Sep 14

The Battle for Fourth Place

The current National League West Fourth-Place standings

Team	L	W	GB	Last 20 (L-W)
Padres	75	69	-	5-15
D’backs	72	71	2 ½	11-9
Dodgers	70	74	5	13-7
Cardinals at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Shane Victorino, LF
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Nick Punto, 2B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

As you can see, the Padres have gone into a winning slump, allowing the Dodgers to make up eight games in a hurry and get back into the race.

The Dodgers will have a big chance to catch up to San Diego in the loss column with a three-game series September 25-27 in San Diego. But first, the Padres must avoid not having trouble with Arizona from September 18-20.

Los Angeles holds a tiebreaker advantage over San Diego, nine losses to six.

Sep 14

Confession: I haven’t been watching

I haven’t been watching the Dodgers.

I was out of town and couldn’t watch. And then I returned and could. And still haven’t been.

Here and there, I flip over to the channel, catch the latest treadmill moment, and flip away.

Half the time I do it, I do it just to hear Vin Scully’s voice, because I know I can’t take that for granted. But neither that, nor the stuff that’s typically interesting about baseball to me, has kept me on board.

Eight straight games without scoring more than three runs. Seven losses in that time. It feels like I’ve got better ways to spend my time right now. I’ve slipped into being a frontrunner who has put the games on the backburner.

* * *

From the Times:

Pedro E. Guerrero, a photographer whose early work with architect Frank Lloyd Wright sparked a long, distinguished career in the worlds of fine art and glossy magazines, died Thursday. He was 95. …

Sep 13

Masters of the long ball

Cardinals at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Mark Ellis, 2B
Andre Ethier, RF
Matt Kemp, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Shane Victorino, LF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Josh Beckett, P

The list of Dodger home run leaders of 2012 is kind of fascinating. Let’s just say that getting in the top 10 is not a major feat:

18 Matt Kemp
17 Andre Ethier
11 A.J. Ellis
10 Hanley Ramirez
7 Juan Rivera
5 Mark Ellis
4 Jerry Hairston Jr.
4 James Loney
4 Luis Cruz
2 Bobby Abreu, Adam Kennedy, Matt Treanor, Juan Uribe, Scott Van Slyke

Bubbling underneath are Adrian Gonzalez, Dee Gordon, Elian Herrera, Justin Sellers and Shane Victorino with one apiece.

Sep 11

Another dry day in the desert for the Dodgers

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is dedicated to Mark Sweeney.

Two days after getting shut out in San Francisco, the Dodgers traveled to Arizona. This time, they would have their ace, Clayton Kershaw on the mound. Their best hitter, Matt Kemp, would be back in the lineup. And, it didn’t matter, as the Diamondbacks picked up an unearned run in the 7th on a Hanley Ramirez throwing error and a Miguel Montero RBI double to win 1-0.

The Dodgers had only one look at the game. That came in the fifth after Andre Ethier hit a two-out double. Luis Cruz then sent a drive deep to left that Jason Kubel leaped for, and, to the surprise of many, actually caught. In the seventh, Cruz reached on a one-out single and was pinch run for by Dee Gordon. Gordon never tried to steal and A.J. Ellis hit into a double play. Shane Victorino got a two out double in the ninth off of David Hernandez, but Adrian Gonzalez was caught looking to end the game.

It may finally be time for the Dodgers to retire their “the Dodgers are challenging for the NL West title” commercial. The Giants won a very Coors Fieldish 9-8 game against the Rockies to increase their lead to six games. The Rockies were mathematically eliminated from NL West contention, but they are still alive for the wild card.

But, there was good news down in San Diego. The current owner of Wild Card #2 in the National League, St. Louis, lost again, 6-4. The Cardinals lead over the Dodgers remains at one game. Even the Pirates, who have lost 11 of 16, are still just 2 1/2 games back. Even more surprisingly, the Phillies and Brewers both got to the .500 mark and they are just four games out of a playoff spot. However, if your team still needs to pass up the Pirates this late in September in order to make the playoffs, there is something inherently wrong with your team’s late season surge.

And with this I bid you adieu and go back to the world of commenting. Sorry I didn’t have better news to relate to people. But, if it were all good news, it would have been boring right? No, it would have been more interesting. Life doesn’t let you pick your spots that often.

The Dodgers, somehow, still have a decent chance at a playoff spot. All they need to do is score a run. Not a run or two. We’ll settle for one and go from there.

