Jun 02

Why John Ely will have trouble becoming Rookie of the Year

Howard Smith/US Presswire
Jason Heyward

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

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

ESPN Stats and Information adds the following:

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

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

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

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

* * *

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

Bison buys one for the Dodgers, 1-0

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
“The Dodgers are going to have to take an ad to get a run for him,” Vin Scully commented after John Ely’s seven innings of shutout ball left him with a no-decision.

And so we’ve found the kryptonite for John Ely – the Dodger offense. With his seven innings of two-hit, two-walk shutout ball tonight, Ely has allowed one run on 10 baserunners over 14 1/3 innings – a 0.63 ERA – but in that time, the Dodgers haven’t scored for him.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Matt Kemp: Glory be.

They did score for Jeff Weaver, however. With one out in the bottom of the 10th inning of a scoreless tie, Matt Kemp hit a hanging fastball hard, deep and winningly. His blast to the left-field bleachers off Juan Guiterrez gave the Dodgers a slightly more conventional walkoff victory, 1-0 over Arizona.

With walkoff wag Andre Ethier on deck, Kemp tied his outfield colleague with his 11th homer of the year and moved the Dodgers within a game of San Diego for the best record in the National League. It was the first 1-0 extra inning victory since Russell Martin hit that game-winning homer against the Giants on August 13, 2006, according to Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. For the year, the Dodgers are now 2-2 in 1-0 games.

Kemp stole the spotlight from Ely, but the wunderkind pitcher still glows.

Ely took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before a Rusty Ryal single got past a somewhat immobile Casey Blake. To be honest, that wasn’t the first hard-hit ball off Ely – on MLB Gameday, the “Away Outs” portion of the hit chart in the bottom left-hand corner shows five balls caught at the warning track or deeper. But that doesn’t mean Ely wasn’t mesmerizing. At one stretch, he threw first-pitch strikes to 11 consecutive batters.

Ely even mesmerized Russell Martin, who committed a passed ball on what would have been an inning-ending strikeout in the top of the seventh but instead allowed Arizona to put Ely in some of his biggest jeopardy of the night – runners at first and second. (Martin also committed a throwing error after an Ely wild pitch that allowed Ryal to reach third base in the fifth.) But two pitches later, LaRoche practically mimicked the James Loney blunder of Monday’s game – actually did worse, considering how many outs there were – by getting himself thrown out by Martin trying to advance on another ball in the dirt.

That, as it turned out, was the last we’d see of Ely tonight. With a runner on first base and one out, Joe Torre decided to have Garret Anderson pinch-hit for Ely, who had thrown 92 pitches, in what I commented at the time was not exactly going to be a popular decision. Anderson then did himself no favors by hitting into a routine 4-6-3 double play.

Ely went to the showers with his ERA lowered to 2.54 and his sixth consecutive quality start in which he allowed no more than two runs. (The six straight quality starts are the most by a Dodger rookie since Hideo Nomo in 1995, according to the Dodger press notes.) Ely struck out five, and his K/BB ratio actually declined to 4.63. Interestingly, he’s getting close to having enough innings to qualify for the National League ERA race, and even more interestingly, it’s kind of relevant. As of now, Ely is 12th in the league in ERA among pitchers with at least 40 innings and third in K/BB.

“The Dodgers are going to have to take an ad to get a run for him,” Vin Scully commented.

Dodger fans who were doubly disappointed by the Anderson-for-Ely exchange might have felt that disappointment redouble when Ronald Belisario gave up a leadoff single in the eighth, and, after a Chris Snyder bunt, Dan Haren was left in the game to bat. The explanation: Haren was 14 for 34 (.412) this season, plus Arizona’s bullpen is notoriously poor. But Haren flied out, and Hong-Chih Kuo came in to get Kelly Johnson to ground out.

