Jun 15

Dodgers strike the Jolly Roger with a great deal of trouble

At first, the Dodgers looked helpless. Five of the first six batters struck out against Pirates rookie Brandon Cumpton. Clayton Kershaw gave up a run in the first when he gave up a double, two walks, and Hanley Ramirez airmailed a double play relay throw to let a run score.

But things got better in the fifth when Skip Schumaker singled home A.J. Ellis. The Dodgers drove Cumpton out of the game with two runs in the sixth.

They took a 3-1 lead to the eighth (thanks in part to Schumaker robbing Russell Martin of a 3-run homer in the 6th). Don Mattingly turned the game over to Chris Withrow. Because the other options weren’t much better.

After giving up a single and a walk, Withrow struck out Gaby Sanchez and Martin. Mattingly then opted to put switch hitter Neil Walker on his weaker side and brought in Paco Rodriguez. Walker singled in a run to make it 3-2, but that was it.

In the 9th, it was time for Kenley Jansen to close it out. Except for the pesky fact of Travis Snider tying the game with a home run. And so they played on.

In the bottom of the 10th, Peter Moylan retired the first two batters, but walked Martin and gave up a double to Walker. Martin held at third despite a less than accurate throw home by Yasiel Puig in right. After an intentional walk, pinch hitter Michael McKenry flied out.

The Dodgers hadn’t had anyone reach base since the sixth, but Andre Etheir led off the 11th with a double. Mark Ellis sacrificed because that’s what you do I guess. Juan Uribe singled home Ethier. After a wild pitch, Uribe came home with two outs on a pinch double by Nick Punto.

And now it was time for the Return of the Closer: Brandon League. Snider led off with an infield single. Alex Presley grounded into a force play as Ramirez couldn’t make the relay throw again. Jordy Mercer singled. Dodgers fans sighed. Others cowered in fear.

League threw a wild pitch, putting the tying runs in scoring position.

Dodgers fans started to ask if they could get overnight shipping from Amazon on some strychnine.

Andrew McCutchen grounded out to third.

Some people hit “cancel order” with Amazon.

Sanchez hit a liner to left that Schumaker tracked down and all was well in Dodgerdom for a day. Moylan picked up the first win by an Aussie pitcher for the Dodgers since Luke Prokopec on September 20, 2001.

Zack Greinke versus 2011 #1 overall pick Gerrit Cole Sunday afternoon. And later on Sunday, Cole’s alma mater, UCLA, takes on LSU in the College World Series in Omaha.

There’s an 80% chance of rain tomorrow in Pittsburgh. Plan accordingly.

Jun 15

June 15 game chat and a word from a guy whose name is sort of like mine

Bob filling in here.

I’ve already forgotten to include a Clayton Kershaw start nickname once already, so I’ll do it again. Jon can add them retrospectively.

Pittsburgh starter Brandon Cumpton, making his Major League debut, is just eight months younger than Clayton Kershaw.

J.P. Howell, who pitched two innings last night, dropped the appeal of his 2-game suspension and will spend the rest of the series hanging out at some of Pittsburgh’s finer restaurants and taverns. Yasiel Puig ends up in the 2 spot in the lineup today behind leadoff man Skip Schumaker. Andre Ethier goes from 6 to 5. MEllis is 6 and AEllis is 8. Uribear has the third base job today.

I’m proposing a new theme song for the 2013 Dodgers.

Dodgers at Pirates, 1:05 p.m.

Jun 15

Dodgers holding on nine

The Dodgers have now gone 97 straight games dating back to August 29, 2012 without scoring 10 or more runs in a game. A grand slam by AJ Ellis in the eighth made the tens column light up for the Dodgers at Coors Field. The Dodgers have scored 9 runs in three games this season. And they lost one of those games. The closest the Dodgers got to 10 runs was the 10-9 loss to the Giants when they were leading 8-6 on May 4 and had runners on second and third with two outs, but Jerry Hairston struck out.

