Apr 14

A journey to ‘Harvard Park’

Shawn Coyne is a part-time filmmaker and full-time baseball fan that served as head researcher, interviewer, 2nd assistant director and mastermind along with his brother, director Bryan Coyne on the upcoming documentary Harvard Park, about the South Central Los Angeles park that was the sports birthplace of major leaguers including Eric Davis and Darryl Strawberry. It premieres Sunday (Jackie Robinson Day) on BET at 11 a.m.

Shawn Coyne is also a longtime reader of Dodger Thoughts, and I was happy to turn some space over to him to discuss the project. Enjoy …

Continue reading

Apr 14

Dodgers’ walk-happy feat first since ’89

The Dodgers became the first team to end a game by receiving four consecutive walks in nearly 23 years, according to research by Bob Timmermann.

The last time it happened was May 19, 1989, when the New York Mets edged the San Francisco Giants in 10 innings.  The final pitch was thrown by future Hall of Famer Rich Gossage.

METS 10TH: Elster flied out to left; CARREON BATTED FOR MYERS;
Carreon was called out on strikes; Dykstra walked; TEUFEL BATTED
FOR JEFFERIES; Teufel walked [Dykstra to second]; GOSSAGE
3B); Johnson walked [Dykstra to third, Teufel to second];
Strawberry walked [Dykstra scored, Teufel to third, Johnson to
second]; 1 R, 0 H, 0 E, 3 LOB.  Giants 2, Mets 3.

* * *

Juan Uribe not only went 0 for 4 on Friday, he never touched the ball during nine innings of playing third base. No putouts, no assists, no chances, no attempted plays at third.

Apr 14

More notes from Friday’s frolic

A.J. Ellis shows the ball used for the ninth consecutive strikeout thrown by pitcher Aaron Harang. © Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Kenley Jansen was apparently the latest Dodger to play with the flu, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

… Jansen has been battling a mild case of flu in recent days, which could have accounted for the velocity drop.

“I’ve been battling the flu, but that’s not an excuse at all,” Jansen said. “You still have to make good pitches and keep us in the game and try to help the team win. That is what it’s all about.”

Both manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt noticed the slight dropoff, but neither seemed alarmed by it. Honeycutt said it might have been due to the cold weather or illness. Mattingly said it might have been the difference in the eighth inning and the ninth, which almost anyone in baseball agrees is fairly huge except for the pitchers who actually pitch in those innings.

“It doesn’t feel any different,” Jansen said. “You have to treat the eighth inning just like it’s the ninth inning, just come in and get the job done.”

But catcher A.J. Ellis said Jansen did seem a bit out of sorts at the beginning of the inning, when he walked the first batter, Chris Denorfia.

“He was a little more tentative than I have seen him,” Ellis said. “But after that first batter, he was definitely locked back in. He came right back to strike out the next two batters on six straight pitches. Chase Headley is a good hitter, a three-hole hitter in the National League, and that pitch ended up over the middle of the plate.”

Jansen was trying to throw it in on Headley, but said it ran back over the middle. At any rate, the hope is that the velocity drop was a one-time thing — although he gave up a double to Yonder Alonso after Headley’s home run, Jansen still looked pretty unhittable in striking out the three batters he did. If it continues, though, it could become a source of alarm. …

Jackson also noted, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. did late Friday, the possibility of Todd Coffey going to the disabled list with a hobo knee. (That’s like a bum knee, only with a different word for bum.)

Also, bullpen coach Ken Howell is getting treatement for his diabetes, and will be replaced for the time being by organization pitching coordinator Jim Slaton.

* * *

Some more notes from Aaron Harang’s amazing night, from Elias Sports Bureau via ESPN Stats & Information:

… Three other pitchers had nine straight strikeouts in one game: Mickey Welch in 1884 (the first year in which overhand pitching was permissible), Jake Peavy in 2007 and Ricky Nolasco in 2009.

Harang tied the major-league record by recording nine strikeouts through the first three innings.

Two other players have done it, only one in the “Modern Era”:
Mickey Welch, NY Giants, August 28, 1884
Don Wilson, Houston, July 14, 1968 (G2)

Harang tied his career high with 13 strikeouts and is the first Dodgers pitcher in the last 90 seasons to have at least 13 strikeouts in a game and pitch fewer than seven innings. The last pitcher on any team to do it was Yovani Gallardo last year.

The last pitcher with exactly 13 strikeouts on Friday the 13th was Dwight Gooden on June 13, 1986 for the Mets against the Pirates.

* * *

Bryan Stow’s 13-year-old son Tyler threw out the first pitch before the Giants’ home opener, reports The Associated Press, while Bryan himself appeared on the stadium videoboard.

