Jun 29

Rubby a gem, Dodger offense a hologram in 1-0 defeat


Jesse Johnson/US PresswireRubby De La Rosa went a career-high seven innings.

Well, you knew this was coming.

It took less than two days for the Dodgers to go from scoring 15 runs in one game to being shut out in another — a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Twins.

It was not an entirely sad day, thanks to the progress shown by Dodger rookie Rubby De La Rosa, who completed a career-high seven innings in 99 pitches, allowing six hits and two walks (one intentional) while striking out four. The low walk total was also a career-best for De La Rosa as a starter.

On his third pitch of the game, De La Rosa gave up a triple to Twins leadoff hitter Ben Revere, and Tsuyoshi Nishioka drove in Revere with a groundout. That was it for Minnesota against the Dodger rookie, but it was more than enough for Minnesota against the Dodger offense.

The Twins could have made things worse, but they went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

The Dodgers’ biggest missed opportunity might have been in the third inning, when Dee Gordon stole third base with one out. But Casey Blake missed a chance to push Gordon the final 90 feet by fouling out, and then Andre Ethier struck out.

In all, the Dodgers had eight baserunners, three of them in scoring position. The eight baserunners were spread across seven different innings. Twins starting pitcher Scott Baker (3.15 ERA) struck out nine and walked one in 7 1/3 innings.

Fans in Los Angeles ended their lunch hours with the Dodgers alone in last place, 11 games behind National League West-leading San Francisco on the penultimate day of June, edging closer to the point where even general manager Ned Colletti might start to concede the season.

Most games behind in National League West by Dodgers after 82 games

Year After 82 games Final
1979 17 GB 11 1/2 GB
1990 12 1/2 GB 5 GB
1992 14 1/2 GB 35 GB
1998 12 1/2 GB 15 GB
1999 11 1/2 GB 23 GB
2011 11 GB*

*pending outcome of today’s remaining games

Jun 07

Be wary, be excited, be both


Howard Smith/US PresswireRubby De La Rosa was oh-so-wild but managed to hold the Phillies to 1-for-8 hitting with runners in scoring position.

Matt Slocum/APDee Gordon forces Chase Utley out at second base.

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com captures the end-of-game reaction to the debuts of Dee Gordon and Rubby De La Rosa, coming at the end of a 6-2 Dodger victory over a surprisingly inept Phillies team.

There were other surprises – the way that Gordon got hits in his first three at-bats, the way that De La Rosa recovered from a nervewracking start that seemed destined to send him or us to an asylum by retiring his final six batters.

But for those who fear change, there was the comforting sight of Matt Kemp knocking a double and then a home run, tying him for the league lead in that category.

One look at Jerry Sands, who went 0 for 4 to fall to 3 for 35 since his May 24 grand slam in Houston, reminds us that growing pains are practically inevitable, no matter how hot your start. But why do we love new, young players so much?  Because who can resist the possibility that the glimpse of greatness we see might grow?

Jun 07

Rubby, Dee, meet Ruby Dee


APRuby Dee on stage with Sidney Poitier on March 26, 1959 during the Broadway run of “A Raisin in the Sun”

In honor of the simultaneous first major-league starts of Rubby De La Rosa and Dee Gordon, here’s a portion of “A Raisin in the Sun” with Ruby Dee.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. has a great chart of how pitchers have done making their first major-league starts with the Dodgers in the past 10 years.

* * *

Here are not one but two updates on 2011 No. 1 draft choice Chris Reed from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

Jun 03

Garland injury opens path for De La Rosa to starting rotation

We’re still waiting for the official word, but Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com is reporting that Jon Garland will be placed on the disabled list (for the second time this season) with a right shoulder problem.

The immediate roster replacement would be Vicente Padilla, who will be activated from the disabled list, but more significantly, it could mean Rubby De La Rosa will make his first major-league start Tuesday in Philadelphia.

Update: Whatever’s going to happen is apparently not happening before today’s game, according to this note from the Dodgers.

Jun 01

Despite loss, kids continue to carry Dodger bullpen


Icon SMI/US PresswireRubby De La Rosa and Scott Elbert brought relief from the minors.

The kids have come to the rescue of the Dodger bullpen, and not nearly enough has been said about it.

Jonathan Broxton went on the disabled list May 6, followed within 10 days by Hong-Chih Kuo, Vicente Padilla and Blake Hawksworth. To replace them, the Dodgers brought up Kenley Jansen (who had temporarily gone down to Chattanooga), Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra and Ramon Troncoso.