The team record for scoring digits would take a while to reach. From May 28, 1967 through September 2, 1968, the Dodgers went 261 games without hitting double digits. That streak ended with a 10-9 win over the Phillies on September 3, 1968 before a crowd of 2,812 at Connie Mack Stadium. The Dodgers had to score 8 runs in the last two innings to get to 10. The Dodgers hit 3 home runs in the eighth off of Phillies reliever Dick Hall.

The Dodgers last World Series champ didn’t score more than 10 runs in 1988 after June 19. And would not hit double digits until June 24, 1989. That was a stretch of 168 games in which they went 93-74 (and a tie.)

The next targets on this dubious streak list is 102 games, which happened in 2003 and in 1965-66. The last team in the majors to go over 100 games without scoring 10+ runs is the 2011 Mariners, which got to 101 games in August that year. Earlier in 2011, the Mariners had ended a streak of 137 single digit run scoring games. The Dodgers’ opponents today, Pittsburgh, went 124 straight games without hitting double digits in 2011-12.

The Dodgers streak is the longest one currently going on in the majors. The Cubs are at 81 games and the Phillies are at 80 games. The latter two show that even though you may play in hitter’s parks, you still need actual good hitters.

Houston in 1964 and 1982 went an entire 162 game season without hitting double digits. The 1988 Padres played 161 games (with one game wiped out by rain) without hitting 10.

Jun 14

Dodgers offense comes up with a tabula rasa against Locke and Bucs pen

Jeff Locke bamboozled the Dodgers for seven innings, holding them to no runs on just two hits through seven innings. Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli each gave up two hits in their innings of relief, but the Dodgers could never plate a runner, falling to Pittsburgh 3-0.

Yasiel Puig went 2 for 4 with a bunt single to lead off the game and an infield hit in the ninth. Jerry Hairston had the Dodgers only extra base hit, a double in the 8th.

The Pirates are now 40-27 on the season and 24-12 at PNC Park. The Dodgers are 28-38 and 9-18 on the road. I appreciate that the Bucs and Dodgers have winning percentages on the home and road that are reciprocal.

Jun 14

The return of A.J. Ellis, The Infield, and June 14 Game Chat

Yesterday was considered by a lot of people to be the 40th anniversary (that’s ruby if you’re not scoring at home) of the Dodgers first of the use Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey infield, one that would persist through the 1981 season.

The Dodgers lost back on June 13, 1973, 16-3 to the Phillies. Also, Steve Garvey didn’t start the game. Tom Paciorek started the game at first base and Garvey didn’t get into the game until the bottom of the 4th, at which point the Phillies were winning 12-2. And, when the game ended, Davey Lopes was playing center field after Lee Lacy entered the game a little later to play second.

The four Dodgers all played in the same game for the first time on April 7, 1973, but only Russell started at the position he would become famous for. Cey entered the game later as a pinch hitter and stayed in at third. Lopes pinch hit and stayed in to play shortstop. Garvey was a pinch hitter. The Dodgers lost that game in San Diego, 4-3, on a walkoff pinch homer by Jerry Morales off of Jim Brewer.

Garvey-Lopes-Russell-Cey all started for the Dodgers together in their regular positions for the first time in the second game of a doubleheader against the Reds on June 23, 1973, which the Dodgers won 5-1. However, Cey left the game early with a pulled tricep muscle and his replacement, Ken McMullen hit a 3-run homer.

(Even more pointless aside: in newspaper accounts, Reds manager Sparky Anderson was asked why he was starting four lefties against the Dodgers, which would let the Dodgers use Manny Mota, then leading the NL in batting average to play every game. Anderson thought that a player Mota’s age would wear down in the heat of the series and there were four games in three days. Mota batted 8 for 16 in the four games. The Dodgers led the division in 1973 by 8 1/2 games on July 17, but were finally caught by the Reds in early September when the Dodgers were getting swept by the Giants at Candlestick, in the middle of a 9-game losing streak. The Reds won the division by 3 1/2 games.)