Sep 11

Last best hope for Dodgerkind Game Chat

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m.
Kershaw CXLVI: Kershaw Among the Ruins
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, LF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, CF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is dedicated to Johnny Frederick. (Please not his 1932 HR Log.)

Today, I got a customer survey from the Dodgers, which I filled out. I do this mostly in hopes that there will be some sort of prize at the end. There usually isn’t. (For some reason, I filled one out from Southwest Airlines that took an hour to fill out and I got bupkis.)

One question asked which Dodgers figure I wanted to see on a bobblehead in 2013. I said, “Dazzy Vance.” For a guy who did not become a regular in the majors until he was 31, he put up numbers that were incredible. In 1928, he had an ERA of 2.09 when the league ERA was 3.99. In 1930, the league ERA was 4.97 and Vance’s was 2.61.

The next best ERA on the 1930 Dodgers was 3.40 by reliever Sloppy Thurston (who apparently was a neat person, but had a father who liked to give out free soup to the indigent.) The next best ERA for a starter was 3.95 by Jumbo Elliott, who was officially listed as being 6’3″ and 235 lbs (other sources put him at 6’5″, 250 lbs), which makes him smaller and lighter than me. And nobody calls me Jumbo. To my face. Twice.

The 1930 Dodgers also had Babe Herman in the outfield. He batted .393. He hit 35 home runs. He drove in 130 runs. And what did he lead the league in? Nothing.

Oh what were we supposed to be discussing today? Oh yeah, a Dodgers-Diamondbacks game. The Dodgers have brought in reinforcements from Albuquerque, to bring the active roster total up to 34. Elian Herrera (who can make it less likely that Juan Uribe will play), Stephen Fife (who will be waiting around to see if another starting pitcher gets hurt), and Dee Gordon (who will get to pinch run if Juan Rivera is fortunate enough to reach base) are all back from Albuquerque. Since Gordon was on the 40-man roster, another player had to be taken off. And that was …. Adam Kennedy, exiled to the 60-day DL.

Adam Kennedy looks to have taken over Orlando Hudson’s spot as “Dodger who homered in his last at bat with the team.” Hudson had taken over that spot from Tom Wilson. The last Dodger to homer in his last at bat with the team in the regular season, also did it against the Giants, Tony Brewer back in in 1984. Of course, I’m piecing this facts together mainly using my memory and some poorly-sourced websites. But, Philip Roth and I agree on these facts at least.

But Kennedy’s homer could very well be the last one in his major league career. I need to reanimate John Updike and have him write “Kid Bids Angeleno Fans Adieu.” The last player to homer in his last MLB at bat was Jim Edmonds, who like Ted Williams, was taken out of the game early after hitting a home run.

Sep 11

A Happier 9/11

Per Jon’s request, I’m reposting his piece that he first published nine years ago today.

* * *

Twenty years ago today, Dodger Stadium hosted its greatest game.

It began swathed in bright blue skies and triple-digit temperatures. When it ended, 228 crazy brilliant minutes later, shadows palmed most of the playing field, and every Dodger fan who witnessed the spectacle found themselves near joyous collapse.

The game was between the Dodgers of Steve Sax and Pedro Guerrero, of Greg Brock and Mike Marshall … and the Braves of Dale Murphy, of Bruce Benedict, of Brad Komminsk.

In the end, however, it came down to one man. A rookie named R.J. Reynolds.

Continue reading

Sep 09

Series of Great Import Part III Game Chat

Dodgers at Giants, 5:05 p.m.

Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Luis Cruz, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Joe Blanton, P

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is dedicated to Ron Coomer.

I had come up with my own clever Clayton Kershaw pun for today’s game. But do I get to use it? No. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. If all goes well, I can use it on Tuesday when Kershaw should make his next start. Oh, and Matt Kemp should start that day too.

And so we come to: END GAME. Oh wait, there are games after this. Regardless, this should be the Dodgers last game in San Francisco unless they meet in a divisional tiebreaker (although it would be more likely that if the teams tied, the Dodgers would host that tiebreaker because they would have to win the season series). Or they could meet in the wild card game if Arizona goes on a 2007 Rockies-like streak. Or they could meet in the Divisional Series. Or in the NLCS.

Down on the farm, Albuquerque is playing Omaha in a decisive fifth game in their PCL semifinal playoff series. In Game 4, the Isotopes scored nine times in the ninth to turn a 10-3 deficit into a 12-10 win, channeling their inner Petaluma Little League. However, Game 5 is shaping up to be worse for the Isotopes. And at the rate that Dodgers players are dropping by the side of the road, the Dodgers could use a few bodies from the Duke City to help out with the big club.

