May 15

Quarter-pole report


Kelvin Kuo/US PresswireRod Barajas could become the second player in Dodger history, after Marquis Grissom in 2001, with at least 20 homers and fewer walks than homers.

By around the middle of the fifth inning today, the Dodgers will have completed 25% of their 2011 regular season. Here are the paces some of their most frequently used players are on:

Andre Ethier: 16 homers, 219 hits, 41 doubles, 117 strikeouts
Matt Kemp: 28 homers, 49 steals in 61 attempts, 203 hits, 81 walks, 101 RBI, 36 doubles, 138 strikeouts, 162 games
Jamey Carroll: 0 homers, 158 games, 178 hits, 12-for-12 stealing
Rod Barajas: 28 homers, 20 walks, 57 RBI, 134 strikeouts
James Loney: four homers, four steals, eight doubles, 49 RBI, 32 walks, 73 strikeouts
Juan Uribe: 24 doubles, 24 walks, 12 homers, 126 strikeouts

Clayton Kershaw: 20-12, 239 innings, 81 walks, 259 strikeouts
Chad Billingsley: 8-12, 227 1/3 innings, 85 walks, 203 strikeouts
Hiroki Kuroda: 16-12, 215 1/3 innings, 53 walks, 166 strikeouts
Ted Lilly: 12-12, 178 1/3 innings, 36 walks, 117 strikeouts
Kenley Jansen: 0-0, 65 innings, 41 walks, 113 strikeouts
Matt Guerrier: 8-8, 81 1/3 innings, 28 walks, 65 strikeouts

May 14

Unearned run provides margin for 4-3 Dodger victory

Mark J. Terrill/APMatt Kemp executes “The Crane” to topple Kenley Jansen at the All-Valley Karate Tournament.

It says something about Clayton Kershaw that he allowed back-to-back doubles leading off the first inning and loaded the bases in the third inning and still ended up pitching shutout ball. And by the end of his seven-inning outing, when he struck out 11 and retired his last 14 batters, he had gone from backpedaling to dominating.

It was the second-straight seven-inning shutout by a Dodger starter. Meanwhile, Los Angeles scored four runs, one unearned, and that was just enough to withstand the latest bullpen meltdown for a 4-3 victory.

Matt Guerrier allowed a run in the eighth inning, and Vicente Padilla allowed two in a 32-pitch ninth before Kenley Jansen came in and struck out Melvin Mora for the final out – the 15th strikeout of the game for the Dodgers.

By holding on, the Dodgers had their second three-game winning streak of the season and moved within 2 1/2 games of first place in the National League West despite an 19-20 record.

* * *

As if we hadn’t gotten enough scary medical news lately, Zach Lee entered the picture. From Jim Peltz and Kevin Baxter of the Times:

… Lee, the Dodgers’ first-round pick in last June’s draft, was sent to the team’s minor league complex near Phoenix for an MRI test on the right-hander’s pitching elbow.

Lee complained of tightness in the elbow after his last start May 5, when he went a season-long six innings, giving up one run on five hits. But he lacked his usual sharpness, striking out just one, a career low.

DeJon Watson, the Dodgers’ assistant general manager for player development, characterized the test as a standard procedure for young pitchers. He said the test showed no damage and that Lee, 19, would return to Great Lakes of the single-A Midwest League, though Watson said he did not expect Lee to pitch for 10 to 15 days.

“There’s nothing wrong,” Watson said. “We just want to make sure he’s 100%.”

Some happier tidings: Shawn Tolleson, who struck out 33 of the 56 batters he faced at Single-A Great Lakes while allowing only 12 baserunners and a 0.00 ERA in 15 innings, has been promoted to Rancho Cucamonga. (Thanks to Dodger Thoughts commenter Mike–Tink for the link.) In addition, Rancho Cucamonga reliever Steven Ames (60 batters, 28 strikeouts, 12 baserunners, 1.17 ERA) has moved up to Double-A Chattanooga.

