Jun 02

Why John Ely will have trouble becoming Rookie of the Year


Howard Smith/US Presswire
Jason Heyward

A Rookie of the Year campaign for John Ely becomes less far-fetched by the day — heck, the guy has practically been Cy Young (if not Ubaldo Jimenez) in every appearance since his first, with a 1.80 ERA. But then there is the matter of one Jason Heyward.

Heyward, who doesn’t turn 21 until August, has a .410 on-base percentage, .567 slugging percentage and 160 adjusted OPS for Atlanta this year. For fans of Wins Above Replacement, Heyward is sixth in the National League. In other words, he’s been spectacular, and spectacular since Day 1 of 2010.

ESPN Stats and Information adds the following:

Entering play Tuesday, Jason Heyward had played 47 games. Just for comparison’s sake, here is what Alex Rodriguez did in his first 47 games (also at age 20).

     Heyward     Rodriguez
BA     .292        .237
HR       10           3
RBI      38          14
K        36          47

There’s also, to say the least, the matter of St. Louis’ Jamie Garcia (1.32 ERA) and Cincinnati’s Mike Leake (2.45 ERA).

At least Ely has a bouncy leg up on Aroldis Chapman, though Chapman provided intriguing viewing for Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk.

* * *

  • Hong-Chih Kuo surely won’t be available to pitch today and Jeff Weaver might be limited, but five other Dodger relievers — Jonathan Broxton, Ronald Belisario, Ramon Troncoso, Justin Miller and Travis Schilchting — can back up Carlos Monasterios after limited-to-no use over the past two nights.
  • Andre Ethier has moved into third place in the N.L. All-Star balloting for outfielders.
  • Seth Etherton had his second straight superb outing for Albuquerque on Tuesday, allowing no runs and six baserunners over seven innings while striking out seven. Despite his performance and Jamie Hoffmann going 3 for 4 to raise his OPS to .809, the Isotopes’ Scott Dohmann allowed four runs in the ninth inning to take a 5-4 loss.
  • Prodigal Dodger Travis Denker, 24, went 4 for 5 for Inland Empire on Tuesday to raise his on-base percentage with the 66ers to .419. Austin Gallagher, 21, went 4 for 4.
  • Trayvon Robinson of Chattanooga was named Southern League Hitter of the Week for May 24-30 after going 6 for 21 with three home runs.
  • While everyone waits for Jerry Sands to get promoted from Great Lakes, the slugger is slumping a bit. After going 0 for 3 with a walk in the Loons’ 6-2 victory Tuesday, Sands is 2 for his last 18 with no home runs and three walks. Longshot story Will Savage won again, allowing two runs over six innings so that his ERA rose to 2.26.
Jun 01

It’s nice to know you can come back to win, but getting an early lead is fine as well


Kirby Lee/US Presswire
Casey Blake is embraced by Matt Kemp at the end of Monday’s game. Clayton Kershaw’s white cap makes me feel that he has come in to celebrate from another era.

Hear James Loney talk about the “dumbest play I’ve ever done.” And then hear Charley Steiner with Loney’s redemption.

This was a bitter loss (among many) for Arizona. What’s your choice for 2010′s most bitter Dodger loss?

Elsewhere …

  • Earl Pomerantz writes about pressure. As usual, it’s a great read.
  • What song has the lyrics, “Trees fade out in the black of the night/Sometimes it don’t hardly seem worth the fight/But at least tonight I get to hear the golden voice of Vin Scully.” Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News has the answer.
  • The Dodgers’ ThinkCure! auction is about to launch. In the meantime, Darin Erstad’s upcoming charity auction, including an Erstad Gold Glove, will send 100 percent of the final sale price to support the Child Abuse Prevention Center in Orange.
May 31

Balki finish sends Dodgers into dance of joy, 5-4

Gosh, I’m sort of flummoxed – so flummoxed that I’m googling video of a show I never watched. I really just planned to talk about Chad Billingsley and his very interesting outing.

But I can’t exactly ignore the Dodgers coming back to tie tonight’s game against Arizona with two out in the eighth on a double error by Kelly Johnson. And I really can’t ignore the Dodgers winning, 5-4, in the most esoteric way I can recall, on a blink-and-you-missed-it, don’t-blink-and-you-still-might’ve-missed-it balk by Esmerling Vasquez to score Casey Blake.

