Hoping he gets off to a faster start than Rafael Furcal, the Dodgers have activated Casey Blake from the disabled list. Russell Mitchell will head to Triple-A.
What would your all-healthy Dodger 25-man roster look like, using players currently in the organization? Here’s mine:
Starting pitchers (5): Clayton Kershaw, Chad Billingsley, Hiroki Kuroda, Ted Lilly, Rubby De La Rosa
Bullpen (7): Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo, Kenley Jansen, Matt Guerrier, Vicente Padilla, Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert
Jamey Carroll, 2B
Rafael Furcal, SS
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, LF
Jerry Sands, RF
James Loney, 1B
Casey Blake, 3B
Rod Barajas, C
Bench (5): A.J. Ellis, Juan Uribe, Aaron Miles, Marcus Thames, Jay Gibbons
This was actually harder to do than I thought it would be, particularly with the pitching, where I left off Jon Garland, Blake Hawksworth and Mike MacDougal. All three have been decent-to-good this year, but I decided to go with the potential of youth. (Again, this is a world where no one gets hurt.)
On the bench, I dropped Tony Gwynn, Jr., on the theory that the Dodgers couldn’t afford the luxury of a defensive replacement/pinch-runner who couldn’t even out-hit Miles. I went the on-base talents of Ellis, and (given mostly few alternatives) the power potential of Uribe, Thames and Gibbons.
It’s not such a bad team if it could stay healthy, and if Loney could ever start to hit like he’s capable of. Too bad both of those things aren’t likely to happen, especially with Colorado, San Francisco and San Diego reeling. (Arizona is the one team taking advantage.)
What would you do differently?
A day that has gone poorly from the start for the Dodgers has become a real nightmare.
With the White Sox leading 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Juan Pierre muscled up on a Hiroki Kuroda slider and send it toward the right-field wall. Andre Ethier chased it, and at the last moment, turned the right side of his body into the fence and slammed into it in his vain attempt to make the catch. As Gordon Beckham went into third base and Pierre into second, Ethier retrieved the ball but clearly looked shaken up afterward.
The next batter was Alexei Ramirez, who homered earlier in the game. The Dodgers had the infield in, while the staggered Ethier was playing deep. Ramirez hit a 3-1 pitch for a pure Texas Leaguer in between the oncoming Ethier and backpedaling second baseman Jamey Carroll. The ball fell in for an RBI single.
After that play, as Ethier retreated back to his position, Tony Gwynn Jr. came running out of the dugout on manager Don Mattingly’s direction to replace Ethier in right field. It was unclear to me whether Ethier signaled that he needed to replaced.
Though Ethier had been in a 1-for-30 slump (including 0 for 2 today) when the play occurred and has only one extra-base hit this month, there’s no doubt that any kind of injury to him would be a significant blow to a reeling Dodger team. Of course, Ethier has already been nursing a troublesome left elbow, which some think might be responsible for the hitting woes that followed the end of his 37-game on-base streak.
In the meantime, the Dodgers were hoping that Kuroda could just stabilize things, not out of any realistic hope of winning the game, but just to spare a Dodger bullpen that used mop-up relievers Ramon Troncoso and Lance Cormier for outings Saturday of 30-plus pitches each.
Kuroda ended up allowing two runs in the inning (both unearned, thanks to an error by Rafael Furcal), but at least he made it through four frames, albeit on 89 pitches. Rookie reliever Javy Guerra, who warmed up in the fourth inning, would probably combine with Scott Elbert to take the role of long man today.
However, the sixth White Sox run of the day brought about another injury, as Pierre, sliding home on Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly, brought his right leg right into catcher Rod Barajas’ face. Dioner Navarro pinch-hit for Barajas in the top of the fifth.
Update: The Dodgers tried to come back, managing to score three runs and get Matt Kemp to the plate as the tying run in the seventh, before ultimately losing, 8-3. A day after his first major-league home run, Jerry Sands went 4 for 4 with his 10th double of the season and third stolen base. James Loney reached base three times. Rafael Furcal made an error and went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, including one with the bases loaded, in his return from the disabled list.
Chicago’s Ramirez went 4 for 5 with his home run and two doubles, driving in five runs.