Haren, who had an 8.68 ERA over his past three starts, continued through the eighth inning. Ethier got his first hit since coming off the disabled list, meaning that for the third time in three weeks, Manny Ramirez would bat in a potential game-winning situation in the eighth inning against a tiring Arizona starter. Ramirez hit a grand slam off Edwin Jackson on May 12, then struck out with the score tied 4-4 Monday against Rodrigo Lopez. Tonight, Haren just missed striking out Ramirez on his 125th pitch, and then on his career-high 126th pitch, Ramirez popped to center field. Amid chatter that Haren might be left in for infinity and beyond, he instead ended his night with eight shutout innings, allowing seven hits and striking out seven while walking nada.

Neither team scored in the ninth, despite two-out hits by Martin and Jamey Carroll, and so the Dodgers and Arizona took their scoreless game to extra innings. Weaver allowed a hit in an otherwise harmless top of the 10th, and then one out after Rafael Furcal lined to short, Kemp made Ely the valued best supporting actor in a victory.

* * *

Sour note: James McDonald’s hamstring injury is significant, writes Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.

… McDonald is presently on the seven-day DL and is at the Dodgers’ spring-training facility in Glendale, Ariz., where he is throwing off flat ground. But he isn’t expected to return to pitching competitively anytime soon.

“It’s a significant strain,” Dodgers trainer Stan Conte said. “It’s not a small one. We call it a Grade 2 out of a possible three. We’ll just have to see how long it takes. We don’t believe it’s a matter of days. It’s longer than that.”

Jun 01

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

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

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

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

Elsewhere …

  • Earl Pomerantz writes about pressure. As usual, it’s a great read.
  • What song has the lyrics, “Trees fade out in the black of the night/Sometimes it don’t hardly seem worth the fight/But at least tonight I get to hear the golden voice of Vin Scully.” Tom Hoffarth of the Daily News has the answer.
  • The Dodgers’ ThinkCure! auction is about to launch. In the meantime, Darin Erstad’s upcoming charity auction, including an Erstad Gold Glove, will send 100 percent of the final sale price to support the Child Abuse Prevention Center in Orange.
Jun 01

Dodgers to pay tribute to Jose Lima on Sunday

The Dodgers will fill Sunday’s game against Atlanta with tributes to the late Jose Lima — including his 2004 rendition of the National Anthem and an honorary first pitch from his son.

From the Dodgers’ press release:

… Prior to his untimely passing, the charismatic pitcher had been planning to perform at a Viva Los Dodgers Day this summer, much like he did at the Viva Los Dodgers festival in 2004 when he was an active player. Lima’s longtime friend and bandleader of L.A.’s Conjunto Amistad Johnny Polanco will perform a set in his honor this Sunday, followed by Estrellas de Tuzantla. Polanco has performed with various notable musicians including Prince, Cachao, Johnny Pacheco, Tito Puente Jr., Charlie Zaa, Ray De La Paz and Tito Nieves.

Several of Lima’s friends and family members will recount stories of his life while fans will be encouraged to sign a book of memories for his family.

Lima performed the National Anthem and God Bless America at a Dodger home game in 2004. Lima’s anthem rendition will be shown on DodgerVision before Sunday’s game against the Braves and his version of God Bless America will run during the middle of the 7th inning. Lima’s son, Jose Jr., is expected to throw out an honorary first pitch and there will also be an in-game video tribute to the right-hander. …

Starting two hours prior to the game, fans can enjoy live music, a family-friendly celebration and a beer garden presented by Bud Light in Lot 6. Auto gates open at 11 a.m., Estrellas de Tuzantla will perform at 11:15 a.m. and Johnny Polanco and Conjunto Amistad will take the stage at 12:15 p.m. Jose Jr.’s first pitch will take place at approximately 1:00 p.m. followed by the 1:10 p.m. game against Atlanta.

May 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 31

Memorial Day game chat

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

* * *

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

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

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

The fort

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 30

Kemp faceplant prevents Dodger nosedive, 4-3

Ed Andrieski/AP
Matt Kemp beat the throw home to Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta to score on James Loney’s double in the first inning Sunday.