* * *

Gathering dust: Scott Elbert has not pitched since May 9 and has thrown only one inning since May 6.

* * *

Today’s game has an unusual 4:10 p.m. start. The shadows could be timely for the pitchers …

May 13

Dodgers Juan up themselves again with Castro

Juan Castro is healthy again, and Aaron Miles has firmly beaten out Ivan DeJesus Jr. for starts at second base while Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal are both injured. So though it’s not a decision for fans of a youth movement, it makes sense for the Dodgers to bring up Castro from Albuquerque and send DeJesus down.

Hector Gimenez was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Castro, who was 11 for 24 with two walks in Triple-A, on the 40-man roster.

When Furcal returns, Russ Mitchell will almost certainly go back to the Isotopes.

May 12

Here’s a word for Jamey Carroll: talented


Ric Tapia/Icon SMIAt age 37, Jamey Carroll has the highest on-base percentage of any infielder in Los Angeles Dodger history (minimum 500 plate appearances).

For the past year, people have used the words “gritty” and “gamer” to describe Jamey Carroll so often that it’s become a reflex. They mean it in the best possible way, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that — although other players don’t get enough credit for these qualities — Carroll qualifies.

In any case, I can’t help thinking that the words undersell what Carroll has brought to the Dodgers. “Gritty” risks implying that Carroll’s game is all about the effort and not about the results.

Since coming to the Dodgers in 2010, Carroll has racked up a season’s worth of plate appearances, 562 in all. And over that period, he has had an on-base percentage of .377. That places Carroll 12th all-time in Los Angeles Dodger history for players with at least that many times at the plate. Among those who have played at least 100 games in the infield, he is No. 1.

And this is coming in his late 30s, when more likely than not, he should be declining. That’s just flat-out good.

The point is, I’m not sure that Carroll’s grit is all that unusual. There are hundreds of players in the majors and minors who work every bit as hard as Carroll does — and get varying results, from superstar to never seeing the majors. What’s more unique about Carroll is his talent, a combination of his effort and his ability.

When I think of Carroll and what he has meant to Los Angeles, particularly with the frequent injuries to Rafael Furcal, I’m happy for his effort, but I’m plain thankful for his talent, which has made the Dodgers a better team than they’d otherwise have been. If it weren’t for the talent, people would be all too eager to shake hands with Carroll and show him and his grit the door.

May 07

Broxton too cool for truth

I’ve been reading several stories about Jonathan Broxton being placed on the disabled list, most recently Dylan Hernandez’s piece in the Times this morning, and I’ve come to these conclusions:

1) We’re a long way from knowing when Broxton was hurt and when he wasn’t.
2) Broxton’s word on his condition is worth its weight in … what’s the opposite of gold?
3) Stan Conte, Dr. Neil ElAttrache, Rick Honeycutt and Don Mattingly are going to have to be very proactive in monitoring his condition going forward (as if we didn’t know that already).

Writes Hernandez: “Asked whether he would be more open with the medical staff in the future, Broxton replied, ‘No.’ ”

I don’t really care what Broxton says to the press, but he has to be truthful to his own organization. The big guy’s finding the way to lose my support …

  • Andre Ethier really seems to be handling the pressure of his 30-game hitting streak well, especially considering the Dodgers’ losing ways. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has a good story. As for him knowing as much about Zack Wheat on Thursday as he did about John Ely a year ago … chapter 58.
  • In his past eight plate appearances, Albuquerque outfielder Trayvon Robinson is 7 for 7 with a walk, a double, a triple and two home runs.
  • Slowed by a calf injury in the early going, John Lindsey is trying to get untracked at Albuquerque, writes Christopher Jackson at Albuquerque Baseball Examiner.
  • Which 2010-11 free agents have performed the best so far? Mike Akisa of MLB Trade Rumors answers the question for pitchers and hitters. Believe it or not, there’s a case for Rod Barajas being in the top 10.
  • Farewell, Seve and farewell, Sada.
May 04

Broxton, Ethier both have elbow concerns

What has seemed so inevitable for some time now has finally come to pass: Jonathan Broxton is hurt.

