Apr 25

Billingsley shines, offense dims in Dodgers’ 1-0 loss


Nick Wass/AP
Chad Billingsley averaged 14.3 pitches per inning today.

If there is a feel-good loss, the Dodgers might have felt one today.

Despite being shutout for the second time in eight games and again falling two games below .500, the Dodgers and Chad Billingsley might be moping less than normal after the righthander delivered his best start of the year Sunday, allowing one run over six innings in the Dodgers’ 1-0 loss to Washington.

Billingsley’s only unintentional walk of the day contributed to the game’s only run, but otherwise he was on top of his game. He used an efficient 86 pitches over six innings, allowing four hits and striking out five. He averaged five pitches outside the strike zone per inning, not counting a sixth-inning intentional walk following a two-out, Cristian Guzman double that was the result of a miscommunication between Matt Kemp and Garret Anderson. (Kemp called for the ball, but Anderson didn’t back off Kemp’s path.)

With runners on first and second, Billingsley went 2-2 to Josh Willingham before getting him to ground out and end his cleanest outing since September 23 at this same ballpark, when he pitched no-hit ball for 5 2/3 innings before giving up two walks and a three-run homer to Ryan Zimmerman.

Had the Dodgers been leading – which would have been a possibility had they converted three consecutive one-out singles in the first inning into a run – Billingsley would certainly have pitched in a seventh inning for the first time since July 5. But down by a run with a runner on first, Joe Torre pulled Billingsley for pinch-hitter Andre Ethier. Ethier grounded into a double play.

After Ramon Troncoso retired six of seven players he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, the Dodgers had one final chance when James Loney (2 for 4) led off the ninth with an opposite-field double. But pinch-runner Jamey Carroll couldn’t advance on Casey Blake’s, I don’t know, confusing one-hopper to Guzman. Justin Maxwell then made a diving catch on Ronnie Belliard’s blooper to right, and Anderson wrapped up a miserable, three-strikeout day with an easy pop to center.

It’s just one game in the season for Billingsley, but it was a promising one. The only time things really went wrong for him was when the leadoff single by Nyler Morgan was followed by an ugly four-pitch walk to Adam Kennedy. But between then and two outs in the sixth, Billingsley only one three-ball count and scattered two singles. Though no one likes a 1-0 loss, the Dodgers might hate this one a little less.

Apr 25

Vin Scully traveled in mysterious ways


Above, Ken Levine passes along a fun promo for Vin Scully’s 1967 Rose Parade co-hosting gig with the bewitching Elizabeth Montgomery.   We know Scully’s voice can cut through time and space, but this is ridiculous!

In contrast, while I share the Left Field Pavilion’s disappointment at how many non-Dodger events are included in this MLB Network tribute to Scully, it’s all worth it for the pictures of Scully hitchhiking. Yes, hitchhiking.

  • The somewhat press-shy Andre Ethier gave a fairly lengthy interview to Steve Greenberg of SportingNews.com.
  • Red-hot Jerry Sands of the Dodgers’ Class A team in Great Lakes is profiled by Hugh Bernreuter of the Saginaw News. Sands hit two homers Saturday to up his season batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage to .443/.500/.967.
  • John Lindsey Watch: In Albuquerque’s 6-2 victory over Omaha on Saturday, Lindsey homered and singled in five at-bats, which meant his season batting average and on-base percentage fell to .500 and .548. His slugging percentage did tick up to .821.
  • By comparison, Isotopes third baseman Russ Mitchell went 3 for 5 and is up to a .359 OBP and .446 slugging.
  • Ivan DeJesus, Jr. had been struggling at Albuqerque, so his 3 for 5 came in handy. His overall 2010 offense still remains down in the .277/.323 dumps.
Apr 24

Dodgers win in extras but lose Vicente Padilla


Nick Wass/AP
Carlos Monasterios, right, gets a high-five from Russell Martin, center, and Matt Kemp after the Dodgers defeated the Washington Nationals 4-3 in 13 innings Saturday. Monasterios isn’t going anywhere for a while after his 2 2/3 extra innings of shutout ball.

See what happens when you get two out of three cogs working?

