Sep 11

A Happier 9/11

It is the 30th anniversary of this event, and 10 years since I first wrote about it. My best to you all …

* * *

Twenty years ago today, Dodger Stadium hosted its greatest game.

It began swathed in bright blue skies and triple-digit temperatures. When it ended, 228 crazy brilliant minutes later, shadows palmed most of the playing field, and every Dodger fan who witnessed the spectacle found themselves near joyous collapse.

The game was between the Dodgers of Steve Sax and Pedro Guerrero, of Greg Brock and Mike Marshall … and the Braves of Dale Murphy, of Bruce Benedict, of Brad Komminsk.

In the end, however, it came down to one man. A rookie named R.J. Reynolds.

Continue reading

Sep 10

33 makes the magic number 6

Arizona came into tonight’s game with a 16-6 record in extra inning games this season. And after Scott Van Slyke’s pinch hit homer in the 11th, the Diamondbacks are now 16-7 in extra innings. The Dodgers 5-3 win lowered their magic number to 6, one better than Atlanta.

Edinson Volquez had a decent start if you ignore the big home run that Didi Gregorius hit in the 5th inning that briefly gave Arizona a 3-2 lead. The Dodgers tied it up in the bottom half of the inning on a two-out RBI double from Andre Ethier.

The Dodgers put runners on 2nd and 3rd with two outs in the 10th and had the team’s latest talisman, Juan Uribe, at the plate. The talisman struck out.

In the 11th, Mark Ellis got a one out single and Van Slyke pinch hit for Chris Withrow and lined a shot into the field level seats in the left field corner to send the folks home happy.

The Dodgers bullpen gave up just one hit in five innings of work. Van Slyke hit the Dodgers third pinch hit homer of the season, joining Uribe and Ethier in that department.

And so to bed.

Sep 10

The Volquez Experiment, Episode 2

Tonight, the Dodgers try to find out if Edinson Volquez’s last start was the fault of Coors Field or the fault of Edinson Volquez not being any good any more. Trevor Cahill hopes to hold the Dodgers to fewer than six homers.

Adrian Gonzalez is the Dodgers nominee for the 2013 Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award sponsored by the Players Association. You can vote on the award and read about the other nominees at the MLBPA website. After Sunday, there will be winners from each division and then the players will choose from among those six.

Thinking about 2014 already? The Dodgers and Diamondbacks will open the season on March 22 in Sydney. Their North American opener will be March 31 at San Diego. Their Los Angeles opener will be April 4 against the Giants. And there will be a World Series rematch against the Tigers at Dodger Stadium on April 8-9.

OK, a little presumptuous on that one. But, if the Dodgers play the Tigers in the World Series, it would mean that the Dodgers would be the first NL team to play all eight of the original American League franchises in the World Series: Red Sox (1916), Cleveland (1920), Yankees (1941, etc.), White Sox (1959), Twins (1965), Orioles (1966), A’s (1974, 1988).

And this video made its Dodger Stadium debut last night:

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 7:10 p.m.

Sep 10

Thrice is nice

The indomitable Mr. Uribe.
Three (or even four!) home run games by Los Angeles Dodgers players:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB
1 Juan Uribe 2013-09-09 LAD ARI W 8-1 4 4 3 4 0 0 3 4 0 0
2 Andre Ethier 2009-06-26 LAD SEA W 8-2 4 4 3 3 0 0 3 6 0 0
3 Hee-Seop Choi 2005-06-12 LAD MIN W 4-3 4 4 3 3 0 0 3 3 0 0
4 Shawn Green 2002-05-23 LAD MIL W 16-3 6 6 6 6 1 0 4 7 0 0
5 Shawn Green 2001-08-15 LAD MON W 13-1 5 5 3 3 0 0 3 7 0 0
6 Kevin Elster 2000-04-11 LAD SFG W 6-5 4 3 3 3 0 0 3 4 1 0
7 Mike Piazza 1996-06-29 LAD COL W 13-10 5 5 3 3 0 0 3 6 0 0
8 Cory Snyder 1994-04-17 LAD PIT W 19-2 5 4 4 3 0 0 3 7 1 0
9 Davey Lopes 1974-08-20 LAD CHC W 18-8 6 6 3 5 1 0 3 4 0 0
10 Jim Wynn 1974-05-11 LAD SDP W 9-6 5 4 3 4 0 0 3 5 1 0
11 Don Demeter 1959-04-21 LAD SFG W 9-7 6 5 3 3 0 0 3 6 0 0
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 9/10/2013.
Sep 09

