Aug 25

Classic 1965 Sandy Koufax interview

Sandy Koufax was Sports Illustrated’s 1965 Sportsman of the Year. Dodger Thoughts friend Stan from Tacoma passes along the massive interview Koufax did for the issue, which begins thusly:

Sandy, what’s the difference between the way you manage your life and the way anybody else would manage his?

–I don’t do anything different. I do the things that most people do. There are times when I feel like I have an obligation not to do certain things because I’m preparing myself to pitch. But other than that my life is about as normal as I can keep it.

Yes, but you have this reputation for being awfully hard on yourself.

–Maybe I am. I know sometimes people’ll say, “Well, you’ve done everything possible, what’re you gonna do next? You can’t pitch a better ball game.” And I say to myself, “Well, why not? Why can’t I do more, why can’t I do a better job?” There’s nothing to stop me — except the hitters. You can always try to pitch a better ball game, the best you possibly can.

Sandy, I’ve seen you after you’ve pitched and you sit at your locker and you look like World War II. At this stage of your career isn’t there any tendency on your part to jake it a little, not to put out quite so much?

–I can’t. I can’t. Sometimes you get enough runs and you try to take it easy and all of a sudden you’re in trouble.

Yes, but you go out there and work like a guy who’s expecting to be cut right after the game.

–You’ve got to put out on every pitch. How do you know what the other pitcher’s going to do? He’s out there trying to get your team out, too. People say, doesn’t it make you a better pitcher because your team doesn’t score runs, doesn’t that make you bear down? Well, the Dodgers score more runs than people think, but even if your ball club scores a lot of runs I don’t think you can take the attitude that you can give up two or three runs and still win. You’ve got to say to yourself, “I don’t know how many I’m gonna get, but if I can keep the other side from scoring any I have a lot better chance.” So you put out on every pitch. …

* * *

  • The disappointing Dodgers’ worst 34-game stretch this season has been 13-21. That’s the exact record that the Los Angeles Sparks rode into the WNBA playoffs that start tonight.
  • Gregg Found and Matt Willis of ESPN.comdelve into Hiroki Kuroda’s near-historic 0-for-40 season at the plate.
  • Did you know Takashi Saito can’t see a catcher giving signs with his fingers at night? Mark Bowman of has details (via Hardball Talk).
  • Jim Thome, who had four singles in 17 plate appearances as a Dodger a year ago, is having one of the best age-39 seasons in baseball history, according to Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk.
  • Check out friend of Dodger Thoughts BHsportsguy’s Dodger-related homage to Allan Malamud at True Blue L.A.
  • Colorado rallied from a 10-1 deficit today to defeat Atlanta, 12-10, sweeping the Braves in a three-game series. And San Francisco rallied from a 10-1 deficit as well — the Giants were tied with the Reds in the ninth, 11-11.
Aug 25

As Manny nears the exit …

Adam Davis/Icon SMIManny Ramirez at bat for the first time after coming off the disabled list Saturday.

Manny Ramirez has been placed on waivers and could soon be on the move from the Dodgers, if (1) he goes unclaimed on waivers and is traded or (2) if he is claimed on waivers and the Dodgers work out a deal with that team. Ramirez can be moved anytime before the season is over, but the deal must be done by Aug. 31 if he is to have postseason eligibility with that team.

For all his faults, Ramirez — at least the good, healthy Ramirez — has truly been missed by the Dodgers, as Tony Jackson of wrote earlier this week. Maybe it’s correlation that the team slumped offensively once Ramirez stopped being a regular part of the lineup at the end of June — maybe Ramirez would have been just another piece of a miserable pie — but let’s just say that it would have been nice to see what the parallel universe with a healthy Ramirez in the lineup would have looked like.

