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… walked Matt Stairs … hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch … and then came back to strike out Jimmy Rollins.
… walked Matt Stairs … hit Carlos Ruiz with a pitch … and then came back to strike out Jimmy Rollins.
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.
* * *
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)
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.
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.
* * *
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.
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.
Clayton Kershaw, 22, threw 3,020 pitches last season and, with 942 under his belt in 2010, is on pace for approximately 3,600 this season. In fact, he has an extremely viable chance of throwing the most pitches of anyone in the majors age 23 or under since 2000.
The top 10 names on the list are Felix Hernandez, Scott Kazmir, Matt Cain, Ryan Dempster (tonight’s Cubs starter), Dontrelle Willis, Barry Zito, Randy Wolf, Ben Sheets, Mark Buehrle and Carlos Zambrano. Mark Prior is 13th on the list, and Chad Billingsley’s 2008 season is 17th.
It doesn’t necessarily mean anything, because trouble comes to pitchers with all kinds of histories. But FYI …
|Zito||3538||2001||2004 or 2007?|
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Watch what happens when Dempster throws a changeup tonight. Opponents are 1 for 27 against his changeup this season, but the Dodgers are batting .305 against them, according to John Fisher of ESPN Stats and Information.
Including his 2008 playoff grand slam, James Loney has hit five consecutive fly balls off Dempster. The other four were caught. Loney’s last regular-season hit off Dempster was in 2007.
* * *
Kyle Russell has been on a tear for Class A Inland Empire, with six homers in his past six games. For the season, the 6-foot-5 outfielder has an on-base percentage of .431 and slugging percentage of .652. Writes Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus: “Drafted as a college senior, he turns 24 in June so it’s time to move him up, and scouts still aren’t convinced that he can hit enough at the upper levels, as evidenced by his 53 whiffs in 164 at-bats. One way or another, it’s time to find out.” A move could be tied into a promotion for the endlessly hot Jerry Sands, who is at .457/.758 for Low A Great Lakes.
The Dodgers have announced that Rafael Furcal is starting at shortstop and batting leadoff tonight in Chicago. The team’s public relations department told me that struggling reliever George Sherrill will be placed on the disabled list with “mid-back tightness.”
No immediate word on how long Hu, who was OPSing .815 in May, will be out. This could conceivably affect the Dodgers’ roster decisions with regard to Nick Green, though I don’t expect it will.
Other notes from Albuquerque:
One of the keys to understanding Dodger Cogs and Dogs is that workload matters. That’s why Jonathan Broxton has trouble staying in the top 10 despite All-Star caliber performance, why Rafael Furcal has fallen behind Jamey Carroll, and why Ramon Troncoso outranks Jeff Weaver despite a poorer ERA. Now, I’m not exactly applying this in an analytical way – as always, this feature intentionally is meant to have a big subjective element. But in determining which Dodgers have been more valuable over the course of the entire season, I have to give some consideration to the guys who are carrying more playing time.
This was an interesting set of rankings, as the four main Dodger starting pitchers now have above-average 2010 performance for the first time this season. The pendulum of the season that was so far on the side of offense has been swinging back – without the offense really being in that much of a decline.
