May 08

Calf of Manny is better than none


Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Tonight will be Manny Ramirez’s 12th start in 30 Dodger games this season.

Tonight’s the first time we’re taking our family of five to a night game.  Taking bets on who lasts longer: my 2-year-old or Charlie Haeger.

* * *

Mike Piazza hopes there’s a Mets cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, according to Joe Brescia of the New York Times (via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy).

May 08

Saturday morning crib sheet

  • Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com recaps the Dodgers’ 6-5 victory over Colorado on Friday.
  • Friday was a day for the ages: 47-year-old Jamie Moyer becoming the oldest pitcher to throw a complete-game shutout, and 20-year-old Starlin Castro (baseball’s first player born in the 1990s) setting the record for most RBI in a major-league debut. (By the way, check out Satchel Paige’s 12-inning shutout at age 46.)
  • Fifty years ago today, “quiet-mannered, pleasant gentleman of 32″ Vin Scully had this interview in the Times (via Keith Thursby of the Daily Mirror). You might find some anecdotes there you haven’t heard before.
May 07

Andre Ethier just plain rocks


Gary A. Vasquez/US Presswire
Andre Ethier connects for his walkoff grand slam Thursday.

Andre Ethier’s walking off right into the stuff of legend, the kind of thing people will remember decades from now, the kind of thing you want to appreciate even when times aren’t great.

Ethier has converted 25 percent of his 44 walkoff opportunities, the highest percentage in baseball since 2006 (minumum 20 opportunities), according to David Pinto of Baseball Musings.

By comparison, Pinto writes, Adrian Gonzalez of San Diego has had 59 walkoff opportunities in that time and converted two, and Florida’s Hanley Ramirez is 0 for 50.

Stat of the Day notes that Ethier’s 11 walkoff hits since 2008 are twice as many as anyone else in baseball. Five of Ethier’s past six have been homers.

Ethier remains a Triple Crown contender in the early going, tied for the National League lead in homers and tops in RBI, but despite what has been written elsewhere, he still doesn’t lead the league in batting average. Washington’s Ivan Rodriguez is 31 for 77 (.403) with 84 total plate appearances. Washington has played 28 games, so he needs 87 PA to qualify for the league lead. If you give him three more outs, as the rules would dictate at the end of the season, Rodriguez would be 31 for 80 – .388 – ahead of Ethier’s .377. Ethier still leads the NL in slugging percentage and OPS.

By the way, what is Ivan Rodriguez doing leading the NL in batting average?

* * *

Quote of the mornin’ comes from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, in the wake of key contributions by John Ely and Xavier Paul in Thursday’s victory: “Maybe instead of sending more rookies down, the Dodgers should be calling more of them up.”

May 06

Party at Ely-sian Park: Dodgers 7, Brewers 3


Jeff Gross/Getty Images
John Ely

With a near-perfect changeup offsetting a fastball that sat in the high 80s, John Ely simply dazzled in his second major-league start, which the Dodgers won, 7-3.*

For the first six innings, Ely, who turns 24 in a week, put the fun in efficiency, requiring only 80 pitches to shut out Milwaukee on two singles and no walks while striking out seven. He retired 16 batters in a row after allowing a second-inning hit to Casey McGehee. His only three-ball counts in the first six innings came against Jim Edmonds, who struck out each time (and one other).

The Brewers pecked away at Ely in the seventh, fouling off 11 of his 28 pitches to scratch across their only run. It remains to be seen whether Ely can survive with that fastball, but if he can keep pairing it up with that change while attacking the strike zone, there’s potential. And if nothing else, he was a sight for sore eyes and arms tonight.

The Dodgers earlier indicated that Ely would head back to the minor leagues after today’s performance to make room for Jeff Weaver coming off the disabled list, but it’s almost unfathomable that the team would do so with its starting pitching in the disarray it has been in. Keeping Ely would require the Dodgers to shed Ramon Ortiz – if somehow the Dodgers can’t wrap their head around letting him go, then Ely will rejoin Albuquerque inside of 24 hours.

I’m looking at that last paragraph again. Keeping a 24-year-old pitcher with a plus changeup who threw six shutout innings would require the Dodgers to let go of 37-year-old Ramon Ortiz. This is kind of like the $100 question on “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?”

*Footnote: The Dodgers won after Jonathan Broxton blew the save on a walkoff grand slam by Andre Ethier in the bottom of the ninth.

May 04

Farewell, Ernie Harwell

The legendary Ernie Harwell, the former Dodger and longtime Tiger broadcaster, passed away today at age 92. He was scheduled to be awarded the Vin Scully Lifetime Achievement Award in Sports Broadcasting by Fordham University on Wednesday.

We’ll miss you, Ernie.