Giovanni Ramirez, who was mistakenly accused of beating Stow, attended his first Dodger game Tuesday, according to KCAL via the Huffington Post.

* * *

Despite what became a tumultuous hearing, federal bankruptcy court approved the sale of the Dodgers by Frank McCourt to the Guggenheim group. Bill Shaikin of the Times has all the details.

Here’s one excerpt:

… The settlement includes confidential provisions about how the league could treat revenue from a Dodgers-owned regional sports network, Bennett said. He declined to elaborate, but the provisions are believed to limit how much of the Dodgers’ television proceeds must be shared with other teams via revenue sharing.

Those conditions — and the ability of the mediator to enforce them regardless of what Selig might say — represented what Guggenheim attorney Michael Small called a “substantial component of the value proposition of the transaction.”

Guggenheim agreed to pay $2.15 billion — a record price for a sports franchise — to buy the Dodgers and half-ownership of the Dodger Stadium parking lots. McCourt, who did not have to sell the land under his settlement with MLB, gets to retain half-ownership.

“We really are concerned about the parking lot situation,” Lauria said.

Lauria said that Walter had pledged to MLB owners that he would not buy the Dodgers unless Guggenheim controlled 16,500 surface-level parking spaces — that is, no parking structures. Once the sale was announced, however, Lauria said Guggenheim refused to provide any details about how the joint venture to own the parking lots would work.

The Dodgers submitted some of those details under seal this week, and attorneys for the Los Angeles Times had asked Gross to compel the team to release the details publicly. The Dodgers instead withdrew the document and said they would release it at a later date, although Bennett said Friday the team’s lease for the lots would be extended from 25 years to 99 years. …

Apr 13

Dodgers blow lead but walk off (literally) with victory, 9-8

The blown lead avoided becoming a nightmare. Tied 8-8 in the bottom of the ninth, with two out …

Mark Ellis walked. (He stole second.)

Matt Kemp walked.

James Loney walked. (Joe Thatcher then replaced Andrew Cashner.)

Andre Ethier walked.

And just like that, the Dodgers won the game, 9-8, running their record to 7-1. What a night – the craziest Dodger-Padre game since the 4+1 game. Instead of four homers in the bottom of the ninth, we had four walks.

It was the Dodgers’ first walk-off walk since May 23, 2009 … when Juan Pierre, of all people, did it. On June 3, 2003, the Dodgers won a game in the bottom of the ninth with a hit batter and three walks. They had three straight walks to end a game on September 26, 1989. I can’t find a game dating back to 1973 that ended with four straight Dodgers drawing walks.

Unfortunately, I’m bringing my kids to the game Saturday, so the four-game winning streak will probably end. But hey, new streak Sunday!

Dodger pitchers struck out 18, tying a team record for a nine-inning game last matched the night Ramon Martinez did it all by himself against the Braves on June 4, 1990.

The team record for extra innings is 22, in a 2-1 19-inning loss to the Reds on August 8, 1972.

Dodger pitchers have 81 strikeouts in 73 innings this season: 9.99 strikeouts per nine innings.

Update: “After the game Don Mattingly said Todd Coffey has been getting treatment on his knee,” tweeted Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. A disabled list trip for Coffey could keep Josh Lindblom on the roster where he belongs, instead of him going down to the minors to make room for Saturday starter Ted Lilly.

Hopefully, we don’t find out that Kenley Jansen is hurt. The last time Jansen blew a save, on May 23, he was headed to the disabled list one outing later.

Apr 13

People, please act like you’ve seen baseball before

Is it asking so much?

Kenley Jansen’s pitching stats since June 1, going into tonight: 37 2/3 innings, 138 batters, 13 hits, four runs allowed, one home run, 12 walks, 69 strikeouts, four saves in four opportunities, 0 of 11 inherited runners scored, 0.96 ERA.

Some of the reaction on Twitter after Jansen struck out two batters, then gave up a game-tying home run tonight:

@culverfan he’s not a ninth inning guy. it’s upstairs

@DodgerBaseball2 Jansen is not a closer, not his fault Mattingly has got to stick with what works

@DRMustang22 Jansen proves again that he is not ready to be a closer. Mattingley blew it unless Javy is injured or something.

@TK0N Kenley Jansen about to be reassigned to AAA Albuquerque.

@JesRey7 Send Kenley Jansen to the minors #KeepJameyWright

@kingofbbqs Jansen blows it like the ol’ broxton days …take his ass out

Maybe Jansen didn’t have his best velocity tonight, but can people ever not overreact? Just to be clear, this was his first blown save in nearly one year.

