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?
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- 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.
Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
This afternoon brought a bit of unwanted mystery, with a local Denver TV news report emerging at lunchtime that Denver police were investigating allegations against Vicente Padilla made shortly before 4 a.m. at the Ritz Carlton Hotel near Coors Field. At a 3 p.m. press conference, however, Denver police said that after an investigation by detectives, the police department found no evidence that any crime occurred and has no intention to cause Padilla with a crime. The initial call was a domestic violence call, according to police.
Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com has details. Padilla went on to throw a simulated game at Coors Field today.
Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images
Dodgers 5, Rockies 4. Monasterios (W, 2-0). Did you see that coming when the sun was going down?
The irony of Joe Torre’s apparent determination to get Charlie Haeger back into the Dodger starting rotation is that Torre couldn’t wait to get him out of the rotation last summer, when Haeger was pitching better. In any case, Carlos Monasterios’ 1.90 ERA entering tonight’s game, at least in the moment, wasn’t enough for Torre to take a “let’s see what happens” stance regarding whether Monasterios would make another start.
And it was fine to be a bit wary of how Monasterios would come out of tonight’s game at Colorado – it still featured someone who was in A ball last year pitching in an notoriously difficult environment. But lo and behold, Monasterios was efficient and effective: 67 pitches and two earned runs over five innings.
After the first inning, in which he gave up two unearned runs (they came two outs after Ronnie Belliard’s error at first base), Monasterios allowed only three baserunners. Two came in the fourth inning – a Miguel Olivo triple (followed by an Ian Stewart sacrifice fly) and a Clint Barmes homer that was contested in vain after a fan reached out to catch it. That put the Dodgers down, 4-0. Monasterios then retired the side in his fifth and final inning. Maybe I’m rooting too hard, but I’m having trouble putting this down as a poor effort.
Monasterios isn’t long for the Dodger rotation no matter what, but in the short term, with this game under his belt and a 2.20 ERA in 28 2/3 innings, it’s hard for me to see how he hasn’t earned the opportunity to start again Wednesday against Arizona at Dodger Stadium. He has six unintentional walks all year, he had 15 first-pitch strikes against 22 batters in Colorado – isn’t this the kind of John Ely-like boldness that the Dodgers are looking for, at least until Vicente Padilla comes back? I’m not assuming that Haeger hasn’t solved his problems and can’t do the job. It’s just that again, I’m wondering what has tilted the scales toward Haeger and away from Monasterios in Torre’s eyes. And I’m wondering if those scales might tilt back, as they did with Ely.
Anyway, this all appeared it would be an academic discussion to occupy us after a Dodger beating, what with Jeff Francis taking a one-hitter into the fifth inning, having faced the minimum 12 batters. Matt Kemp began the fifth with his 10th homer of the season, but that was seemingly the result of a pitcher with a lead just throwing the ball across the plate – Francis retired the next three batters.
Manny Ramirez hit his first home run since his pinch-hit game-winner April 18.
But the Dodgers shredded Francis’ exquisite origami in the sixth, tearing a small opening with a Jamey Carroll leadoff walk and then busting through with a Garret Anderson pinch-hit double, a Rafael Furcal sacrifice fly to score Carroll, a Russell Martin double to score Anderson, and then, Manny Ramirez’s first home run in his past 58 at-bats and first career homer at Coors Field period. Suddenly, the Dodgers were ahead, and Monasterios was poised to be the winning pitcher.
From that point on, the rested Dodger bullpen took control of the game (a fine thing, since none of the final nine Dodger batters reached base). In the final four innings, Ramon Troncoso, Hong-Chih Kuo, Ronald Belisario and Jonathan Broxton faced 16 batters and struck out eight – two apiece. Troncoso pitched a perfect sixth, Kuo got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the seventh and Belisario pitched a perfect eighth.
In the ninth, Broxton who had walked two of 77 batters this season and hit none, plunked leadoff pinch-hitter Jason Giambi, who was replaced by pinch-runner Dexter Fowler. Broxton struck out Barmes, but Melvin Mora hit a fly down the line in right that Xavier Paul made a nice play to catch for the second out, only for Fowler to tag up and take the tying run to second base. The Dodgers then chose to walk Carlos Gonzalez intentionally even though he was the winning run, preferring to have Broxton face Ryan Spilborghs – who had singled twice and homered in five career chances against Broxton. But after working the count to 2-2, Spilborghs couldn’t catch Broxton’s 97-mph fastball and went down swinging.
