Jul 22

Cavalcade of crushing continues in 14-5 victory

Majestically merciless are these Dodgers of late.

Los Angeles knocked out an opposing starting pitcher after six outs for the second game in a row, delivering a trio of four-run innings in a 14-5 victory over Toronto.

A.J. Ellis had career highs of four hits and five RBI, two of the latter coming on a booming home run to dead center in the second inning that put the Dodgers ahead – to stay, to say the least.

Toronto had 13 hits of its own, but allowed 21 baserunners while also making five errors.

As was the case Sunday, the Dodgers ended tonight’s game tied for first place, pending the result of Arizona’s game later.

The Dodgers have won four consecutive games after the All-Star Break for the first time since 2007. That year, the streak put the Dodgers 13 games above .500, but the team finished 82-80.

Dodgers’ first four games after All-Star Break
2013: 4-0
2012: 1-3
2011: 1-3
2010: 0-4
2009: 2-2
2008: 1-3
2007: 4-0

Jul 22

July 22 game chat

Dodgers at Blue Jays, 4:07 p.m.

Dodger Thoughts, December 10, 2011:

Major League Baseball doesn’t rewrite history, so there’s no changing the fact that Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun is the 2011 National League Most Valuable Player and not Matt Kemp. However, Braun’s trophy might be getting a little less gleamy.

Braun is currently challenging a positive test for a performance-enhancing drug, report Mark Fainaru-Wada and T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com.

If the finding is upheld, Braun won’t have to give back his trophy, but he will have to give away 50 games of the 2012 baseball season to a suspension.

My opinion: A positive drug test doesn’t make Braun’s 2011 season less valuable.  He still did what he did. It does call into question how he achieved that value and open the door for you and me to judge him how we will. But my view of history is that it chronicles what happened, for better or worse. History isn’t what we’d like things to be – it’s what was, like it or not.

Whenever I consider baseball’s long, plentiful history of misbehavior, I’ve never been in favor of bringing an eraser to the record books, and I’m not going to start now. If Braun is guilty, his punishment will be his suspension and his tainted reputation. I’m not excusing his behavior. I’m just not pretending that he didn’t deliver on the field, illicitly or not.

The fact that my MVP vote would have been for Kemp regardless is a separate issue.

Jul 21

Kemp stars – then stumbles – as Dodgers win again

So instead of talking about the spectacular return of Matt Kemp from the disabled list, with a homer and double in the second inning alone and four times on base in the Dodgers’ 9-2 victory over Washington – a game that puts Los Angeles in a tie for first place in the National League West, pending the result of Arizona’s game at San Francisco today – we’re going to be talking about another injury.

Long after Hanley Ramirez blew the game open with a three-run homer in the Dodgers’ seven-run second inning, after Clayton Kershaw had completed a seven-inning outing with nine strikeouts and only two hits allowed (both home runs by Jayson Werth), the Dodgers loaded the bases with two out in the top of the ninth. Carl Crawford beat out a grounder to the right side, and then mayhem struck.

Kemp, who had been on third base, was slowly jogging home on Crawford’s grounder when he realized that a throw would be coming home. He then suddenly accelerated and stepped awkwardly into the plate, appearing to hurt his ankle in the process.

As quick as that, happy days turned into the blame game. Why was Kemp still in the game? Why was he running so slow on the play? Why did he suddenly try to score and risk injury?

Why was Kemp still in the game? Because as much as you don’t want him to overdo it on his first game back, Kemp didn’t need any rest, and the chances of him hurting himself were remote.

Why was he running so slow on the play? For the same reason people asked why he was still in the game – he didn’t want to overdo it. Except he underdid it.

Why did he suddenly rush into home at the end? Because he realized he had been going too slow, and his baseball instincts kicked in.

It was an extremely unfortunate play, particularly if it sends Kemp, who has homered in three of the last four games he has been able to play in, back to the disabled list for the third time this season.

I don’t think it’s reasonable to blame Don Mattingly for leaving Kemp in the game. And frankly, as much as Kemp might be at fault for running too slow at the start and too recklessly at the finish, for misreading the situation, what good does it do to be critical? We should be far past the point of questioning Kemp’s effort in a baseball game, and no one is going to feel worse about the outcome than he will.

