Sep 12

Dodgers win long game full of dubious decisions

“The Giants have nothing to lose here, except the game.”

– Vin Scully in the 10th inning

In the 10th inning of a 2-2 game, the Dodgers had Carl Crawford on second with one out. The Giants had lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt pitching to Adrian Gonzalez. On deck was Andre Ethier, who hits lefties only in times of national emergency.

But Affeldt went after Gonzalez, who lined a single to center to score Crawford with the winning run. The Dodgers 3-2 win dropped their magic number to 5 over the idle Diamondbacks. Brian Wilson picked up the win in relief against his former team after Kenley Jansen failed to hold a ninth inning lead.

Dodgers starter Zack Greinke gave up a 2nd inning home run to Hunter Pence and the Dodgers parlayed a Matt Cain error into a run in the bottom half.

The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead in the 7th on a Yasiel Puig double and that looked like it would be enough, especially after a puzzling 8th inning by the Giants.

Angel Pagan led off the 8th with a single off of Chris Withrow. Pagan stole second and Marco Scutaro walked. That put two on and none out for the Giants #3 hitter, Brandon Belt.

Enter Paco Rodriguez (or re-enter, as he mistakenly entered the game in the 7th inning when Don Mattingly called for the wrong lefty to enter the game. He tabbed it a “Freudian slip” in his postgame press conference. This leads me to believe that Don Mattingly has not studied the work of Sigmund Freud very closely. A Freudian slip would mean that Mattingly would have asked for the pitcher he subconsciously wanted [Rodriguez] instead of the one he actually asked for [Howell]. But he did the opposite. Don’t believe me. Read all about it here!) to face Belt. Belt sacrificed the runners over. Buster Posey received an expected intentional walk. This loaded the bases for Pence.

Enter Ronald Belisario, who threw one pitch to Pence, who hit a two-hopper to Juan Uribe that was converted into a 5-3 double play to get out of the inning.

The Giants tied the game in the ninth when they got three singles (along with a stolen base and a bad passed ball from Ted Federowicz) to score a run.

Hanley Ramirez left the game early with a tight left hamstring, which Mattingly downplayed the severity of after the game, but don’t be surprised to see some high quality Nick Punto action the next few days.

The Dodgers lead Arizona by 12 1/2 games with 16 left to play. Which is considered good by most people. Kerhsaw vs Bumgarner on Friday night. Arizona hosts Colorado Friday.

The Braves beat the Marlins a long time ago to keep a 2-game lead over the Dodgers for best record. The Dodgers lead the two NL Central leaders, St. Louis and Pittsburgh, by one game now.

 

Sep 12

Revolution 98

According to the Baseball-Reference uniform number database, Onelki Garcia was the first player to appear in a major league game wearing #98.

If Garcia were a Yankee, they’d retire the number just to be on the safe side.

The Baseball-Reference Play Index says Garcia is the 21st pitcher in their database whose career started by walking the first batter he faced and then being pulled.

Darren Oliver made his major league debut on September 1, 1993 and issued an intentional walk, and then got pulled. Not all four of Oliver’s pitches were intentional walks. Billy Hatcher was on first, stole second and opened up a base, so Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy (did you know he used to manage in the big leagues) had Oliver walk Mike Greenwell and then brought in Mike Schooler to retire Luis Ortiz to get out of the inning.

Two pitchers, Tom Baker of the 1963 Giants and Art Reinhart of the 1919 Cardinals, started their careers by hitting the first batter they faced. In Reinhart’s case, he hit the first batter he faced with his first pitch and then didn’t appear in the majors again until 1925. (I had looked up this info earlier on some microfilm for someone else. I just didn’t know it.)

Four pitchers started their career by giving up a home run to their first batter in relief and then got pulled. Actually, Andy Messersmith wasn’t pulled. He came into relief in a game for the Angels back in 1968 against Boston in a bases loaded, no out situation in a 1-1 tie and gave up a grand slam to Ken Harrelson. You can put it on the board….

Sep 11

Diamondbacks put damper on Dodgers plan to clinch at home

Patrick Corbin was pretty good and Hyun-Jin Ryu was not particularly good and Arizona won 4-1 to halt the Dodgers’ march to the NL West title for a day. The Dodgers magic number stays at 6 and the Dodgers won’t be able to clinch at home unless they sweep all four games from the Giants with Arizona losing two of three at home to Colorado or the Dodgers winning three games from the Giants and Colorado sweeping Arizona.

So…. it looks more likely that the Dodgers will be having their celebration in Phoenix where they travel to on Monday. This is probably good news for the people who have to clean up the Dodgers clubhouse. But bad news for people who have to clean up the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field. Or maybe it’s good news for whomever has the carpet cleaning contract for Chase Field.

These are good problems to have if you’re a Dodgers fan.