At the same time comes just about the last thing anyone wanted to think possible: Andre Ethier is also ailing.

Ethier, whose hot start in 2010 ended abruptly almost exactly one year ago with a pinky injury, has been nursing left elbow inflammation for two weeks, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. He was pulled from today’s starting lineup about an hour before gametime.

… Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said an hour or so before removing Ethier from the lineup that Ethier believes the issue might have started during a series more than two weeks ago against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“We’re keeping an eye on it,” Mattingly said. …

Mattingly said before the game that even with the hitting streak on the line, he would have no hesitation to use Ethier as a pinch hitter in a key situation on a day when he wasn’t in the starting lineup.

“No, because we’re trying to win a ballgame,” Mattingly said.

Broxton has been shut down with right elbow pain and will have an MRI exam, reports Jackson:

… Mattingly said no determination will be made on whether to place Broxton on the 15-day disabled list until the results of that exam are known.

Broxton, who apparently already had left Dodger Stadium to undergo the exam, wasn’t available for comment.

“He came in today complaining about some stuff,” said Mattingly, who wasn’t sure how long Broxton had been experiencing discomfort. “I told him it was honorable that he wanted to pitch through that, but that in the end, it doesn’t do him any good. It’s not fair to him, and it’s really not fair to anybody else either.”

Broxton won’t pitch until after the MRI, and Vicente Padilla will be the team’s first-choice closer for now. …

“[Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt] and I were looking at tape,” Mattingly said. “The way the ball was coming out, we felt like something was wrong. We were going to bring him in this morning, but [trainer] Stan [Conte] came in and said Brox came in talking about pain. Brox actually came in with him and told us what was going on.” …

Mattingly said that if Broxton goes on the DL, the team likely will recall reliever Kenley Jansen, who was optioned to Double-A Chattanooga on Sunday.

For all the talk about Broxton’s mental makeup, his biggest brain cramp will have been if he has been keeping his soreness a secret.

Since June 27, Broxton has pitched 42 1/3 innings and allowed 53 hits and 32 walks (6.5 walks per nine innings) while striking out 35 (7.4 per nine innings), for a 7.02 ERA.

From the start of the 2006 season through June 26, 2010, Broxton pitched 336 innings, allowing 254 hits and 119 walks (3.2 walks per nine innings) while striking out 446 (11.9 per nine innings), for a 2.60 ERA.

Ken Gurnick of MLB.com added the following:

Mattingly said one of the immediate issues was to find an MRI tube large enough for Broxton to get his 300-pound frame into.

“I’m serious,” said Mattingly.

Jay Gibbons’ 10-pitch at-bat Tuesday was enough to convince Mattingly he was ready for a start in today’s day game. He was originally slated for left field, then moved to right after Ethier was scratched, with Tony Gwynn, Jr. taking left.

Russ Mitchell also gets his first start, as Jamey Carroll, who has played in 30 of 31 games this season and hasn’t missed an inning since April 18, gets a rest and Juan Uribe moves to shortstop.

That leaves Matt Kemp as the lineup’s main anchor. It’s no 29-game hitting streak, but Kemp has hit in 27 of 31 games this season. His walks have declined, however, to only two in his past 10 games.

May 03

McCourt puts his word against everyone else’s

“If the stuff that was written about me was true, I wouldn’t trust me either,” Frank McCourt said early in his conversation with Steve Mason, John Ireland and fans calling into ESPN AM 710 this afternoon.

I’m a journalist, and I’ve seen journalists get things wrong. It happens.

But let’s keep this in mind …

The McCourt ownership, particularly since Frank’s separation from Jamie became public in 2009, has perhaps been the most doggedly reported off-the-field story in Los Angeles Dodger history — certainly in recent Los Angeles Dodger history.

