Jun 11

Dodgers win game, possibly lose pointless war

Monday night’s loss by the Dodgers to Arizona was ugly. The Dodgers win on Tuesday night was ugly in a much different way.

A well-pitched game turned into a nasty brawl-filled one with a total of five six people ejected, including Yasiel Puig. It was a night when Dodger fans spent most of the night worried that the Golden Child was going to be taken from them on three different occasions.

In the second inning, Puig grounded out to short and appeared to have become the latest Dodger to succumb to the Hamstring Plague. However, Puig came back out to right field in the third and everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

Moving ahead to the fifth inning, Zack Greinke grazed Cody Ross with a pitch and Jason Kubel followed with a home run.

Then it got ugly, in the bottom of the sixth, Arizona starter Ian Kennedy came up and in to Puig and hit Puig in the nose with a pitch. Did Kennedy throw with malice aforethought? Probably not, but most home fans don’t look kindly on seeing their prized rookie getting a pitch near his head. That anger quickly dissipated when Andre Ethier followed the HBP with an HR to make it 2-2.

Greinke took matters into his own hand to fulfill the letter of baseball’s unwritten rules by hitting Arizona catcher Miguel Montero to lead off the 7th. The benches and bullpens emptied, but no one was ejected and it seemed, for a moment, that the famed “cooler heads” had prevailed.

But who was the Dodgers second scheduled hitter in the bottom of the 7th? Zack Greinke, whom Kennedy hit in the shoulder, although it didn’t appear to hurt Greinke at all. The benches and bullpens emptied again and the cooler heads were nowhere to be found. Puig and Ronald Belisario appeared to be going after anyone in gray and red. Mark McGwire wanted to get in on the action, but was kept away by Matt Williams, who was strangely one of the level-headed ones in the whole scene.

Fortunately, no one got hurt this time. Kennedy was ejected as was Arizona manager Kirk Gibson (automatically by rule). Arizona coach Turner Ward, who got tossed over a railing, was ejected along with Puig and McGwire. Also Ronald Belisario it was subsequently learned.

Arizona took the lead 3-2 in the eighth against J.P. Howell and Matt Guerrier and it looked like the Dodgers were headed for the lastest in a string of dispiriting losses to the Diamondbacks.

Adrian Gonzalez led off the eighth with a walk against Daniel Hernandez. Alex Castellanos, who had replaced Puig, tried to sacrifice (this will get worse) and was called out when he ran into his own batted ball. This sent Gonzalez back to first with one out. Ethier walked, and then, the Uribear walked to load the bases.

Ahh, the bases loaded. What could go wrong? Who was coming up? It was Tim Federowicz! And what happened? A double off the leadoff wall to score three runners. Of course. (Few things are more fun to hear than Vin Scully calling a three-run double, but he didn’t call out all the players names like he sometimes does. Probably because you can never remember just who is on the Dodgers now.)

New closer Kenley Jansen pitched a 1-2-3 ninth. And there was great rejoicing in the land.

Until Joe Torre metes out some suspensions. And then all the folderol from Tuesday night will seem even more pointless. Ultimately, like the Quentin-Greinke affair, being on the “right” side doesn’t matter if you aren’t able to play at all. And a team like the Dodgers really don’t need to playing with even fewer available players.

The three HBPs by Arizona pitchers (Joe Paterson hit Mark Ellis in the 8th, but that did not warrant an ejection) was the second time they had done that in a week. Last Tuesday, Arizona hit Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter three times during a 14-inning 7-6 win in St. Louis. That was done by three different pitchers, all relievers.

Update: J.P. Hoonstra of the Daily News passes on AP quotes with Arizona reactions.

Update 2: Nick Piecoro of AZcentral.com has more reaction from both sides.

 

Sep 10

The NL Wild Card race continues its reverse stampede

This pinch-hit Dodger Thoughts post is dedicated to Robin Ventura.

The Dodgers found perhaps the best way to gain ground in the NL Wild Card and NL West races: they didn’t play. While the Dodgers spent a day off in Phoenix, the two teams the Dodgers are pursuing, the Giants and Cardinals, both lost.

The Giants started a three-game series in Denver Monday against a Rockies team that had lost five straight and had been swept in a split doubleheader the day/night before in Philadelphia. The Giants were coming off a 4-0 shutout win over the Dodgers. So, the vagaries of baseball made the Rockies a 6-5 winner. Ryan Vogelsong took the loss for the Giants. In his last six starts, Vogelsong has a put up a 9.57 ERA. And he’s still managed to win two of those games. But it does appear that Vogelsong is pitching himself into a long relief role for the Giants in the playoffs. (Yes, I’m assuming that the Giants will make the playoffs.)

** Checking back in history, the 1951 Giants, with 21 games left in the season were trailing the Dodgers by six games. They went 16-5 before the tiebreaker. In 1962, with 21 games left, the Giants trailed the Dodgers by 1/2 game, although that would increase to four games with seven left to play.

Down south (as Vin likes to refer to San Diego), the Cardinals started a seven-game road trip to Southern California with an 11-3 pounding by the Padres. Old Friend Eric Stults improved to 6-2 on the season. NL RBI leader Chase Headley drove in … none.

So, as the Dodgers get ready to play Arizona Tuesday night, they will be trailing the Giants by five games in the NL West and trailing the Cardinals by one game for the NL’s second wild card.

The Pirates lost to the Reds, 4-3 in 14 innings to remain 2 1/2 games behind the Cardinals. Making very late runs are Milwaukee and Philadelphia, both of whom are now 70-71. The Brewers have won 16 of their last 21 and the Phillies have won 13 of their last 17. So, if you’re looking for a 2007 Rockies-like run to the wild card, keep an eye on these two teams.

However, all the losing by teams in front of them won’t help the Dodgers until they actually win games. The Dodgers last trip to Arizona was at the beginning of July before the All-Star Break and they lost three of four games. The Dodgers lineup on the day before the break:

Tony Gwynn, CF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Bobby Abreu, LF
Juan Rivera, 1B
Jerry Hairston, 3B
Elian Herrera, RF
Luis Cruz, SS
Matt Treanor, C
Chris Capuano, P

The Dodgers lost the game 7-1, with the only run scoring on a pinch hit sacrifice fly by Juan Uribe in the ninth inning.

Tuesday should bring the return of Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp to the lineup. And Dodgers fans can only hope in the healing power of cortisone. And rest. (Or else we can read more about the relative levels of manhood shown by people in 1965 as opposed to today. Or maybe not.) The Diamondbacks will be countering with Ian Kennedy.

In other games of note Tuesday, the Giants will be at Coors Field in a 5:40 pm game matching up Madison Bumgarner and Jhoulys Chacin. The Cardinals and Padres start at 7:10 pm with Adam Wainwright pitching against Edinson Volquez.

There will likely be news during the day regarding injured players and maybe some minor league call ups, but I may not be able to get to them unless they are all announced while I’m on my lunch hour. And that never seems to happen.