The Dodger defense help cause the team to play four extra innings Saturday, but this time the bullpen was up to the task while the offense did just enough. With Carlos Monasterios getting the final eight outs, the Dodgers defeated Washington in 13, 4-3.

The glow was tempered a bit with the news that Vicente Padilla was going on the 15-day disabled list with right forearm problems – the third Dodger to go on the DL this week. Reliever Jon Link has been recalled, but the Dodgers will make another roster move by Tuesday for a starter to take Padilla’s turn in the rotation. But there was a glow nevertheless.

Clayton Kershaw (3.13 ERA in 2010) allowed 11 baserunners in six innings but went to the showers with a 3-2 lead thanks to Casey Blake’s second home run. However, a Russell Martin throwing error – the 20th of the Dodgers’ 17-game season to date – led to an eighth-inning entrance by Jonathan Broxton, who allowed the game-tying, unearned run (charged to Ramon Troncoso). Rafael Furcal’s error an inning earlier also caused trouble; the Dodgers used four pitchers to get six outs in the sixth and seventh.

But the Dodger bullpen provided five scoreless innings at a most welcome time, with Broxton pitching the ninth, George Sherrill retiring all four batters he faced and then Monasterios (his ERA shrinking to 2.08) providing the final 2 2/3 innings to end it.

It wasn’t without one more scare. Monasterios entered the bottom of the 13th with the one-run lead after Russell Martin (0 for 5 with the big error at that point) singled in Furcal, who had singled and stolen his eighth base in nine attempts this year (second in the National League). Monasterios allowed a one-out single to pinch-hitter Ivan Rodriguez and then a double to the right-field corner by Nyler Morgan. A faster player would have scored, but Rodriguez held at third – and then was thrown out at the plate by inches by Blake on the Nationals’ next at-bat.

Cristian Guzman then popped out to end it. Monsasterios had come through. The Dodgers had come through. Even though Washington had gotten a runner to at least second base in each of the first nine innings, the Dodgers won.

From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

Monasterios, 24, generally keeps his emotions in check on the field but was jumping up and down in the infield like a Little Leaguer when he got Guzman to fly to left and end the game.

“That’s the correct way, no?” Monasterios asked. “I’m very excited and happy to be on this team right now. This experience will give me a lot of self confidence.”

Shades of Pedro Astacio …

Blake went 3 for 5 with the three RBI from his two homers, and Furcal, Matt Kemp and James Loney each had two hits. (Furcal also had a walk.)

With James McDonald on the AAA disabled list because of a broken nail (“Why tonight?”), the leading candidates to take the Tuesday start are John Ely, Scott Elbert and Josh Towers. Ely and Towers would require a 40-man roster spot, which the Dodgers have to spare if they move Brad Ausmus or Cory Wade from the 15- to the 60-day DL. Ely has the best numbers of the three: a 3.00 ERA over three starts covering 18 innings, though he has allowed 16 hits and eight walks against 12 strikeouts, and he’d be on five days’ rest for Tuesday. McDonald could be activated from the DL next week, but would the Dodgers use him after the layoff he has had?

Elbert, who last pitched for Albuquerque five days ago and was scheduled as recently as Friday to pitch today, was replaced by Seth Etherton, so one might have concluded he’ll get the call despite allowing 13 runs in eight innings over his past two starts. (He pitched six shutout innings in his first start of the year.) But Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. points out that Elbert is with his wife for the birth of their second child, so who knows?

Also keep in mind, with the possibility of a rainout Sunday or Monday, the Dodgers might be able to postpone addressing this problem. Anyway, enjoy today’s glow – a nice alternative to what could have been another dastardly disappointment.

Apr 24

Kershaw LV: Kershawk-infested waters


Mark J. Rebilas/US Presswire
Jonathan Broxton is the only impeccable Dodger pitcher this season, but he has only pitched 5 2/3 innings in 2010.

With the Houston Astros (6-10) on Friday winning their fifth game out of six, and Philadelphia and St. Louis losing, the gap between the top and bottom teams in the National League has shrunk to four games. By the end of the day, there’s a chance that the Dodgers (7-9) could be part of of a three-way tie for the worst record in the NL – or a three-way tie for third place in the NL West, two games out of first. That should be enough to indicate how early in the season it is.