Dodgers devour Goldy and company with Uribear blasts

Sparing me the chance to write about Chico Ruiz stealing home, Herman Franks stealing signals, or even Jorge Orta pinch hitting for Fernando Valenzuela, the Dodgers quickly erased the memory of a bad trip to Cincinnati (well, it was a trip to Cincinnati, it’s not a tourist destination.) Iwith a resounding 8-1 win over the second place Diamondbacks behind a six home run fusillade in a four inning span, with three of them coming from the bat of one Juan C. Uribe.

Uribe took Arizona starter Randall Delgado deep twice and his third homer came off of reliever Eury De La Rosa. In Uribe’s fourth at bat, he hit a chopper to third that he managed to leg out for an RBI infield hit. In all a 4 for 4, 4 RBI night for someone whom most people (people like me) felt that even Luis Cruz was an improvement.

In addition to Uribe, Andre Ethier, Hanley Ramirez, and Adrian Gonzalez also homered. Gonzalez’s homer was the only one the Dodgers hit with a runner on base.

Ricky Nolasco, the Dodgers ace du jour, gave up just one unearned run (set up when Uribe airmailed a throw into the seats) in 6 2/3 innings. J.P. Howell picked up an out, Carlos Marmol threw a scoreless inning, as did a rusty Kenley Jansen, who allowed a walk and a hit.

The Dodgers lowered their magic number to clinch the division to 8 and eliminated both the Giants and the Rockies from the division race. The loser of tomorrow night’s Rockies-Giants game will be mathematically eliminated from the wild card as well if both Pittsburgh and Cincinnati win on Tuesday.

 

Sep 09

Here kitty, kitty, kitty

The Dodgers won last year’s Hello Kitty Bobblehead giveaway 8-3 over the Mets. It was not a pretty game. The Dodgers lost a Hello Kitty Blanket giveaway 7-2 to the Padres back on April 17. That wasn’t very exciting either. And back on September 18, 2011, the Dodgers gave away a small Hello Kitty doll. They beat the Pirates that day 15-1.

Also 48 years ago today, Sandy Koufax was interviewed on the postgame show by Maury Wills.

Maury Wills interviews Sandy Koufax

Photo from the Herald-Examiner Collection of the Los Angeles Public Library

Sep 09

Home sweet home?

Postseason records for the five NL contenders in their current home parks:

  1. St. Louis — Busch Stadium III – 15-8  .652
  2. Los Angeles – Dodger Stadium – 32-23 .582
  3. Atlanta – Turner Field – 15-22 .405
  4. Cincinnati – Great American Ballpark – 0-4 .000
  5. Pittsburgh – PNC Park – 0-0
I would have made that into a nice table if I were so inclined. Which I am not. Most likely because I’ll find out I miscounted. But I’m pretty sure about the Reds and Pirates!

The Dodgers went 7-1 at Dodger Stadium in the 1981 postseason. It’s somewhat difficult to lose more than 3 or 4 games in any one postseason however. Until the 2010 Rangers lost 6 games at homes during the postseason (2 in the division, 1 in the ALCS, 3 in the World Series).

Sep 08

Getting out of Ohio

The Dodgers trip to the Queen City was… Not good. They lost their fourth straight game and got swept by the Reds. Tonight’s villains were Jay Bruce, who hit two home runs off of Clayton Kershaw, and Ryan Hanigan, whose ninth inning double drove in Zack Cozart the winning run.

It would be natural to feel uneasy that the Dodgers got swept against a potential playoff opponent (who are still in 3rd place despite what I commented earlier, the Pirates lead by .001). The team’s two best pitchers, Kershaw and Greinke, couldn’t stop a losing streak. The offense sputtered in all three games.

However, the team the Dodgers are pursuing for best record in the National League, Atlanta, got swept in Atlanta Philadelphia, so the team is still just two games in the race for best record. Effectively, it’s three games since Atlanta holds the tiebreaker. The NL Central leading Cardinals did move to within 1/2 game of the Dodgers after a three-game sweep of the Pirates. The Dodgers closest pursuer, Arizona, split four games against last place San Francisco.

Tony Jackson had an interesting piece about whether Clayton Kershaw was “back.” His ERA skyrocketed to 1.92 after Sunday’s performance.