May 04

Rafael Furcal officially heads to disabled list


Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Rafael Furcal

The Dodgers officially placed Rafael Furcal on the disabled list and chose to call up Nick Green instead of Chin-Lung Hu to take his place on the roster, according to their daily press notes. Furcal will be eligible to come off the DL on May 13. Cory Wade was moved to the 60-day disabled list to make room for Green on the 40-man roster.

Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness argues why Hu should have gotten the call.

May 02

Heroes aplenty as Dodgers romp over Pirates

The magnificent Andre Ethier is the Dodger cover boy these days, a fact you’ll see reflected in Monday’s edition of Dodger Cogs and Dogs. Either homered in his third straight game – homered twice today, in fact – and has an OPS this year of 1.161. But in a quick post summing up today’s 9-3 romp over Pittsburgh, a big tip of the hat must go to two others.

Hiroki Kuroda cruised for eight innings, allowing one run on a walk, four singles and a double over 98 pitches to lower his 2010 ERA to 2.08. Meanwhile, Blake DeWitt had his first career four-hit game, capped by a two-run double that lifted his season on-base percentage over .400 and his OPS to .767.

Kuroda seemed well-positioned to give the Dodgers their first complete game of the season, but Joe Torre brought in George Sherrill to close it out – leading to the day’s one sour moment. Sherrill allowed two runs on three hits and a walk and was bailed out by Ronald Belisario, who got the final out to end the game.

Either had an RBI single in addition to his two-run homer in the fifth and solo shot in the eighth. Matt Kemp singled, doubled, walked, scored three runs and made a diving catch in center. (He was also caught stealing for the sixth time this year on a close play). Ronnie Belliard made a great over-the-shoulder catch while playing third base. James Loney had a double and two singles to raise his home batting average to .500 (19 for 38), and reserves Xavier Paul and Jamey Carroll each had two hits.

The Dodgers are now 7-3 at home, 4-11 on the road.

May 01

Monasterios provides relief as Dodger starter, 5-1


Gus Ruelas/AP
Carlos Monasterios allowed three baserunners in each of the first two innings, but just one run.

Fluke or find? Carlos Monasterios continues to make the question an intriguing one.

From a town called Obscurity come the man who continues to make it across the tightrope when the Dodgers need him to, Monasterios this time pitching four innings of one-run ball – while also keying a game-changing three-run third inning with his first career hit – in the Dodgers’ 5-1 victory over Pittsburgh tonight.

Gus Ruelas/AP
Andrew McCutchen can only watch Andre Ethier’s third-inning drive go beyond his reach.

Working with a 75-pitch limit, Monasterios didn’t avoid trouble, giving up three hits (including a first-inning Andrew McCutchen home run) and a walk while hitting two batters in the first two innings, but he held strong in adversity. And in his final two innings, he retired six of seven batters.

In the bottom of the third, Monasterios and Russell Martin singled ahead of Andre Ethier’s three-run homer that gave the Dodgers a lead they didn’t come close to surrendering.

Ramon Ortiz succeeded Monasterios and was even more impressive, striking out five in three innings while allowing two baserunners, and Hong-Chih Kuo pitched a perfect eighth. I haven’t gotten to the Ramon Troncoso story yet, but inexplicably the righty pitched a one-hit ninth in his 16th appearance in 24 games – a 108-game pace. Yeah, this is worth exploring.

In the meantime, the Dodger bullpen, counting the nine innings tonight, has allowed one run in its past 14 2/3 innings.

Ethier and James Loney each added two doubles, and Reed Johnson had a double and a single.

Apr 27

Beware the great pitching matchup


Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Citi Field fans wait out a rain delay during the sixth inning of the game between the New York Mets and the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

Spontaneously delivered to us by Coach Nature, Hiroki Kuroda vs. Johan Santana is a pretty great matchup for the first game of today’s doubleheader. But the Dodger press notes point out that the last time the Dodgers played a straight doubleheader in New York, on August 14, 1990, the Game 1 matchup was Dwight Gooden vs. Ramon Martinez. Final score of that one? Mets 9, Dodgers 8, with both starting pitchers allowing seven runs.

Howard Johnson was right … on with a three-run homer in the first inning, giving the Mets a lead they never quite relinquished despite three hits and four RBI by Dodger leadoff-hitting third baseman Lenny Harris.

* * *

Vicente Padilla has an irritated radial nerve in his right forearm. The Dodgers say they have not set a timetable for his return; True Blue L.A. has more details about the injury, including a reference point with Tampa Bay’s Matt Garza, who spent 16 days on the disabled list with it in 2008 but came back strong.

Apr 26

Dodgers rained out — doubleheader Tuesday

The Dodgers have been rained out at New York tonight, with a doubleheader scheduled for Tuesday beginning at 1 p.m.