But I offer that up as much for me as any of you.

I’ve been disgusted by the pitching and the defense. So far this season, the Dodgers have only twice strung together as many as eight shutout innings: April 7 at Pittsburgh (in between giving up three runs in the first and the winning run in the 10th) and April 17 (2)/April 18 (6) against the Giants (the Dodgers won the second game). Four other times, the team has had at least five consecutive scoreless frames. That’s it. Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. writes, “The Dodgers lead the majors with 14 unearned runs allowed this season.  In 2009, they didn’t give up an unearned run until the 20th game of the season.” One’s stiff upper lip quivers when the pitching and defense are that porous.

The offense is working, but we all know you need more than that. If the Dodgers can get their fielding above abysmal (Dodger Thoughts commenter Regfairfield has pointed out that the rate of mistakes they have made in 2010 is essentially unprecedented over a full season) and at least get the pitching to be competent, that will be enough for now. As you can see from the first paragraph, no team has broken out in the NL – Philadelphia and St. Louis have their issues, and the NL West is led by the team predicted to finish last. There’s plenty of time.

If the offense unplugs while everything else remains sloppy, however, then this season turns into a disaster and, looking ahead to next year, puts much of the entire roster up for grabs while the McCourt divorce case drags on. As we sit here today, there might be as few as four players the Dodgers will definitely retain for 2011: Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, Clayton Kershaw and Jonathan Broxton. Russell Martin and Rafael Furcal are likely to stay off the trade market if they can enough of their April performance. Everyone else … who knows? Some would have to stay, but they’d all be on the table. It doesn’t really matter who – it would still be turmoil.

It’s too soon to worry about this, but I do worry. But it’s too soon. But I worry. But it’s too soon.

* * *

  • Based on this Washington D.C. forecast, the Dodgers should avoid a rainout.
  • No Dodger reliever except Ramon Ortiz was used Friday.
  • The Dodger reliever with the lowest ERA this season (minimum six innings): Carlos Monasterios, 3.00.
  • Xavier Paul is starting today, but this brief from Ken Gurnick of MLB.com indicates he will be out there in the first inning only occasionally while Manny Ramirez recuperates. Despite Garret Anderson hitting a pinch-homer Thursday, I think the Dodgers would be better-served giving Paul most of the starts.
  • It’s not exactly the same problem as Chad Billingsley, but wun-time onederkind Cole Hamels is being heavily scrutinized in Philadelphia.
  • Inland Empire’s Ethan Martin pitched six innings of two-hit shutout ball Friday, walking three and striking out seven, in the 66ers’ 1-0 loss. Martin’s 2010 ERA is 1.80. With two shutout innings in relief, Kenley Jansen has a 0.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts against 10 baserunners in 10 2/3 innings this season.
  • Jerry Sands went 3 for 4 in Great Lakes’ 2-1 10-inning loss. The 22-year-old Sands (he’s about six months older than Kershaw) has a .485 on-base percentage and .879 slugging percentage this year.
Apr 23

Manny Ramirez DLed – Xavier Paul recalled


AP/US Presswire

At 1 p.m., the Dodgers announced that Manny Ramirez would be placed on the disabled list with a right calf strain and that Xavier Paul would be recalled to join the active roster.

Paul has a .409 on-base percentage and .574 slugging percentage in 66 plate appearances for Albuquerque this season.

Apr 22

Dodger errors and their consequences


Keith Srakocic/AP
Casey Blake has three errors in 11 starts, though none of his errors have affected the game’s outcome.

Here’s a quick rundown of the Dodger errors and their effects this season. In 14 games, the team has made 16 errors, leading to 12 unearned runs. Three of the errors have contributed directly to losses.

1) Russell Martin (1), April 5 at Pittsburgh (Game 1, second inning)
Error: Tied 2-2, with runners on first and second, Martin bobbled Zach Duke bunt in front of home plate.
Consequences: No runs, seven extra pitches thrown by Vicente Padilla.