The Dodgers return home on Monday night to face Arizona to start a three-game series. Ricky Nolasco will face Randall Delgado. Just the NL West the rest of the way.

 

Sep 08

Kershaw CLXXIX: Kershawma Mia

(Bob here, although Jon wrote the headline)

Back in 1988, I spent much of the baseball season living up in Berkeley, where I was attending library school. [No we didn’t have a class in shushing. That was for the doctoral candidates.] By the time I was done with my studies and moved back home, baseball season was nearly over.

On the Saturday before I started worked at my first ever fulltime job, I went to go see the Dodgers penultimate game of the year. The Dodgers beat the Giants 2-1 in a brisk 2:09.

Tim Belcher started for the Dodgers and went five innings before being pulled to give Fernando Valenzuela, who was recovering from a shoulder injury, four innings of work. Fernando gave up one unearned run in four innings and got the save.

I sat way up in the top deck and I recall it being a fairly hot day with some nasty air quality. I was showing off Dodger Stadium for the first time to a friend from Berkeley and he couldn’t see why the place was so special. There was a lone Giants fan behind me who chanted “OOOH-RE-BAY” nearly the ENTIRE GAME. (Jose Uribe went 0 for 3 in the game.)

But, I digress.  I felt somewhat sad that Valenzuela, the Dodgers biggest star of the 1980s, had been shunted to the sidelines for the upcoming playoff run. Orel Hershiser and Kirk Gibson were the big stories. Fernando wasn’t the story of 1988, but he had been the story of 1980, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1985, pretty much all the other times the Dodgers made the playoffs or came close. But not in 1988.

This leads me to think of the rehabbing Matt Kemp in Glendale. Kemp, who was derided by the media and fans for underachieving and/or having “bad attitude” from 2006-2010, only to have his reputation rehabilitated with his tremendous 2011, has been hurt much of this season (and last season too). He toils away in relative anonymity at Saddleback Cadillac Camelback Ranch (you know, the place in Arizona with the thing). And, for many fans, Kemp is now ready to be tossed to the side.

No one knows for sure if Kemp will even make it back up to the major league roster in the last three weeks of the season. Maybe he will get to make some token appearances in the Dodgers final two series, just like Fernando did in 1988. Or maybe we will just have to wait until 2014. Or face a long term future of: Andre Ethier, centerfielder. How many teams in the majors would be better off with a healthy Matt Kemp in the outfield? All of them.

Dodgers at Reds, 5:05 p.m.

Sep 08

The state of the playoff races, September 8, 2013

At the start of play today, the six division leaders have magic numbers of:

  • 9 – Atlanta, NL East
  • 11 – Los Angeles, NL West
  • 12 – Boston, AL East
  • 16 – Detroit, AL Central
  • 19 – Oakland, AL West
  • 20 – St. Louis, NL Central

If the wild card playoff games were held today, Cincinnati would be at Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay would be at Texas.

The AL 2nd wild card spot is shaping up to a wild, although somewhat ugly race. The Rays went 21-5 in July and they have been 13-20 since then. If the Rays lose today in Seattle and the Orioles beat the White Sox and Cleveland beats the Mets, there will be a 3-way tie for the 2nd wild card at 77-65. And if the Red Sox beat the Yankees and Kansas City beats Detroit, the Royals and Yankees will have the same record, tied for fourth in the wild card race, just 2 1/2 games out.

A pentagonal race for a playoff spot? Perhaps that is fitting when we are celebrating the 40th anniversary of baseball’s saddest pennant race, the 1973 NL East, won by the Mets with an 82-79 record and had the top five teams in the division still in contention starting the final week. The Mets clinched the division in the first game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field the day after the regular season was supposed to end before a crowd of 1913. The second game was called off. The Pirates lost their final game to the Padres that day in another makeup.

 

Sep 07

Nooo! Threee LLLs in a row!

Time to go find some 1964 Phillies anecdotes to pass on…

Maybe the headline should just be “Three Ls in a row” because “Three LLLs in a row” could mean 9 Ls. The mathematics on this is unclear.

Sam Miller of Baseball Prospectus three weeks wrote about the potential value of Billy Hamilton just as a pinch-runner. It’s quite likely that Saturday’s win by the Reds may be the only one that could be chalked up solely to his speed.