Ethier and Barajas are currently day-to-day with their injuries, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Dodgers said Ethier had injuries to his right elbow, right lower back and left big toe, while Barajas had a right wrist injury.
Even if Barajas is only going to be out for a few days, it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers won’t have to call up catcher A.J. Ellis from Albuquerque, rather than rely on Dioner Navarro and emergency catchers – regardless of whether it’s Barajas, Ethier or Aaron Miles who goes in the disabled list. (Miles has been said to be improving enough to be ready to play Monday in Houston.) If two players went on the DL, then Jamie Hoffmann would be the likely second callup.
After the three-game Houston series that starts Monday, the Dodgers play 19 consecutive games against teams with winning records. Brace yourselves.
The Dodgers today traded Juan Uribe to the Los Angeles Disabled Listers for Rafael Furcal.
The Disabled Listers, hoping to make a run for the National League West title, apparently believed that Uribe’s versatility would be an asset, despite his slow start to the 2011 season. A factor for the DLers is certainly that Uribe is in the first year of a three-year contract, and they want him to feel comfortable playing on their team for the long haul.
The DLers have also been trying to lure Aaron Miles to bolster their infield. Some have questioned the value of this potential acquisition, but Miles, despite his lack of power, has shown some amount of timely hitting that could make his move to the DLers a significant one.
The biggest weakness for the DLers remains their starting rotation, as the Dodgers have stubbornly refused to deal a frontline pitcher to the band-aided wonders. Luckily for the DLers, their bullpen has been overflowing with arms. In the meantime, Darren Dreifort and Jason Schmidt have come out of retirement to anchor the starting pitching.
The Dodgers enter today with four injured infielders: Casey Blake, Rafael Furcal, Aaron Miles and Juan Uribe. Because the latter two are on the active roster and because of the designated hitter today, Los Angeles’ healthy bench consists of Tony Gwynn Jr. and Dioner Navarro. That’s it.
Jerry Lai/US PresswireRuss Mitchell
Banging against the door.
White Sox 3, Dodgers 2. None out, top of the eighth, bases loaded.
Banging against the door, like they were down 5-2 in the eighth Wednesday.
Banging against the door, like they were down 3-1 in the ninth Thursday.
Banging against the door, and no one will let them in.
Wednesday, tie the game then lose.
Thursday, hit a line drive with the bases loaded and lose.
Tonight, strand the bases loaded and …win?
Lose another starter, Juan Uribe, to injury and … win?
Two out, bottom of the ninth, bases empty and … win?
Russ Mitchell, 1 for 14 on the season, 7 for 56 in his career and … win?
Sergio Santos, 20 2/3 innings pitched on the season, 0.00 ERA and … win?
Bang that door down.
Mitchell, whose seven career hits included two home runs, drove a 2-1 fastball just inside the left-field foul pole to tie the game at 3.
Then in the 10th, after Jamey Carroll’s fourth hit of the game and Matt Kemp’s second, Juan Castro, who had wasted bases-loaded opportunities in his two previous at-bats this week, looped one over a leaping Paul Konerko for a 150-foot single, driving in Carroll. James Loney, who had been 0 for 4, doubled to right for a 5-3 lead. Then, after an intentional walk to Dioner Navarro (you got me), Jay Gibbons singled home the third run of the extra inning.
Was that enough? It would have to be, after Mitchell grounded into a double play. It would have to be, even as Matt Guerrier gave up leadoff singles to 77-year-old Omar Juan Vizquel Pierre.
Mitchell’s heroics weren’t done, as it turned out. The third baseman dove to his left to corral Alexei Ramirez’s grounder for the first out of the inning.
Then Don Mattingly started playing percentages. He brought in Scott Elbert – who head-butted all kinds of doors last year – to retire Adam Dunn on a groundout to Loney for a meaningless RBI. And then Mattingly brought in Mike MacDougal, who faced Konerko.
Konerko hit it to Castro, who bobbled it but had plenty of time to pick it up and throw the final batter out.