2) Casey Blake (1), April 5 at Pittsburgh (Game 1, seventh inning)
Error: Down 8-5, with bases empty and one out, Blake flubbed Jeff Clement’s grounder.
Consequences: No runs, three extra pitches thrown by Russ Ortiz.

3) Blake DeWitt (1), April 7 at Pittsburgh (Game 2, 10th inning)
Error: Tied 3-3, first batter of the inning, DeWitt commits miscue on Lastings Milledge grounder.
Consequences: Milledge sacrificed to second and two batters later scores winning (unearned) run off Ramon Ortiz.

4) Ronnie Belliard (1), April 8 at Pittsburgh (Game 3, seventh inning)
Error: Leading 8-1, one out and bases empty, third baseman Belliard allows Andrew McCutchen to reach on a grounder.
Consequences: Ramon Troncoso induces 4-6-3 double play from next batter.

5) Ronnie Belliard (2), April 8 at Pittsburgh (Game 3, eighth inning)
Error: Leading 8-2, one out and runner on second, Adam LaRoche takes advantage of another Belliard mistake.
Consequences: Carlos Monasterios retires next two batters, two extra pitches required.

6) Casey Blake (2), April 9 at Florida (Game 4, fifth inning)
Error: Tied 0-0, leadoff batter Cody Ross reaches on Blake mistake.
Consequences: Hiroki Kuroda retires next three batters, one extra pitch required.

7) Russell Martin (2), April 9 at Florida (Game 4, sixth inning)
Error: Tied 0-0, Martin throws away Cameron Maybin bunt (single plus error).
Consequences: Kuroda allows one-out single to Jorge Cantu for unearned run. Needs three extra pitches to get out of inning.

8) Matt Kemp (1), April 11 at Florida (Game 6, sixth inning)
Error: Leading 5-3 with bases empty and two out, Kemp misreads shallow Ronny Paulino fly ball, dives for it but bobbles it for two-base error.
Consequences:
Charlie Haeger allows RBI single for unearned run, then a walk before getting a groundout to end inning. Nine extra pitches. Dodgers ultimately lose, 6-5.

9) Rafael Furcal (1), April 15 vs. Arizona (Game 9, second inning)
Error: Trailing 1-0 with runner on second and and two out, Furcal throws away Conor Jackson’s infield single.
Consequences:
Jon Hester comes around to score unearned run; Tony Abreu extends Kuroda for eight pitches before grounding out to end inning.

10) Casey Blake (3), April 15 vs. Arizona (Game 9, ninth inning)
Error: Arizona leads 4-3 with runners on first and third and one out when Blake mishandles Abreu grounder.
Consequences: Unearned run
scores. Dodger reliever Ramon Ortiz called in, needs four extra pitches to get out of inning. Dodgers tie game in bottom of the ninth thanks in great part to a Stephen Drew error, then win in 10th.

11) A.J. Ellis (1), April 17 vs. San Francisco (Game 11, third inning)
Error: Trailing 1-0, runner on first, Ellis throws ball away on Aubrey Huff steal attempt.
Consequences:
See next entry.

12) Jamey Carroll (1), April 17 vs. San Francisco (Game 11, third inning)
Error: With Huff on third, Carroll (playing shortstop) can’t handle Mark DeRosa grounder.
Consequences:
Four runs score in the inning — two unearned, thanks to the errors and an Ellis passed ball.

13) Chad Billingsley (1), April 20 at Cincinnati (Game 13, second inning)
Error: Tied 3-3 with no outs and runners on first and third, Billingsley throws away Homer Bailey’s sacrifice attempt.
Consequences:
Most disastrous defensive play of year to date. Of six runs Billingsley allows in inning, three are unearned. Billingsley needs nine extra pitches to exit inning. Dodgers lose, 11-9.

14) Russell Martin (3), April 20 at Cincinnati (Game 13, fourth inning)
Error: Trailing 7-3, runner on first and two out, Martin throw gets away on Drew Stubbs steal attempt.
Consequences:
The next batter, Joey Votto, homers off Ramon Ortiz. Runs are earned. Ortiz needs three extra pitches to end the inning.