Walter Alston would mix and match his infielders for the rest of the 1973 season and it wouldn’t be until 1974 that Dodger fans could start to take the names Garvey, Lopes, Russell, and Cey as givens in the starting lineup.

In news from today, A.J. Ellis is back. Ramon Hernandez has been designated for assignment, making him the 2nd Dodger in 2 straight years to have his last AB with the team (and possibly the majors) be a home run. Adam Kennedy did the same last year.

Yasiel Puig is back in the lineup in the leadoff spot and Hanley Ramirez starts again at shortstop and bats cleanup. Enjoy that sight while you can.

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.

Jun 14

Suspensions finally handed out for Tuesday’s brawls

Major League Baseball handed out suspensions to Dodgers and Diamondbacks personnel for Tuesday’s brawls.

For the Dodgers:

  • J.P. Howell and Skip Schumaker were suspended for two games each.
  • Ronald Belisario was suspended for one game
  • Don Mattingly was suspended one game (to be served tonight)
  • Mark McGwire was suspended two games (tonight and tomorrow)
  • Yasiel Puig and Zack Greinke were fined an undisclosed amount.

For the Diamondbacks

  • Ian Kennedy was suspended 10 games.
  • Eric Hinske was suspended 5 games.
  • Kirk Gibson was suspended 1 game (to be served tonight)
  • Miguel Montero and Gerardo Parra were fined.

Also, because multiple players on the disabled list left the bench to join the fight, all of those players will receive some discipline and neither team will be allowed to have any players on the disabled list sit on the bench during their weekend series.

All players can appeal their suspensions. Coaches and managers cannot.

Update: Ken Rosenthal has more explanation about the suspensions.

 

Jun 13

More details of Dodgers TV contract emerge

Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times has more details on the Dodgers $6 billion TV deal with Time-Warner.

The Dodgers would retain more than $6 billion from their new television contract under a tentative agreement with Major League Baseball, according to two people familiar with the agreement.

The settlement would avert a showdown between the Dodgers and MLB in U.S. Bankruptcy Court and would effectively end the court’s jurisdiction over the Dodgers’ affairs. The people providing the information about the settlement spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations have not concluded.

MLB officials declined to comment. Dodgers co-owner Todd Boehly said he could not discuss ongoing negotiations but said the team could maintain its record player payroll under the settlement.

The Dodgers would like to sign ace Clayton Kershaw to a long-term contract extension, and the expected price tag could be at least $200 million. New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano, the best player among potential free agents this fall, might also command a $200-million contract.

Boehly declined to comment on specific players. However, when asked whether the Dodgers could afford to take on two players with $200-million contracts if the baseball operations department recommended it, he answered, “Yes.”

Jun 13

This was not a Dodgers game, but it could have been

In the first inning of today’s game at Coors Field between the Rockies and Nationals, Colorado left fielder Carlos Gonzalez had to leave the game in the first inning after Jordan Pacheco lined a ball off Gonzalez’s left foot. Gonzalez was standing in the on deck circle when this happened. CarGo (If Vin can say it, I will type it) had to leave the game, but X-rays were negative.

Then in the fifth inning, center fielder Dexter Fowler left the game after the pain in his right ring finger was too bad for him to continue. He had been hit by a pitch by Ross Detwiler in the third. Fowler’s X-rays were negative.

In the eighth inning, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki dove for a grounder by Ian Desmond. He hurt his ribcage and left the game. Tulowitzki’s X-rays were not negative. He has a broken rib and will be out 4-6 weeks.

Pitcher Jhoulys Chacin was used as a pinch hitter in the seventh. And he drew a walk. But the Nats won the game 5-4.

