Rays at Dodgers, 5:05 p.m.
According to the Dodger press notes, the team’s current 36-8 run is not only the best by a Dodger team since 1953, it’s the best by any National League team since then.
It’s remarkable that three of the eight losses have come during Clayton Kershaw starts – more than any other Dodger starting pitcher – even though Kershaw has had a 1.62 ERA since the hot streak began. The other five losses have been spread in games started by Chris Capuano (2), Stephen Fife, Ricky Nolasco and Zack Greinke.
Here is the Kershaw log during that time:
Los Angeles is 2-3 in Kershaw’s past five starts. He has a 2.00 ERA with three walks and 37 strikeouts in those five outings.
In games not started by Kershaw, the Dodgers have not lost since July 25. They have won 13 straight games not started by Kershaw.
The Dodgers won 17 of their final 22 games heading into the All-Star break.
That was their cold part of the summer.
After going 17-5 from June 22-July 14, the Dodgers have followed up by going 19-3 from July 19 through today’s 5-0 shutout of Tampa Bay.
Since falling behind 6-0 after five innings on Friday, Los Angeles has outscored the Rays 12-0 over the following 13 innings. Unlike the Rays, they did not let an early lead get away.
Zack Greinke through 77 pitches through his first four innings, but he ended up with 6 1/3 shutout innings on 110 pitches, scattering six hits and a walk while striking out seven. J.P Howell and Chris Withrow combined to retire the remaining eight Rays.
Skip Schumaker went 4 for 4, while Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez each had two hits and two RBI. Juan Uribe also had two hits, while being caught off third base on a hidden-ball trick by the Rays – a moment commemorated by Yasiel Puig and the Dodgers after the game.
Here are the NL standings since June 22:
Update: From the Dodger press notes:
THE MORNING AFTER: The Dodgers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning last night for their fifth walk-off victory of the year as they overcame a six-run, seventh-inning deficit to beat the Rays, 7-6. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the six-run comeback tied for the largest comeback win in Los Angeles Dodger history for the ninth time (last: April 19, 2005 at Milwaukee). Elias also notes that it was only the fourth time that the LA Dodgers pulled out a victory when entering the club’s at-bat in the seventh inning trailing by six runs:
July 22, 1970: W, 12-10 vs. Montreal (trailed 10-4 entering B7th)
May 9, 1994: W, 9-8 vs. Houston (trailed 8-2 entering 8th)
Aug. 11, 1999: W, 9-7 at Montreal (trailed 6-0 entering 7th)
Aug. 9, 2013: W, 7-6 vs. Tampa Bay (trailed 6-0 entering 7th)
Last night was the club’s 11th consecutive win in a one-run game, which is a Dodger franchise record. Los Angeles has gone 18-11 in one-run decisions this year and was last defeated in a one-run game on June 10 against Arizona.
The victory last night was the Dodgers’ third this season (3-41) when trailing entering the ninth inning, also accomplished July 24 at Toronto (3-2 entering 9th, won 8-3 in 10 innings) and July 10 at Arizona (5-4 entering the 9th, won 7-5 in 14 innings). The last time the Dodgers entered the ninth inning trailing by three or more runs and emerged victorious in a nine-inning game was July 20, 2008 at Arizona, when the club rallied for five runs in the top of the ninth in a 6-5 win.
Rays at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
.. the Dodgers are (still) in first place.
Mark Ellis down the line – fair!
Nick Punto down the line – fair!
Adrian Gonzalez down the line – fair!
The intentional walk to Puig.
Jerry Hairston back to the box. “He threw it away! He threw it away!”
“He threw it away! He threw it away!”
– Jon Weisman
Rays at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Former ESPNLosAngeles.com colleague Tony Jackson has made the leap into independent blogging with Dodgerscribe. Read about his plans, and join me in welcoming him back.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers are going with a lineup against Tampa Bay lefty ace David Price that only a mother or believer in the Dodgers’ overall hotness could love.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Nick Punto, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Jerry Hairston Jr., LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Tim Federowicz, C
Skip Schumaker, RF
Chris Capuano, P
Though the defense remains solid, Juan Uribe’s offense has deteriorated since his seven-RBI game July 5. He has a .247 on-base percentage and .266 slugging with three walks and 18 strikeouts in his last 86 plate appearances, dropping his 2013 OPS from .800 to .708.
Dodgers at Cardinals, 5:15 p.m.
Variety (in association with Sports Video Group) will be hosting its third annual Sports Entertainment Summit on August 15, all day long at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills.
It’s a great event with tons of behind-the-scenes information passed along about the present and future of sports in the media world — particularly television — and also a tremendous networking opportunity.