15) Blake DeWitt (2), April 21 at Cincinnati (Game 14, fourth inning)
Error: Leading 4-3, runner on first and one out, DeWitt lets potential double-play grounder get past him.
Consequences:
One out and one Kuroda walk later, Aaron Harang knocks his controversial single just shy of Andre Ethier’s glove for unearned run.

16) Rafael Furcal (2), April 21 at Cincinnati (Game 14, fourth inning)
Error: Leading 9-4, runner on first and two out, an easy grounder to Furcal somehow gets through.
Consequences:
George Sherrill replaces Kuroda and gives up a single that scores two unearned runs. Sherrill uses three more pitches to end inning. Error forced the Dodgers to use an extra pitcher in the game.

* * *

Update: The Dodgers have activated Hong-Chih Kuo and placed Jeff Weaver on the disabled list.

Apr 21

Baseball’s LMU: Dodgers edge Reds, 14-6


Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Hank Gathers and Loyola Marymount only cared about how much they scored, not how much they gave up.

The Run-and-”Shoot!” Dodgers are still at it. And I’m starting to wonder whether the team secretly replaced manager Joe Torre with former Loyola Marymount coach Paul Westhead.

It has been more than 30 years since Major League Baseball has seen a game in which both teams scored at least 20 runs, but the 2010 Dodgers are looking increasingly likely to be in the next one. The runs scored (6.6 per game) and allowed (6.2), boosted by tonight’s 14-6 victory that saw the team score in eight of nine innings, are mindblowing for this blogporter.

Al Behrman/AP
Rafael Furcal tonight: walk, single, double, triple, error.

The situation in a nutshell: Rafael Furcal makes a unforced error at short that leads to two unearned runs off Hiroki Kuroda in the sixth inning, then comes back in the top of the seventh with an RBI triple – his fourth RBI and fourth time on base in the game.

Four times on base: Furcal, Matt Kemp (seventh home run, six of which have gone to center or right field), Manny Ramirez (.510 on-base percentage), Andre Ethier (.460 OBP/.689 slugging).

Three times on base: James Loney.

Two times on base: Russell Martin.

One time on base: Casey Blake DeWitt.

Kuroda had his worst outing of the season so far, but still would have emerged with a quality start had he gotten better play behind him. He threw 103 pitches over 5 2/3 innings, allowing three earned runs and three unearned runs.

There were a couple of encouraging signs from the bullpen. George Sherrill allowed the two unearned runs to score in relief of Kuroda, and Jeff Weaver had to leave after one batter with what appeared to be a hamstring problem, but Ronald Belisario was perfect in his first inning of the year, and Carlos Monasterios got the final five outs on 27 pitches.

The Dodgers stayed within 1 1/2 games of the National League West-leading … Padres.

* * *

The night’s most bizarre play took place in the fourth inning. With the bases loaded and two out, Cincinnati pitcher Aaron Harang hit a sinking liner into right field. Andre Ethier dove and came up with the ball for what was ruled the third out. Reds manager Dusty Baker came out steaming – but in almost no time, the umpires conferred and then called over Torre to tell him they were ruling the ball had bounced into Ethier’s glove, and so they would be awarding Harang a single and advancing all runners one base. (Torre seemed more disappointed than disgusted by the reversal, not really arguing at all).

At the time, I was with broadcaster Steve Lyons in thinking I had never seen this kind of play overturned. On TV, we kept being shown replays that weren’t entirely conclusive, because the ball, glove and grass all sort of merged together. But I didn’t even think the replays mattered. The whistle had already blown, so to speak – I didn’t think the umpires could assume what would have happened if they hadn’t initially ruled an out.

I asked baseball authority Bob Timmermann of Native Intelligence what his opinion of the play was:

… Umpires have the ability, if not the duty, to change calls in this situation. Granted, it is a judgment call, but pretty much everything is a judgment call.

The umpires then had to decide what to do with the runners. There is no specific rule to cover this. But, Rule 9.01b gives the umpires the right to rule on anything not specifically spelled out. It’s the Elastic Clause of the rulebook. (A famous example of this was Alex Rodriguez being called out in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS for slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove.)