Clayton Kershaw might be a roller coaster, but he’s a mere Gold Rush compared to the Colossus that is the Dodger defense.

Surviving a pop-up that Blake DeWitt lost in the sun in the first inning, a grounder through the legs of Casey Blake in the ninth inning and two other errors in between, the Dodgers survived Sunday against Colorado, 4-3, to win the series, split their six-game road trip and stay within two games of the top team in the National League, San Diego.

And what was the key play? A diving catch by Matt Kemp in the fifth inning that saved at least two runs.

Kemp scored his NL-leading 41st run on James Loney’s first-inning double to give the Dodgers a 1-0 lead, before Kershaw continued his vexing first-inning struggles, hitting the first batter he faced, walking the third and giving up an RBI single to the fourth. DeWitt’s sun blindness on Chris Ianetta’s pop-up let a second Colorado run score and helped extend Kershaw to 30 pitches in the inning. But Kershaw ended up getting all three outs that inning on strikeouts – then struck out the side in the second inning as well.

The Dodgers loaded the bases with none out in the third against Jhoulys Chacin (walk, bunt single, hit by pitch) but settled for a game-tying sacrifice fly by Loney. Kershaw then got out of jams in the third and fifth innings, the latter capped by Kemp’s sprawling grab with the bases loaded and two out. Just a huge moment in the game.

Casey Blake, robbed of an RBI single in the first inning by Rockies center fielder Carlos Gonzalez, doubled to lead off the sixth inning and scored the tiebreaking run on a single by Xavier Paul, who is likely headed to Albuquerque on Monday to make room for Andre Ethier (unless the Dodgers suddenly cut bait on Garret Anderson). Paul later scored on a fielder’s choice, and for the second time in three games, the Dodgers asked for four innings out of their bullpen, and the bullpen answered.

Ramon Troncoso and Hong-Chih Kuo each pitched perfect innings, while Ronald Belisario allowed a walk but got a double-play grounder to end the eighth. In the ninth, Colorado put the tying runs on base with one out thanks to an Ian Stewart double and Blake’s error on Seth Smith’s grounder. Gonzalez’s fielder’s choice brought Colorado within one, but just like Friday, Broxton struck out Ryan Spilborghs to end the game.

Kershaw, who got his first hit of the season in his 16th at-bat, finished with nine strikeouts in five innings against four hits and four walks, throwing 96 pitches. If he figures out what’s bedeviling him in the first inning – of the 22 runs he has allowed in 11 starts this season, nine of them have come in first innings – it’d be pretty wonderful.

After the game, the Dodgers sent control-troubled lefty Scott Elbert back to the Isotopes and called up Travis Schlichting in his place. The 25-year-old righty has a 4.02 ERA with 19 strikeouts against 41 baserunners in 31 1/3 innings, which tickets him for mop-up duty for the time being.

If Ethier comes off the disabled list Monday, the Dodgers will have gone 10-5 in his absence and 12-7 for the year in games he hasn’t started. Not everything went right for the Dodgers this past week, but considering how close the team came to losing six of their past seven games, Dodger fans might be relieved to be heading home for an Ethier reunion with the three victories they got.

* * *

Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy posted memorial video for Jose Lima in the Dominican Republic.

May 30

Kershaw LXII: Kershawrmor All

Andre Ethier had another successful rehab appearance Saturday, in Albuquerque’s 16-6 victory over Memphis, and remains on track to be activated from the disabled list Monday.

