Sep 14

One hit, one run, one Kershaw, one shutout win over the Giants

Jason O. Watson/US PresswireThe man.

Give Clayton Kershaw a hit, and he’ll take it a mile.

It wasn’t quite the same as Sandy Koufax’s perfect game, 45 years and five days ago, but it was close enough. It’ll do, pig.

Supported by exactly one hit and exactly one run from the Dodger offense, Kershaw wrote another chapter in what looks like a storybook career, pitching his first complete game and shutout to defeat San Francisco, 1-0.

Kershaw, who appeared to have perfect game stuff himself in the early going, retired the first 10 batters before allowing the first of his four hits. He struck out only four – including the game’s final batter, Aubrey Huff – but he walked none while throwing an oh-so-appropriate 111 pitches. He now has 201 strikeouts and a 2.85 ERA on the year. The Giants, essentially, couldn’t touch him.

The same was essentially true for the Dodgers against San Francisco starter Barry Zito. Matt Kemp had the game’s only hit, a second-inning single. That was preceded by a first-inning walk by Rafael Furcal. And Los Angeles did nothing else … but win the game.

The Dodgers scored their run in the following manner: With one out, Reed Johnson was hit by a pitch and sacrificed to second base by Kershaw (his league-leading 17th sacrifice hit of the season). Zito pitched around Rafael Furcal, walking him to get to Andre Ethier, who had hit into a double play and struck out against the lefty in two previous at-bats tonight. In one of the more suspenseful at-bats this doleful Dodger team has seen in a while, Ethier worked out a full-count walk.

With the bases loaded, Casey Blake hit a ball up the middle that looked like it might be a single or a double-play ball when it left the bat. It was neither. Shortstop Jose Uribe reached it but bobbled it for an error, allowing Johnson to score. And that was it. The Dodgers didn’t get another baserunner for the rest of the game.

Of course, it has only been two years since the Dodgers won with fewer hits – their hitless victory over the Angels on June 28, 2008. It was a great September game to be a part of, even for a losing team. Kershaw made it happen.

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  • With a bout of plantar fasciitis, Scott Podsednik has joined Vicente Padilla on the probably-out-for-the-season list, reports Tony Jackson of Podsednik, who had a .313 on-base percentage and .338 slugging percentage with five steals in eight attempts after coming to the Dodgers in exchange for Elisaul Pimentel and Lucas May, has the option of accepting $2 million from the Dodgers for the 2011 season – if the Dodgers don’t buy out his option for $100,000 –  or becoming a free agent.
  • Given the possibility that litigation in the Dodger ownership battle could drag out for years, Bill Shaikin of the Times explores whether MLB commissioner Bud Selig will or even can intervene.
  • Travis Schlichting’s attempts to come back from injury woes are documented by David Lassen of the Press-Enterprise.
Sep 14

Kershaw LXXXI: Kershawctupus

Let me introduce you to a really cool website, (which I found via Baseball Think Factory). It offers all kinds of historic film footage — here’s a link to what comes up under a Dodgers search. For example: a quick newsreel peek at the Dodgers during Spring Training, 1953. I’ve also gotten lost looking up various old pieces of Los Angeles history.

* * *

Dodger manager Joe Torre, who has indicated he wanted to play the most competitive Dodger lineup in remaining games against contenders, chose lefty-hitting Jay Gibbons at first base over lefty-hitting James Loney against lefty San Francisco pitcher Barry Zito. Loney is 2 for 26 with no walks in his career against Zito. Gibbons is 3 for 15 with a double and two walks.

Using this criteria, Torre ran out of options somewhat quickly.

* * *

Late add: the 2011 tentative Dodger schedule. Season opener on April Fool’s Day at home against the Giants. It’s the first Friday opener for the Dodgers in 32 years, Tony Jackson writes – changes things up, but I kind of don’t mind it.

Sep 14

McDonaldmania in Pittsburgh

Kathy Kmonicek/APJames McDonald pitched eight shutout innings for the Pirates on Monday.