His hitless return since Saturday hasn’t helped matters, but I’ve been wondering if Ramirez’s prolonged absence this summer redeemed any of his value in the eyes of his detractors, similar to how the Dodgers’ recent struggles at catcher (pre-Rod Barajas) might have compelled people to look at the bright side of Russell Martin. Probably not, I suppose. Ramirez, who was an unqualified success from his July 2008 acquisition until his May 2009 suspension, has become a fan punching bag (one of many) in the past year.

It didn’t take long for the zeitgeist to zip from Mannywood to Anyone but Manny. Juan Pierre’s brief hot streak that spring certainly fueled some of that transition, along with general disgust toward Ramirez’s transgression. When Ramirez came back last summer, there was the Bobbleslam, but that was a last bit of fireworks in a fizzling of popular opinion after he turned out not to be the magical hitter he had been.

The depth of the souring on Manny became even more apparent when people actually got angry after Ramirez stated what couldn’t have been more obvious — that after his Dodgers contract expired this season, he would be taking his aging body elsewhere. It was no more a statement of disloyalty than a second-term president acknowledging the 22nd amendment — and of course, no one’s raising any loyalty issues against the Dodgers for now possibly unloading him to another team — but it somehow became another bullet in the chamber against Ramirez’s reputation. Thereafter, Ramirez stopped talking to the press, which was of no moment except that it ticked off the press.

In any event, the season began, and it became clear that Ramirez was a different sort of hitter than he had been — still an effective hitter, but one for whom the long ball was an increasing rarity. Joe Torre rested him to protect his legs, but it didn’t help, not enough, anyway. Ramirez was a top that had been spinning a long time, and was wobbling, and finally, as summer came, fell down.

And like him or not, the Dodgers needed that top to keep spinning.

The lingering issue is whether Ramirez essentially took himself out of the game — whether he bailed on the team. I don’t happen to think that’s the case. I think Ramirez had plenty of personal incentive to get himself back in the lineup — with each passing week on the disabled list, his value in 2011 declined, and it’s not as if Ramirez is wholly lacking in professional pride. The guy’s legs have stopped working.

Maybe Ramirez will announce his retirement at the end of the season, and people will go back and determine that he had mentally checked out months earlier. I doubt it. Ramirez is, for all his eccentricities, an athlete, one who was working out in Arizona and not just because he enjoys life amid the cacti.

It might be days or even weeks too early to talk about Ramirez’s Dodgers legacy — I’m not gonna have much left to say when his time is actually up — but unless destiny exercises its prerogative to change its mind on this meandering season, we’re close to being able to render a final judgment. Ramirez was unbelievable in 2008 for the Dodgers, a freight train at the plate. That he couldn’t live up to that performance in the next two years wasn’t surprising, but it doesn’t take away from what he did. And for whatever crimes he did, he did the time. I, for one, choose not to throw back the Dodgers’ 2008 and 2009 National League Championship Series appearances.

Ramirez was a vital part of the Los Angeles Dodgers the past 2 1/2 seasons, both in his presence and in his absence. His career faded at the end, but outside of Sandy Koufax, outside of someone retiring in his prime, is that in any way unusual? Anyone remember how Kirk Gibson’s final year in a Dodgers uniform went?

Manny Ramirez was mortal, unforgettably so. I only wish we had more of him, not less.

Aug 25

Would the Dodgers trade Hiroki Kuroda?

While everyone waits for the inevitable word of Manny Ramirez being placed on waivers to facilitate his possible departure (most likely to the Chicago White Sox, it appears at this juncture), the greater intrigue remains about what might happen with Dodgers that have actually been productive.

Let’s create a hypothetical using tonight’s scheduled Dodger starter, Hiroki Kuroda. A rumor hit Wednesday that the Dodgers placed Kuroda on waivers. That rumor hasn’t been corroborated, and in fact, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told Wallace Matthews of today that he “hadn’t thought about” Kuroda and wasn’t even aware of whether the righty was on waivers. So who knows?