All I can tell you is I watched the replay about a half-dozen times, and I didn’t see enough of a balk that I would have expected it to be called. Valdez’s twitch could easily have been written off as part of his movement off the rubber – especially at this stage of the game. If it had happened against the Dodgers, it would have been an infuriating way to lose – more infuriating than seeing Andre Ethier’s two-on, one-out line drive in the third inning turned into a double play, more infuriating than James Loney’s leap and subsequent crisis of faith, trying to advance to third base when the infield creeped in front of him with none out in the ninth and getting caught.

But thankfully, this infuriation is not on my plate. It’s over at places like AZ Snakepit, whose Jim McLennan points out that since 1954, there have been fewer walkoff balks in baseball than perfect games.

Part of me wonders whether the Dodgers won this game Thursday in Chicago, when Blake made himself a public expert on balk rules while protesting Ted Lilly’s position on the pitching rubber. Maybe he’s really got the umpires’ attention now. Who knows?

Gus Ruelas/AP
Chad Billingsley went a season-high eight innings, allowing four runs on six baserunners while striking out 11.

In any case, the Dodgers took a balkoff walk for the second time since 1969 and first time since 1989, according to the Dodger press notes. And in doing so, averted a sour start to the homestand … and completed the journey of Billingsley’s outing from bizarre to quietly kinda awesome.

Billingsley faced 10 batters before his fielders recorded an out, allowing a double and three homers while striking out six in the first two innings. Pretty crazy. But from that point on, he gave up two hits and no runs over the next six innings, finishing the night with 11 strikeouts and no walks in eight innings. You wanted a Billingsley who throws strikes, you wanted a Billingsley who’s resilient after a rough start – you wanted, in other words, the Billingsley that has been there almost his entire career  – you got him. (You also got a Billingsley who threw 120 pitches, his most since May 14 of last year and the second-most of his career.)

Not to be forgotten completely: Manny Ramirez hit his 550th career homer, while Matt Kemp and Rafael Furcal combined for five of the Dodgers’ seven hits on a night that Rodrigo Lopez otherwise owned them.

Update: A.J. Hinch saw the balk and didn’t argue.

May 31

Memorial Day game chat

My best, if inadequate, thoughts to everyone on this Memorial Day. It’s a humbling day that makes me feel fortunate. At Cardboard Gods, Josh Wilker posts a lengthy exchange he has had with a soldier in Afghanistan.

* * *

For the first time since April 22, 35 games ago, the Dodgers are fielding their intended starting lineup. As David Young writes at True Blue L.A., the Dodgers have gone 21-14 (.600) despite being without Manny Ramirez, Rafael Furcal and/or Andre Ethier in that time – not to mention Vicente Padilla and other pitchers. Celebrate Ethier’s return (and embrace of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” by reading Ramona Shelburne’s long feature story on him for ESPNLosAngeles.com.

As of this writing, the expected option of Xavier Paul to Albuquerque had not been made official.

  • Colorado’s incredible Ubaldo Jimenez couldn’t beat Clayton Kershaw, but he went 128 pitches to get the shutout victory over San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum today. Jimenez lowered his ERA to 0.78.
  • Great Lakes star Allen Webster, 20, pitched shutout ball for seven innings Sunday, lowering his ERA to 1.94, best in the Dodger organization. Webster has 50 strikeouts in 51 innings against 58 baserunners, with one home run allowed.
  • John Lindsey went 2 for 4 with his 10th home run Sunday for Albuquerque, pushing his OPS back up to 1.217. Lindsey then went 1 for 2 in the Isotopes 11-0 loss to Memphis today.
  • Mario Alvarez, 26, allowed one run on eight baserunners in six innings Sunday for Chattanooga, striking out five. Alvarez has a 3.81 ERA, but with 32 strikeouts in 54 1/3 innings and 91 baserunners allowed.
  • At Real Sports Heroes, Ross Porter writes about being the last person to interview Art Linkletter before his passing last week.
May 30

The fort

It just doesn’t go the way you think it will on paper.

In March 2008, I took on the job of writing 100 Things the week my third child was about to be born. On paper, this was practically a suicide mission. How was I going to write a book with a full-time job, this blog and a newborn baby to go with two other children? But that baby, as I wrote in the book’s dedication, did me the great favor of asking nothing of us except for milk, sleep and a clean diaper. If he had all three of those things, he did not complain at all. You put him in the bassinet and later the crib, and he would go to sleep like angels had told him so. I wrote the book tired, but couldn’t have asked for more support from that baby.