And also to be clear, I’m not calling for Jansen to be the closer. I like that he’s not the closer. But not because I don’t think he “has it upstairs.”

Apr 13

Harang sets Dodger record with nine straight strikeouts

Aaron Harang gave up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin, then fanned the next nine batters tonight against the Padres to break the Dodgers’ record for consecutive strikeouts set 49 years and nine months ago by Johnny Podres on July 2, 1962.

Harang needs to strike out Will Venable in the fourth inning to tie Tom Seaver for the major-league record and needs to fan Chase Headley to break it.

A strikeout in the fourth would also get Harang halfway to the MLB record for strikeouts in a nine-inning game held by Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Kerry Wood. The Dodger record for strikeouts in a game is 18, held by Sandy Koufax and Ramon Martinez.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, have parlayed an error, a two-run infield single (!) by Mark Ellis, walks to Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera and a broken-bat two-run single by Andre Ethier for four runs in the bottom of the third – great for the team, maybe not so great for Harang’s groove.

The Dodgers, meanwhile, have parlayed an error, a two-run infield single (!) by Mark Ellis, walks to Matt Kemp and Juan Rivera and a broken-bat two-run single by Andre Ethier (who now leads the majors with 12 RBI) for four runs in the bottom of the third – great for the team, maybe not so great for Harang’s groove.

Update: Well, you could almost see that coming after Harang sat in the dugout for so long. Starting the fourth, Venable hit a 3-1 pitch for an opposite field home run to left field. Harang gave up two more runs in the fourth before notching his 10th strikeout – but the Dodgers came back with four more runs in the bottom of the fourth, capped by Kemp’s two-run homer, for an 8-3 lead.

Update 2: Harang struck out one in a perfect fifth and two in a perfect sixth to tie his career high with 13 strikeouts. He has thrown 97 pitches.

Remember, Harang threw six no-hit innings at his last Dodger Stadium appearance, pitching for the Padres on July 9. So if you could ignore the fourth inning tonight, Harang would have allowed one hit with 19 strikeouts in his past 11 innings at Dodger Stadium.

D.J. Short of Hardball Talk notes that Harang, who led the National League in strikeouts in 2006, had gone 44 straight starts before tonight without fanning nine in a game.

Update 3: After giving up a one-out walk in the seventh inning on his 109th pitch, Harang’s night ends with 6 1/3 innings, four hits, two walks and 13 strikeouts. Reliever Todd Coffey gave up consecutive hits to allow a fourth run to score off Harang, whose season ERA slivered from 6.23 before the game to 5.91.

Update 4: Josh Lindblom put out the fire set by Harang, Coffey and Scott Elbert, retiring all three batters he faced in the eighth inning to protect an 8-6 lead. With Javy Guerra scheduled for a night off after saving three games in a row, Kenley Jansen came in for the ninth. He gave up a walk, struck out the next two … and then, one out from victory, surrendered a game-tying home run to Headley.

Jansen then gave up a double to Yonder Alonso off yonder outfield wall. Jeremy Hermida was intentionally walked, but Orlando Hudson struck out to end the ninth inning.

Apr 13

Kuroda goes eight shutout innings in Yankee Stadium opener

I’ve probably never been happier over a Yankee win. Hiroki Kuroda pitched eight shutout innings, allowing five hits, two walks and striking out six before 49,386 at the Bronx Bombers’ home opener today, a 5-0 victory over the Angels.

Kuroda didn’t allow a hit after Peter Bourjos’ fifth-inning single until an infield single by Bobby Abreu in the ninth on the former Dodger’s 109th pitch, after which Kuroda left the game to a standing ovation. A highlight was a called strike three against Angel slugger Albert Pujols in the sixth.

I’ll always be a fan, Hiroki. Good for you.

Apr 13

Kasten no crazy spender

Incoming Dodger co-owner and organization leader Stan Kasten has no history of handing out mega-contracts, despite his teams having money to spend, writes Jayson Stark of ESPN.com:

… Well, what do you find if you study Kasten’s past, back in the day when he was the president of the Atlanta Braves (1986-2003) and Washington Nationals (2006-10)? You don’t find a single contract that will remind you of, say, the Prince Fielder deal. We’ll tell you that.

In all that time, Kasten’s teams never handed out a contract longer than five years to any free agent from outside their organization. And the only six-year deal, even to one of their own players, went to Andruw Jones in 2001 — at a time when he was 24 years old.

So do people within the industry see this man suddenly turning into a spend-a-holic who starts firing nine- and 10-year deals at whoever wants to take them? Heck, no.