Another week later, the Dodgers dispatched mop-up man Lance Cormier and replaced him with Rubby De La Rosa. Then in the past week, Jansen went on the disabled list and was replaced by Josh Lindblom, who made his major-league debut with an inning in the finale of the Colorado series Wednesday.

Of the replacements, Troncoso was the veteran with all of 177 1/3 career innings. The combined career experience of Jansen, Elbert, Guerra, De La Rosa and Lindblom was 39 2/3 innings. Their average age: 23 1/2. Think about it – more than half of the bullpen handed over to runts.

Here’s how they’ve done, including the 3-0 Dodger loss to Colorado, in which the bullpen followed Jon Garland’s six-inning, three-run start with shutout ball:

  • Jansen: 7 2/3 innings, 13 baserunners, four earned runs (4.69 ERA), 13 strikeouts, 0 of 5 inherited runners scored
  • Troncoso: six innings, six baserunners, no earned runs (0.00 ERA), two strikeouts, 2 of 5 inherited runners scored
  • Guerra: seven innings, nine baserunners, two earned runs (2.57 ERA), five strikeouts, 0 of 0 inherited runners scored
  • De La Rosa: five innings, four baserunners, one earned run (1.80 ERA), five strikeouts, 0 of 0 inherited runners scored
  • Elbert: 4 2/3 innings, six baserunners, no earned runs (0.00 ERA), seven strikeouts, 1 of 6 inherited runners scored
  • Lindblom: one inning, two baserunners, no earned runs (0.00 ERA), no strikeouts, 0 of 0 inherited runners scored

Total: 31 1/3 innings, 40 baserunners, seven earned runs, 32 strikeouts, 2.01 ERA, 3 of 16 inherited runners scored

That’s remarkable, especially considering we can assume that we can possibly attribute three of the seven runs allowed to the shoulder inflammation that sent Jansen to the disabled list.

The news that Padilla is expected to return to active duty Friday will, barring injury, start pushing the runts back to the minor leagues, but each has made the case to stay with the big club. Considered a weakness less than a month ago, the Dodger bullpen will in less than 48 hours have eight effective relievers to choose from, with more to come as Broxton, Kuo, Hawksworth and Jansen get back on their feet.

The other noteworthy thing is that with all the injuries, Dodger manager Don Mattingly has basically been forced to throw the idea of a designated closer out the window, instead bringing in pitchers simply based on the situation rather than their title or status. Unshackled from a pecking order, the Dodger kids haven’t suffered – they’ve thrived. Jansen, Guerra and De La Rosa have all finished close games, while Elbert and now even Lindblom have pitched in situations where giving up a single run could be a killer. De La Rosa, whose destiny remains starting pitcher, could be a circa-1992 Pedro Martinez-like smokejumper, giving you a couple innings at a time as long as there’s sufficient rest in between.

Message to Mattingly: Do yourself a favor. As the veterans return to the pen, don’t get caught up in who your closer is. Just keep doing what you’re doing. Manage according to the situation, not according to resume.

May 24

Rookies shine in Dodgers’ 5-4 victory


Brett Davis/US PresswireWith the third inning extended by a Houston error, Jerry Sands hit a no-doubter blast to center field for his first career grand slam. Rubby De La Rosa struck out two of three batters in a perfect eighth-inning major league debut, and fellow rookie Javy Guerra weathered a long foul ball by Bill Hall to close in the ninth for his first career save and a 5-4 Dodger victory.
May 24

Rubby De La Rosa gets the call

The Dodgers’ accelerated youth movement continues today with the promotion of pitcher Rubby De La Rosa from Double-A to the big leagues.

De La Rosa follows Jerry Sands as the second active Dodger who began last season in Single-A ball. (Correction: Make it three, as Kenley Jansen also qualifies.) De La Rosa has a 2.92 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 40 innings this season for Chattanooga.

He figures to be a top candidate for the starting rotation as soon as next season, but while this move will put him in the bullpen, it might help preserve an arm that had only thrown 180 professional innings before this season. Chad Billingsley and Pedro Martinez are among the starting pitchers who spent early portions of their major-league careers in relief.

In the process, the Dodgers gave up on Lance Cormier, designating him for assignment rather than sending Ramon Troncoso back to the minors and making room for De La Rosa in some other fashion.

Apr 24

Trayvon Robinson making his own case

Eric Risberg/APTrayvon Robinson

Hot starts from Dodger minor leaguers:

Trayvon Robinson, 23, OF, Albuquerque
63 plate appearances, .429 on-base percentage, .661 slugging percentage, four homers, six walks, 19 strikeouts

Jon Link, 27, RP, Albuquerque
12 1/3 innings, 16 baserunners, 10 strikeouts, 2.19 ERA

Bryan Cranston, 55, UT, Albuquerque
No stats, only video.