In other notes:

  • The insane John Lindsey went 2 for 6 with a homer and six RBI – his OPS lowering to 1.198 in the process. Ivan De Jesus, Jr. went 4 for 5, and Chin-Lung Hu 3 for 6 with a double in his first game back from the disabled list to boost his May OPS to .847 after a .478 in April.
  • The Dodgers’ likely starter Tuesday against Dan Haren and Arizona, Charlie Haeger, pitched three innings in a rehab appearance with Inland Empire and allowed three runs on eight baserunners. Aaron Miller, the 36th overall pick in the 2009 draft, pitched six innings of one-run relief. Miller lowered his ERA to 3.08 and has 50 strikeouts in 49 2/3 innings against 61 baserunners.
  • Alberto Bastardo struck out 11 in six innings while allowing one run on seven baserunners in a winning effort for Chattanooga. Bastardo, 26, has a 3.75 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 57 2/3 innings against 79 baserunners. Dee Gordon, 22, hit his second home run of the season and is OPSing .702. He has nine hits in his past 20 at-bats.
  • Josh Wall, 23, allowed only two unearned runs and six baserunners in seven innings while striking out 11, but was the losing pitcher as Great Lakes was no-hit for 7 2/3 innings and lost, 2-0. Wall has an 0-3 record despite a 3.63 ERA in 10 starts and 49 strikeouts in 52 innings against 65 baserunners.
  • Why does Hiroki Kuroda struggle so much against Colorado – home and away? Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com explores.
  • Good from Saturday: Justin Miller’s Dodger debut, Rafael Furcal’s three hits and two rifle-armed throws from shortstop.
  • Bad from Saturday: Kuroda, Scott Elbert’s 2010 Dodger debut, Furcal’s fourth error in five games and Manny Ramirez’s inability to catch a first-inning foul fly.
  • It wouldn’t hurt the Dodgers to sign Dontrelle Willis (cut loose by the Tigers) for the AAA rotation, writes Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness, but don’t expect him to contribute on the major-league level.
  • Matt Kemp has played 99.4 percent of the Dodgers’ innings this season, which is the most in the National League, writes Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. I’d expect Kemp might get a rest after Ethier returns to action.
  • Buster Posey delivered three hits and three RBI in his long-awaited 2010 Giants debut. The highly regarded catcher played first base for San Francisco.
  • Teenage female knuckleballer (how fun is it to start with those three words) Eri Yoshida made her debut for Chico of the Golden Baseball League on Saturday, writes The Associated Press. She pitched a shutout first inning before allowing four runs in her next two. She also had an RBI single.
  • Elymania on the cover of Sports Illustrated? It sure would look nice. (@PA_Dodger via Blue Heaven).

Update: Joe Torre told reporters this morning that Haeger’s foot isn’t ready. As of now, Ely starts Tuesday, Carlos Monasterios on Wednesday for the Dodgers.

Also, Vicente Padila talked about the incident/non-incident from Friday night/Saturday morning.

May 29

May 29 game chat

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

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

* * *

  • A memorial for Jose Lima was held in New York on Friday. Adry Torres covered it for ESPNNewYork.com (via Vin Scully Is My Homeboy).
  • James McDonald was placed on the AAA seven-day disabled list, as of Thursday, according to Christopher Jackson of the Albuquerque Baseball Examiner. McDonald was sent to Camelback Ranch for further evaluation.
  • Albuquerque activated Chin-Lung Hu from the disabled list, according to the Isotopes’ press notes, which mention that the team’s roster has made 12 transactions in the past 10 days.
  • Fernando Valenzuela has caught Ubaldomania, writes Jim Armstrong for the Denver Post.
  • Two former Dodgers were cut loose today: Paul Lo Duca released by the Rockies’ AAA team in Colorado Springs, Claudio Vargas designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers. (Vinny Rottino, by the way, now plays for AA Jacksonville.)
  • Update: Joe Torre said that they want to give John Ely an extra day of rest before his next start, which means that they are probably going to insert Charlie Haeger into the rotation Tuesday (too soon for Carlos Monasterios) and push Ely to Wednesday.
May 29

Denver police finds no evidence to support allegations against Vicente Padilla

Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Vicente Padilla

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.

May 28

Monasterios and sixth-inning rally are pleasant surprises for Dodgers, 5-4

Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images
Carlos Monasterios

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.

Jack Dempsey/AP
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.”