Monasterios (W, 2-0). That’s right.
Having not only survived this game to even their record on the road trip at 2-2 and move within one game of first-place San Diego in the National League West – the Padres entered the bottom of the ninth trailing Washington, 5-2, and got four straight singles for a run before striking out twice and grounding out – the Dodgers get to come back with Hiroki Kuroda and Clayton Kershaw for the next two games of the series. Beyond that, Andre Ethier singled and walked twice in four incident-free plate appearances in his first rehab game, keeping him on track to return to the Dodgers Memorial Day in Los Angeles. The Dodgers are 9-4 without Ethier, but don’t think they don’t want him back.
Update: From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:
Although Torre had given a strong indication before the game that knuckleballer Charlie Haeger will come off the disabled list in time to reclaim the fifth spot in the rotation the next time it comes up either Tuesday or Wednesday, Torre at least paid lip service after the game to the possibility Monasterios pitched well enough to warrant another shot.
“I don’t think we have figured it out yet,” Torre said. “But I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to do that. He enhanced his chances if we were going to consider it.”
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Scott Elbert’s final 12 appearances in the 2009 regular season for the Dodgers were for no more than one inning each.
Joe Torre can be aggressive with the bullpen in support of Carlos Monasterios’ second start and first in Colorado. The Dodger bullpen only threw five pitches Thursday (Jeff Weaver) and has thrown only 89 pitches in four days since Sunday. The shaky and oft-used Ramon Troncoso has thrown only 13 pitches since Saturday. Bottom line: Nine innings, eight pitchers.
The Dodger press notes said that Cory Wade, who turned 27 today, has begun to throw on flat ground in the latest step of his rehabilitation.
Update: Nick Green has been designated for assignment, the Dodgers announced 45 minutes before gametime.
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.
- The likelihood of a team taking a chance on me started low and diminished with time.
- I wasn’t missing the game as much as I had anticipated.
- 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.
If I’m being perfectly honest, with every day that passed since my release, two things became more and more clear to me:
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.
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images
… walked Matt Stairs … hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch … and then came back to strike out Jimmy Rollins.
Jerry Lai/US Presswire
Blake DeWitt tags out Derrek Lee attempting to steal in the seventh inning today.
Today’s story, as far as I’m concerned, is that the remarkable John Ely raised his game yet another level. Pitching in his hometown (albeit not on the South Side), Ely took a two-hit shutout into the eighth inning. That’s the story.
That the Dodgers hadn’t and ultimately wouldn’t score any runs in support of Ely, that Ely ultimately allowed two more hits and a run, that the Dodgers lost, 1-0, those are indeed significant details, but I’ll not let them divert me from the main story: John Ely keeps bringing it, and bringing it, and bringing it.
Ely’s final totals: 7 1/3 innings, four hits, two walks, four strikeouts, 98 pitches, 19 first-pitch strikes to 27 batters. For the first 6 2/3 innings, Derrek Lee was the only Cub to reach base against him. Lee had two walks and a double, making him 7 for 9 with three walks against the Dodgers in the three-game series. But Lee never scored.
Instead, the real damage came in the eighth inning. Mike Fontenot hit a shot down the right-field line leading off the inning, a double (maybe a single) that outfielder Xavier Paul played into a triple. After Ely struck out Geovany Soto, Tyler Colvin hit a bounder past James Loney to score Fontenot.
Paul made an error on that play, but this loss can’t be put on the defense. The hits were legitimate and together probably would have added up to a run, unless Paul made a great play to hold Fontenot at first and everything thereafter went the Dodgers way. Further, Paul, second baseman Blake DeWitt and left fielder Reed Johnson each made fine catches today — as did Ely himself, on a liner back at the mound. Russell Martin also threw out Lee attempting to steal in the seventh inning, a play that at the time might have seemed a game-saver, considering that Kosuke Fukudome singled one out later.
Rather, it was the Dodger offense that couldn’t make hay against Ted Lilly, who combined with Sean Marshall and Carlos Marmol on the Cubs’ second shutout in three days. Paul popped out with the bases loaded (on walks) to end the fifth inning — the only inning the Dodgers had a runner on third. And in the only other inning the Dodgers put a runner on second base, after Martin and Matt Kemp singled, Casey Blake (who, along with Martin, was the only Dodger to reach base twice) and James Loney could not drive them home.