“That’s not Stan Kasten’s M.O,” said one veteran agent. “I’m sure they’ll be a franchise that makes moves. But I’m also sure that when Stan makes decisions, it won’t be like the kind of decisions Mike Illitch makes.”

“When it looks like a sure thing, it ain’t,” said another prominent agent. “Look at the Nationals. Ted Lerner has more money than God, and look how long it took him to start handing out big contracts. And did he hand them out while Stan was there? No. It happened after he left. So I know everyone anticipates him spending wildly now. But I’m not so sure.”

Is it coincidence that the Nationals stuffed $126 million in Jayson Werth’s pockets a couple of months after Kasten departed? We don’t know anyone in baseball who thinks Kasten would have signed off on that deal. …

… Nobody in baseball has a better feel for that than Kasten’s longtime general manager in Atlanta, John Schuerholz.

“It’s fair to say this group is out to re-establish the great Dodger brand,” Schuerholz told Rumblings. “But how that translates into making decisions to spend big money on big-name free agents, I don’t think that’s automatic.”

Now would Schuerholz be surprised to see the Kasten/Magic Dodgers chasing the most ballyhooed free agents in the game? No, he “wouldn’t be surprised to see them do that,” he said.

“But I don’t think they’ll do it every day,” Schuerholz said. “I don’t think they’ll do it all the time. What I’m sure they’ll do is what Stan has always tried to do — build a rock-solid organization and build it largely around homegrown talent. And at the same time, I’m sure he won’t shy away from the right free agent. But I underline the word, ‘right.'” …

Stark has more, so check out the entire piece.

Apr 13

The ultimate Dodger Stadium ‘Don’t try this at home’ moment

Via Kevin Kaduk at Big League Stew:

… Showing that he can rely on the elements in any situation, television survivalist Bear Grylls lit a baseball on fire before throwing it for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first pitch on Thursday night. Why the “Man Vs. Wild” star did this is anybody’s guess, but it was worth it just to see Dodgers catcher Matt Treanor squirm behind the plate. …

Apr 12

Game 7 chat

Pirates at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, SS
Mark Ellis, 2B
Matt Kemp, CF
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Rivera, LF
James Loney, 1B
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Chris Capuano, P

Notes from earlier today:

  • When 49-year-old Jamie Moyer faced 22-year-old Madison Bumgarner today, it was the largest age differential between starting pitchers since 59-year-old Satchel Paige faced 29-year-old Bill Monbouquette on September 25, 1965. Moyer allowed only two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, but lost to Bumgarner and the Giants, 4-2. Moyer did become the oldest pitcher with more than one start in a season.
  • For the first time since 1994, the Angels lost after leading by six runs, falling to Minnesota, 10-9.
  • Hiroki Kuroda will face the Angels in the Yankees’ home opener Friday.
  • If Ted Lilly comes off the disabled list in time to start Saturday, Josh Lindblom is likely to take his four no-hit, shutout innings to the minors. Chad Moriyama argues for avoiding a Lance Cormier fiasco and releasing Jamey Wright instead.
  • Dodger Thoughts commenter (and pitcher extraordinaire) 75Dodger passes along an NPR Fresh Air interview with Brad Ausmus.
  • The Dodgers’ hot start is summarized nicely by David Pinto of Baseball Musings. Among other things, Los Angeles has a .474 on-base percentage and 1.026 OPS with runners in scoring position and two out.
  • Dodger slugging percentages by position in 2012: pitcher .100, first base .190, third base .190, second base .240, left field .292, shortstop .308, catcher .333, center field .720, right field .783.
Apr 11

Slam dunk for the Dodgers, 4-1

Crashing the boards.

A 4-1 victory over the Pirates pushed the Dodgers to a 5-1 record in this young season. It wasn’t a perfect game, but one that was the ongoing equivalent of rebounding your missed shot and putting it in the hoop.

Chad Billingsley gives up a home run to light-hittting Clint Barmes in the third, but recovers to shut Pittsburgh out through his three remaining innings. Billingsley gives up two hits with one out in the sixth, then wraps things up when Neil Walker hits a soft liner with two on and one out for an inning-ending double play.

The Dodgers waste two baserunners in the first inning, but score a tying run in the bottom of the third and a go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth. Dee Gordon starts his night 0 for 3, then doubles to kick-start a two-run seventh.

Los Angeles is winning even as half their lineup clanks one shot off the rim after another. They’re doing so because Matt Kemp (3 for 4), Juan Rivera (3 for 4) and Andre Ethier (2 for 4) keep banging the boards, and because the bullpen (Matt Guerrier, Kenley Jansen and Javy Guerra) keeps running a nice pick-and-roll at the end of the game.

The words “enjoy it while it lasts” come to mind. Fair enough.