Jul 29

Sands’ slams top a great day on the farm

The Dodgers’ happy Sunday extended down to the minor leagues, where Jerry Sands hit two grand slams in the first four innings for Albuquerque in the second game of a doubleheader.

In addition, Ted Lilly and Rubby De La Rosa each had successful rehabilitation outings, taking steps toward rejoining the active roster sometime in August. The pair combined for five shutout innings with four strikeouts.

May 19

Andre Ethier’s new streak: hitless games

Andre Ethier has gone hitless in five straight games, going 0 for 17 in that span. The Los Angeles Dodger record for consecutive hitless games is 29 by Kazuhisa Ishii (0 for 44) from 2002-2003. For a non-pitcher, Jose Gonzalez holds the mark with 20 straight games (0 for 31) from October 1990 through July 1991.

For consecutive hitless at-bats by a Los Angeles Dodger non-pitcher, I believe the record belongs to Larry Burright with his 0-for-37 streak in 1962. Charles Johnson went 0 for 33 in 1998.

Ethier’s has the most consecutive at-bats without a hit by a Dodger non-pitcher this season, but Ted Lilly is currently 0 for 18 this season and on an 0-for-36 run dating back to 2010. Ryan Theriot had an 0-for-25 skein last year.

May 10

Hey Andre, you still have a streak going

The 30-game hitting streak ended Saturday for Andre Ethier, but the on-base streak didn’t. It’s alive at 33 games. Here again is the Dodger top 10:

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 Sax, 1986
39 Billy Grabarkewitz, 1970
39 Duke Snider, 1953
39 Jim Gilliam, 1953

May 09

Now that his streak is over, how can Ethier be even better?

Kathy Willens/APThe Dodgers are 4-0 when Andre Ethier homers.

Rebooting after the end of his 30-game hitting streak, Andre Ethier went 2 for 4 Sunday, including a big, breathing-room two-run homer in the seventh inning, the likes of which the Dodgers seem to have rarely seen this season, especially of late. (Los Angeles is averaging 2.7 runs over its past 12 games, and 3.1 runs per game this season in the 32 games that haven’t been played in Wrigley Field.)

Over the past 24 hours, I’ve seen speculation that the end of the hitting streak will make Ethier a more productive hitter, on the theory that he won’t afraid to swing for the fences and give the Dodgers the power they desperately need. (Ethier’s home run was his fourth of the season in 34 games.) I don’t want to dismiss the theory out of hand, but it strikes me as a bit hard to believe. Let’s just say that if Ethier becomes even more productive, that’ll be something.

During the streak, Ethier had a .462 on-base percentage and .560 slugging percentage (1.022 OPS). Those 30 games were not cheap ones and shouldn’t be dismissed. If he can do better than that, more power to him (figuratively and literally).

May 07

Ethier’s streak ends at 30 as late-inning tie turns into Dodger loss


Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesAndre Ethier reacts after the third of his four outs tonight in New York.

On September 3, 1969, the Dodgers and Mets were tied heading into the ninth inning with a Dodger outfielder hitless in his bid to extend his hitting streak to 31 games.

It looked like the same thing might happen tonight … but the Dodgers and Andre Ethier came up short.

New York broke a tie with two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, and Ethier watched Los Angeles go quietly in the ninth after going 0 for 4 with a walk, and so the only streak of note extended this night was the Dodgers’ losing streak to four with a 4-2 defeat.

Ethier, who struck out against lefty reliever Tim Byrdak in his final at-bat with a runner on first in the eighth inning, needed eight batters to come up in the ninth inning once the Mets broke the 2-2 tie.

After pitching a shutout seventh inning, Dodger reliever Mike MacDougal walked leadoff batter Jason Bay in the bottom of the eighth and was replaced by Hong-Chih Kuo. Ike Davis popped out, but then Kuo threw everything into chaos by throwing away a sacrifice bunt by Jason Pridie, leaving the game with two runners on and one out. (Aaron Miles backed up Kuo’s throw to prevent further damage at the time.) The third reliever of the inning, Matt Guerrier, walked Ronny Paulino to load the bases.

Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesMatt Kemp comes up short in on Justin Turner’s fly in the bottom of the eighth.