Now my youngest is a third-year veteran. This should have been the year he matured as a sleeper. But he’s regressed to the mean – below it, in fact. Sweet as can be, but sleeps lighter than a feather on the jet stream. Wakes up in the middle of the night for no apparent reason other than to just get a quick confirmation that we’re all still around, wakes up for good at dawn or earlier. His older brother has moved out of his room most nights to sleep in his sister’s room – partly because older brother adores older sister, but partly because we’re worried about older brother being conscious at school the next day.

I adore my family the way I adore the Dodgers – more so, of course – but my wife and I now feel the strain of three children the way the Dodgers feel the strain of trying to manage that fifth starter. No matter how much you love the game or its players, it is a chore. It’s nothing new as far as the history of this planet, but for us it’s a real test. And my wife’s been under the weather a good amount this year – think about a Dodger having nagging injuries. I’m working this labor of love plus my day job and other freelance work – think of Ramon Troncoso getting thrown into game after game ’til his arm’s about to fall off. It gets testy, inside my head as well as outside. I’ve snapped some words that I regret. But it’s no mystery why I snapped ‘em.

This afternoon, while I was out in the yard with my youngest, escaping from my worries and self-loathing with some semblance of idyllic parenting, my wife and my two oldest built the fort to end all forts in my daughter’s room. A domestic work of art. At bedtime, the two kids camped under it, high as kites. I let them have their fun, but as time passed after the lights went out, I got angry with them out of fear they’d wake the light-sleeping baby, out of fatigue that they just wouldn’t end their day so that I could end mine, out of frustration that for the nine billionth consecutive day, they just won’t do what I want when I want ‘em to.

I had a drink – something I do one or twice a month, usually when I’m upset about something – and watched a screener of Treme, next week’s Mardi Gras episode, the combination affecting me quite strongly.

My oldest son came out of the bedroom. His sister had moved out of the fort into her bed, and he was feeling alone. The fort, so fun on paper, wasn’t fun anymore. I hugged him and soothed him. I told him his sister was still with him even though she wasn’t in the fort anymore.  We were all there for him.  He went back into his sleeping bag in the fort and went to sleep.

Fifteen minutes later, my daughter came out. She wasn’t sleeping. She couldn’t sleep. I hugged her and soothed her. We had fought today. Long story short, I thought she was being selfish. She went in the backyard to stew. In the ninth inning of today’s Dodger game, with the tying runs on against Jonathan Broxton, I went outside into the yard to talk to her. And didn’t solve anything. It was that kind of thing. She’s 7 now – think how this is gonna go when she’s 17.

But for now, it was 9:45 p.m., more than an hour past her bedtime. I hugged her and soothed her. I held her. I want to stop the clock at these moments. She is so precious, but she is a live wire, and I have a temper. And yet we both have fun together. I don’t know which is gonna win out in the long run.  We’re gonna have to play the games to see what wins – happiness or the other.

I brought her back to bed. My oldest was asleep under the fort. My youngest was asleep in the next room. And within moments, the girl who couldn’t fall asleep fell asleep. My poor wife came upstairs to the bedroom, and the house is quiet, and I realize I’m writing this because for all my complaining, this is what I want to feel. I was wrong when I started writing this. This is how it’s supposed to be, on paper, when you have five crazy, uncontrollable, volatile people under the same roof.  This is how it goes. You feel like a loser, and then it catches you by surprise: You have more innings to play, and you’re still alive.

May 29

May 29 game chat

Curious to know what you all thought of Joe Torre’s decision last night to have Jonathan Broxton walk Carlos Gonzalez intentionally, with tying run Dexter Fowler on second base and two out in the bottom of the ninth, to face Ryan Spilborghs. I suppose it’s no more complicated than choosing to face a less dangerous hitter: Gonzalez’s OPS and batting average were about 75 points higher than Spilborghs’ – plus, it created a force out at all three bases. The risk was that it meant that the Rockies could win the game with a double – and that if Spilborghs walked, Todd Helton would be batting with the bases loaded.

I’m going to credit Joe Torre with the right decision here – though I don’t know that I would have done it, I think he might have had the right idea. What do you think?