Corey Smith, 29, 3B, Chattanooga-Albuquerque
63 plate appearances, .397 on-base percentage, .483 slugging percentage, one homer, five walks, 10 strikeouts

Scott Van Slyke, 24, OF, Chattanooga
54 plate appearances, .463 on-base percentage, .830 slugging percentage, three homers, six walks, 10 strikeouts

Michael Antonini, 25, SP, Chattanooga
17 2/3 innings, 20 baserunners, 12 strikeouts, 1.53 ERA

Rubby De La Rosa, 22, SP, Chattanooga
15 1/3 innings, 20 baserunners, 19 strikeouts, 1.76 ERA

Nathan Eovaldi, 21, SP, Chattanooga
15 innings, 18 baserunners, 16 strikeouts, 1.20 ERA

Austin Gallagher, 22, 1B, Rancho Cucamonga
62 plate appearances, .468 on-base percentage, .632 slugging percentage, two homers, five walks, seven strikeouts

Gorman Erickson, 23, C, Rancho Cucamonga
49 plate appearances, .490 on-base percentage, .575 slugging percentage, no homers, nine walks, seven strikeouts

Steven Ames, 23, RP, Rancho Cucamonga
8 1/3 innings, seven baserunners, 15 strikeouts, 1.08 ERA

Jonathan Garcia, 19, OF, Great Lakes
65 plate appearances, .354 on-base percentage, .712 slugging percentage, six homers, five walks, 17 strikeouts

Garrett Gould, 19, SP, Great Lakes
17 innings, 14 baserunners, 12 strikeouts, 1.59 ERA

Zach Lee, 19, SP, Great Lakes
14 innings, 21 baserunners, 21 strikeouts, 1.29 ERA

Shawn Tolleson, 23, RP, Great Lakes
6 1/3 innings, seven baserunners, 16 strikeouts (out of 19 total outs), 0.00 ERA

Mar 30

Showcase for the kids

The spring ends on its highest note …

Dodgers 8, Mariners 1

Highlights:

  • Pitching in Dodger Stadium for the first time, Rubby De La Rosa struck out four of the six batters he faced and went on to dazzle with two-hit, no-walk shutout ball over 5 2/3 innings with six strikeouts. Legendary hitter Ichiro was two of those strikeouts.
  • Ivan DeJesus Jr. went 2 for 2.
  • Jerry Sands (1 for 2) and Dee Gordon each made diving catches.
  • Corey Smith completed his ridiculous spring with a three-run homer, leaving him 7 for 11 with four walks, two doubles and three home runs.
  • Andre Ethier doubled in the game’s first run, and James Loney followed with a two-run single to give the Dodgers a 3-0 first-inning lead.
  • Marcus Thames homered in the fourth.
  • Randy Keisler, who came out of the Dodgers’ open tryout camp four weeks ago to get a minor-league contract, retired all four batters he faced, striking out two, including Ichiro.
  • Allen Webster struck out the side in the ninth.
  • As a team, the Dodgers faced only 29 batters and struck out 12.

Lowlights:

  • Steven Ames allowed an eighth-inning homer to Michael Saunders to spoil the Dodgers’ shutout.
  • Aaron Miles hit into a double play and made an error on a foul pop-up.

Sidelights:

Mar 19

Happy birthday, Clayton Kershaw

Our hero is a wizened 23 …

  • Rubby De La Rosa gets featured play from Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com and Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Though a comeback is unrealistic, you can tell in this piece by Gurnick that Darren Dreifort misses baseball.
  • Fifty years ago, $37.50 would get you eight Saturdays of instruction at Leo Durocher’s California Baseball School. Check out the ad at the Daily Mirror.
  • “Brooklyn Dodgers in Cuba” author Jim Vitti was interviewed by Ernest Reyes of Blue Heaven.
  • Spring Training attendance for the Dodgers and Angels has dropped more than 40% this year so far, notes Steve Dilbeck of the Times, though this weekend’s games should start a rebound.
  • Here’s how Rockies blog Purple Row assess the Dodgers.
  • Please make sure you don’t skip over Hollywood Joe Benardello’s guest piece, “A has-been’s and never-was’ perspective of Camelback Ranch.”

* * *

Brewers at Dodgers, 1:05 p.m.
(KCAL)

Mar 18

Rubby doobie doo: Four no-hit innings for De La Rosa

APRubby De La Rosa

Just as there’s no denying how meaningless Spring Training performances generally are, there’s also no denying how much fun it can be when you see a top prospect excel. Has there been a better March memory this century than Clayton Kershaw’s Public Enemy No. 1 from 2008? (It helps when you have Vin Scully documenting it.)