On a 1-0 pitch, pinch-hitter Justin Turner hit a deep fly to center that was catchable but certain to score one run. As it happened, the ball went off Kemp’s glove as he went back on the ball, giving the Mets a two-run cushion. Jose Reyes lined into a double play, but the damage to Ethier’s hopes had been done.

There were four extra-inning games in Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, but according to a September 1975 issue of Baseball Digest, he didn’t need extra innings to extend his streak. He had two hits in two of those four games. Like DiMaggio, Pete Rose played in extra innings during his 44-game hitting streak but did not need overtime to keep streak going.

Ethier got five chances tonight because the Dodgers were so adept at putting runners on base – but unfortunately, weren’t so skilled at driving them home.

The Dodgers left the bases loaded in the first, second and seventh innings. They were 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position Friday, and you know, that happens. But it’s unfortunate to follow it by going 1 for 13 the next night. The Dodgers stranded 14 runners in tonight’s game.

Ethier walked after swinging at the first two pitches of emergency starter Dillon Gee in the first inning, flied out with the bases loaded to end the second inning, flied out leading off the fifth and grounded out against left-handed reliever Mike O’Connor to end the sixth.

Reyes’ RBI single capped a two-run second inning off Jon Garland (six innings, 10 baserunners, three strikeouts). After the first pitch to the next batter, David Murphy, on TV you could see Dioner Navarro quickly nod in first baseman James Loney’s direction.  Following the next pitch, Navarro nonchalantly tossed the ball to Loney, picking off Reyes, who didn’t see it coming until it was far too late.

Two innings later, Navarro popped a home run down the right-field line to give the Dodgers their first tally, and in the sixth, Miles followed Jamey Carroll’s single and Garland’s sacrifice with an RBI single to tie the game.

That’s the way it stayed for a couple more innings, at a time when it looked like Ethier might have all night to tie the 3-Dog. It was not to be, but my goodness, congratulations to Ethier for making it that far.

But now, what will distract us from how poorly things are going for the Dodgers?

May 06

Ethier rushes to 30, but Dodgers tackled in end zone


Frank Franklin II/APJerry Sands can’t reach Jose Reyes’ second triple, leaving Matt Kemp to retrieve.

The number 30 will always belong to Lawrence McCutcheon as far as I’m concerned, but tonight it will be shared with Andre Ethier, who extended his hitting streak with his very first swing tonight against the Mets.

Frank Franklin II/APHiroki Kuroda reacts to David Pridie’s home run.

If only we could stop there … but instead, there’s the matter of Hiroki Kuroda thrice being unable to hold a one-run lead, ultimately giving up a three-run homer to Jason Pridie in the bottom of the sixth inning of the Dodgers’ 6-3 defeat.

From the start, it was a high-wire act for Kuroda, who gave up a leadoff triple to Jose Reyes. Kuroda, known as a groundball pitcher, had only two groundouts in the first three innings, while surrendering the triple and then a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a home run by Ike Davis in the second inning. He settled down mid-start and looked like he might cruise, surviving Reyes’ second triple of the night beyond a diving Jerry Sands and taking a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the sixth.

Then the Mets suddenly lowered the boom: one-out double by Carlos Beltran, two-out intentional walk to Davis and 27-year-old rookie Pridie’s shot to right.

After a double by Josh Thole, the Mets’ sixth extra-base hit, Kuroda was lifted. New York tacked on an insurance run off Blake Hawksworth in the seventh inning, while the Dodgers didn’t get a runner past second base for the remainder of the game.

Ethier notched three hits for the fifth time this season – but the Dodgers are 2-3 in those games. Rod Barajas homered and singled, but struck out to end the Dodgers’ last good threat, a two-on, two-out situation in the seventh inning.

The Dodgers fall to 15-18, fourth place in the National League West, with San Diego two games back and leading 2-0 in the third inning against Arizona.

* * *

Ethier became the 45th player in major-league history to record a single-season hitting streak of at least 30 games and can tie Willie Davis’ Dodger hitting streak record Saturday. Ethier talked to Tony Jackson’s of ESPNLosAngeles.com about his sore elbow … and was more diplomatic than I would have been in response to critical comments from former Dodger coach Larry Bowa.