Are there bad problems?

The Cardinals have caught the Dodgers for second best record in the National League, two games behind Atlanta. However, the Dodgers own the tiebreaker edge over the Cardinals, so it’s effectively a one-game lead. Then again, the Braves own the tiebreaker edge over the Dodgers, so that’s effectively a three-game lead. And if the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Atlanta all finish with the same record? It’s still Atlanta on top with the Dodgers second and the Cardinals third.

Not far behind the Cardinals though are the resilient Pirates, who finished off a three-game sweep in Texas today. The Pirates are one game behind the Cardinals. If the Cardinals and Pirates tie for first in the NL Central, the tie would be broken on the field with the Pirates being the host. A three-way tie among the NL Central leaders (which Jon described earlier) would take a while to develop, especially because the Reds and Pirates play each other six times in the final two weeks.

But if you want real do or die fun, it looks the AL Wild Cards are the place to be. Texas has the first wild card spot by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay. The Yankees are one game back, but two in the mostly important loss column. Cleveland and the Orioles are 1 1/2 games back and Kansas City is 2 games back.

How would MLB break a five-way tie? (Which is somewhat unlikely because there are a lot of games left between the contenders) It’s not in MLB’s list of contingencies. If it’s like the tiebreaker set up for the 1973 NL East, which could have ended in a five-way tie, there would be some method to seed the teams 1-5 (best to worst). Team 1 gets a bye while 3 plays at 2 and 5 plays at 4. The winner of the game between 5 and 4 would host team 1. Then the winner of that game would play at the home stadium of the winner of the game between 2 and 3. It would take three days and it would be a mess. A big glorious mess. (If the five teams were playing for TWO wild card spots, then it would just take two days because you wouldn’t need the last tiebreaker game.)

And there are fewer teams left in contention now for playoff spots. The Giants, Rockies, and Mets all were put out to pasture. The only team that can be mathematically eliminated on Thursday is Minnesota, who plays an early game against Oakland. Whom they lost to by an 18-3 margin on Wednesday.

 

 

 

Sep 10

33 makes the magic number 6

Arizona came into tonight’s game with a 16-6 record in extra inning games this season. And after Scott Van Slyke’s pinch hit homer in the 11th, the Diamondbacks are now 16-7 in extra innings. The Dodgers 5-3 win lowered their magic number to 6, one better than Atlanta.

Edinson Volquez had a decent start if you ignore the big home run that Didi Gregorius hit in the 5th inning that briefly gave Arizona a 3-2 lead. The Dodgers tied it up in the bottom half of the inning on a two-out RBI double from Andre Ethier.

The Dodgers put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs in the 10th and had the team’s latest talisman, Juan Uribe, at the plate. The talisman struck out.

In the 11th, Mark Ellis got a one out single and Van Slyke pinch hit for Chris Withrow and lined a shot into the field level seats in the left field corner to send the folks home happy.

The Dodgers bullpen gave up just one hit in five innings of work. Van Slyke hit the Dodgers third pinch hit homer of the season, joining Uribe and Ethier in that department.

And so to bed.

Sep 10

Thrice is nice

The indomitable Mr. Uribe.
Three (or even four!) home run games by Los Angeles Dodgers players:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB
1 Juan Uribe 2013-09-09 LAD ARI W 8-1 4 4 3 4 0 0 3 4 0 0
2 Andre Ethier 2009-06-26 LAD SEA W 8-2 4 4 3 3 0 0 3 6 0 0
3 Hee-Seop Choi 2005-06-12 LAD MIN W 4-3 4 4 3 3 0 0 3 3 0 0
4 Shawn Green 2002-05-23 LAD MIL W 16-3 6 6 6 6 1 0 4 7 0 0
5 Shawn Green 2001-08-15 LAD MON W 13-1 5 5 3 3 0 0 3 7 0 0
6 Kevin Elster 2000-04-11 LAD SFG W 6-5 4 3 3 3 0 0 3 4 1 0
7 Mike Piazza 1996-06-29 LAD COL W 13-10 5 5 3 3 0 0 3 6 0 0
8 Cory Snyder 1994-04-17 LAD PIT W 19-2 5 4 4 3 0 0 3 7 1 0
9 Davey Lopes 1974-08-20 LAD CHC W 18-8 6 6 3 5 1 0 3 4 0 0
10 Jim Wynn 1974-05-11 LAD SDP W 9-6 5 4 3 4 0 0 3 5 1 0
11 Don Demeter 1959-04-21 LAD SFG W 9-7 6 5 3 3 0 0 3 6 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/10/2013.
Sep 09

Dodgers devour Goldy and company with Uribear blasts

Sparing me the chance to write about Chico Ruiz stealing home, Herman Franks stealing signals, or even Jorge Orta pinch hitting for Fernando Valenzuela, the Dodgers quickly erased the memory of a bad trip to Cincinnati (well, it was a trip to Cincinnati, it’s not a tourist destination.) Iwith a resounding 8-1 win over the second place Diamondbacks behind a six home run fusillade in a four inning span, with three of them coming from the bat of one Juan C. Uribe.