And so finally, the script had changed. A first-inning home run by Kemp wouldn’t go to waste. A three-run second inning off Ted Lilly wouldn’t spell doom. The sight of Jerry Sands in center field next to Jay Gibbons in left in the late-night fog wouldn’t lead to a comedy of errors. A final-inning rally would actually succeed.
On to the next door …
* * *
To recap the last five Dodger victories:
May 20: Dodgers 6, White Sox 4 (10) – Juan Uribe left hip flexor
May 17 – Dodgers 3, Brewers 0 – Vicente Padilla unavailable
May 13 – Dodgers 4, Diamondbacks 3 – Zach Lee MRI revealed
May 11 – Dodgers 2, Pirates 0 – Hong-Chih Kuo to the disabled list
May 10 – Dodgers 10, Pirates 3 – Blake Hawksworth hurts groin
Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has a length update on all the injured Dodgers.
Rafael Furcal, who has been on a rehabilitation assignment with Albuquerque for most of the past week, returned to Los Angeles today, but plans to activate him as soon as this weekend in Chicago are on hold for the moment. Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com passes along word that Furcal banged his knee on a slide Tuesday, and though it doesn’t seem major, the Dodgers want to check it out (perhaps aware that nothing ever isn’t major with this team).
Meanwhile, Casey Blake is not ready to return from the disabled list either, Mattingly said.
“”I’m still hopeful with Fook,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly told Shelburne. “Stan (Conte) looked at it and he didn’t think it was anything too serious. He was actually encouraged. So we still have a chance to get Fooky back on the trip.
“Casey has gotten slowed down, I guess he’s got a little soreness in there. … We thought we’d get Fooky back on the trip, we were hopeful we’d get Casey back when we got home, and at that point we’re back kind of to where we want.”
Vicente Padilla is heading back to the disabled list with a balky forearm, meaning that Ramon Troncoso will be called up and perhaps get a chance to work on that 20.25 ERA. With Padilla, Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Blake Hawksworth out, more than half the Dodgers’ regularly scheduled bullpen is on the DL. That’s brutal.
In a rehabilitation appearance with Albuquerque on Saturday, shortstop Rafael Furcal went 2 for 3 with a walk, drove in three runs and – most importantly – batted right-handed for most of the game.
Hitting from the right side had been said to be the final hurdle to Furcal’s return to the Dodgers’ active roster from a broken left thumb.
Furcal has been out since April 11 and has missed 33 of the Dodgers’ 40 games this season. On Saturday, he walked in the first as a left-handed batter, then turned around to bat right and had RBI singles in the second and fourth innings, as well as a sixth-inning RBI groundout. No issues were reported about his performance in the field.
My hunch is that if he makes it through today unscathed, we’ll see Furcal in Los Angeles on Monday.
When he returns, Jamey Carroll will likely move over to second base, pushing Aaron Miles to the bench and Russ Mitchell to the minors. One question that will have to be answered when Casey Blake returns is whether the Dodgers will reduce the playing time of Juan Uribe or James Loney to preserve playing time for Carroll, who has the highest on-base percentage in the National League among shortstops. Certainly, Blake will get his share of rest. And might an occasional start in left field become part of the equation for Carroll?
In other roster talk, Dodger reliever Blake Hawksworth may go on the disabled list today after failing to show progress Saturday, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. Los Angeles is expected to promote Javy Guerra, who has a 1.06 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 17 innings (against 13 baserunners) with Double-A Chattanooga. Guerra had pitched 11 straight shutout innings over his last nine outings until giving up a home run Monday. He’s been idle since then.
Guerra did a tiny bit of blogging in 2009. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A., in his Saturday posting “Dodgers Lose Battle, Win Guerra,” noted that the pitcher said on his Facebook page that he had gotten the call.
* * *
Some more notes on Chad Billingsley’s Saturday performance, from ESPN Stats and Information:
– The Diamondbacks missed on 11 swings against Billingsley’s fastball, the most against the Dodgers’ right-hander in exactly two years (May 14, 2009).
– Billingsley’s fastball was particularly effective on the first pitch. He threw 21 fastballs on the first pitch of a plate appearance. Seventeen of those fastballs went for strikes, tied for his most in a start in the last three seasons. More remarkable is that the Diamondbacks put none of Billingsley’s first-pitch fastballs in play. They swung at eight, missing three and fouling off five.
