find a team that you can be a fan.

      • Anonymous

        Sounds like you would give the Dodgers a break if they had done something like this in the off-season, or am I missing something?

        • Anonymous

          To some extent.  I am troubled by any team undergoing a radical transformation this time of year.  Let’s say the Yankees went on a shopping spree in July and August and came back with Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, Matt Cain, and Chris Sale to add to CC. Should Brian Cashman do that if the opportunity arose?  No doubt he should.  Would that be good for baseball?  I don’t think it would.  I don’t have a problem with a team improving itself on the margins in July and August, but a radical makeover I think is destructive of the story line that is a pennant race or in these days the wildcard hunt.  A baseball season unfolds slowly.  A team like the Pirates plays well and gives its fans hope that they will win the division or qualify for a playoff spot.  All the sudden the Dodgers change that equation in a way the Pirates can’t respond to. I don’t think that is a fair system.

  • Anonymous

    I want to sit in Gonzowood seats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=713935344 Jason Ungar

     Ya the Dodger world is not flat anymore. It’s a whole new round world now

  • Anonymous

    I think we might miss the elephant in the room in that the Giants are still in first by 2 games and their only non NL-West road trips are to Chicago and Houston.

    • Anonymous

      We have six games left against the ‘ants, and if we take four of those six, that wipes out the two-game lead.  (And if we don’t take four of those six, then we don’t deserve the division.)

    • Anonymous

       The Gnats are more than capable of losing four of six to the Cubbies and Colt. 45s.

  • Anonymous

    Our lineup on the 1st of July – Gordon, A Ellis, Abreu, Rivera, Kennedy, Loney, Uribe, Gwynn and Kershaw.

    My oh my, how things have changed :)

    • Anonymous

      I love baseball! :)

      • Anonymous

        Agreed.  Now go wear that Blue proudly today!!

    • Anonymous

      Charlie was talking about this one tonight on the radio, from just 7 weeks ago=

      Herrera
      Cruz
      Hairston
      Loney
      Kennedy
      AJ
      SVS
      Uribe

    • Anonymous

      As a long-time fan from the other side of the country, I took my first trip to Dodger Stadium this summer. It was great to see DS, but the games I saw: July 2 & 3. I did get to see Belly and Jansen shut down the Reds in a July 2nd win however.

      • Anonymous

        Welcome to my world.  After all these years as a Dodger fan, I’ve only seen one game at DS, and I saw Kershaw lose to the Padres!  This year I’ve seen the Dodgers six times, and my record is 1-5.  :(

        • https://www.facebook.com/kmt59 KT

          NSX…STOP going to Dodger Games!!! ^_^

  • Jack Dawkins

    Was at the game tonight, one of my tutoring gigs had their summer get together there tonight.

    Random observation 1: Gonzales’ walkup music had the whole place clapping and swaying, especially in the 1st when a mound conference led to it being played for a minute or more.  That really amped up the crowd for the HR that followed.  I assume Dodger marketing will use it a lot to stoke the fires of the east LA constituency and beyond.  This is a win on the field and off as far as puttimg butts in seats.

    Observation 2:  Of the 4 HRs tonight, the one that impressed me most was Stanton’s bomb.  The sound of that one coming off the bay was undeniable.  Felt like Kershaw challenged him and lost.  The second most impressive to watch was Ethier’s line drive that went out, doubt it was ever more than 20 feet off the ground.  That being said, by far the most fun HR was Gonzo’s.

    • Anonymous

      The video highlights show some of that great atmosphere at the park

  • Anonymous

    Observation: (Ethier) “has credited his streak with choking up on the bat slightly and shortening his swing,” If this seems to be working out so well, why didn’t he try this earlier, or why didn’t one of the coaches suggest this, especially against leftys? Surely someone must thought that he wasn’t getting to the pitch quickly enough, and maybe a shorter swing would have helped.
    It would be wonderful if this is the breakthrough he needs against same-side throwers, once the blister is no longer an issue.

    • Anonymous

      Never leave tinkering to chance?

  • http://www.dodgerthoughts.com/ Jon Weisman

    NPUT