Both Mat Latos and Zack Greinke pitched well, but neither were dominating. J.P. Howell who had the dreaded BL on his record yesterday, picked up the BS. Brian Wilson gave up his first run as a Dodger and took the loss. If Wilson is hurt, it’s not like the Dodgers don’t have plenty of other arms to replace him. And remember that Chris Withrow pitched very well on Friday.

The Dodgers bats need to get going in order to salvage a game in the series.  The last team to sweep the Dodgers in a series? The Angels, in a two-game set in Anaheim on May 29-30, which was right after the Dodgers had beaten the Angels twice at Dodger Stadium on May 27-28. The last three-game sweep was May 17-19 in Atlanta. The Dodgers have also been swept by the Giants, Diamondbacks, and Padres.

Arizona plays at San Francisco tonight at 6:05 pm. Brandon McCarthy facing Matt Cain. Atlanta is at Philadelphia and Pittsburgh plays at St. Louis for the NL Central lead in the 4 o’clock hour.

Sunday’s game will be a 5 pmish start on ESPN. National broadcasts like that serve to make everyone feel like their team is unappreciated by John Kruk and Orel Hershiser. Interestingly, ESPN is not making America watch another Yankees-Red Sox game. Instead, TBS will show that game.

Little known fact: you can go to an art house theater and watch a marathon show of “Berlin Alexanderplatz” and still get home to catch the last three innings of a Yankees-Red Sox game.

Sep 07

Breakfast at the Queen City

Early start today!

Last night, while shopping with my wife at the market, I watched the final two innings of the Giants-DBacks game on my phone, which actually worked quite well. And I almost timed it so I’d still be in the market when the game ended. Then, when I didn’t want to hear it, I heard, “Sir, I’ll open this register for you!” Anyway, I saw Eric Chavez’s hit with two outs in the ninth in the parking lot as I put groceries into the car.

The Reds start today just two games out of first place, but in third, and they can’t change places because the first place Pirates and second place Cardinals play each other. The Pirates have a 1/2 game lead.

The White Sox became the third team to be mathematically eliminated from all playoff hopes. The only other teams that may not last the weekend are the Cubs and Brewers, but they play each other.

The Cubs, Brewers are eliminated from their divisional races, but could still win the wild card. (They won’t, but they could!) The Phillies will be eliminated from the NL East race if they lose to the Braves. The Mets will be out of the the NL East race with a loss to Cleveland and an Atlanta win. The Giants will be eliminated from the NL West race with a loss to Arizona and a Dodgers win.

The Dodgers are trying to avoid their first three-game losing streak since June 8-10 when they lost two games to Atlanta and one to Arizona. The June 10 game was one where the Dodgers led 3-1 going to the 9th and Brandon League gave up four runs. The Dodgers got a home run from Juan Uribe off of Heath Bell, and then put runners on first and third with no outs. Where they stayed for the next three batters. Kenley Jansen got the save in the Dodgers win the next day.

A note from Frank Vaccaro of SABR that I picked up on the organization’s listserv. The Dodgers were in last place at the start of play on July 2. They since have built up a lead of more than 10 games in the standings. The only team to build up a 10+ game lead in the standings after being in last place at a later date were the 1914 Boston Braves, who were in last place on July 19. However, this year’s Dodgers had played two more games (81 to 79) than the Miracle Braves at those points in the season.

Finally, the biggest duel of the season going on in this series is the one between Adrian Gonzalez and Zack Cosart for the NL lead in sacrifice flies. Both men have nine. Gonzalez has scored Carl Crawford six times on sacrifice flies, but Cosart has brought home nine different players. No Dodger has led the NL in sacrifice flies since 1978 when Reggie Smith had 13.  The MLB record for sacrifice flies in a year (a stat that dates back just to 1954 in its present form) is 19 by Gil Hodges back in 1954.

Dodgers at Reds, 10:05 a.m.

Sep 06

Dodgers start last series out of the West against a team that I grew up thinking was “West”

(Bob here. The software makes it looks like Jon is the author)

For those of us who are old, as in “over 30”, we still think of the Reds as an NL West team, which they were from 1969-1993, winning the NL West eight times (the most of any team in that time span), and having the best overall record in the division in 1981 to boot. So there used to be a lot of intradivisional games that started at weird times for those of us in L.A., but we liked it! Or maybe we didn’t like having to watch Bench, Morgan, Rose and company so much. And so much Ron Oester and Gary Redus too.