Though it’s hardly been the best of Dodger Spring Trainings in 2011 (albeit one devoid of controversy), the organization’s reigning players of the year have far from disappointed. Jerry Sands was red hot at the plate in the early going, and now there’s pitcher Rubby De La Rosa, who fired four no-hit innings in a start against San Francisco today.

De La Rosa walked three (his first free passes of the spring) and struck out two. In exhibition play, the player who will become the centerpiece of the Dodgers’ 2013 “Rubby Tuesday” marketing campaign has thrown 10 innings and allowed seven baserunners while striking out seven and posting a 1.80 ERA.

De La Rosa will start the season in the minors, but will we have to wait until 2012 for his arrival? If he can pitch consistently into the summer, maybe not …

However unrealistic (at least in the short term), it’s fun sometimes to just tune out the noise and think about guys like Sands and De La Rosa as potential saviors.

* * *

Dodgers 6, Giants 3

Highlights:

  • Um, Hector Gimenez homered again, this time off Guillermo Mota. Gimenez is a combination of fun and scary. Dare I even consider falling in love with this guy? How about a no-strings-attached fling?
  • Matt Kemp was in the thick of things again, with a triple, walk and sacrifice fly.
  • Second base, the position that could open up if Casey Blake goes on the disabled list, looked nice to Ivan De Jesus,Jr., who started there and went 3 for 4 with a double.
  • Xavier Paul, who also homered off Mota, upped his spring OBP to .343 and slugging percentage to .625.
  • Rafael Furcal and James Loney had two-hit games.

Lowlights:

  • Blake Hawksworth allowed two runs in the fifth inning.
  • Kenley Jansen struck out two but allowed back-to-back extra-base hits in between.

Sidelights:

  • Batters retired by De La Rosa: Mike Fontenot, Miguel Tejada, Aubrey Huff, Nate Schierholtz, Aaron Rowand, Travis Ishikawa, Jeff Suppan, Tejada, Huff, Pablo Sandoval, Schierholtz.
  • In 31 plate appearances this spring, Loney has 10 singles, no extra-base hits and one walk.
  • In their past two games, the Dodgers have 25 hits and one walk.
  • Confession: While checking in on the game via MLB Gameday, I saw Eugenio Velez homered in the ninth inning, and I groaned. Then, I saw that he had added to the Dodger lead, and remembered he was on the team. Then I saw that Gameday had made a mistake, and it was really Paul who hit the homer.
Mar 13

Five days, seven losses


Julie Jacobson/APRubby De La Rosa got the start against the Cubs today.

White Sox 6, Dodgers 1

Cubs 4, Dodgers 3 (10)

Highlights:

  • Rubby De La Rosa performed well in his two innings against the Cubs, retiring Kosuke Fukudome, Tyler Colvin, Alfonso Soriano, Blake DeWitt, Reed Johnson, Marquez Smith (who reached on an error) and Koyie Hill. The only baserunner he allowed was a Starlin Castro single.
  • Carlos Monasterios followed with two shutout innings.
  • Josh Lindblom pitched out of a ninth-inning jam with the game tied, 3-3.
  • Rafael Furcal had two hits and an RBI.
  • Hector Gimenez homered off the Cubs’ Chris Carpenter, who is 10 years younger than the Cardinals’ Chris Carpenter. Jerry Sands also doubled against Carpenter.
  • Justin Sellers had an RBI double against the White Sox. Dioner Navarro also had a double.
  • Hiroki Kuroda became the first Dodger pitcher of 2011 to complete six innings, finishing with shutout ball over the final two frames.

Lowlights:

  • Kuroda gave up four runs in his first four innings, and struck out only one batter in his outing.
  • Sellers made his fifth error of exhibition play this year, leading to an unearned run.
  • Three hits (but four walks) for the Dodgers against the White Sox. Two of those hits came against Will Ohman.
  • Matt Kemp struck out with the bases loaded and two out in the top of the ninth against the Cubs’ Jeff Stevens.

Sidelights:

  • Casey Blake’s injury is more toward his ribs than his lower back, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

    … “All I’m doing is really icing it,” he said. “I was pretty sore last night, and I had some trouble sleeping. … I guess I don’t know enough about it to know whether it’s serious or not. I know I am pretty sore right now, but with treatment, that soreness can go away pretty soon. I think they were pretty relieved that it’s where it is, [because] that can go away in a day or two rather than if it were a pulled muscle or something like that. But we don’t know exactly what it is.”