As with Ramirez, placing Kuroda on waivers wouldn’t mean the Dodgers would automatically lose Kuroda. It’s a procedural move that just creates the possibility of a deal. But in the case of Kuroda, who is having his most fit and fine season in the majors, the return might be bigger than it would for Ramirez.

If Kuroda has in fact been placed on waivers, there would be a 48-hour time limitfor a team to acquire his rights (or the window to negotiate a new contract with him). If no new contract is negotiated, Kuroda’s impending free agent status wouldn’t be affected, except in the sense that a trade would allow him to become familiar with a non-Dodger environment.

With the Dodgers closing to within 6 1/2 games of the National League wild-card lead Wednesday — still a long ways out, but not obliterated beyond recognition — I’d say the chances of a Kuroda trade are small. Ned Colletti has said it will take a lot for him to give up on this year’s team. But if he gets offered a lot … who knows?

Aug 24

Pitchers in the outfield

Ryan Howard was ejected in the 15th inning of tonight’s Phillies-Astros game, forcing Philadelphia to use pitcher Roy Oswalt in left field.

From 100 Things Dodgers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die:

Suspended Animation
Lest it be forgotten, the Dodgers also tried to burn the midnight oil one time in Chicago – but that was back when Wrigley Field had no midnight oil to burn. On August 16, 1982, the Dodgers and Cubs played 17 innings of a 1-1 tie before umpires suspended the game due to darkness. It resumed the following day with the Dodgers winning 2-1 in 21 innings.

“The guys who had already been in the game were cheering the other guys on,” Rick Monday told Mark Heisler of the Los Angeles Times. “Someone made the observation that it was like a Pony League game. We were going, ‘Hey batter, batter, batter!’ all the way to ‘Pitcher’s got a rubber arm!’ Yeah, we were a little nuts.”

So was the Dodgers defense. Fernando Valenzuela logged time in the outfield after Ron Cey’s ejection in the 20th inning left the team one player short. But in the top of the 21st, Steve Sax scored on a sacrifice fly that saw umpire Eric Gregg raise his arm to call out before switching to the safe sign midway through. Bob Welch entered the game in the bottom of the 21st as, of all things, a defensive replacement for Valenzuela, and Jerry Reuss finished his fourth inning of shutout ball to win in relief — just before throwing five innings in the regularly scheduled game, a 7-4 Dodger victory, to grab that decision as well.

Aug 24

Merry Barajasmas: New catcher stars in 5-3 victory

Morry Gash/APThe home run hit by Matt Kemp tonight sits lodged in the center field scoreboard in Milwaukee. (Update: New reports are saying this isn’t Kemp’s ball. Oh well.)

Morry Gash/AP
Rod Barajas homers in the sixth inning.

Rod Barajas figures to command in 2011 salary about the $850,000 that Brad Ausmus made in 2010, give or take a few bucks. After what happened in just one night, it seems almost assured that the catcher who grew up in Norwalk idolizing Fernando Valenzuela will be commanding that salary from the Dodgers.

Barajas  doubled twice and hit a three-run homer in an unprecedented Dodger debut, lifting the Dodgers to a 5-3 victory over Milwaukee. He is the first Los Angeles Dodger to have three extra-base hits in his first game with the team, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.

While the Dodgers wouldn’t position Barajas as a starter, he could fit in rather smoothly as a reserve for a team that might be tired of no-hit backups.

Matt Kemp hit a massive two-run homer in the second inning for the Dodgers to give them an early lead. Ted Lilly, though he didn’t come back to earth following his 1.29 ERA inauguration with the team, at least re-entered the solar system by falling behind, 3-2 in the fifth inning. But Lilly (6 1/3 innings, three runs, eight baserunners, two strikeouts) was rescued by a rare Dodger rally, featuring Barajas’ homer, the 11th three-run homer by the Dodgers this year.

In six innings, Barajas generated as many extra-base hits as A.J. Ellis and Brad Ausmus combined had this year.