– By throwing first-pitch strikes that didn’t end up in play, Billingsley started 18 of 27 hitters with an 0-1 count, his second-most 0-1 counts in a start since 2009. All eight of Billingsley’s strikeouts were in at-bats he started with a first-pitch strike. It also enabled him to rack up his strikeouts efficiently, as six of his eight were in at-bats lasting three or four pitches, tied for his most in the last three seasons.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea/US PresswireHong-Chih Kuo has struck out eight of the 27 batters he has faced this season, while allowing 12 baserunners.
As far as the result of tonight’s game goes – a 2-0 shutout of Pittsburgh – as long as Hiroki Kuroda is pitching shutout ball for seven innings, not even giving in when he wild-pitched the tying runs into scoring position in bottom of the sixth, the Dodgers will do just fine. Now if Kuroda had committed the unforgivable sin of allowing two runs in his seven innings, it might have been another story …
But the bigger news of the day wasn’t the Dodgers’ doubling their win streak to two, or Andre Ethier extending his on-base streak to 35 games, or Jerry Sands’ RBI double following an intentional walk to Rod Barajas and his sub-.300 on-base percentage.
It was Hong-Chih Kuo being placed on the disabled list for the second time this season and sixth time in his career, for a period that is expected to be significantly longer than the 15-day minimum. From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
… The official reason for the move was anxiety disorder, something that wasn’t revealed by the club until 20 minutes before Wednesday night’s game with the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park, well after media access to the clubhouse and manager Don Mattingly was customarily cut off until postgame.
In announcing the move to the media earlier, Mattingly was conspicuously vague in describing what is wrong with Kuo.
“There isn’t much of the story I can really share with you today,” Mattingly said. “We’re just kind of waiting at this point for approval from Major League Baseball on the verbiage … that we want to basically talk about.” …
… Through Monday, Kuo had pitched three times in four days. For the season, he has an uncharacteristic 11.57 ERA in nine appearances and an even more uncharacteristic six walks in 4 2/3 innings, albeit with eight strikeouts. Kuo said Tuesday that he felt fine physically and that he wasn’t sure why he had been struggling so much with his command, and Mattingly said Tuesday that Kuo continued to tell team officials he felt fine physically.“When you’re talking about Kuo, he is basically always hurting,” Mattingly said Wednesday. “It’s just at what level. His elbow is always hurting. It never goes away, really. It’s just how much he can deal with. It is always there. … When I say he doesn’t complain, it means that in talking with [trainer] Stan [Conte], when he says he is good to go, that means he can deal with it. His ‘I’m OK to go’ is different than being 100 percent.
“But he isn’t good to go [now].”
Mattingly offered a definitive “no,” when asked if Kuo was retiring, but he was noncommittal on whether Kuo might pitch again anytime soon. …
Kuo’s career has always been living on a thin line, and my appreciation for how much he has contributed to the team knows few bounds. I’m betting we haven’t seen the last of him, but there’s just no telling when we’ll see him on the mound again.
Called up to replace Kuo is a man whose career hit a mighty big speed bump of its own last year, Scott Elbert. Elbert has got his strikeouts going, and will do as well as his control allows. Here’s more from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
… In 14 1/3 innings, Elbert has issued nine walks with 16 strikeouts. Seven of his eight earned runs allowed have come in two appearances.
He said his problems generally occurred when he was asked to pitch a second inning of relief.
“Mentally, I was prepared for one inning, which was my fault,” he said. “I should be prepared for anything.”
Elbert has had six previous Major League callups, but he said this one is different.
“I feel more relaxed,” he said. “It’s something that comes with maturity and nature, if that’s what it means to be special,” he said. “I’m not a new face to them. I’m not working to try to do too much. Let them hit it and put it in play. I’ve grown up a little bit. A lot of it is seeing my two kids and having patience with them.
“I just have to be myself and not worry what anybody else things about me. It’s part of growing up.” …
The Dodgers still might be forced to make another bullpen promotion, if Blake Hawksworth can’t make a quick recovery from his groin injury (an MRI, reports Jackson, showed nothing serious).