To sum up other major injuries in the NL West: Arizona is without its two best relievers in J.J. Putz and Matt Reynolds, who have arm injuries. San Francisco is missing Pablo Sandoval (foot) and Angel Pagan (hamstring). Also, Marco Scutaro may have to go on the DL with a finger injury.  San Diego is missing closer Huston Street, first baseman Yonder Alonso, infielder Jed Gyorko, and outfielder Cameron Maybin.

Maybin’s replacement is Jaff Decker. His parents named him after an uncle, who died in the military, and the name is pronounced Jeff.  I am trying to anticipate one of Vin’s anecdotes.

Jun 13

Better living through brawling?

Bob Nightengale of USA Today thinks the Dodgers-DBacks brawl will be a boost to the the Dodgers spirits.

Maybe this wasn’t Pee Wee Reese putting his arm around Jackie Robinson, but rookie Yasiel Puig was not only accepted by his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates Tuesday, he also was embraced.

The Dodgers, a dysfunctional and underachieving team that has resembled a bad reality TV show all season, became an actual team during their fight night with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In fact, the brawl might have saved the Dodgers’ season.

In one night, pitcher Zack Greinke became a hero to his teammates, outfielder Andre Ethier showed some life, manager Don Mattingly was fiery and catcher Tim Federowicz proved he belonged. Heck, even hitting coach Mark McGwire was intimidating again.

And Puig, who rubbed some teammates and coaches wrong in spring training with flamboyant behavior, was officially welcomed into the Dodgers family.

 

Sure, whatever you say Bob. The problem still remains that the Dodgers, as presently constituted, are not very good. They are 28-37, 8 1/2 games out of first and three games behind the Padres, who are in fourth. And the Dodgers are 13th in the NL in runs scored. (Ken Rosenthal was definitely not a fan of the brawl.)

Those big graphics that are hung outside the stadium with players pictures on them? You know what they’re for? To remind you, who is supposed to be on the team. Because it is easy to forget.

The Dodgers will be losing players to suspensions. It’s possible Yasiel Puig could be hurt more than we thought. Hanley Ramirez, in theory, should play Friday, but he didn’t look great on Wednesday. A.J. Ellis and Matt Kemp may be back soon. Chris Capuano could come back soon, but he will likely be suspended because he left the bench to participate in a fight while on the disabled list. Carl Crawford seems to have no timetable. And Andre Ethier is the center fielder.

And there was Bill Shakin’s report in the Times about how the Guggenheim Group set up their purchase of the Dodgers in such a way that if an NFL franchise were to go in Chavez Ravine, the landlord would be… that guy. Whoops, wrong image, this guy. Oops, wrong again, here it is.

May your Thursday not be as bleak as mine.

 

Jun 12

DBacks hit back against Dodgers with lots and lots of hits

Wednesday’s game at Dodger Stadium thankfully had no brawls, with all the hitting coming off the bats of the Diamondbacks and Dodgers bats.

Arizona banged out 20 hits, 17 of them singles, to break through against Ronald Belisario and Brandon League in the 12th to win 8-6.

The highlights for the Dodgers all came in the fifth, when they erased a 3-0 lead, scoring four times, highlighted by a Hyun-Jin Ryu triple (helped out by an ill-advised dive by Gerardo Parra).

Then the Dodger bats fell silent. Rookie Chris Withrow made his MLB debut in the 7th and couldn’t hold the 1-run lead.

After the Diamondbacks scored four times in the 12th, the Dodgers tried to come back with a home run by Ramon Hernandez (who also stole a base), a single by Yasiel Puig (who did not start because of a shoulder strain, although he appeared OK in his limited action), followed by a walk to Skip Schumaker. Nick Punto grounded to first and may have been able to beat the throw at first, but he opted for the headfirst slide, and he was out.

Puig scored on Mark Ellis’ ground out. Adrian Gonzalez walked, but pinch hitter Tim Federowicz grounded in to a force play to end the game.