Pitching the ninth inning with the two-run lead, Hong-Chih Kuo threw away a potential game-ending double-play ball, leaving the tying runs at first and second with one out. But pinch-hitter Corey Hart popped out, and Rickie Weeks (who homered earlier off Lilly) struck out.

Lilly is now 5-0 as a Dodger.

Aug 24

Four wins in a row: too much to ask?

The Dodgers are a team in need of a winning streak, to say the least. If only for their self-esteem.

Los Angeles has played 65 games since its last four-game winning streak, June 6-9. That’s exactly as long as the team went between streaks of that length last year, if you include the 2009 postseason.

By my research on, the last time the Dodgers went this long between four-game winning streaks in the regular season was in 2005. They had an eight-game winning streak though April 20 (giving them that 12-2 start), then never won more than three in a row the rest of the year.

* * *

Joe Torre told reporters today that Carlos Monasterios will start Thursday to give Chad Billingsley two more days to rest his tender calf.

Torre also said that “I know for sure I want to do something next year, whether it’s managing or something else. I’m not retiring.”

* * *

Josh Wilker has a great Cardboard Gods post about Tommy Lasorda’s role in an episode of Silver Spoons:

… However, possibly because underage drinking and other mind-altering substances swooped in to spirit me slightly away from television for a while, I missed the episode a few seasons into the show’s five-year run that featured Ricky (Ricky Schroeder) and his grandfather (Academy Award-winner John Houseman a couple roles away from The Final Curtain) scheming to make a killing with baseball cards.

The mention of baseball cards is what stopped me on my tour through the channels. Though the scheme the robber baron grandfather hatched was pretty ludicrous (noticing that his grandson has cornered the market on Tommy Lasorda cards, he drives up the value of the cards by starting a rumor that Tommy Lasorda is about to be voted into the Hall of Fame), it’s interesting to me that the episode aired when the baseball card industry was reaching its peak, and the skyrocketing value of cards was making kids into savvy, merciless businessmen. I had stopped collecting cards by then, so I missed out on being inside the bubble of card prices that seemed for a while as if it would expand forever. It must have been exciting, but I think it would have made baseball card collecting a little nerve-wracking for me. With my cards, I wanted to dissolve away from the world and enter another world. If I was constantly worried about whether to “invest” in, say, Pat Listach or Gregg Jefferies, I think I might not have enjoyed it as much, or found as much comfort in it, because I’d still be present, capable of losing, instead of disappearing altogether into the world of the cards. …

At the end of the Silver Spoons episode, Tommy Lasorda makes an appearance. He has a whole bunch of cards of himself, which will “flood the market” and drive prices back down and make official the restoration of innocence that Ricky already started moving toward when he gave back the money he’d fleeced from his friend. I believe the last line of the episode is Lasorda’s, saying something like, “Hey, did you hear? I’m a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame!” He actually did make the Hall, but it was twelve years after the episode aired. I don’t think he thanked John Houseman in his acceptance speech for getting the ball rolling. I also have to think he refrained from the colorful language that, in this day and age of the ever-present recording device, has given Tommy Lasorda two lives, one being the sunny, wholesome Dodger Great shown on the front of the 1978 card at the top of this page (and in the 1985 episode of Silver Spoons), the other being an incredibly foul-mouthed accidental entertainer of the YouTube generation. I have to admit that the latter is by far my more favorite of his two incarnations, in part because he is clearly one of those people blessed with the ability to use obscenities with operatic gravitas and gusto, and also because the latter Tommy Lasorda persona seems to be the one connected with its vitriol and bitterness and also its vivid life and its unadorned humor to that more interesting personal life story, the one present on the back of his 1978 card, the life of the marginal itinerant far from sunshine and Cooperstown.

Aug 24

42 years young, 82 years young

The thing I’ve realized, and this relates to Vin Scully, is that getting older doesn’t necessarily make you feel old. It just makes you have less time left to feel young as young as you always have.