    Blake left the game after laying down a sacrifice bunt in the top of the first inning. He ran hard up the first-base line and was called out on a close play. It was when he then turned to return to the dugout that he felt something in his back. …

  • Jon Huber has been sent to minor-league camp.
  • A fond look back at “Undeclared” and “Freaks and Geeks.”
Mar 10

Garland injury confirmed, DL all but certain

An MRI confirmed that Jon Garland has a strained left oblique muscle, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com, all but confirming that he will start the season on the disabled list.

Wednesday, Jackson was among those who noted that the Dodgers “really don’t have to use a fifth starter until their 11th game of the season, April 12 at San Francisco, the first time they are scheduled to play a game on a fifth consecutive day.”

Going with only four starters in early April could allow someone like Xavier Paul to extend his Dodger stay past Spring Training.

  • Other late items from Jackson: The weird, thank-goodness-it-didn’t-happen-to-Matt Kemp explanation of why Andre Ethier didn’t end up starting Wednesday’s game, and a note that John Lindsey has reinjured his calf.
  • More at MLB.com from Ken Gurnick: Rubby De La Rosa is recovering from minor shoulder inflammation, and this update on Josh Lindblom …

    … Two springs ago, he came out of nowhere to nearly make the Opening Day roster after only 34 professional innings, but it’s been a roller coaster ever since. He’s been bounced between starting and relieving and passed by the likes of Rubby De La Rosa on the prospect depth chart. He had a 6.54 ERA at Triple-A Albuquerque last year. …

    Lindblom, a closer at Purdue and second-round Draft pick in 2008, said he’s determined to get back on track now that management has told him he’s exclusively a reliever again.“I got to the point where I lost who I was as a pitcher,” said the 23-year-old. “Instructional league helped me get back my delivery. It was tough going back and forth [between starting and relieving], but what happened I have to take ownership of. Most important, I let myself down. Now I’m settling into a role.” …

  • Brewers pitcher Zack Greinke’s basketball injury reminded Roberto Baly of Vin Scully Is My Homeboy of the time Matt Kemp went all out at a charity hoops game at Westchester High.
  • Duke Snider, Jimmy Wynn and Willie Davis rank sixth, eighth and 11th all-time among MLB center fielders using a statistical measure called Weighted Wins Above Replacement (wWAR), according to Beyond the Box Score.

* * *

Padres at Dodgers, 12:05 p.m. (Prime Ticket)

Mar 03

Dodgers held to one run for third time in first week

Norm Hall/Getty ImagesHiroki and His Amazing Technicolor Dreamcatch

Reds 3, Dodgers 1

Norm Hall/Getty ImagesBrandon Phillips stands on his head until his ears are turning Red.

Highlights:

  • Jerry Sands had two singles and an RBI, making him 3 for 7 in Spring Training. Let the (ir)rational exuberance begin!
  • Ivan De Jesus Jr. had a single and is also 3 for 7.
  • Rubby De La Rosa struck out three of the six batters he faced and picked off the only one who reached base, though none of the six were Reds regulars.
  • I learned the proper way to pronounce “Rubby,” and it doesn’t rhyme with “tubby.”

Lowlights:

  • After stranding three runners in his first two innings, starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was touched for three more hits and two runs in the third. “I didn’t have all my pitches tonight,” Kuroda told The Associated Press. “My breaking ball wasn’t there.”
  • The first four hitters in the Dodger lineup – Rafael Furcal, Casey Blake, Juan Uribe and Jay Gibbons – went 0 for 11 with a walk.
  • Batting as the tying run in the eighth and ninth innings, Justin Sellers and JD Closser each hit into double plays.
  • The Dodgers are averaging 3.1 runs per game, worst in the Cactus League.

Sidelights:

  • On a Thursday in early March, it doesn’t get much more exciting than this: Ken Gurnick of MLB.com writes about how similar Kenley Jansen is to Mariano Rivera.
  • The Dodgers offered a minor-league contract to a player from their annual all-comers tryout: Randy Keisler, a 35-year-old lefty who last pitched in the majors in 2007. He has a 6.63 ERA in 150 2/3 career innings, and his only 2010 action was seven starts in the Mexican League with a 3.98 ERA.
  • De La Rosa and Luis Vasquez won the Dodgers’ “American Idol”-like singing contest, writes Dylan Hernandez of the Times.
  • Despite a career .341 on-base percentage in the majors, ex-Dodger Willy Aybar, who turns 28 next week, hasn’t even signed a minor-league contract this spring, notes MLB Trade Rumors.
  • Juan Castro did not hit a three-run homer.