Thursday is an off day for the Dodgers as they head off to Pittsburgh. The Pirates are the only team the Dodgers have swept at home this season. The Pirates are 39-26 on the season and 23-11 at PNC Park. The Pirates go for a series sweep against the Giants Thursday.

Disciplinary action for Tuesday’s Pier One brawl (I think there was a lot of rattan involved) should be handed out Thursday.

 

Jun 12

Dodgers and DBacks may open 2014 Down Under

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph of Sydney, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks are scheduled to open the 2014 MLB regular season at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

In a $13 million coup for the state government, the opening series of the MLB will be held at the SCG on Saturday March 22 and Sunday March 23 – the first time a competitive US baseball fixture will be held in Australia and only the sixth time one has been staged outside America.

The games have been described as the biggest internationally recognised event in this country since the 2003 Rugby World Cup final and come exactly 100 years after the Chicago White Sox played against NSW at the SCG.

“Sydney will host the first two games for the opening series of 2014 Major League Baseball at the Sydney Cricket Ground,” Premier Barry O’Farrell said.

“The opening series will feature the LA Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks playing the first two games of the season.

There is no official announcement from either team, MLB, or the Players Association.

If the plan goes through, both teams would likely start spring training very early and then fly back to the U.S. after the two games that count and then play more exhibition games before their respective home openers.

The Dodgers have never played a regular season game outside of North America.

According to weather.com, the average temperature in Sydney for March 22-23 is a high of 76 and a low of 63.

 

Jun 11

Dodgers win game, possibly lose pointless war

Monday night’s loss by the Dodgers to Arizona was ugly. The Dodgers win on Tuesday night was ugly in a much different way.

A well-pitched game turned into a nasty brawl-filled one with a total of five six people ejected, including Yasiel Puig. It was a night when Dodger fans spent most of the night worried that the Golden Child was going to be taken from them on three different occasions.

In the second inning, Puig grounded out to short and appeared to have become the latest Dodger to succumb to the Hamstring Plague. However, Puig came back out to right field in the third and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Moving ahead to the fifth inning, Zack Greinke grazed Cody Ross with a pitch and Jason Kubel followed with a home run.

Then it got ugly, in the bottom of the sixth, Arizona starter Ian Kennedy came up and in to Puig and hit Puig in the nose with a pitch. Did Kennedy throw with malice aforethought? Probably not, but most home fans don’t look kindly on seeing their prized rookie getting a pitch near his head. That anger quickly dissipated when Andre Ethier followed the HBP with an HR to make it 2-2.

Greinke took matters into his own hand to fulfill the letter of baseball’s unwritten rules by hitting Arizona catcher Miguel Montero to lead off the 7th. The benches and bullpens emptied, but no one was ejected and it seemed, for a moment, that the famed “cooler heads” had prevailed.

But who was the Dodgers second scheduled hitter in the bottom of the 7th? Zack Greinke, whom Kennedy hit in the shoulder, although it didn’t appear to hurt Greinke at all. The benches and bullpens emptied again and the cooler heads were nowhere to be found. Puig and Ronald Belisario appeared to be going after anyone in gray and red. Mark McGwire wanted to get in on the action, but was kept away by Matt Williams, who was strangely one of the level-headed ones in the whole scene.

Fortunately, no one got hurt this time. Kennedy was ejected as was Arizona manager Kirk Gibson (automatically by rule). Arizona coach Turner Ward, who got tossed over a railing, was ejected along with Puig and McGwire. Also Ronald Belisario it was subsequently learned.

Arizona took the lead 3-2 in the eighth against J.P. Howell and Matt Guerrier and it looked like the Dodgers were headed for the lastest in a string of dispiriting losses to the Diamondbacks.

Adrian Gonzalez led off the eighth with a walk against Daniel Hernandez. Alex Castellanos, who had replaced Puig, tried to sacrifice (this will get worse) and was called out when he ran into his own batted ball. This sent Gonzalez back to first with one out. Ethier walked, and then, the Uribear walked to load the bases.