* * *

  • A memorial for Jose Lima was held in New York on Friday. Adry Torres covered it for ESPNNewYork.com (via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy).
  • James McDonald was placed on the AAA seven-day disabled list, as of Thursday, according to Christopher Jackson of the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner. McDonald was sent to Camelback Ranch for further evaluation.
  • Albuquerque activated Chin-Lung Hu from the disabled list, according to the Isotopes’ press notes, which mention that the team’s roster has made 12 transactions in the past 10 days.
  • Fernando Valenzuela has caught Ubaldomania, writes Jim Armstrong for the Denver Post.
  • Two former Dodgers were cut loose today: Paul Lo Duca released by the Rockies’ AAA team in Colorado Springs, Claudio Vargas designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers. (Vinny Rottino, by the way, now plays for AA Jacksonville.)
  • Update: Joe Torre said that they want to give John Ely an extra day of rest before his next start, which means that they are probably going to insert Charlie Haeger into the rotation Tuesday (too soon for Carlos Monasterios) and push Ely to Wednesday.
May 28

Sale on goose eggs in Philly

Believe it or not, the Dodgers’ two shutout losses over the past three games was not the worst offensive performance by a 2009 National League Championship Series participant. Philadelphia has been shut out for three straight games (by the Mets) and in four of their past five. Check out the linescores at Beerleaguer: In 46 of their past 47 innings, Philadelphia has come up empty.

  • Brian Akin of Dear (Tommy) John Letters has officially retired from baseball and taken a job as an IT analyst.
  • If I’m being perfectly honest, with every day that passed since my release, two things became more and more clear to me:

    1. The likelihood of a team taking a chance on me started low and diminished with time.
    2. I wasn’t missing the game as much as I had anticipated.

    I definitely miss my teammates and I miss the camaraderie. But I think the best part about playing baseball was having that clearly defined goal in your sights and pursuing it relentlessly. The good news is, I started to realize that I can find that elsewhere. Any disappointment I’m feeling is not because I no longer get to play baseball, it’s because I didn’t achieve my goal of pitching in the Major Leagues. And since I have no regrets about the way I chased that goal, this disappointment has been a surprisingly easy pill to swallow.

  • Ethan Martin threw a three-hit shutout with two walks and eight strikeouts for Inland Empire against Bakersfield on Thursday. After an early May slump, Martin has allowed one run over his past 15 innings. Matt Wallach had three of the 66ers’ seven hits.
  • Seth Etherton, who replaced Josh Towers in the Albuquerque rotation, pitched three-hit shutout ball over seven innings while striking out 11. John Lindsey homered, and Jay Gibbons had three hits.
  • Will Savage, trying to make a go of it in the low minors at age 25, remains hot for Great Lakes. He allowed two runs over eight innings, and his ERA actually rose to 2.25.
  • A book about Old Hoss Radbourn is reviewed by @oldhossradbourn at Big League Stew.
  • Movie City Indie has “(500) Days of Summer” re-cut as a thriller (via L.A. Observed, which also notes the retirement of 43-year KABC vet Bob Banfield, who started there six months before I was born.).
  • “Carson’s Cellar,” the 1951-52 series hosted by Johnny Carson, is featured in a clip at Franklin Avenue.
May 27

Dodgers cut loose Ramon Ortiz, bring up Justin Miller

The Dodgers did a little bait and switch: After telling us 18 hours ago that Ramon Ortiz would back up Carlos Monasterios in the latter’s start Friday, they designated Ortiz for assignment., according to manager Joe Torre (via the Dodgers’ public relations department).

Los Angeles has brought up Justin Miller from Albuquerque, just in time for Vin Scully to talk about the ex-Giant’s many tattoos on this weekend’s telecasts from Colorado. Miller has a 2.22 ERA for the Isotopes in 24 1/3 innings with 25 baserunners allowed against 25 strikeouts.

Miller had a 3.18 ERA with 36 strikeouts in 56 2/3 innings for San Francisco in 2009, a year that ended with arm trouble.

Torre told reporters that the Dodgers have offered Ortiz a minor-league assignment and that Ortiz is discussing it with his agent. Torre also said that Charlie Haeger will rejoin the Dodgers sometime soon.

Finally, Andre Ethier will play in minor-league rehab games for Albuquerque at Memphis on Friday and Saturday.

May 26

Dodgers turn out the lights at Wrigley, 8-5


Nam Y. Huh/AP
Players and fans wait during the fourth-inning power outage at Wrigley Field.