Uribe took Arizona starter Randall Delgado deep twice and his third homer came off of reliever Eury De La Rosa. In Uribe’s fourth at bat, he hit a chopper to third that he managed to leg out for an RBI infield hit. In all a 4 for 4, 4 RBI night for someone whom most people (people like me) felt that even Luis Cruz was an improvement.

In addition to Uribe, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez also homered. Gonzalez’s homer was the only one the Dodgers hit with a runner on base.

Ricky Nolasco, the Dodgers ace du jour, gave up just one unearned run (set up when Uribe airmailed a throw into the seats) in 6 2/3 innings. J.P. Howell picked up an out, Carlos Marmol threw a scoreless inning, as did a rusty Kenley Jansen, who allowed a walk and a hit.

The Dodgers lowered their magic number to clinch the division to 8 and eliminated both the Giants and the Rockies from the division race. The loser of tomorrow night’s Rockies-Giants game will be mathematically eliminated from the wild card as well if both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati win on Tuesday.

 

Sep 09

Home sweet home?

Postseason records for the five NL contenders in their current home parks:

  1. St. Louis — Busch Stadium III – 15-8  .652
  2. Los Angeles – Dodger Stadium – 32-23 .582
  3. Atlanta – Turner Field – 15-22 .405
  4. Cincinnati – Great American Ballpark – 0-4 .000
  5. Pittsburgh – PNC Park – 0-0
I would have made that into a nice table if I were so inclined. Which I am not. Most likely because I’ll find out I miscounted. But I’m pretty sure about the Reds and Pirates!

The Dodgers went 7-1 at Dodger Stadium in the 1981 postseason. It’s somewhat difficult to lose more than 3 or 4 games in any one postseason however. Until the 2010 Rangers lost 6 games at homes during the postseason (2 in the division, 1 in the ALCS, 3 in the World Series).

Sep 08

Getting out of Ohio

The Dodgers trip to the Queen City was… Not good. They lost their fourth straight game and got swept by the Reds. Tonight’s villains were Jay Bruce, who hit two home runs off of Clayton Kershaw, and Ryan Hanigan, whose ninth inning double drove in Zack Cozart the winning run.

It would be natural to feel uneasy that the Dodgers got swept against a potential playoff opponent (who are still in 3rd place despite what I commented earlier, the Pirates lead by .001). The team’s two best pitchers, Kershaw and Greinke, couldn’t stop a losing streak. The offense sputtered in all three games.

However, the team the Dodgers are pursuing for best record in the National League, Atlanta, got swept in Atlanta Philadelphia, so the team is still just two games in the race for best record. Effectively, it’s three games since Atlanta holds the tiebreaker. The NL Central leading Cardinals did move to within 1/2 game of the Dodgers after a three-game sweep of the Pirates. The Dodgers closest pursuer, Arizona, split four games against last place San Francisco.

Tony Jackson had an interesting piece about whether Clayton Kershaw was “back.” His ERA skyrocketed to 1.92 after Sunday’s performance.

The Dodgers return home on Monday night to face Arizona to start a three-game series. Ricky Nolasco will face Randall Delgado. Just the NL West the rest of the way.

 

Sep 08

The state of the playoff races, September 8, 2013

At the start of play today, the six division leaders have magic numbers of:

  • 9 – Atlanta, NL East
  • 11 – Los Angeles, NL West
  • 12 – Boston, AL East
  • 16 – Detroit, AL Central
  • 19 – Oakland, AL West
  • 20 – St. Louis, NL Central

If the wild card playoff games were held today, Cincinnati would be at Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay would be at Texas.

The AL 2nd wild card spot is shaping up to a wild, although somewhat ugly race. The Rays went 21-5 in July and they have been 13-20 since then. If the Rays lose today in Seattle and the Orioles beat the White Sox and Cleveland beats the Mets, there will be a 3-way tie for the 2nd wild card at 77-65. And if the Red Sox beat the Yankees and Kansas City beats Detroit, the Royals and Yankees will have the same record, tied for fourth in the wild card race, just 2 1/2 games out.

A pentagonal race for a playoff spot? Perhaps that is fitting when we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of baseball’s saddest pennant race, the 1973 NL East, won by the Mets with an 82-79 record and had the top five teams in the division still in contention starting the final week. The Mets clinched the division in the first game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field the day after the regular season was supposed to end before a crowd of 1913. The second game was called off. The Pirates lost their final game to the Padres that day in another makeup.