|5/24 .||5/13 .||5/3 .||4/19 .||4/12 .||Player||Comment|
|1||1||1||2||11||Andre Ethier||Eagerly waiting to see if he can pick up where he left off.|
|2||2||2||3||1||Hiroki Kuroda||Three runs in six innings constitutes a bad start in ’10.|
|3||5||6||10||20||Clayton Kershaw||Could be his last time behind Kuroda in the rankings.|
|4||4||3||1||5||Matt Kemp||On pace for 33 homers despite missing on his 10th Sunday; defense still inconsistent.|
|5||3||4||4||9||Manny Ramirez||Sub-.700 OPS since coming off the DL.|
|6||7||10||5||2||Russell Martin||Might be ranked too high, but subjective points for appearance of being team backbone again.|
|7||8||26||NR||NR||John Ely||Nice to see him survive adversity Saturday.|
|8||11||12||12||10||Chad Billingsley||Combined with Ely, his rebound made this a team with pitching again.|
|9||16||11||7||6||Casey Blake||Just when he finally was looking his age at the plate, a resurgence. Too many errors, though.|
|10||6||8||9||24||James Loney||Doesn’t make headlines, doesn’t hit enough for his position, but still valuable.|
|11||10||5||6||13||Jonathan Broxton||18 2/3 innings, 18 baserunners, 29 strikeouts|
|12||12||15||14||14||Blake DeWitt||Seems to be steadily improving. Three triples last week – more power a matter of time?|
|13||17||18||21||18||Jamey Carroll||Our own little pesky Eckstein – who’d have thunk?|
|14||9||7||8||4||Rafael Furcal||Gonna have to start out well to avoid “Bring Back Carroll” chants from the “What have you done for me lately” crowd.|
|15||19||19||NR||NR||Xavier Paul||Very quietly just hitting, and hitting, and hitting. Is he the outfield’s Ely?|
|16||18||NR||NR||NR||Hong-Chih Kuo||Kuo is just the man. Do I need to say more?|
|17||15||9||11||12||Ramon Troncoso||Victim of his own success – Cogs & Dogs trying not to overpunish him for being overused.|
|18||14||16||18||21||Carlos Monasterios||One apperance since May 11, but we’re still fans.|
|19||13||14||13||7||Ronnie Belliard||Declining factor compared with April.|
|20||20||17||20||8||Reed Johnson||Uh, did you know he went 8 for 12 last week? Most of the Dodger bench has been pretty grand.|
|21||22||21||17||15||Jeff Weaver||Is it kinda strange how he keeps getting the job done?|
|22||23||20||15||25||Vicente Padilla||Hey, he could be a great No. 5 starter next month.|
|23||25||22||19||19||A.J. Ellis||No automatic out – if he plays.|
|24||26||24||23||23||Brad Ausmus||Yeah, you know he’s moving up in the rankings! Oh wait – maybe that’s not good.|
|25||24||NR||NR||NR||Ronald Belisario||Still like him, but this season he’s at 14 1/3 innings, 10 runs.|
|26||21||23||24||17||Ramon Ortiz||He’s just not gonna fool enough of the people enough of the time.|
|27||27||NR||NR||NR||Nick Green||Made a couple of loud outs in his first start.|
|28||28||27||26||26||George Sherrill||Last Dodger pitcher to go from this great to this awful: Hideo Nomo?|
|29||29||28||25||NR||Jon Link||Not the key to the Juan Pierre trade, it turns out.|
|30||30||29||27||22||Russ Ortiz||Sherrill still hasn’t put Ortiz completely out of rear-view mirror.|
|31||31||25||16||3||Charlie Haeger||Reportedly has solved mechanical trouble, says Tony Jackson.|
|32||32||30||22||16||Garret Anderson||Three hits in past eight at-bats, but hasn’t risen above painful stage.|
It wasn’t for lack of hitting the ball hard. Three times the Dodgers smashed Whac-a-mole shots at Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello, and all they got for their trouble was an infield single and three outs.
So even though the Dodgers always seemed on the verge of rallying to overcome the three runs Hiroki Kuroda allowed in the first inning Sunday, eventually things all fell apart in a 6-2 loss to Detroit.
For the third consecutive day, a different Dodger starting pitcher held the Tigers scoreless after the first inning. But unfortunately for Kuroda (six innings, six hits, one walk, five strikeouts), the Dodger offense did not have much luck on its side.
After that, virtually nothing went the Dodgers way. Manny Ramirez grounded out as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the sixth, and Magglio Ordonez homered off Ronald Belisario in the eighth to give Detroit an insurance run. The Dodgers got their 10th hit and third walk in the bottom of the eighth inning, but pinch-hitter Ronnie Belliard hit into the team’s third double play. The Tigers added two more runs in the ninth, and Martin made it four double plays to end the game.
Martin, Paul, Garret Anderson, Blake DeWitt and Jamey Carroll each reached base twice, but it just wasn’t the Dodgers’ day.
To the island for one last time …