Gosh, there are just so many jokes you can make about a power outage at a baseball game, I really don’t know which one to pick. It’s like Cyrano offering multiple choices for the right nose hose. But the Dodgers were just happy to get the last laugh tonight with an 8-5 victory over the Cubs.

This was a weird one from the start for the strike-minded Chad Billingsley, who faced 11 batters in the first two innings but threw only 28 pitches in the process, allowing one run. In the third inning, a Rafael Furcal error (his third in two games) on a potential double-play grounded forced Billingsley into extended dance mode. A bases-loaded hit batter cut the Dodgers’ lead to 5-2, but Billingsley got out the final two batters of the inning to escape further damage.

Then in the fourth, with Billingsley due up, this became the night the lights went out in Georgia – er, Chicago.  The 18-minute delay, combined with the extra work from the Furcal inning, seemed likely to hasten Billingsley’s exit from the game, though he did face only one batter over the minimum in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings. But in the sixth, after the Dodgers built their lead up to 7-2, Billingsley was pulled after allowing a one-out homer to Xavier Nady and a single to Kosuke Fukudome. He finished the night charged with two earned runs on a career-high 10 hits but only one walk, while striking out six. It wasn’t his best performance in recent weeks, but hard to be too critical considering all the mummenschanz. He faced 28 batters and was charged with 30 balls out of the strike zone.

Billingsley, for those who care about such things, is quietly on pace for a 21-win season. He has a 2.51 ERA in seven starts dating back to April 20.

Reliever Ronald Belisario induced a double play to end the sixth but was charged with two runs in the seventh. Those came thanks in part to two hits to left (an Alfonso Soriano double off Belisario, a two-run Jeff Baker triple off Hong-Chih Kuo) that would have been caught by a better left fielder than Manny Ramirez, who continues to look worse in the outfield since he returned from the disabled list than he ever has as a Dodger. Instead, even though Kuo struck out the side, the Dodger lead was cut to 7-5.

Jonathan Broxton, rested since Saturday, appeared with one out in the eighth and a runner on first and induced the Cubs to hit into their third double play of the night (not counting, obviously, the one Furcal didn’t get). Broxton then retired the side in order in the ninth for the sixth five-out save of his career.

Six different Dodgers drove in runs, including James Loney, who singled, doubled and tripled. Casey Blake drove in the Dodgers’ first run with a double and their last run with a solo homer that enabled Loney to get a chance to hit for the cycle. Loney flied to medium left field.

And so the Dodgers avoided hitting a mini-swoon, ending their two-game losing streak. Early game on Thursday: lights or no lights.

May 26

Venus Flytrap explains the atom, but not the bullpen

Joe Torre confirmed to reporters today that the Dodgers will call up a pitcher from Albuquerque before Friday’s game. He also said that Ramon Ortiz would be backing up Carlos Monasterios that day.

Andre Ethier is likely to head out soon on a rehab assignment in Albuquerque, Torre and the Dodgers said.

Elsewhere …

  • John Lackey has an ERA is above 5.00. Alex Remington of Big League Stew says it’s Lackey’s command.  If Lackey were a Dodger, John Ely could turn him around.
  • Dodger photographer extraordinaire Jon SooHoo has created the Dodger Photog Blog.  (via TheLFP.com)
  • Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports interviews Toronto batting coach Dwayne Murphy about the Blue Jays’ record pace for home runs. “I think on-base percentage is an overrated stat,” Murphy said. “Those guys getting on base, most of them aren’t getting them in. Give me somebody who drives them in after that. I need guys who can drive the ball.”
  • Stephen Fry supports the Great Britain baseball team.  Awesome. (Thanks, Baseball Musings.)
  • Al Yellon of Bleed Cubbie Blue looks at the latest in policing drinking problems in the Wrigley Field bleachers.
  • If you came to last night’s game with a bleacher ticket, and wanted to drink alcohol, you needed to get a wristband from crowd control. This is an outstanding idea and props to the Cubs for being proactive after the problems a couple of weeks ago and coming up with a solution. There were crowd control people checking ID’s as people entered, and also several tables set up inside the bleachers issuing wristbands if you missed that coming in.

    While it’s not a perfect system, it should cut way down on the underage drinking. Incidentally, even though ID’s are checked as you get a wristband, they will be checked again by the alcohol servers. There were a few people ejected last night, but no fights and the crowd, though small — the bleachers were only about 2/3 full and the paid attendance of 34,749 was the smallest of the season — was peaceful.