It has been covered by a number of sources both local and national. It has been built not only upon first-hand interviews but documents filed in court by the principals themselves. It has been, in recent days, augmented by the words and actions of Major League Baseball’s executive office and ownership group, which have sent in a rescue missionary in Tom Schieffer.

And McCourt continues to tell us that all these people from every side of the fence, West Coast and East Coast, print media and electronic, sports and business, inside the game and outside the game, have it wrong.

That includes many people who have absolutely no dog in this fight, people coming at the story, unlike McCourt, from an entirely neutral perspective. They have it wrong.

And he asks us to believe that they have it wrong even has he says one thing after another that is dubious on its face. Just today, he told us that all of the Dodgers’ current financial issues are entirely the fault of MLB forestalling the Fox deal for future TV rights and have nothing to do with his own practices. That the assets Jamie might ultimately end up with are mere hypotheticals that we shouldn’t be concerned about. That the Fox contract, negotiated with his back against the wall, is every bit as lucrative as the separate Dodger regional sports network he previously aspired to when everything was rosy. That Bud Selig, the man who paved the way for McCourt to own the team and more than anyone at MLB was convinced of his virtues, is second-guessing his own approval for no good reason.  And so on …

Neither the objective evidence nor common sense back up his assertions, but he asks us to simply believe him. His interpretation of the facts are supposed to be more trustworthy than the facts themselves.

In my view, McCourt is playing a shell game with the truth.

There’s no doubt that some critics of McCourt have gotten carried away, exaggerating his mistakes, sometimes for effect, sometimes out of frustration. The exaggerations don’t mean that the mistakes aren’t there.

When you boil everything down, there is really only one pressing question to answer at this time: Is MLB justified in subjecting the Dodgers’ major day-to-day operations to its approval?

McCourt’s argument for “no” is this: Take my word for it.

Apr 30

Life’s been … interesting

“There is no owner who, during the period 2004 to 2011, that we’ve spent more time with on his business problems, his business issues and his desire to be treated differently under applicable rules, than Frank McCourt.”

– MLB executive vice president of labor relations Rob Manfred to Richard Sandomir of the New York Times.

Apr 29

Blake heads to DL, Loney sits, but Uribe back in lineup


Casey Blake has officially shuffled to the disabled list, with the Dodgers calling up Russ Mitchell to take his spot on the active roster. On the relatively bright side, Juan Uribe and Marcus Thames are healthy enough to make their first starts in some time, while James Loney rests against Padres lefty Clayton Richard in favor of Jerry Sands at first base.

Not resting against the lefty is Andre Ethier, who will try to extend his hitting streak to 25 games. Ethier is 6 for 29 with one walk against lefties this season. Lefty batters hit .228 against Richard last season and are 7 for 24 (.291) this season.

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has a nice feature on Ethier’s march, while Keith Hawkins of ESPN Stats and Information shows that only once during the streak has there been suspense in the ninth inning. That was when Ethier doubled ahead of Matt Kemp’s walkoff homer to beat St. Louis.

* * *

Frank McCourt is doing another round of interviews today, this time in Los Angeles, so expect to see lots of coverage soon. In the meantime, I have to comment on this quote from nascent Dodger vice chairman Steve Soboroff in Bill Shaikin’s story in the Times earlier today.

“I guarantee you there is no owner or prospective owner in Los Angeles that has a better handle on the community than we do,” Soboroff told Shaikin.

Actually, I don’t have to comment. The words speak for themselves, don’t they?

* * *

For all the chaos surrounding the Dodgers, I’m going to argue that the Atlanta Braves have had a worse week — thanks to a couple of ex-Dodgers.

The Atlanta Braves placed pitching coach Roger McDowell on administrative leave Friday while they investigate allegations he made homophobic comments and crude gestures toward fans before a game in San Francisco last weekend.