Jul 20

Moving right along … something to see here: Dodgers outlast Nationals in 10

The story through nine innings:

Runners to first base: Nationals 14, Dodgers 11

Runners to second base: Nationals 8, Dodgers 7

Runners to third base: Nationals 5, Dodgers 3

Runners home: Nationals 1, Dodgers 1

Needless to say, it was a night of just trying to survive.

Then, after 239 minutes and 23 runners stranded between them, Washington and Los Angeles moved into extra innings. And Hanley Ramirez was heroic again, following Adrian Gonzalez’s 10th-inning double with his third hit of the night, a booming two-bagger of his own, providing the winning run in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory, their 19th in 24 games.

Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly added an insurance run, and then Kenley Jansen for the second night in a row struck out two in a perfect inning for the save.

Jansen followed Chris Withrow, who had pitched a perfect ninth with a With-wow strikeout of Bryce Harper to end the inning. Withrow came away with his first major-league win.

Earlier, in the eighth inning, Harper was struck out by Paco Rodriguez, who entered the game with two on and one out. Rodriguez was then pulled in favor of Ronald Belisario, who retired Jayson Werth on a grounder. Werth stranded seven runners on an 0-for-5 night.

Yasiel Puig went 0 for 5. His timing is off: He wasn’t swinging desperately at pitches that were out of reach, but rather missing hittable pitches that he was lashing only a couple of weeks ago. As nervewracking as that might be – we’re past the point, for example, that Matt Kemp was sent to the minors following his hot start as a rookie in 2006 – Puig deserves some time to see if he can counter-adjust. And he can still contribute on defense even when he is slumping.

Zack Greinke was bobbing and weaving in his six innings, but he allowed only one run and also went 2 for 2, raising his season on-base percentage to .486, currently the highest mark in major-league history for a pitcher with at least 39 plate appearances. Greinke had a 21-inning scoreless streak snapped.

Tim Federowicz was 1 for 5 and has a season OPS of .561, but we saw why the Dodgers finally decided to rely on him as the backup catcher instead of Ramon Hernandez. Federowicz made multiple big stops of tough pitches to help keep the Dodgers in the game.

The Dodgers also stayed alive with some big plays in the infield, close plays that the umpires could have called either way.

Los Angeles is one game behind Arizona in the National League West, with the Diamondbacks trailing San Francisco in the seventh inning and Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers Sunday. Matt Kemp could be activated from the disabled list for the game, though the Dodgers could also wait until Monday, when they go to Toronto and can use a designated hitter for three games.

Jul 19

Joe Friday recaps Dodger victory over Nationals

This is the city. Washington, July 19. We are on assignment. The details of the case:

• Bryce Harper tags up at second base to try to advance to third base on a fly ball. Yasiel Puig catches the ball and throws it. The throw is high, hard and accurate. Juan Uribe tags Harper before Harper reaches the base. Umpire rules Harper safe. No citation issued.

• Harper scores one batter later on a wild pitch. Coincidence, we are asked to believe. The batter, Ian Desmond, doubles to cover up the crime.

• Hanley Ramirez hits two-run homer in third inning off Stephen Strasburg – to put Dodgers ahead, 2-1. Vigilante justice.

• Nationals load bases against Ricky Nolasco with none out in bottom of fourth, but none score. Dodgers put on six baserunners combined in first, second and fourth innings, but none score. Tit for tat.

• Puig hits sky-high fly to the wall in left field to lead off the top of the fifth. Harper catches it.

• Jayson Werth gets a one-out, two-strike hit in the bottom of the sixth to put runners at first base and third. Desmond hits a bloop single to center field to tie the game. Runs keep scoring with Desmond at the plate. Investigating connection.

• Jose Dominguez relieves Nolasco. He induces Dodgers’ third double play in the first six innings to prevent further damage in the sixth.

• Puig (0 for 4) disappears with a Washington runner on second base and two out in the bottom of the seventh. APB is issued. Surveillance footage reveals Puig made spectacular catch running into padded wall in right-field foul territory.