And yes, in some ways I feel old, as I’m sure Scully does. But you know, in some ways I felt old when I was 5. And meanwhile, I continue to marvel at how many ways I feel like a pup.

Vin Scully is a grownup with a lot of kid in him. That 8-year-old that fell in love with sportscasting while camped out underneath his family’s big radio in the 1930s is still with us, and for that I’m thankful.

* * *

Dusty Baker might be holding off on signing his contract extension as manager of the Reds in order to keep himself alive as a candidate to replace Joe Torre with the Dodgers, write The Associated Press and Vincent Bonsignore of the Daily News.

The possibility surprises me because of the acrimonious way Baker left the Dodgers nearly three decades ago, but I guess, after all, that was three decades ago. In fact, Baker told Bonsignore he was interested in the job before Torre got hired, although of course the transition from Grady Little to Torre was practically a simultaneous move.

Baker, who has a reputation for riding his pitchers hard, being in charge of Clayton Kershaw or Zach Lee would inspire some interesting amounts of panic.

* * *

Did you know about Hong-Chih Kuo’s workout regimen? From Ken Gurnick of

His daily therapy regimen is legendary among any who’ve witnessed it, starting at 12:30 p.m. for a 7:10 night game.

“I wish you guys could see what he puts himself through,” said (Dodgers trainer Stan) Conte. “He’s in constant motion until 11 at night — ice, heat, ultrasound, message, stretch, flex, leg work, working all the time just to pitch an inning.”

* * *

Courtesy of Jon SooHoo/LA Dodgers
Andre Ethier stretches during the Bark in the Park promotion prior to Saturday’s Dodger game.
  • has a new photo montage of Scully up.
  • Talk of Andre Ethier winning the National League Triple Crown has long since faded, but Joey Votto and Albert Pujols still have very good chances, writes Rich Lederer of Baseball Analysts. It’s been 73 years since Joe Medwick won the last NL Triple Crown.
  • Bob Timmermann discusses “The L.A. Times vs. Matt Kemp” at L.A. Observed’s Native Intelligence.
  • Two interesting posts on the final games of Hall of Fame managers, here and here, come from The Platoon Advantage (via Hardball Talk).
  • Big ol’ David Ortiz tripled for the 11th consecutive season Sunday, writes Drew Silva of Hardball Talk. Ortiz is one of three players in the AL to do this, according to Brian McPherson of the Providence Journal.
  • Former Dodger Wilson Betemit has revived his career with Kansas City, to the tune of a .984 OPS, though his future remains uncertain, writes Dave Cameron of Fangraphs.
  • Maligned All-Star Omar Infante has also been getting the last laugh with a hot streak, writes Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk.
  • Canines cavorting at Dodger Stadium seems to have gone well, according to Chris Erskine of the Times. Hard to deny after seeing the photo above.
Aug 23

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 12

Stephen Dunn/Getty ImagesJamey Carroll is on track to lead the Dodgers in walks this season.

This Dog Days edition of Dodger Cogs and Dogs is dedicated to Jamey Carroll, who kept the Dodger shortstop position with Rafael Furcal out from looking like the Dodger catcher position with Russell Martin out. Thanks to attrition elsewhere and to his own steady play, I’ve elevated the 36-year-old Carroll to No. 4 among position players and No. 8 overall, and he might not be done climbing.

But of course, that kind of tells the story of the 2010 Dodgers. To take another example, you all know what a big supporter I am of Chad Billingsley, but if a 3.70 ERA gets you the No. 4 spot on the list, something has gone quite wrong with your team.