Among the top participants are:
• Dodgers executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen
• Kings Hall of Famer Luc Robataille
• Clippers forward Matt Barnes
• Fox Sports Media Group COO and co-president Randy Freer
• NBC Olympics executive producer Jim Bell
• Time Warner Cable Sports senior vice president and general manager Mark Shuken
I’ll be moderating three sessions:
10:15 a.m.: The Future of the Sports and Entertainment Business
12 noon: The Power of the Regional Channel – Industry is Cheering, Are Audiences?
4:45 p.m.: Keynote Conversation with Luc Robitaille, president of business operations and alternate governor, Los Angeles Kings
Other sessions include:
9:45 a.m.: Keynote Conversation with Randy Freer, COO and co-president, Fox Sports Media Group
11:15 a.m.: Can We Score with TV Everywhere and Sports Programming?
1:45 p.m.: Beyond the Game Programming Technology – Companion Mobile, Online Experiences
2:30 p.m.: Masters of Game-Time Storytelling
3 p.m.: Branding the Athlete – Winning in a Jungle of Social, Entertainment and Endorsement Choice
4 p.m.: What is the Next Major? Sports on the Rise
The full agenda can be found here. Registration can be done online here. Until 11:59 p.m. Friday, you can get $100 off the $595 cost.
If you can’t make it, look for coverage of the event on Variety.com on August 15.
A Carl Crawford liner knocked St. Louis starter Shelby Miller out of the game after two pitches, a six-run second inning knocked around emergency reliever Jake Westbrook and the Dodgers more or less cruised thereafter to 25 baserunners (Crawford reached five times) in a 13-4 victory.
I rushed through that description so that I could get to what I wanted to talk about – the developing batting eye of Yasiel Puig.
After drawing skepticism and a bit of derision for his wild, swinging ways – seven walks in his first 42 games (against 43 strikeouts) – Puig has dramatically turned things around. With three walks tonight, Puig now has 12 walks in his past 13 games (against 14 strikeouts). That’s a 150-walk pace over a 162-game season.
Only one of the 12 walks has been intentional.
It’s not that Puig has been timid in the plate. Emerging for a slump that lowered his OPS to a season-worst .967 (yeah, season-worst) on July 22, Puig has gone exactly 20 for 50 with those 12 walks, two hit-by-pitches, four doubles and three home runs. That’s a .400 batting average, .531 on-base percentage, .660 slugging percentage and 1.191 OPS during that stretch.
Puig has drawn five walks in the four games that Hanley Ramirez has missed this week, but that alone doesn’t account for his improved showing. And it means that 240 plate appearances into his career, Puig still has an OPS well over 1.000.
His ups were followed by some downs, and his downs have now turned into some ups. The ride will continue, but it’s hard not to be excited by his ability to show power with restraint.
Facing St. Louis pitcher Shelby Miller and his 2.89 ERA, the Dodgers could stand to get something extra tonight from Ricky Nolasco, who hasn’t made it through the sixth inning in the last four of his five Dodger starts.
Nolasco hasn’t been pounded — no more than three runs have scored against him in any of his Dodger appearances — and he has taken only one loss. It’s just that he could do mo’ better for the Blues.
Miller, for his part, has a 4.89 ERA in seven starts since June 22.
Dodgers at Cardinals, 5:15 p.m.
The joy in this Dodger summer is not just in the winning, or being in first place.
It’s that the Dodger summer is about the game.
Three years ago, two years ago, the Dodger universe was mired in L’Affaire McCourt. Even last year, in the months following the ownership change, there was still a detox period.
This year, good or bad, the conversation has been about the game. The worst it has gotten was the debate over the fate of Don Mattingly in the spring (here and here, for example) — a debate that clearly wasn’t a figment of our imagination. There’s been all the injuries, carping out this player’s performance or that one’s. But it’s all about the game.
Meanwhile, baseball at large is enveloped in a conversation about performance-enhancing drugs and punishments that Los Angeles is not really a principal part of. It’s not that Dodger fans don’t have a tangential interest in it, just as it wasn’t that baseball fans didn’t have a tangential interest in the McCourt trauma.
But mainly, we get to go our merry way, winning and losing, living and dying with our team, the way we were meant to, the way we were deprived of from the moment Frank and Jamie figured out they couldn’t make it work.
Of course, the more it remains about winning and not losing, the better.
I wasn’t able to see tonight’s 5-1 Dodger loss to St. Louis, but it was one of those games that obviously Los Angeles was long overdue for amid all the various hot streaks. Tonight it was the Dodgers who hit into the double plays, who couldn’t bail out their starting pitcher, who gave up the late-inning insurance runs out of the bullpen, who didn’t have the managerial magic.
It was as unpleasant as it was inevitable – and obviously vexing in that Clayton Kershaw is winless in his past two starts despite an ERA of 1.29 – but a good team puts it behind them and goes right back after it. Work on the nitty-gritty details but keep an eye on the big picture.