The former major league reliever apologized in a statement, but the team barred him from the bench heading into a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals.

General manager Frank Wren said he hopes to have the investigation wrapped up by end of the weekend and added that any punishment would be coordinated with Major League Baseball.

The de facto suspension of McDowell came hours after the team announced it was looking into the arrest Thursday night of starting pitcher Derek Lowe on drunken-driving charges …

* * *

Fangraphs passes along a great Times photo from the Dodgers’ 1978 National League pennant celebration. Note, amid the jubilation, one fan trying to literally steal second, while another appears to fight with Bob Welch for the rosin bag.

Apr 27

Playing time


“FM” soundtrack week continues on Dodger Thoughts with Dan Fogelberg.

Update: Casey Blake is likely headed to the disabled list with an elbow infection. Russ Mitchell is the best bet for a callup. Tony Jackson has details at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

As a unit, James Loney, Juan Uribe, Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake have started two of the Dodgers’ first 26 games this year.

So-called backup infielder Jamey Carroll is making his 21st start of the season today, and Aaron Miles is making his 13th.

Rod Barajas is also making his 21st start today.

Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp have each played 219 2/3 of the Dodgers’ 222 2/3 innings this season. Loney has played 211 2/3 innings.

Left-field innings have been allocated thusly through Tuesday: Tony Gwynn Jr. 87 2/3, Jerry Sands 74 2/3, Marcus Thames 33, Xavier Paul 19, Jamie Hoffmann 8, Casey Blake 1/3 of an inning.

Here’s an update on Blake from Dylan Hernandez of the Times:

… Casey Blake was on the bench again, but for a different reason than the previous night.

Blake, who felt something in his left thigh Monday night, showed up to the ballpark with a grossly swollen left elbow.

“I hit something somewhere along the line,” Blake said.

Because Blake had a fever Monday night, the Dodgers feared his elbow was infected and sent him to see a doctor. Blake’s elbow was drained and he was administered antibiotics. …

Apr 26

Broxton’s status in turnaround

Making more front-page drive-in news is Jonathan Broxton. An excerpt follows, but be sure to read the full story on Broxton’s status from Tony Jackson at ESPNLosAngeles.com:

Jonathan Broxton was told by Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly on Tuesday that he is still the team’s closer despite widespread media reports that the team had decided to go with a closer-by-committee approach in the wake of Broxton’s blown save on Monday night against the Florida Marlins.

Mattingly saw one of those media reports, on the MLB Network, while working out on Tuesday morning and immediately decided to meet with Broxton to reassure him that the job was still his. That closed-door meeting, which also included pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, took place in the visiting clubhouse at Sun Life Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before the Dodgers played the Marlins. The Marlins scored three runs off Broxton after two were out and nobody was on base in the ninth inning on Monday night to beat the Dodgers 5-4.

“I’m the closer right now, so I just have to go out there and continue to throw,” Broxton said after the meeting. “I just have to turn the page. That is the big thing about closing or doing anything, setting up, relieving. You have to turn the page. … [Mattingly] said he liked what he has been seeing and that I’m throwing the ball good. I just have to get back to that attack mode, especially with two outs.”

Those media reports stemmed from comments Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti made during his weekly radio interview on Tuesday morning with KABC’s Peter Tilden. Although Colletti never used the term “closer-by-committee,” he did mention the names of at least two other pitchers — Hong-Chih Kuo, who is on the disabled list but expected to return as early as Friday, and Vicente Padilla, who came off the disabled list on Friday and has since had one strong outing and one shaky one — as possible closer candidates.

“I can’t help but be concerned,” Colletti said when Tilden asked about Broxton. “I’m one of those people who are pretty much concerned about everything anyway. I am concerned about him. Hopefully, we will get Kuo back Friday, and Padilla has been back for a couple of games. Hopefully, we can give Donnie three choices or so at the end of a game and let him make up his mind by matchup or whatever until Broxton can get his confidence back and get settled.”