8/23 8/9 7/26 7/12 High Low Player Comment
1 1 1 1 1 20 Clayton Kershaw Next year, he gets rid of the first-inning walks and goes after the Cy Young.
2 3 3 5 1 5 Hiroki Kuroda The team’s heart and soul?
3 4 4 3 1 11 Andre Ethier Slugging percentage past three years: .510, .508. .513.
4 6 10 10 6 12 Chad Billingsley ERA now lower than Tim Lincecum’s.
5 2 2 2 2 14 Rafael Furcal Might not play 81 games this year.
6 5 7 8 7 18 Hong-Chih Kuo Opponents’ slugging percentage now at .204 this year.
7 10 8 9 1 11 Matt Kemp The controversy has surely taken on a life of its own.
8 15 16 14 13 21 Jamey Carroll Most walks without a homer by any Dodger since Bill North in ’78 (65).
9 7 5 6 5 24 James Loney .344 BABIP in first half, .238 in second half.
10 8 12 17 8 25 Vicente Padilla His meteoric rise to the top five got de-meteored.
11 9 9 7 4 13 Jonathan Broxton Now in that Sherrill-like phase where he can’t get a streak of good games together.
12 11 6 4 3 12 Manny Ramirez Needs 14 homerless games to match Furcal with eight homers in 76.
13 12 11 11 6 16 Casey Blake One strikeout every 4.33 plate appearances, Kemp 4.02.
14 13 14 15 2 15 Russell Martin Offseason decision on Martin’s fate hasn’t gotten any less interesting.
15 14 15 13 12 15 Blake DeWitt .831 OPS as a Cub.
16 16 17 21 7 21 Carlos Monasterios First career major-league error might have cost him a win.
17 25 NR NR 25 25 Ted Lilly Dodgers didn’t get Cliff Lee – just someone who is pitching like him.
18 17 13 12 5 26 John Ely Place your bets: Is he in the 2011 starting rotation?
19 20 20 19 8 20 Reed Johnson 6 for 14 with double and homer since returning from DL in August.
20 19 18 16 15 22 Jeff Weaver Combined ERA of Weaver, Troncoso, Belisario and Sherrill: 5.47.
21 28 NR NR 28 28 Ryan Theriot Will he and Carroll flip positions if they’re playing together in 2011?
22 21 21 22 21 24 Travis Schlichting Tables turned: inherited runs harm his ERA for a change.
23 23 24 24 9 24 Ramon Troncoso Before Sunday, he and Belisario had each allowed 39 hits in 39 innings.
24 26 26 NR 26 26 Kenley Jansen In 9 2/3 innings, 13 baserunners and 13 strikeouts.
25 18 19 18 17 25 Ronald Belisario Righties have hit him harder than lefties this year.
26 32 NR NR 32 32 Octavio Dotel Overall, he’s done fine, but he missed his chance to make a difference.
27 33 NR NR 33 33 Jay Gibbons Tied for eighth on the Dodgers in homers.
28 34 NR NR 34 34 Scott Podsednik Am I really supposed to be excited by a .337 OBP as a Dodger with no power?
29 24 23 20 7 24 Ronnie Belliard Needs to avoid going 0 for 12 to keep batting average above .200 this year.
30 27 25 25 23 27 Justin Miller Nine shutout innings of relief to start August for Isotopes.
31 22 22 23 15 23 Xavier Paul Return to Albuquerque hasn’t gone well: .669 OPS, zero homers in August.
32 29 27 26 19 29 A.J. Ellis Ellis, Ausmus now hitting a combined .203. What’s the problem?
33 30 28 27 25 30 Jon Link Ten baserunners, three strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings, but I’d like another look at him.
34 31 29 28 23 31 Brad Ausmus Doubled in first at-bat of season – no extra-base hits since.
35 35 30 29 29 35 Chin-Lung Hu Went two for three in most recent game June 29 to put batting average at .300.
36 36 35 36 26 36 George Sherrill Needs four more outs to match longest scoreless inning streak of season (3 2/3 innings).
37 37 31 30 17 37 Ramon Ortiz Our man Ramon is now a Durham Bull, with a 1.59 ERA after one start.
38 38 32 31 27 38 Nick Green His alma mater DeKalb College was renamed Georgia Perimeter in 1997.
39 39 33 33 3 39 Charlie Haeger Remember that home game against Colorado? That seems so long ago.
40 40 37 NR 37 40 James McDonald Three-run homer by David Wright in fifth torpedoed McDonald’s start Saturday.
41 41 34 34 16 41 Garret Anderson In counting stats, his career matches up more than a little with Steve Garvey’s.
42 42 36 35 22 42 Russ Ortiz A career .205 hitter with seven homers and 35 walks in 608 PA.
43 43 38 32 32 43 Scott Elbert Was within a strike of getting three bases-loaded outs in 2010 debut; then his entire year began to unravel on next pitch.
44 44 39 NR 39 44 Jack Taschner Nick Hundley is the batter Taschner retired as a Dodger.
Aug 22