Hiroki Kuroda will start one game; the second will be either by Charlie Haeger or a minor-leaguer. (Unless Haeger starts both games!) John Ely was scratched from his Albuquerque start tonight, so he is most likely to make his major-league debut either Tuesday or Wednesday.

By the way, we don’t know how long Vicente Padilla will be out, but here’s a bad sign: He told Molly Knight of ESPN the Magazine, “In the past I’ve been able to throw through this, but I can’t even do that. Never had pain this bad before.”

In other notes …

  • Is it time for the Dodgers to hire Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone as pitching coach? You be the judge.
  • You don’t usually see negative information in the Dodger press notes … so this shows hard the Dodger fielding travails have been to ignore: “The Dodgers made two errors Saturday for the eighth time this season and have now made 20 miscues on the season. In 2009, the Dodgers committed their 20th error on May 25 and didn’t make two errors in a game eight times until September 4. The club’s 20 errors lead the Major Leagues.”
  • Former Dodger exec Charles Steinberg has officially become MLB commissioner Bud Selig’s senior adviser for public affairs, reports Chuck Schilken of the Fabulous Forum.

Update: Kuroda vs. Johan Santana in Game 1; Haeger vs. Oliver Perez in Game 2.

Apr 25

Billingsley shines, offense dims in Dodgers’ 1-0 loss


Nick Wass/AP
Chad Billingsley averaged 14.3 pitches per inning today.

If there is a feel-good loss, the Dodgers might have felt one today.

Despite being shutout for the second time in eight games and again falling two games below .500, the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley might be moping less than normal after the righthander delivered his best start of the year Sunday, allowing one run over six innings in the Dodgers’ 1-0 loss to Washington.

Billingsley’s only unintentional walk of the day contributed to the game’s only run, but otherwise he was on top of his game. He used an efficient 86 pitches over six innings, allowing four hits and striking out five. He averaged five pitches outside the strike zone per inning, not counting a sixth-inning intentional walk following a two-out, Cristian Guzman double that was the result of a miscommunication between Matt Kemp and Garret Anderson. (Kemp called for the ball, but Anderson didn’t back off Kemp’s path.)

With runners on first and second, Billingsley went 2-2 to Josh Willingham before getting him to ground out and end his cleanest outing since September 23 at this same ballpark, when he pitched no-hit ball for 5 2/3 innings before giving up two walks and a three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman.

Had the Dodgers been leading – which would have been a possibility had they converted three consecutive one-out singles in the first inning into a run – Billingsley would certainly have pitched in a seventh inning for the first time since July 5. But down by a run with a runner on first, Joe Torre pulled Billingsley for pinch-hitter Andre Ethier. Ethier grounded into a double play.

After Ramon Troncoso retired six of seven players he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, the Dodgers had one final chance when James Loney (2 for 4) led off the ninth with an opposite-field double. But pinch-runner Jamey Carroll couldn’t advance on Casey Blake’s, I don’t know, confusing one-hopper to Guzman. Justin Maxwell then made a diving catch on Ronnie Belliard’s blooper to right, and Anderson wrapped up a miserable, three-strikeout day with an easy pop to center.

It’s just one game in the season for Billingsley, but it was a promising one. The only time things really went wrong for him was when the leadoff single by Nyler Morgan was followed by an ugly four-pitch walk to Adam Kennedy. But between then and two outs in the sixth, Billingsley only one three-ball count and scattered two singles. Though no one likes a 1-0 loss, the Dodgers might hate this one a little less.

Apr 25

Vin Scully traveled in mysterious ways


Above, Ken Levine passes along a fun promo for Vin Scully’s 1967 Rose Parade co-hosting gig with the bewitching Elizabeth Montgomery.   We know Scully’s voice can cut through time and space, but this is ridiculous!

In contrast, while I share the Left Field Pavilion’s disappointment at how many non-Dodger events are included in this MLB Network tribute to Scully, it’s all worth it for the pictures of Scully hitchhiking. Yes, hitchhiking.

  • The somewhat press-shy Andre Ethier gave a fairly lengthy interview to Steve Greenberg of SportingNews.com.
  • Red-hot Jerry Sands of the Dodgers’ Class A team in Great Lakes is profiled by Hugh Bernreuter of the Saginaw News. Sands hit two homers Saturday to up his season batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage to .443/.500/.967.
  • John Lindsey Watch: In Albuquerque’s 6-2 victory over Omaha on Saturday, Lindsey homered and singled in five at-bats, which meant his season batting average and on-base percentage fell to .500 and .548. His slugging percentage did tick up to .821.
  • By comparison, Isotopes third baseman Russ Mitchell went 3 for 5 and is up to a .359 OBP and .446 slugging.
  • Ivan DeJesus, Jr. had been struggling at Albuqerque, so his 3 for 5 came in handy. His overall 2010 offense still remains down in the .277/.323 dumps.