It’s not like he’s got the upside of Carlos Santana, but will you look at what James McDonald is doing for Pittsburgh?

McDonald has a 3.49 ERA in eight starts with the Pirates. That includes five runs he allowed in the seventh inning of a game in which Pittsburgh couldn’t come to his rescue in time; otherwise his ERA with the team would be 2.59, with more than eight strikeouts per nine innings.

The most telling stat in the above paragraph? Eight starts. That’s three more than McDonald had in his Dodger career, and they’ve all come right in a row. Even if McDonald had a disappointing start, Pittsburgh put him right out there again.

Now, perhaps that’s a luxury that the Pirates can afford that the Dodgers felt they couldn’t. And maybe McDonald needed the so-called change of scenery — although I think that’s more often a mythical benefit than a real one. Maybe this is just McDonald’s version of Elymania, a hot streak whose end is around the corner.

The fact remains, the Dodgers parted with their two-time minor league pitcher of the year and an effective member of their 2009 bullpen, earning a minimum salary, in order to acquire Octavio Dotel. They nurtured McDonald through eight years in the organization, and then gave up too soon.

* * *

Ramona Shelburne, on a roll, continues reaping the rewards of her investment of time in the Albuquerque Isotopes with this feature on Dodger managerial candidate Tim Wallach. The Wallach bandwagon has enough momentum that it’s going to be quite jarring if he doesn’t get the job.

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Update: Jack Moore of Fangraphs says McDonald’s peripheral stats compare well with David Price of Tampa Bay.

Sep 13

Trivial pursuit: Driving 65 in Albuquerque

In Cogs and Dogs today, I mentioned the 42 pitchers that Albuquerque used this year. In all, the Isotopes ran through no fewer than 65 players in 143 games. Nine countries and 21 U.S. states were represented on the team, most commonly the Dominican Republic.

Jamie Hoffmann led Albuquerque in plate appearances with 608; Tim Corcoran in innings with 107.

Click the link in the first paragraph to see the whole list. It’s a trivia bonanza.

Sep 13

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 13

Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireJeff Weaver – middling player of a middling team.

Man, this takes a long time to do now.