The umpires decided that the fairest way to solve the matter was to give Harang a single and let everyone else move up one base. This is not much different than the umpires deciding how many bases to award on fan interference. (It could be one, two, three, or four.)

Some calls by umpires aren’t reversed for practical reasons, like balls and strikes. (Checked swings are an exception.)

TV replay wasn’t used because it wasn’t a home run call. That’s the only time, it is allowed.

Why didn’t the Dodgers protest? Because there was nothing to protest. Those only prevail if a rule is misapplied. This was just a judgment call that was initially misjudged and then corrected.

Umpires do make mistakes. I think they should get credit for trying to make up for an error.

* * *

  • The delight of extra innings is nicely expressed by Jim Caple of ESPN.com.
  • Carlos Zambrano, the highest-paid and normally best pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, has been sent to the bullpen.
Apr 21

My Beli’s back and you’re gonna be sorry


Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
Reinstated from the restricted list, Ronald Belisario will try to do his part to reverse the Dodgers’ disturbing bullpen performance.

I mean, one way or another, someone’s gonna be sorry.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes that Dodger pitchers have an ERA of nearly 7.00 after the third inning this season. Belisario will hopefully pass that sorry-ness to opponents.

Stephen also has a post that shows how Matt Kemp’s April hitting is starting to rival Ron Cey’s hallowed April 1977 (the first month of my full-on rooting for the Dodgers).

* * *

Vin Scully’s alma mater has something else to be excited about.

Apr 20

The story of April: Dodgers give, receive beating


Getty Images
Matt Kemp probably would have enjoyed the Hideo Nomo-led 2003 Dodger pitching, which had a team ERA barely half of what the current Dodgers have.

If you could mix the 2010 Dodger offense with the 2003 Dodger pitching, what a team that would be. It would blow your mind, man.

Instead, we’re left with the Don Drysdale paradox: “Dodgers scored nine runs tonight.” “Did we win?”

We saw it encapsulated in tonight’s 11-9 loss to Cincinnati. The Dodgers got a three-run double from Casey Blake in the first inning, then after falling behind by six, rallied to tie the game – capped by Mighty Matt Kemp’s sixth homer of the season. And still it wasn’t enough.

Chad Billingsley came out with a clear mission to throw strikes. He didn’t walk any of the 17 batters he faced and only had 21 pitches out of the strike zone. But he couldn’t back that mission with much of an ability make people miss. He got hit and hit hard, allowing five singles, a double, a triple and a home run over the next two innings. Commenting on the KCAL telecast, Steve Lyons pointed out at least three times that the Reds got hits despite good pitches by Billingsley. Small consolation, though.

Billingsley also made a painful throwing error on a Homer Bailey bunt that added three unearned runs to the three earned runs in the second inning, signaling another unimpressive night for the Dodger defense. Russell Martin made a fourth-inning throwing error on a steal attempt by Drew Stubbs (with Blake DeWitt seemingly late to back up the play). And then in the eighth, working a pickle, DeWitt was late to recognize a runner trying to score from third, tossing the ball instead to Ronnie Belliard at first base – and then when he set up to throw home, Belliard dropped the ball, allowing Cincinnati’s 11th run to score.

In contrast, Reds right-fielder Jay Bruce made a sensational catch of a ripped line drive in the top of the eighth by James Loney to deep right that would have scored Manny Ramirez had it been a few inches higher.

The only bright spot for the Dodger pitching staff tonight was the major-league debut of Jon Link, who needed only 27 pitches to throw two shutout innings. Ramon Ortiz gave up two runs in the fourth to put the Dodgers down, 9-3. And in the eighth, after the Dodgers had come all the way back, their No. 2 reliever of the moment, Ramon Troncoso, walked two batters before giving up the go-ahead runs with two out.

So instead of being Manute Bol (7-6), the Dodgers are Dolph Schayes (6-7). Wednesday, the team will come back and set their sights on Gheorghe Muresan.

Update: The Dodgers optioned Link back to Albuquerque after tonight’s game. They haven’t officially announced who will take his place, but expect it to be Ronald Belisario.