Contacted by ESPNLosAngeles.com, Colletti downplayed the implications of what he had told Tilden earlier in the day.

“I just said when we get Kuo back and Padilla back to 100 percent, it’s going to give Donnie some options, depending upon matchups and the previous day’s usage, things like that,” Colletti said. “But that doesn’t mean Broxton isn’t the closer.”

Both Mattingly and Honeycutt said Broxton wasn’t available to close on Tuesday night against the Marlins, but only because he had pitched each of the previous two games. …


Also, Jackson reports that Frank McCourt is meeting in New York on Thursday with MLB execs — but not commissioner Bud Selig.

Finally, Xavier Paul was claimed on waivers by Pittsburgh, where he’ll be a teammate of Brandon Wood, recently claimed from the Angels, and former Dodger James McDonald.

Apr 25

Dodgers activate Navarro, option Ellis

When Dioner Navarro went on the disabled list near the end of Spring Training, A.J. Ellis did all you expect A.J. Ellis to do: 19 plate appearances, four singles, four walks (.421 on-base percentage), no extra-base hits.

For that, the Dodgers put Ellis on the Wolverine up to Annandale today, while Navarro comes off the disabled list to start earning that million bucks. He’ll back up starting catcher Rod Barajas.

Meanwhile, Juan Uribe is still nursing his sore quad, and Casey Blake is getting a day off after playing seven days in a row (10 for 27, two homers, six walks, 10 runs), so today’s Dodger lineup features both Aaron Miles and Ivan De Jesus Jr.

As Steve Dilbeck of the Times notes, the Dodgers’ offensive resurgence of the past week coincided with facing, for the most part, less-than-elite pitchers. Florida poses a tougher challenge this week, although the Dodgers will miss Josh Johnson (1.06 ERA, 22 baserunners, 33 strikeouts in 34 innings).

Florida is one of only four teams in the National League that are more than a game over .500. The Dodgers are one of seven teams within a game of .500.

For your pregame enjoyment: Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven passes along this look at Jackie Robinson’s 1938 Muir High School yearbook.

Apr 24

Tumblin’ dice

Next roll for Andre Ethier – longest April hitting streak in major-league history. From the Dodgers via Elias Sports Bureau and Trent McCotter from the Society of American Baseball Research:

Joe Torre (22), April 6-28, 1972
Danny Bautista (21), April 7-30, 2004
Rico Carty (20), April 8-30, 1970
Andre Ethier (20), April 2-current, 2011
Steve Garvey (20), April 7-30, 1978

Seasons used to start later than they do today.

The longest hitting streak by a Dodger since 1988 is Paul Lo Duca’s 25-game skein in 2003. Here’s the all-time Dodger top 10:

31 Willie Davis, 1969
27 Joe Medwick, 1942
27 Duke Snider, 1953
25 Paul Lo Duca, 2003
25 Steve Sax, 1986
25 Willie Davis, 1971
25 Buzz Boyle, 1934
25 Harvey Hendrick, 1929
24 John Shelby, 1988
24 Zack Wheat, 1924

Longest consecutive-game streaks for a Dodger reaching base:

58 Duke Snider, 1954
53 Shawn Green, 2000
47 Ron Cey, 1975
44 Len Koenecke, 1934
44 Zack Wheat, 1919
43 Augie Galan, 1945
41 Eric Karros, 1994
40 Babe Herman, 1926
39 Steve Saz, 1986
39 Billy Grabarkewitz, 1970
39 Duke Snider, 1953
39 Jim Gilliam, 1953

The Snider and Gilliam streaks intersected for 21 days in August.

Apr 23

Write this down: You can try to steal with a big lead

Cubs manager Mike Quade is mad that A.J. Ellis attempted to steal with the Dodgers holding a seven-run lead in the fifth inning Friday, writes Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Preposterous.