9/13 8/23 8/9 7/26 7/12 High Low Player Comment
1 1 1 1 1 1 20 Clayton Kershaw Needs three strikeouts to become youngest Dodger with 200K since Ramon Martinez (1990).
2 2 3 3 5 1 5 Hiroki Kuroda Losing record (27-29) as Dodger despite 3.59 career ERA.
3 3 4 4 3 1 11 Andre Ethier .716 OPS in 380 plate appearances since return from DL May 31.
4 4 6 10 10 4 12 Chad Billingsley After decline from 9.0 K/9 in ’08 to 7.4 in ’10, this is a key stat to watch in ’11.
5 5 2 2 2 2 14 Rafael Furcal Needs to play in 15 of Dodgers’ final 19 games to reach 100.
6 6 5 7 8 6 18 Hong-Chih Kuo ERA after first outing of season: 54.00. Has improved since.
7 7 10 8 9 1 11 Matt Kemp Who are the only Dodgers besides Kemp to have 100 more K than BB? Cory Snyder and Mike Marshall.
8 8 15 16 14 8 21 Jamey Carroll Carroll, Kemp have team-high 49 walks; Ethier 48.
9 9 7 5 6 5 24 James Loney One home run in past 36 starts.
10 13 12 11 11 6 16 Casey Blake Can we find a platoon partner for him? .943 OPS vs. lefties in ’10.
11 11 9 9 7 4 13 Jonathan Broxton Since minor-league debut in 2002, has never balked.
12 12 11 6 4 3 12 Manny Ramirez Last home run was June 19.
13 17 25 NR NR 17 25 Ted Lilly Worst HR/9 rate (1.6) on Dodgers. Could become third L.A. Dodger pitcher to give up more homers than walks (min. 10 HR) after Newcombe, Mulholland.
14 14 13 14 15 2 15 Russell Martin Despite injury, still ranks second in NL in catcher assists this season (59).
15 10 8 12 17 8 25 Vicente Padilla 3.80 ERA in 151 1/3 innings as Dodger, including playoffs.
16 15 14 15 13 12 15 Blake DeWitt After good start, now in 8-for-56 slump with Cubs (three walks, one homer.)
17 18 17 13 12 5 26 John Ely Threw over 100 pitches in first three Dodger starts, then only once in past 12.
18 19 20 20 19 8 20 Reed Johnson Remains strong against lefties, except for lack of home runs against them.
19 24 26 26 NR 24 26 Kenley Jansen No walks, seven strikeouts in past four outings (four innings).
20 16 16 17 21 7 21 Carlos Monasterios Tied with Kuroda, Kershaw in race for most HR allowed by Dodger pitcher in ’10, one behind Padilla.
21 27 33 NR NR 27 33 Jay Gibbons His HR on Sunday was 17th by a Dodger cleanup hitter in 2010.
22 NR NR NR NR NR NR Rod Barajas 26th all-time in HR by L.A. Dodger catchers, one behind Navarro, Pena and Prince.
23 21 28 NR NR 21 28 Ryan Theriot In 0-for-21 slump, with three walks.
24 22 21 21 22 21 24 Travis Schlichting One of two Dodgers with 1.000 winning percentage this year.
25 20 19 18 16 15 22 Jeff Weaver Sunday outing was his first appearance in September. Has pitched 4 2/3 shutout innings since coming off DL in late August.
26 23 23 24 24 9 24 Ramon Troncoso Three HR in 82 2/3 IP last year, seven in 44 2/3 this year.
27 25 18 19 18 17 25 Ronald Belisario 24 baserunners in 12 2/3 innings since return from restricted list.
28 26 32 NR NR 26 32 Octavio Dotel Has allowed more walks than hits as a Dodger.
29 28 34 NR NR 28 34 Scott Podsednik Battling plantar fasciitis, according to Tony Jackson.
30 29 24 23 20 7 29 Ronnie Belliard Career batting average of .273, but never hit .300 in a single year.
31 30 27 25 25 23 30 Justin Miller Finished AAA season with 1.95 ERA, 9.0 K/9.
32 31 22 22 23 15 31 Xavier Paul Twelve HR with Isotopes this year, but no homers in 121 at-bats with Dodgers.
33 33 30 28 27 25 33 Jon Link One of 42 pitchers used in Albuquerque this season.
34 34 31 29 28 23 34 Brad Ausmus Will finish career seventh all-time in games caught.
35 32 29 27 26 19 32 A.J. Ellis Hasn’t homered at any level since 2008.
36 36 36 35 36 26 36 George Sherrill Still probably has a good five years or so left as a pitcher who can get out lefties.
37 37 37 31 30 17 37 Ramon Ortiz Ranks sixth all-time among Dominican-born pitchers in HR allowed (222).
38 NR NR NR NR NR NR Juan Castro Oldest Dodger to play one game for team in a year since Manny Mota in 1982.
39 NR NR NR NR NR NR Trent Oeltjen First “Oe” Dodger since Joe Oeschger in 1925.
40 NR NR NR NR NR NR John Lindsey Had .477 OBP, .719 slugging vs. lefties for Albuquerque.
41 38 38 32 31 27 38 Nick Green Has played for nine organizations in past seven years.
42 35 35 30 29 29 35 Chin-Lung Hu Career batting average dropped below .200 Sunday.
43 39 39 33 33 3 39 Charlie Haeger Bookends with Isotopes: 0.7 HR/9, 7.0 BB/9.
44 40 40 37 NR 37 40 James McDonald Take away seventh inning Aug. 27, and his Pirate ERA is 3.10 in seven starts.
45 42 42 36 35 22 42 Russ Ortiz The Russ Ortiz era
seems so long ago. Baseball has a long season, doesn’t it?
46 NR NR NR NR NR NR Russ Mitchell Of his 15 outs, 13 have been hit in the air.
47 41 41 34 34 16 41 Garret Anderson Second all-time to Ramirez in career hits for 1972-born players.
48 43 43 38 32 32 43 Scott Elbert Career minor-league K/9 is 10.4.
49 44 44 39 NR 39 44 Jack Taschner Spent eight days on active roster.
Sep 12