Whew-hoo! Vin’s coming back!

Vin Scully said he will return to the Dodgers in 2011, continuing to broadcast home games and road games against the National League West.

“I’m just honored and humbled to continue my association with the Dodgers, which has been a major part of my life,” Scully said in a statement.

The Dodgers made the official announcement just before 9:30 a.m. today, and Tony Jackson of has more details.

I blame T.J. Simers for making my stomach churn. Like I needed to think more about what it would be like without Vin Scully. But it’s all good, once again.

Aug 22

Dodgers acquire catcher Rod Barajas

The Dodgers have tried to stop the bleeding at their catcher position by acquiring Rod Barajas today from the New York Mets for cash. Here’s a brief news story.

Barajas, who turns 35 on Sept. 1, had a .263 on-base percentage and .414 slugging percentage in 267 plate appearances with New York this season.

The Dodgers, who lost starting catcher Russell Martin for the season Aug. 3 with injuries to his right hip, have been trying to get by with Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis., neither of whom have slugging percentages above .250.

Barajas has 12 homers this season – more homers than walks (eight). He has thrown out four of 27 runners attempting to steal. Barajas, who had a $500,000 base salary this season (not counting bonuses), could be a candidate for the backup catcher slot in 2011.

Aug 21

Dodgers bash four homers, as Vin Scully prepares to make God laugh

On Sept. 18, 2006, the Dodgers came back with four consecutive homers in the ninth inning and then one in the 10th to beat San Diego in the legendary 4+1 game.

Tonight, the Dodgers almost matched the feat, hitting four homers in a five-batter stretch (interrupted only by a Manny Ramirez third out in the bottom of the second inning), and then held on to most of their 7-1 lead for an 8-5 victory over Cincinnati. Call it the 4-minus-1 game.

Ryan Theriot and Andre Ethier went deep with two out in the second, and then Jay Gibbons (with a bouncer off the top of the center-field wall) and Matt Kemp (pulling a high and somewhat outside pitch) copy-catted leading off the bottom of the third.

Chad Billingsley cruised for the first five innings, then was pulled after giving up a couple of runs in the sixth. Cincinnati made the game close with two runs off Travis Schlichting in the seventh (inherited runs allowed to score by Hong-Chih Kuo), but the Reds got no closer. The Dodgers added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, and Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the ninth despite two three-ball counts for the save.

Ramirez went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts in his return, but Gibbons went 2 for 3 with a walk batting cleanup. Ethier, Kemp and Casey Blake each reached base three times.

Tonight’s news was overshadowed by Vin Scully telling T.J. Simers of the Times that he plans to announce his future plans before Sunday’s game. Given that Scully has said he hasn’t wanted a farewell tour, I’m going to go to sleep thinking it’s an announcement he’s coming back, at least to do home games.

Aug 21

Welcome back, Manny – for the last time?

We had a yard sale today, putting out all our wares that we’ve outgrown at discount prices.

In related news, the Dodgers have activated Manny Ramirez and inserted him into tonight’s starting lineup. Tony Jackson of has details.