Ahh, the bases loaded. What could go wrong? Who was coming up? It was Tim Federowicz! And what happened? A double off the leadoff wall to score three runners. Of course. (Few things are more fun to hear than Vin Scully calling a three-run double, but he didn’t call out all the players names like he sometimes does. Probably because you can never remember just who is on the Dodgers now.)

New closer Kenley Jansen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. And there was great rejoicing in the land.

Until Joe Torre metes out some suspensions. And then all the folderol from Tuesday night will seem even more pointless. Ultimately, like the Quentin-Greinke affair, being on the “right” side doesn’t matter if you aren’t able to play at all. And a team like the Dodgers really don’t need to playing with even fewer available players.

The three HBPs by Arizona pitchers (Joe Paterson hit Mark Ellis in the 8th, but that did not warrant an ejection) was the second time they had done that in a week. Last Tuesday, Arizona hit Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter three times during a 14-inning 7-6 win in St. Louis. That was done by three different pitchers, all relievers.

Update: J.P. Hoonstra of the Daily News passes on AP quotes with Arizona reactions.

Update 2: Nick Piecoro of AZcentral.com has more reaction from both sides.

 

Jun 11

More roster changes and life must be hard for a man named Estel

Bob posting here: The Dodgers will still not have Hanley Ramirez in the starting lineup (found through the link below). But he’s not disabled!  But there’s Skip Schumaker. And Luis Cruz. And Juan Uribe.

And there are more personnel changes! Opening Day shortstop Justin Sellers was optioned back down to Albuquerque for the second time this year and Alex Castellanos was called up. Chris Withrow got his call to the big leagues. Scott Van Slyke went on the disabled list. The outfielder is replacing the infielder and the relief pitcher is replacing the outfielder. Not that it really matters. As long as it adds up to 25 players.

After 32 at bats in his major league career, Yasiel Puig is batting .500. If he stopped playing today (and didn’t play tonight or the rest of the season), that would be the highest batting average for any rookie in his first season in the majors with at least 32 ABs.

The second best is Craig Wilson, who batted .468 in 53 ABs for the White Sox in 1998. Wilson was a 28-year old rookie who lasted just parts of three seasons in the majors.

The third best is Arizona’s second baseman tonight, Willie Bloomquist, who batted .455 in a callup for the Mariners in 2002. Bloomquist has played in 12 big league seasons. He’s also played seven different positions (all but the battery) and he’s hit a whopping 17 home runs.

The seventh best hitter on the list is Stan Musial, who hit .426 in 47 ABs for the Cardinals in 1941. The 1941 Cardinals finished 2 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the NL that year. Some Cardinal players were disappointed that GM Branch Rickey didn’t call up Musial earlier. Musial batted .545 in his first three games and then didn’t start the fourth, which the Cardinals lost.  He started the final seven games of the season. Musial sometimes played the outfield with the unfortunately named Estel Crabtree, a real baseball player and not a character on Bewitched.

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.

Jun 11

Far be it from me to blog about TV

But I doubt that a TJ Simers inspired sitcom will be a ratings bonanza.

From Sports Business Journal:

“The series is about an old-school reporter in a medium that is quickly evaporating and a daughter who is a participant in the new media,” Tollin said. “Ultimately, it will be a comedy focused on their relationship and the relationship they never had because he was always on the road and was kind of an absentee dad. He’s kind of trying to make up for lost time. She’s trying to teach the old dog new tricks.”

There have been two successful sitcoms that have prominently featured sportswriters: The Odd Couple, which had the advantage of being based on a famous play and film and with great actors, and Everybody Loves Raymond, where the main character was a sportswriter who seemingly never left his own home.

I refuse to acknowledge the series My Boys as being successful or featuring a sportswriter who actually worked as a sportswriter does today.