Apr 20

Dodgers expect to activate Belisario, Kuo by the weekend

The Dodgers had Hong-Chih Kuo throw a bullpen session today, so he won’t be activated until Thursday at the earliest. Joe Torre told reporters this afternoon that Ronald Belisario might be activated sooner than Kuo – maybe even Wednesday.

  • Shocking and sad news for the Rockies: Team president Keli MacGregor passed away at age 48.
  • The Dodgers’ 22-4 mark against Cincinnati since 2006 is the best of any one MLB team against another, according to the Dodger press notes.
  • Chad Billingsley is making his fourth career start at Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. Previously: five innings, one run in 2007; 6 1/3 innings, one run in 2008; five innings, four runs in 2009.
  • Juan Pierre has gotten off to a rough start this year with the Chicago White Sox, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com.
  • MLB rescinded its suspension of Cliff Lee. Craig Calcaterra of Hardball Talk explains why.
Apr 19

Dodger Cogs and Dogs: Edition 2


Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Matt Kemp: A genuine threat each time he bats.

Here’s the latest chapter of Dodger Cogs and Dogs, my ranking of the most valuable Dodgers of the year, top to bottom, mixing subjectivity and objectivity but completely looking at what’s already happened, not what’s likely to happen.

Rank 4/12 Player Comment
1 5 Matt Kemp Fell to a close third in Dodger OF OPS, but with 50% more PA than the other two.
2 11 Andre Ethier .464 OBP, .759 slugging since returning to starting lineup.
3 1 Hiroki Kuroda 15 innings, 1.20 ERA, no unintentional walks, 14 K in two starts.
4 9 Manny Ramirez 1.092 OPS leaves press nothing to complain about (except him not talking to press).
5 2 Russell Martin 2 for 13 with a walk in past four games, but overall numbers remain strong.
6 13 Jonathan Broxton Nearly perfect: Opponents have .105 OBP, .111 slugging.
7 6 Casey Blake Six-game hitting streak ended this weekend.
8 4 Rafael Furcal .423 OBP last week, but no extra-base hits since April 10.
9 24 James Loney OPSed 1.000 last week with line drive after line drive.
10 20 Clayton Kershaw Currently projects to 203 BB, 270 K this season.
11 12 Ramon Troncoso Gave up homer in Dodgers’ ugly ninth inning Friday, otherwise solid.
12 10 Chad Billingsley Let this man get the six-inning monkey off his back, please?
13 7 Ronnie Belliard 0 for 7 in two starts this weekend, but made two nice plays at first base.
14 14 Blake DeWitt More walks than hits, and still looking for first extra-base hit.
15 25 Vicente Padilla One of three Dodger starting pitchers to go seven innings in last outing.
16 3 Charlie Haeger Crazy knuckleballers!
17 15 Jeff Weaver Workload reduced to two innings/36 pitches in past week.
18 19 A.J. Ellis In 10 PA, two hits, two walks, two sacs.
19 21 Carlos Monasterios 4.15 ERA, but would be nicer if two inherited runners hadn’t scored Saturday.
20 8 Reed Johnson Not a problem per se, but wondering if he’ll raise his performance much above replacement level.
21 18 Jamey Carroll Doubled on Opening Day; four singles and two BB in 19 PA since.
22 16 Garret Anderson With Ramirez on deck, pulled a Mike Davis with key set-up walk Sunday. Only time on base all week.
23 23 Brad Ausmus Sitting tight, literally and figuratively.
24 17 Ramon Ortiz Allowed five runs in past four innings; ERA rises from 3.00 to 7.71.
25 NR Jon Link Cup of coffee … with no cream or sugar.
26 26 George Sherrill Recovered from 3-0 count to get key out Sunday; has retired last six batters – woo hoo!
27 22 Russ Ortiz Lasted two weeks, and was less than lowest expectations.
Apr 18

Just a wee taste of ’88: Kershaw, Ramirez lead Dodgers over Giants


Getty Images
Clayton Kershaw went seven innings allowing only one run, and Manny Ramirez made that hurt go away.

If Clayton Kershaw and Manny Ramirez were nothing more than a poor man’s Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson, it still made for a rich afternoon at Dodger Stadium.