The blind squirrel that is the Dodger offense found an acorn tonight – 10 of them, in fact, in a 10-3 pasting of the Pirates.
Los Angeles didn’t go nuts until the sixth inning, when singles by Jamey Carroll (3 for 4 with a walk, 10 for his past 17), Aaron Miles (3 for 5, 8 for 19) and Andre Ethier (34 games in a row on base) broke a scoreless tie before Matt Kemp’s three-run homer, his team-high seventh of the year.
Ted Lilly (six innings, five baserunners, four strikeouts) gave back two runs in the bottom of the sixth, but the Dodgers added one in the seventh and five in the eighth, including bases-loaded walks to Jerry Sands and Matt Guerrier. Every starting Dodger position player reached base twice in the game except Juan Uribe (1 for 4), as the Dodgers hit double-digits in runs for the second time this season.
Lance Cormier, entering the game once the Dodgers took an eight-run lead, mopped up with reasonable janitorial effectiveness, allowing a solo home run and a double in two innings.
Oh, did I neglect to mention the latest injury? Blake Hawksworth lasted three batters before leaving with a strained right groin. He’ll have an MRI in the morning, and though he hopes to avoid it, a trip to the disabled list seems likely, rather than the Dodger bullpen operating one man short. Squirrels can be so frustrating.
Following his MRI exam, Jonathan Broxton is headed for the disabled list, with Kenley Jansen making his trip to Chattanooga a mere layover on his way to New York to replace Broxton on the active roster.
There were different ways to interpret the news that an MRI revealed Jonathan Broxton had, according to the Times, a bone spur but no structural damage. On the one hand, the pain caused by the bone spur could account for Broxton’s awkward appearance Tuesday and even his rough-and-tumble 2011, but it wouldn’t seem to add much to a physical explanation of why he’s been so off his game since mid-2010 — unless it has been a recurring problem.
We’ll undoubtedly hear more on this as the day progresses.
Update: Broxton could be out for a month, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:
… Broxton said he was told he would be shut down for two to three weeks to allow dissipation of fluid in the joint, then resume throwing. He said also had a pre-existing bone spur in the back of the elbow that showed up in a 2010 MRI, but that wasn’t the cause of his latest trouble. …
He was examined by team doctor Neal ElAttache, who told him the injury was probably the result of his joint opening and closing at high velocity “and the bones slam against each other. It takes a while to get the fluid in there.”
He said he was told he could take three or four days off and continue pitching, but the best course of action would be to shut down and let the bruise completely heal. Broxton said he didn’t think this injury was related to his second-half collapse last year.
“It probably started in the spring and caught up to me now,” he said. “The ligament is fine, there are no chips or anything. It’s just bruised.” …
Update 2: More from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
* * *
After writing that Wilson Betemit should have let himself get hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, Kansas City Star sportswriter Lee Judge decided he should step up and see what it would be like. The video is pretty great.
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.
Gus Ruelas/APJonathan Broxton leaves the game after walking two of three batters.
Jonathan Broxton has given Dodger fans a lot of heartache this year, but tonight he looked as sickly as he ever has in my memory.
Broxton entered tonight’s game in the ninth inning of a 1-1 tie. After retiring Aramis Ramirez on two fouls and a popout, Broxton walked the next two batters on eight pitches, and few of them were close to the strike zone. According to MLB Gameday, the pitches were all fastballs, one reaching 93 miles per hour and the average at 91. That’s just not the Broxton of 12 months ago, and I’m not convinced it’s even the Broxton of 12 weeks ago.
People have been strangely fascinated with Broxton’s facial expressions and posture, but here’s a suggestion: Someone needs to look at his arm. Even if they’ve looked at it before, look at it again.
After the first walk, Blake Hawksworth began warming up in the bullpen, and after the second, Don Mattingly came to the mound. He talked to Broxton and the other assembled Dodgers, clearly stalling for time as Hawksworth raced to get ready, before finally telling home-plate umpire CB Bucknor to call for a rare mid-inning hook of the Dodger reliever.
Though I’ve always suspected Broxton’s been off physically since his serious struggles began in late June, this was possibly the first time I watched him and said to myself, “There’s a guy that’s headed straight for the disabled list.” Of course, what I observe from my seat far from the pitcher’s mound has no real relevance, but I just offer it as an impression.