Just as it’s crazy to be told that you’re not allowed to bunt for a base hit to break up a no-hitter, even if the game is close, it’s just plain dumb to suggest that a team with a lead should stop trying in the middle of a game. Should the Dodgers stop trying to get on base as well?

What’s funny is that the supposed insult didn’t even come with, say, the 10-run lead in the ninth. Four more runs were scored after Ellis was thrown out stealing. If the Cubs had scored those runs, the game would have been back in doubt, just like that.

What’s funniest is that someone, as soon as today, will purposely throw a baseball near someone else’s head, and we’ll be told that’s the mature response.

“I’ve got to brush up on my unwritten rules things,” Quade said. “There might be a Los Angeles and Milwaukee (referring to a similar incident) version I need to read.”

Sometimes sarcasm speaks the truth.

* * *

  • Today, Andre Ethier can tie Steve Garvey (1978) for the longest Los Angeles Dodger hitting streak ever in April.
  • I didn’t get around to mentioning this earlier, but Vicente Padilla was activated Friday and Ramon Troncoso was optioned.
Apr 22

The thin line between ebb and flow: Dodgers 5, Braves 3

I was prepared to write a pretty quick take on Thursday’s game, along the lines of how weird it is that Juan Uribe only seems to hit well when Matt Kemp doesn’t.

And then Kemp, who had struck out three times earlier in the game, went and hit … very, very well. 

Kemp’s two-run home run in the bottom of the 12th inning was his second walkoff shot in five days, beating the Braves, 5-3, and helping the Dodgers reach a split of their first 20 games this season despite being outscored 94-68 in the process.

Los Angeles will try for the fifth time this year for its first three-game winning streak of the year today in Chicago.

Kemp’s blast was his fourth of 2011, putting him on pace for 30-plus homers this season (along with 60-odd steals). It also helped him stay ahead in the team OPS lead ahead of Andre Ethier, who extended his hitting streak to 18 games with two hits, including a double ahead of Kemp’s home run.

Few could understand why the Braves didn’t walk Kemp intentionally in the 12th to face Uribe. Considering that Kemp’s run was meaningless, the only possible explanation was a flimsy one – that based on the previous 3 1/2 days, Atlanta thought Uribe was the most dangerous hitter. After starting the season 8 for 52, Uribe was 7 for 16 against the Braves, including his first home run of the season to tie Thursday’s game 1-1 in the sixth inning.

To each manager his own …

Casey Blake’s solo shot in the next inning put the Dodgers ahead and seemed to give Clayton Kershaw all he needed for the victory. Kershaw, who retired his first 10 batters and took a three-hitter into the ninth (in addition to a career-high two hits at the plate), came within one out of breezing to the finish line before he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. 

Don Mattingly went to the mound to talk to Kershaw, who had now thrown 119 pitches. Instead of going to Jonathan Broxton, Mattingly stayed with Kershaw. Given how Broxton has pitched lately, I know there was lots of support for this decision. I’m not sure I would have done differently while standing face-to-face with the pitcher, but from afar, the walk to load the bases might have been as far as I would have let Kershaw go. Mattingly had already tried letting Kershaw bail himself out of his own jam with a high pitch count in his last start, and Kershaw gave up a deep fly by David Freese and a three-run homer by Mr. Allen Craig of St. Louis.

My other concern is that Kershaw has now set a career high in pitches in two of his past three starts, throwing 340 pitches in 11 days.  

Kershaw got ahead in the count 0-2, then gave up a two-run single to former Dodger David Ross, but Jamey Carroll and Blake (3 for 6) bailed the pitcher out in the bottom of the ninth. Carroll walked, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Blake’s single.

Broxton, who relieved Kershaw after Ross’ hit, retired four of five batters he faced, and then Matt Guerrier pitched two shutout innings, surviving two two-out singles in the 11th before a 1-2-3 12th.

At which point, the game flowed back to Kemp …

* * *

Cubs at Dodgers, 11:20 a.m.