Welcome to the 2011 Dodgers, Jay Gibbons

Steve Campbell/APWill Jay Gibbons be receiving congratulations from fellow Dodgers in 2011?

The stories of Jay Gibbons and Rod Barajas have interesting similarities – two Southern California high school grads, cast off by other teams, who have thrived in the dog days of the 2010 Dodger season.

They are also both free agents after the 2010 season. They’ll go after the best deal they can get, just as the Dodgers will go after the best players they can get. But with Gibbons hitting his fifth Dodger home run – one more than Barajas – in the Dodgers’ 7-4 loss at Houston today, it’s starting to seem destined for the parties to come together for 2011.

Neither player is going to price themselves out of the Dodgers’ budget, however limited that might be, so at a minimum, Gibbons and Barajas should have a spot carved out on next season’s bench. Barajas’ playing time depends rather specifically on what the Dodgers do with Russell Martin. The Dodgers’ third-outfielder situation is murkier; I don’t think the Dodgers are simply going to hand left field to Gibbons – especially with his defensive limitations – but he certainly looks like a guy who could get at least 250 or so plate appearances next year. The bar is not high.

By the way, as the Dodgers look for a third starting outfielder next season, don’t rule out that it could be a center fielder, with Matt Kemp moving to right field and Andre Ethier to left.

* * *

  • Carlos Monasterios exchanged four outs for four runs (three earned) in his shortest outing as a Dodger starter. This season, though not without its highlights, has obviously been a learning experience for Monasterios. Though he’ll certainly be somewhere in the Dodger organization next year after surviving an entire year in the majors as a Rule 5 draftee, I confess I have no idea of how much he’ll contribute to the 2011 Dodgers.
  • John Lindsey got his first major-league hit – a sinking drive to left field while pinch-hitting in the fifth – and a bevy of congratulations, hugs and smiles in the dugout thereafter. Matt Kemp in particular was showing Lindsey the love.
  • In the fourth inning, James Loney ran his way out of his 40th double of the season by instead extending it into his second triple. No problem, because in his next at-bat, Loney got a two-bagger. He is the fifth Dodger since 1990 to reach 40 doubles.
  • Russ Mitchell is now 0 for 14 in his major-league career, but followed Loney’s triple with what at the time was a game-tying sacrifice fly, after Gibbons’ three-run homer.
  • In his first major-league start since Oct. 4, Chin-Lung Hu made a costly throwing error in the first inning on a potential double-play ball, but also made a couple of fine plays in the field. He was 0 for 4 with three strikeouts at the plate.
  • Purely subjective, but Ramon Troncoso seemed to have nothing at all going for him in his two-inning relief appearance today (five hits, one walk). His arm just seemed fried to me.
Sep 12

The race wasn’t over in July

As the July 31 trading deadline approached, there was a case that the Dodgers should become sellers instead of buyers. But that case rested on what was best for the franchise long-term, not on the idea that the team had no shot of making the playoffs in 2010.

While some began pronouncing the 2010 Dodger season dead with two months to go, while I was ridiculed at times for suggesting that a three-game series in July with the Padres wasn’t a must-win, what we’ve seen again – as we’ve seen more than once in recent seasons – is that a single-digit deficit in the standings doesn’t bury a team if a third of the season is remaining.

Sure, few foresaw that the National League West-leading Padres would lose as many as 10 games in a row, but it was hardly out of the question that they would come back to earth in some fashion – say, 11 losses in 15 games or something like that. If you’re trailing but you can sniff the pennant race, you don’t need to hold your nose.