If the Dodgers win tonight, their winning percentage will be .6. No need for other digits. If they win they would be 84-56. 84 and 140 are both evenly divisible by 14, (14 X 6) / (14 X 10) = 6/10 = .6 (Do I get a better grade for showing my work?)

Tonight’s series marks the Dodgers last games against a team outside of the NL West. Which is somewhat remarkable with their being five teams in each division and 15 teams in each league. But, the Dodgers managed to get a travel-friendly schedule for the end of the year. After they return home, they travel to the distant lands of Phoenix, San Diego, and San Francisco.

The interleague series to take you home: Mets at Cleveland this weekend, Pittsburgh at Texas from 9/9-11, Seattle at St. Louis 9/13-15, Cincinnati at Houston 9/16-18 (an NL West reunion!), San Francisco at Yankees 9/20-22, Boston at Colorado 9/24-26, and, finally, Detroit at Miami, 9/27-29.

Hyun-Jin Ryu’s back is a little ouchy, so he’s being rested in favor of Chris Capuano.

In happier health news, Reds third base coach Mark Berry found out that his most recent scans showed no return of the throat cancer that sidelined him for parts of the year.

UPDATE: Tony Jackson reports that Matt Kemp’s rehab has been shut down for the time being because of recurring hamstring tightness.

Dodgers at Reds, 4:10 p.m.

Sep 06

The have nots of baseball running out of time

The Dodgers start today with a magic number of 12 to clinch the NL West. They would actually be able to clinch a divisional title before a wild card playoff spot since second place Arizona is seven games behind the Reds, the current second wild card holder.

Up in San Francisco, the Giants would be mathematically eliminated from the NL West race (although not the wild card), if they lose to Arizona tonight and the Dodgers win. The Brewers and Phillies are one loss away from being eliminated in the NL Central and NL East races.

Over in the American League, the White Sox will be mathematically from all postseason play with a loss to Baltimore or wins by the Rays and Yankees. The second wild race in the AL is turning out to be a bizarre five-way affair involving Tampa Bay, New York, Baltimore, Cleveland, and even Kansas City. The Royals next 12 games are against Detroit and Cleveland.

Atlanta, with a magic number of 10, could clinch the NL East as early as Tuesday. The Dodgers could not do so before Wednesday.

Regardless, the Dodgers clinching date should come sooner than later since they play Arizona seven times in the coming two weeks.

Sep 05

It’s time for the Rose Parade

According to a tweet from the Rose Bowl game (not yet on the parade’s feed), Vin Scully has been named grand marshal for the 125th Tournament of Roses to be held as always in Pasadena and, most of the time, on January 1. (It’s on January 2 if the 1st is a Sunday.)

Not counting Jackie Robinson’s posthumous selection as grand marshal in 1999, Vin Scully will be the first baseball-related grand marshal since Hank Aaron in 1975. Or you could argue for Danny Kaye, who once owned part of the Seattle Mariners, having the job in 1984.

Presumably, Vin will fare better than 2011 Grand Marshal Paula Deen.

From the press release from the Tournament of Roses:

PASADENA, Calif. (September 5, 2013) – Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully, an icon in American sports history and “the voice of the Los Angeles Dodgers” for 64 years, was announced today as the Grand Marshal for the 2014 Tournament of Roses, themed “Dreams Come True.” Scully will ride in the 125th Rose Parade® presented by Honda and toss the coin at the start of the 100th Rose Bowl Game® presented by VIZIO on January 1, 2014, as well as participate in a number of Tournament-related events throughout the month of December 2013.

Tournament of Roses President R. Scott Jenkins made the announcement at a press conference and public event at Tournament House in Pasadena. In his remarks, Jenkins referred to Scully as being in a league of his own and literally the best in his field.

“Vin Scully is incredibly accomplished and yet still so down to earth,” said Jenkins. “His own life is one in which many dreams have come true and even more importantly, he has been at the microphone describing for listeners everywhere the dreams of others coming true. I couldn’t be happier that he accepted my invitation to be the Grand Marshal. I know his fans everywhere are cheering right now.”

“I am deeply humbled and greatly honored to be the Grand Marshal of the 125th Rose Parade,” said Scully. “I look forward to sharing this wonderful moment with my wife, Sandi, and the millions who will be watching.”

 

Other than that, it’s an off day. The Dodgers won’t have another one until September 23.