Kershaw left Sunday’s game in the eighth inning after issuing his fourth walk of the game – an inning after Juan Uribe’s homer broke a scoreless tie – but he certainly pitched well enough to win, striking out nine. Two of his walks came after he crossed the 100-pitch mark. At age 22, Kershaw has walked at least four men in 21 of his 54 starts (39 percent), compared with Hershiser’s 71 of 466 (15 percent), but if you can put that annoying fact aside, you’re still left with a pretty swell pitcher with a career ERA of 3.40.

And then there’s Ramirez, who is this century’s go-to guy for lame home runs (in the good sense). On the heels (in the cliched sense) of his injured-hand Bobbleslam last summer, and right after Garret Anderson’s pinch-walk ended a superb performance by Barry Zito, Ramirez blasted a Sergio Romo pitch in the left-field seats to rally the Dodgers from their 1-0 deficit. Ramirez noticeably favored one leg in his trot around the bases, but though it didn’t have calf the drama of Gibson’s gimpy gem, it was a sight for sore Dodger eyes. (Video of the homer can be found at MLB.com.)

Jonathan Broxton retired the side in order in the ninth to close out the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory. Broxton has retired 17 of the 19 batters he has faced this season (including the past 14), striking out nine.

Several people, including Vin Scully, called today’s game the best of the young Dodger season, though some of that good feeling would have been tested had the Dodgers been shut out for the second afternoon in a row.

* * *

  • Hong-Chih Kuo looks good to go. He retired the side today on six pitches today in his second minor-league rehab appearance. If he survives that outing and Monday’s plane flight to Cincinnati, Kuo should be on the active roster for the Dodgers’ next game on Tuesday.
  • Prentice Redman knocked out three home runs by the fifth inning of Albuquerque’s 11-5 victory over Omaha. Redman raised his batting average to an even .400, on-base percentage to .447 and slugging percentage to .943.
  • John Lindsey watch: 3 for 3, raising his numbers to .538/.591/.897.
  • James McDonald left his start after one inning today because of a broken fingernail.
  • Isotopes reliever Brent Leach allowed six runs in his first 3 2/3 innings this season, but has pitched 5 1/3 innings of one-hit, two-walk shutout ball since.
  • In 6 2/3 innings this season for Inland Empire, Kenley Jansen has allowed no runs, four hits and zero walks while striking out 10.
  • For the second straight game, Great Lakes’ 23-year-old righty Josh Wall allowed one earned run over five innings, this time striking out eight.
Apr 18

Kershaw LIV: Kershaw the Frog


Mark J. Terrill/AP
Manny’s calf is still mooing.

Russ Ortiz has been designated for assignment by the Dodgers, who have called up righty Jon Link to replace him for the time being. Link has been hit pretty hard at Albuquerque this season – 10 baserunners against 13 outs – so at this point he might just be a different sort of mop-up man until Hong-Chih Kuo is activated.

  • Today marks the 60th anniverary of Vin Scully’s Dodger debut.
  • Saturday’s 20-inning Mets-Cardinals game was scoreless for the first 18 innings, the longest a game had been scoreless since Rick Dempsey’s 22nd-inning home run gave the Dodgers a 1-0 victory over Montreal in 1989.
  • Josh Towers pitched six innings of one-run, seven-baserunner ball for Albuquerque on Saturday, but the Isotopes suffered a 2-0 defeat.
  • Jerry Sands had two doubles and a triple in Great Lakes’ 4-2 loss Saturday. The 22-year-old is on-basing .465 and slugging .763 in 10 games this season, with seven extra-base hits in that time.
  • Babe Ruth was in a near-fatal car accident in 1938, when he was a Brooklyn Dodgers coach. Blue Heaven passes along photos of Ruth and a description of the wreck.
  • Video of Lefty Grove has been posted at Minor League Ball. Grove was held captive in the minors well past the point that he was major-league ready.
  • Nice recap of Ubaldo Jimenez’s no-hitter for Colorado – the first in Rockies history – from Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.
  • According to the Dodger press notes, DodgerTalk with Ken Levine and Josh Suchon on KABC AM 710 will be soliciting callers for their best nicknames for Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp. Somebody better stick up for the Bison.