The Dodgers haven’t actually outgrown Ramirez – they need anything resembling a bat, however antique (as Jay Gibbons batting cleanup today tells us) – but we’re certainly watching to see if this is a prelude to a parting. Or a final trip to the disabled list, if Ramirez can’t stay healthy.

Juan Castro was designated for assignment – but the fates might allow him to be around with the Dodgers come September. We’ll see if the same holds true for Manny.

* * *

Jackson reported after Friday’s game that Scott Elbert, whose personal problems earlier this year have not been clarified for the public, is dealing with shoulder soreness.

Aug 20

The NL West leaders filled out their rotation from within, after all

Carlos Monasterios takes the hill tonight, a reminder of how much people lamented the Dodgers’ lack of a reliable No. 5 starter earlier this year.

This came up in the Dodger Thoughts comments on Thursday, and I think it’s worth pointing out that while the Dodgers had mixed success finishing off their starting rotation from inside the organization, it wasn’t as if the strategy itself was a failure. It worked quite well down south for the National League West-leading San Diego Padres.

In fact, the Padres’ rotation was even more of a longshot. Back in March, Mat Latos was a guy with 10 career starts and a 4.62 ERA, Wade LeBlanc had 13 career games with 5.05 ERA and Clayton Richard 51 games with 4.80 ERA. Yet all three of these guys came through huge, joining Kevin Correia and free agent signee Jon Garland in making 118 of the Padres’ 120 starts so far this season.

Some will argue that the Dodgers should have done things differently, or that the Padres had more reason to believe that their guys would do better than Monasterios, John Ely, James McDonald, Scott Elbert and ex-Padre Charlie Haeger. But the fact remains that very few teams enter a season with five established starting pitchers. By necessity, the Padres cobbled together a rotation largely from within, with a mixed bag of resumes, and it paid off handsomely.

Basically, things have just gone very right for San Diego this year.

* * *

Tony Jackson of has this update on the man in the crosshairs, Matt Kemp:

Slumping center fielder Matt Kemp took about a half-hour of early batting practice on the field just before the rest of the team came out for pregame stretching. The only coach on hand to watch Kemp was the one who was pitching to him, hitting coach Don Mattingly, who offered occasional batting tips between pitches.

“For the most part, we were just working to get his posture back,” Mattingly said. “His butt was jutting out, so he was reaching for a lot of balls. I was trying to get him to keep his butt underneath him, in layman’s terms, to give him more of a direct path to the ball.”

And, in theory, prevent him from chasing so many low, outside breaking balls, a habit that had contributed greatly to Kemp’s recent struggles. He entered the day hitting .218 for August, with 16 strikeouts in 61 plate appearances, and he had struck out 128 times in 510 plate appearances (once every four trips to the plate) for the season.

After his one-on-one session with Mattingly, Kemp went 0-for-4 in the game. But that wasn’t as important as the fact that he didn’t strike out, and two of his three outs (he reached on an error in the eighth) came on balls that were squared up.

“He was a lot better,” Mattingly said. “I was really happy with him tonight. Hopefully, he felt better. He didn’t get any results, and that [stinks], but his swing was much better.”

* * *

  • From the Dodger press notes: Los Angeles has won 12 straight home games against Cincinnati since losing July 28, 2005.
  • Albuquerque has eight players with at least 10 home runs this year, according to the team press notes: John Lindsey (21), Jay Gibbons (19), Russ Mitchell (19), Xavier Paul (12), Lucas May (11), Prentice Redman (10), Michael Restovich (10), and Justin Sellers (10).
  • Molly Knight of ESPN the Magazine still can’t quite believe that the McCourts aren’t settling.
  • The possibilities and hurdles of trading Manny Ramirez are broken down (from the perspective of whether the Texas Rangers might get him) by Jamey Newberg of Ignore the part about the Dodgers offering Ramirez arbitration — that won’t happen.
  • These Bat Slicers remind me of the round All-Star Baseball cards I played with in the 1970s.