• With two out and none on in the bottom of the eighth, Don Mattingly removes Paco Rodriguez, who has retired all four batters he has faced on 15 pitches (including a Harper strikeout), to put in Ronald Belisario to face Werth. The aforementioned Mattingly double-switches Puig out of the game in the process, replacing him with one Jared Michael “Skip” Schumaker. In short, Mattingly has sacrificed Puig out of a fear that Rodriguez will give up a run with two out and the bases empty. Inside job afoot?

• Werth flies out against Belisario to end the eighth inning. But the mystery remains.

• Andre Ethier golfs solo tiebreaking home run in ninth inning off reliever Rafael Soriano. It is Ethier’s first home run in 107 at-bats since June 11. Where did his power go? Why did it suddenly return. The timing is eerily timely.

• Kenley Jansen replaces Belisario and strikes out Wilson Ramos to end a perfect ninth inning and the game.

It was a tense case. But the Dodgers were ruled the winners of the game. The Nationals were sentenced to defeat. Los Angeles will sleep peacefully tonight.

 

 

Jul 19

We were on a break?

It might have been four days off for the Dodgers, but it wasn’t for me, otherwise you might have seen a post here since last weekend. I have watched the first nine episodes of Orange Is the New Black, though. And spent a lot of time with the Primetime Emmy nominations.

Tons could have been written about the Dodgers during this time, but it all boils down to this: Team health is clearly paramount to the Dodgers’ fate, yet mostly — despite what we’d like to believe — out of the team’s control.

This team could be awesome. Or it could revisit the depths that marked most of the season. As much as any year, we just need to see them play the games.

Good thing we have Vin Scully around for most of the ride (though not this weekend).

Dodgers at Nationals, 4:05 p.m.

Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Juan Uribe, 3B
Mark Ellis, 2B
Ricky Nolasco, P

Jul 13

Greinke shuts down Rockies, two-thirds of the outfield

In Zack Greinke’s 110-pitch two-hit, one-walk, 1-0 shutout of the Rockies today, neither Dodger centerfielder Andre Ethier nor rightfielder Skip Schumaker touched a ball in play.

Greinke got his 27 outs on 14 grounders, nine strikeouts, two popouts, a lineout and a caught stealing. There was a bunt single in the sixth inning by Colorado. The only ball that reached the outfield was a single to left field in the fifth inning.

Schumaker’s leadoff double in the bottom of the first led to the game’s only run. He then could have just as easily joined Andre Ethier in a beachside cabana.

Jul 11

July 11 game chat

Sorry I couldn’t deliver a post worthy of Wednesday’s fairly epic Dodger victory. But here is a tidbit.

Following his pinch-walk, Zack Greinke currently has the sixth-highest on-base percentage (minimum 30 plate appearances) of any pitcher in major-league history.

Rk Player OBP PA Year Age Tm Lg
1 Jim Tobin .500 38 1937 24 PIT NL
2 Hal McKain .486 37 1930 23 CHW AL
3 Dan Schatzeder .484 31 1986 31 TOT NL
4 Jake Thielman .483 32 1908 29 TOT AL
5 Mickey McDermott .472 53 1950 21 BOS AL
6 Zack Greinke .469 34 2013 29 LAD NL
7 Dick Hall .464 30 1963 32 BAL AL
8 Earl Yingling .464 71 1913 24 BRO NL
9 Red Faber .462 30 1932 43 CHW AL
10 Ray Collins .459 38 1915 28 BOS AL
11 Walter Johnson .455 107 1925 37 WSH AL

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.

Jul 10

Choose your Dodger stat of the day

1) Since June 22, the Dodgers (14-3) have gained 11 games on Giants and Padres (each 3-14).

2) “According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez are the first pair of teammates in more than 80 years to concurrently own batting averages of .400 or better at the end of a game, at least 100 at-bats into a season. The last teammates to do so were Al Simmons (58-for-144, .403) and Mickey Cochrane (60-for-149, .403) of the Philadelphia Athletics, who were each batting .400 through the first game of a doubleheader on May 30, 1931.” (Dodger press notes)

3) “Dodger pitchers have hit .458 (11-for-24) with two doubles, a triple and two RBI in 11 games against Arizona, including a 3-for-3 game at the plate by Hyun-Jin Ryu on April 13 at Arizona.” (ibid.)

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m.