It is, I will say, a little peculiar to me that it doesn’t occur to the people who are calling for Broxton’s head and questioning his mental makeup that Broxton is possibly pitching hurt, and maybe has been for some time. If he has been concealing an injury, I sure hope he comes clean. (Update: From KABC 790 AM via True Blue L.A.: “After the game, Don Mattingly told reporters that Broxton was still his closer, but didn’t sound convincing. “When guys tell you they’re fine, you believe that. The inconsistency in velocity concerns me. You don’t know if you’re getting the whole story. We need to figure this thing out.”)
Hawksworth looked like he would bail the Dodgers out after he got Alfonso Soriano on a can of corn to Matt Kemp, but the next batter, Geovany Soto, drove one to right-center that split Kemp and Andre Ethier for a double, driving in two runs. Blake DeWitt followed with his second pinch-hit single in two nights, capping the Cubs’ 4-1 victory over Los Angeles.
On the bright side, Ethier got the business of taking his 28-game hitting streak to 29 out of the way in the fourth inning with a single over leaping second baseman Darwin Barney, tying Ethier with Zack Wheat’s 1916 skein for the second-longest in Dodger history. For anyone complaining about Ethier getting a couple cheap hits this week, he got robbed of one by a diving Barney in the eighth inning.
Two innings later, after a single by Jamey Carroll, a sacrifice by Jerry Sands and a groundout by Ethier, Kemp gave the Dodgers a 1-0 lead with a single to center – the only run the Dodgers got against Ryan Dempster, who entered the game having allowed 33 earned runs in 31 innings this season.
Another struggling Cub, Carlos Pena (.171 slugging percentage), got well with one out in the top of the seventh. Pena tied the game with a high fly over the short fence down the right-field line for his first homer of the season, this coming off Chad Billingsley, who only allowed three other hits and two walks all night while striking out eight. And that took us to the ninth.
- Emo Juan Uribe is an instant Hall-of-Fame website. (Thanks, Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness.)
- Marcus Thames is likely to be out at least four weeks, Don Mattingly told reporters today.
- No combo of two players has ever contributed a higher percentage of a team’s offense than Ethier and Kemp, writes Jonah Keri for ESPNLosAngeles.com.
- Francisco Liriano walked six but threw the first no-hitter for the Twins since ex-Dodger Eric Milton in 1999. By the score of 1-0, he beat former Dodger Edwin Jackson, who threw an even wilder no-hitter in 2010.
- As David Schoenfield of ESPN.com’s Sweet Spot notes, this was the first two-strikeout no-hitter since the Dodgers’ Jerry Reuss in 1980.
- From KABC 790 AM’s Joe Block on Twitter: “How rare is a 30-game hitting streak? There have been 43 since 1900. Liriano’s no-hitter was the 228th in MLB since 1900.”
- How do major-league cities rank if you go strictly by the value of sitcoms that were set there? Grant Bisbee of McCovey Chronicles answers the question at SB Nation. Fun list – now quibble away!
- The soon-to-be Pacific 12 Conference on Wednesday will officially announce a 12-year TV deal with Fox and ESPN networks that is going to bring in approximately $3 billion to member schools over a 12-year period. You can get a hand on some of the details in my Variety story.
- Alex Belth’s Bronx Banter has a cool new redesign, co-produced by Baseball Toaster’s Ken Arneson.
Marcus Thames has been battling some leg issues for some time now, and the powers that be have finally decided that he needs some extended rest. So he’s off to the disabled list thanks to what’s listed as a right quad strain, with the Dodgers activating Jay Gibbons in his stead.
Gibbons, of course, had been battling vision issues for months now, but he’s been playing consistently for the past week or so, including a recent stretch in which he went 9 for 25 with a homer and three walks. The rub is that he bats left-handed, so that means Jerry Sands has one less right-handed bat to compete with for playing time.
Thames is only 6 for 34 this season with two homers (both as a pinch-hitter), two walks and 11 strikeouts — a .634 OPS. In his most recent 12 games, he had a home run and a walk in 16 plate appearances.