Update: No late-inning magic for the Isotopes. Their seasoned ended with a 16-7 loss to Omaha.

 

Sep 08

Series of Great Import Part II Game Chat

Dodgers at Giants, 1:05 pm
Mark Ellis, 2B
Shane Victorino, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, RF
Luis Cruz, 3B
Juan Rivera, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is in honor of Lenny Harris.

Enjoy the stylings of Matt Vasgersian and Tim McCarver on this Saturday afternoon on Fox. Get ready to hear Ken Rosenthal say the word “jell” a lot. I’m missing this game because of work, but I think it will be a pain in the aspic.

Matt Kemp, 3 for 29 since he came up second in a battle with the fence at Coors Field, is out for the remaining two games of this series. And potentially more as an MRI on his shoulder is planned, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times via Twitter. Time to reacquaint yourself with the excitement that is Juan Rivera, although don’t be surprised to see Bobby Abreu or Alex Castellanos wandering around left field if the situation with Kemp persists.

The other outfielders on the 40-man roster who could still be recalled include Scott Van Slyke and Matt Angle. Officially, Jerry Sands and Yasiel Puig are on the 40-man roster, but they are both likely off-limits. Elian Herrera, who can play many positions, although maybe not any of them particularly well, could also be recalled.

 

Sep 08

So, you want to start following the wild card race?

This pinch-hit post is dedicated to Mitch Webster.

The Dodgers now find themselves 5 1/2 games behind the Giants in the NL West race. With just 23 game left for the Dodgers and just five of them against the Giants, the Dodgers playoff fate is no longer in their own hands. In fact, even if the Dodgers went 23-0 the rest of the way, they might not even make the playoffs at all. The only teams in the NL that control their own destiny are the five current playoff spot holders: Washington, Cincinnati, San Francisco, Atlanta, and St. Louis.

There are three main contenders for the second wild card spot, or, as I like to call it in shorthand, WC2: St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Los Angeles. The Cardinals have a 1 1/2 game lead over the Bucs and Dodgers.

We know how the Dodgers did last night, but how did Friday night go for the other teams?

Not well.

The Pirates played the games and played a game that might have been the worst of all possible worlds. The Cubs had lost 16 of their last 17 games on the road. And the Cubs parlayed SEVEN Pittsburgh errors in to a 12-2 win that was not as close as the score would indicate.

The sixth inning was one for the ages. Brett Jackson led off for the Cubs with an infield hit. A.J. Burnett then had a pitch get past Old Friend Rod Barajas to let Jackson advance. Darwin Barney hit a grounder to shortstop Josh Harrison who tried to throw out Jackson at third. Jackson looked to be out, but managed to slide around the tag attempt of Pedro Alvarez. Bucs manager Clint Hurdle argued with umpire Gary Darling and got himself ejected.

Then, it got worse. Travis Wood dropped a horrible sacrifice attempt in front of the plate. Barajas threw to second to start what should have been an easy double play. But, the throw was wide and everyone was safe. David DeJesus followed with a grounder to first baseman Gaby Sanchez, who threw home for what should have been a 3-2-3 DP. But, Barajas couldn’t handle the throw and a run scored. (Sanchez drew the error.) The Pirates made a double switch, removing Barajas. Reliever Justin Wilson came in and gave up a 2-run double to Luis Valbuena. It was not the Pirates’ night. They committed seven errors in a game for the first time since September 16, 1985. You can watch the errorfest here.

Over in St. Louis, the Cardinals and Brewers were delayed by rain for two and a half hours. The Cardinals led 2-0 after the first inning, but the Brewers tied the game with single runs in the fourth and seventh.  In the top of the eighth, the Brewers took a 4-2 lead and turned the lead over to Jim Henderson, one of their less shaky relievers. Henderson gave up a game-tying 2-run homer to Yadier Molina in the bottom of the 8th.

The game pressed on into the night. The Best Fans in Baseball became the sleepiest fans in baseball. And then they went home. Why? Because they were still playing at 2 am local time. And it was around 2 am, when Ryan Braun homered off of Lance Lynn in the 13th. (In the link you can listen to Brewers announcer Brian Anderson say, “Braun unbreaks the tie!” Hey, it was late.) The Brewers held on for a 5-4 win. The Cardinals had left the bases loaded in the 11th and left two runners on in the 12th.

Despite the disappointments that the Dodgers, Pirates, and Cardinals all had last night, they will all be back at it today. Because that’s the nature of baseball, there’s almost always a game the next day. Although after October 3, many teams won’t be able to say that.