  • Are the Padres going to turn into pumpkins? Longtime Ducksnorts blogger Geoff Young asks and answers at The Hardball Times.
May 25

Dempster’s Revenge: Cubs shut out Dodgers (again)


Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
In his past 15 innings against the Dodgers, Ryan Dempster has allowed four runners to reach second base and none to score.

Ryan Dempster would rather have the first game of the 2008 National League Division Series back, but he’s doing well with consolation prizes.

Since giving up the NLDS-changing grand slam in October 2008, Dempster has pitched twice for the Cubs against the Dodgers – May 30 last year and tonight – and done nothing less than throw 15 consecutive scoreless innings against the Dodgers, who lost their second straight game after winning 12 of 13, 3-0.

Dempster went eight innings this time around, allowing three hits and walking one while striking out seven. Russell Martin (single), Manny Ramirez (single and walk) and Casey Blake (single) were the only baserunners for the Dodgers, whose final 16 hitters were retired by Dempster and Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.

Rafael Furcal had a miserable return from the disabled list, going 0 for 4 with two errors, each of which led to an unearned run. The first was a failed backhand pickup on a Ryan Theriot grounder leading off the bottom of the sixth, with Theriot coming around to score on a Derrek Lee single to break a scoreless duel between Dempster and Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw lowered his ERA for the season to 2.90 with six innings of four-hit, two-walk, four-strikeout ball, but was charged with the loss.

Furcal then threw in the dirt after fielding a Starlin Castro grounder starting the bottom of the eighth, and Lee (3 for 3 with a walk) homered off reliever Ramon Troncoso – who told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com hours before that he had figured out the flaw in his delivery that caused him to give up three other homers last week – to give the Cubs breathing room.

In his past four starts covering 28 1/3 innings, Kershaw’s ERA is 0.64.

Update: Rafael Furcal wasn’t the only one who goofed Tuesday. I managed to miss another start Ryan Dempster made against the Dodgers last year – August 23. Thanks to commenter DodgerKramer for alerting me. Dempster allowed no earned runs in seven innings that outing, meaning that his streak of innings without allowing an earned run against the Dodgers is actually 22.

May 25

Kershaw LXI: Kershawrms and the Man


Christopher Hanewinckel/US Presswire
Clayton Kershaw is averaging 105 pitches per game in nine starts this season. Chad Billingsley averaged 110 in his first nine starts of 2009.

Clayton Kershaw, 22, threw 3,020 pitches last season and, with 942 under his belt in 2010, is on pace for approximately 3,600 this season. In fact, he has an extremely viable chance of throwing the most pitches of anyone in the majors age 23 or under since 2000.

The top 10 names on the list are Felix Hernandez, Scott Kazmir, Matt Cain, Ryan Dempster (tonight’s Cubs starter), Dontrelle Willis, Barry Zito, Randy Wolf, Ben Sheets, Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano. Mark Prior is 13th on the list, and Chad Billingsley’s 2008 season is 17th.

It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because trouble comes to pitchers with all kinds of histories. But FYI …

Name Pitches Year Trouble?
Hernandez 3633 2009  
Kazmir 3608 2007 2009
Cain 3606 2008  
Dempster 3606 2000 2001
Willis 3555 2005 2007
Zito 3538 2001 2004 or 2007?
Wolf 3528 2000 mid-2004
Sheets 3510 2002 mid-2003
Buehrle 3510 2002  
Zambrano 3471 2004 2010

* * *

Watch what happens when Dempster throws a changeup tonight. Opponents are 1 for 27 against his changeup this season, but the Dodgers are batting .305 against them, according to John Fisher of ESPN Stats and Information.

Including his 2008 playoff grand slam, James Loney has hit five consecutive fly balls off Dempster. The other four were caught. Loney’s last regular-season hit off Dempster was in 2007.

* * *

Kyle Russell has been on a tear for Class A Inland Empire, with six homers in his past six games. For the season, the 6-foot-5 outfielder has an on-base percentage of .431 and slugging percentage of .652. Writes Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus: “Drafted as a college senior, he turns 24 in June so it’s time to move him up, and scouts still aren’t convinced that he can hit enough at the upper levels, as evidenced by his 53 whiffs in 164 at-bats. One way or another, it’s time to find out.” A move could be tied into a promotion for the endlessly hot Jerry Sands, who is at .457/.758 for Low A Great Lakes.