… “An inflamed elbow, if that’s what it is, I’m one of those guys that you’ve got to play through that, especially if you play in the outfield,” Bowa said on SiriusXM Radio Thursday. “If you were an infielder, you’d have to throw with that arm, and that’s another thing. But how many plays does an outfielder get? To me, unless it was really, really bad, I’m going to play him.”

Ethier had started every game this season until being scratched from the lineup about a half-hour before game time after taking a few swings in the indoor batting cage. He was available to pinch hit, but was never called upon to do so. After the game, Ethier said the problem bothered him more throwing than hitting.

Bowa, who added that he was “shocked” Ethier wasn’t in the lineup, said Ethier should have played not because of the hitting streak but because the Dodgers are struggling and he is one of the hottest and most dangerous hitters. He said he was hurting the team by sitting.

“That is his job, to put stuff out on that show that he’s on,” Ethier said of Bowa’s comments. “I’m not big on commenting on other people’s comments. … I have buddies at home saying the same stuff. I got text messages the other day saying, ‘What’s going on, why aren’t you playing,’ guys giving me a hard time.”

May 02

Halftime: Ethier hits 28 as Kershaw, Dodgers dump Cubs


Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesAndre Ethier’s 28th straight game with a hit was barely within reach.

Streak of inches.

Two games in a row now, Andre Ethier has extended his hitting streak with a single off an infielder’s glove: San Diego Padres first baseman Brad Hawpe on Sunday, and Chicago Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro on Monday night in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ 5-2 victory over Chicago. Both plays were correctly called hits because each would have required an expert play to get Ethier, but that doesn’t mean that Ethier isn’t a little bit lucky that the expert plays didn’t come.

As a result, Ethier is three games from tying Willie Davis for the Dodger record, 16 games from Pete Rose’s post-1900 National League record of 44 and halfway to the hallowed ground of Joe DiMaggio’s 56. It’s crazy to think that Ethier can repeat what he’s done to reach DiMaggio, but moments like those two infield hits certainly keep the dream alive.

Vin Scully and Prime Ticket noted in Monday night’s broadcast that of the 42 hits Ethier has had during his streak, eight have been infield hits and four of those have kept the streak going. Considering Ethier’s no speedster, that’s quite a stat.

As for the game, it was a bit of an unusual night for Clayton Kershaw in that he didn’t have a strikeout until the fifth inning. But after allowing three two-out hits for a run in the first inning, Kershaw (who walked none) breezed until giving up Alfonso Soriano’s 11th homer of the year to lead off the seventh.

One out later, Kershaw put Don Mattingly in what has recently become a familiar position. Ex-Dodgers Reed Johnson and Blake DeWitt singled, bringing the tying run to the plate. In Kershaw’s past three starts, Mattingly has tried to coax him to the end of an inning, only to see Kershaw give up multiple runs. Finally reversing the trend, Kershaw retired Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney to get out of the jam.

In fact, the Cubs didn’t muster another baserunner again, with relievers Vicente Padilla and Jonathan Broxton finishing out the game on 19 pitches combined. The beleaguered bullpen really slammed the door this time.

As for the offense, Dodger rookies played a big role. After Matt Kemp singled, stole second and scored on Juan Uribe’s double to tie the game in the second inning at 1, Ivan De Jesus Jr. got his first major league RBI by singling home Uribe with two out. In the fifth, Jerry Sands, who just missed his first big league homer in the first inning, stroked a nice two-out, two-run double — the sixth double of his young career — to right-center to give the Dodgers a 4-1 lead. Sands took third on an error and scored on Ethier’s hit.

Sands started at first base in place of James Loney, whom Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com reports isn’t going to be platooned but is being asked to stop hitting fly balls to left field.

In other news:

  • The Dodgers are offering members and veterans of the military and their families free tickets to Dodger Stadium for the month of May. Details:
  • All members of the joint services with a valid military ID, including active, reserve and retired veterans as well as their dependents, may take advantage of this offer by showing their military ID at any Dodger Stadium ticket booth day of game. Each military ID will be good for two complimentary tickets, based on availability.

  • The Long Beach Press-Telegram has eliminated its sports department, outsourcing sports to the Daily Breeze, according to the Long Beach Post (via L.A. Observed). Frank Burlison, Bob Keisser and Doug Krikorian are among those whose jobs are up in the air.