The Dodgers were seven games out the morning they traded for Ted Lilly. Insurmountable? Well, San Francisco was six games out of first place as late as August 28, and they have been playing for first place in San Diego this weekend.

Colorado was 11 games out of first place as late as August 22. The Rockies are now only 2 1/2 games out with three weeks to go.

The Padres may well prevail, but they are sweating.

With any meaningful combination of wins on and off the field over the past six weeks, the Dodgers would be in the thick of the playoff hunt today. That didn’t happen, and I suppose some people would say they knew all along it wouldn’t, but if all the wheels hadn’t come off at once, the Dodgers would still be playing important baseball. While this doesn’t tell the whole story, the 2010 Dodgers had a better record on July 31 than the playoff teams of 2008 and 2006. It wasn’t over, not at all.

The Dodgers would be better off today if they had gone into seller mode, and I would have understood it if they had – in fact, as I’ve said many times, part of me has always wished they would start an offseason in summertime. But I still think many fans are too quick to give up on a team. It’s sort of telling, really, how many people can’t wait to abandon hope.

Sep 11

Vicente Padilla’s season might be over

Vicente Padilla has perhaps already made his final start as a Dodger. He was scratched today from his Sunday start with a recurrence of the bulging disc in his neck, and Joe Torre told reporters that he didn’t expect Padilla to return soon – and the season doesn’t have much more than soon left.

Padilla has pitched 95 innings for the Dodgers this year, 54 2/3 of them in an eight-start stretch in which he had a 1.32 ERA. The rest of his 2010 Dodger season has consisted of 40 1/3 innings with 35 earned runs allowed (7.81 ERA).

More from Tony Jackson of

Sep 11

A Happier 9/11

It has been seven years since this piece was first published: September 11, 2003. A lot has happened since then – including a very happy September 18, 2006. But this game will always remain special, and I hope you don’t mind me continuing to remember it on this date.

* * *

Twenty years ago today, Dodger Stadium hosted its greatest game.

It began swathed in bright blue skies and triple-digit temperatures. When it ended, 228 crazy brilliant minutes later, shadows palmed most of the playing field, and every Dodger fan who witnessed the spectacle found themselves near joyous collapse.

The game was between the Dodgers of Steve Sax and Pedro Guerrero, of Greg Brock and Mike Marshall … and the Braves of Dale Murphy, of Bruce Benedict, of Brad Komminsk.

In the end, however, it came down to one man. A rookie named R.J. Reynolds.

Continue reading

Sep 10

Remember the time … Dodgers 4, Astros 2

It was the most meaningless victory to date of the 2010 season, but it was nice, like running into an old friend from high school after some dark times.

Though they once again wasted a strong start by Hiroki Kuroda (six innings, six baserunners, one run), the Dodgers got some strong late-inning relief pitching from Jonathan Broxton, Hong-Chih Kuo and Octavio Dotel, stretching tonight’s game long enough for Jay Gibbons to hit a two-run homer in the top of the 11th inning for a 4-2 victory.

Gibbons’ defense in left field almost thwarted his own heroics – he caught only one of the three balls hit to him during extra innings – but Dotel pitched around the extra baserunners for a two-inning victory.

Gibbons, who entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning, hit his fourth homer in his 39th plate appearance as a Dodger, tying him with Rod Barajas (45 plate appearances after going 3 for 4 tonight) for eight place on the Dodgers’ 2010 roster. Both Gibbons and Barajas are making strong cases for the Marlon Anderson/Ronnie Belliard Award, and all the good and bad that implies.

Sep 10

‘Time isn’t holding us …’

Does this generation have a Talking Heads? Hard for me to imagine that it does.

Anyway, it’s been nearly a lifetime since the Dodgers’ last victory, but they’ll give it a go.

* * *

Former Dodger Tim Leary has been named the pitching coach for Cal State Northridge, writes Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News.