In the ninth, DeWitt walked with one out, but Marmol struck out pinch-hitters Manny Ramirez and Garret Anderson to end the game.
All of these details mattered, all of these details add up to another tally in the loss column, one that puts the Dodgers further behind the persistently pesky Padres. But still, for me this game remains primarily about John Ely working his magic, yet again. He lowered his ERA to an even 3.00 — 13 runs in 39 innings — and gave the Dodgers even more hope about his future, even if today didn’t bring much of a homecoming present.
Update: Want to know what the sixth-inning brouhaha was about? Rob Neyer of ESPN.com explains.
Update 2: MLB.com has video.
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.
John Ely was raised a White Sox fan who stayed away from Wrigley Field until his agent took him there, writes Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. And Ely’s dad Jack won’t go to Wrigley, even to see his boy pitch, adds Michael Becker of the Press-Enterprise.
- Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods spent an evening with Bill Lee, and it was as memorable as you could have hoped for.
- Jaime Jarrin, Peter O’Malley and Dodger scout Camilo Pascual are among the inaugural inductees in the Latino Baseball Hall of Fame.
- Steve Garvey’s son Ryan is a 6-foot junior outfielder batting .390 for Palm Desert High School. Pete Donovan of the Desert Sun talked with Dad as he took in his son’s game (via Baseball Think Factory).
- Colorado pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez, whose only loss this season was to the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw, is the first pitcher since Juan Marichal in 1966 and fourth in a century to win nine of his first 10 starts with an ERA below 1.00, according to TMI. The Dodgers will miss him when they travel to Colorado this weekend.
- Geoff Young of Ducksnorts has a good recap of the Padres’ eventful 2-1, 13-inning victory over St. Louis late Wednesday.
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The following notes were sent by Kenton Wong of ESPN Stats & Info:
- Jonathan Broxton had just one save in April but has saved 10 games so far in May.
- Casey Blake went 2 for 5 with a HR and a double Wednesday for his 12th multi-hit game this season.
- Blake is batting .412 (14-34) with two doubles, four HR and eight RBI in his last nine games.
- James Loney picked up three hits Wednesday for the 8th time this season. That is tied for most three-hit games in MLB this season with the Angels’ Kendry Morales.
- Matt Kemp was 1 for 5 with two RBI Wednesday for his 10th multi-RBI game of the season and first since May 14 at San Diego.
- Hong-Chih Kuo threw 1 1/3 innings, recording all four outs via strikeout. He extended his scoreless innings streak to 10 1/3 innings (11 appearances).
- Ted Lilly (1-4, 4.30 ERA) is 3-1, 3.94 ERA in career vs. the Dodgers. Since winning his season debut, he has gone 0-4. He is 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA this season at Wrigley Field.
Scheduled Colorado pitching matchups:
Friday: Carlos Monasterios (1-0, 1.90 ERA) vs. Jeff Francis (1-0, 0.68 ERA)
Saturday: Hiroki Kuroda (5-2, 3.03 ERA) vs. Aaron Cook (1-3, 5.40 ERA)
Sunday: Clayton Kershaw (4-3, 2.90 ERA) vs. Jhoulys Chacin (3-2, 3.09 ERA)
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.
In the middle of his best start of the season – five innings, two hits, no walks, no runs, six strikeouts – Albuquerque pitcher James McDonald hurt his right hamstring on the basepaths and was pulled from the game, according to the Isotopes radio broadcast. I’ll post any details on the injury as soon as I hear them.
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.
- 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.
- Are the Padres going to turn into pumpkins? Longtime Ducksnorts blogger Geoff Young asks and answers at The Hardball Times.
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.
Carlos Monasterios will start Friday for the Dodgers in Colorado, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The team is expected to go back to a 12-man staff by then, and Jackson thinks Scott Elbert might get the call despite his control problems. Elbert has allowed four earned runs in his past 16 1/3 innings, though he has 11 walks in that time.
If the Dodgers are looking for a lefty specialist for the time being, Elbert might be the guy. According to Minor League Splits, Elbert has walked three of 40 left-handed batters he has faced (8 percent) and 26 of 139 right-handed batters (19 percent). Lefties are batting .229 against Elbert (.304 batting average on balls in play); righties .301 (.383).
But if they just want a long man in the bullpen – and someone who might take the next start instead of Monasterios – perhaps James McDonald is the better choice.
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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.
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.