 

Sep 07

Nooo! Threee LLLs in a row!

Time to go find some 1964 Phillies anecdotes to pass on…

Maybe the headline should just be “Three Ls in a row” because “Three LLLs in a row” could mean 9 Ls. The mathematics on this is unclear.

Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus three weeks wrote about the potential value of Billy Hamilton just as a pinch-runner. It’s quite likely that Saturday’s win by the Reds may be the only one that could be chalked up solely to his speed.

Both Mat Latos and Zack Greinke pitched well, but neither were dominating. J.P. Howell who had the dreaded BL on his record yesterday, picked up the BS. Brian Wilson gave up his first run as a Dodger and took the loss. If Wilson is hurt, it’s not like the Dodgers don’t have plenty of other arms to replace him. And remember that Chris Withrow pitched very well on Friday.

The Dodgers bats need to get going in order to salvage a game in the series.  The last team to sweep the Dodgers in a series? The Angels, in a two-game set in Anaheim on May 29-30, which was right after the Dodgers had beaten the Angels twice at Dodger Stadium on May 27-28. The last three-game sweep was May 17-19 in Atlanta. The Dodgers have also been swept by the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Padres.

Arizona plays at San Francisco tonight at 6:05 pm. Brandon McCarthy facing Matt Cain. Atlanta is at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh plays at St. Louis for the NL Central lead in the 4 o’clock hour.

Sunday’s game will be a 5 pmish start on ESPN. National broadcasts like that serve to make everyone feel like their team is unappreciated by John Kruk and Orel Hershiser. Interestingly, ESPN is not making America watch another Yankees-Red Sox game. Instead, TBS will show that game.

Little known fact: you can go to an art house theater and watch a marathon show of “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and still get home to catch the last three innings of a Yankees-Red Sox game.

Sep 06

The have nots of baseball running out of time

The Dodgers start today with a magic number of 12 to clinch the NL West. They would actually be able to clinch a divisional title before a wild card playoff spot since second place Arizona is seven games behind the Reds, the current second wild card holder.

Up in San Francisco, the Giants would be mathematically eliminated from the NL West race (although not the wild card), if they lose to Arizona tonight and the Dodgers win. The Brewers and Phillies are one loss away from being eliminated in the NL Central and NL East races.

Over in the American League, the White Sox will be mathematically from all postseason play with a loss to Baltimore or wins by the Rays and Yankees. The second wild race in the AL is turning out to be a bizarre five-way affair involving Tampa Bay, New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, and even Kansas City. The Royals next 12 games are against Detroit and Cleveland.

Atlanta, with a magic number of 10, could clinch the NL East as early as Tuesday. The Dodgers could not do so before Wednesday.

Regardless, the Dodgers clinching date should come sooner than later since they play Arizona seven times in the coming two weeks.

Sep 05

It’s time for the Rose Parade

According to a tweet from the Rose Bowl game (not yet on the parade’s feed), Vin Scully has been named grand marshal for the 125th Tournament of Roses to be held as always in Pasadena and, most of the time, on January 1. (It’s on January 2 if the 1st is a Sunday.)

Not counting Jackie Robinson’s posthumous selection as grand marshal in 1999, Vin Scully will be the first baseball-related grand marshal since Hank Aaron in 1975. Or you could argue for Danny Kaye, who once owned part of the Seattle Mariners, having the job in 1984.

Presumably, Vin will fare better than 2011 Grand Marshal Paula Deen.

From the press release from the Tournament of Roses:

PASADENA, Calif. (September 5, 2013) – Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, an icon in American sports history and “the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers” for 64 years, was announced today as the Grand Marshal for the 2014 Tournament of Roses, themed “Dreams Come True.” Scully will ride in the 125th Rose Parade® presented by Honda and toss the coin at the start of the 100th Rose Bowl Game® presented by VIZIO on January 1, 2014, as well as participate in a number of Tournament-related events throughout the month of December 2013.

Tournament of Roses President R. Scott Jenkins made the announcement at a press conference and public event at Tournament House in Pasadena. In his remarks, Jenkins referred to Scully as being in a league of his own and literally the best in his field.

“Vin Scully is incredibly accomplished and yet still so down to earth,” said Jenkins. “His own life is one in which many dreams have come true and even more importantly, he has been at the microphone describing for listeners everywhere the dreams of others coming true. I couldn’t be happier that he accepted my invitation to be the Grand Marshal. I know his fans everywhere are cheering right now.”

“I am deeply humbled and greatly honored to be the Grand Marshal of the 125th Rose Parade,” said Scully. “I look forward to sharing this wonderful moment with my wife, Sandi, and the millions who will be watching.”

 

Other than that, it’s an off day. The Dodgers won’t have another one until September 23.

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

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.