Sep 12

The California Derby Series

(Bob here, I just wanted to drop in a soccer reference before Jon gets back.)

Be sure to pronounce “derby” with an “a” sound.

Mike Petriello wrote about whom the Dodgers TV announcers should be when the team switches networks. Will Eric Collins and Steve Lyons be back? Someone needs to work road games in states that are not California and Arizona. Also, there needs to be a plan for the time when Vin Scully isn’t the Dodgers announcer anymore.

And then there will be the even bigger problem about whether or not companies like DirecTV will pick up the new channel owned by Time-Warner. Because there is nothing more rewarding than watching carriers and content providers carry on public contract squabbles while the people watching just don’t really care about why they can’t see what they want. They just want to see it.

Dodgers at Giants, 7:10 p.m.

Sep 12

Revolution 98

According to the Baseball-Reference uniform number database, Onelki Garcia was the first player to appear in a major league game wearing #98.

If Garcia were a Yankee, they’d retire the number just to be on the safe side.

The Baseball-Reference Play Index says Garcia is the 21st pitcher in their database whose career started by walking the first batter he faced and then being pulled.

Darren Oliver made his major league debut on September 1, 1993 and issued an intentional walk, and then got pulled. Not all four of Oliver’s pitches were intentional walks. Billy Hatcher was on first, stole second and opened up a base, so Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy (did you know he used to manage in the big leagues) had Oliver walk Mike Greenwell and then brought in Mike Schooler to retire Luis Ortiz to get out of the inning.

Two pitchers, Tom Baker of the 1963 Giants and Art Reinhart of the 1919 Cardinals, started their careers by hitting the first batter they faced. In Reinhart’s case, he hit the first batter he faced with his first pitch and then didn’t appear in the majors again until 1925. (I had looked up this info earlier on some microfilm for someone else. I just didn’t know it.)

Four pitchers started their career by giving up a home run to their first batter in relief and then got pulled. Actually, Andy Messersmith wasn’t pulled. He came into relief in a game for the Angels back in 1968 against Boston in a bases loaded, no out situation in a 1-1 tie and gave up a grand slam to Ken Harrelson. You can put it on the board….

Sep 11

Diamondbacks put damper on Dodgers plan to clinch at home

Patrick Corbin was pretty good and Hyun-Jin Ryu was not particularly good and Arizona won 4-1 to halt the Dodgers’ march to the NL West title for a day. The Dodgers magic number stays at 6 and the Dodgers won’t be able to clinch at home unless they sweep all four games from the Giants with Arizona losing two of three at home to Colorado or the Dodgers winning three games from the Giants and Colorado sweeping Arizona.

So…. it looks more likely that the Dodgers will be having their celebration in Phoenix where they travel to on Monday. This is probably good news for the people who have to clean up the Dodgers clubhouse. But bad news for people who have to clean up the visiting clubhouse at Chase Field. Or maybe it’s good news for whomever has the carpet cleaning contract for Chase Field.

These are good problems to have if you’re a Dodgers fan.

Are there bad problems?

The Cardinals have caught the Dodgers for second best record in the National League, two games behind Atlanta. However, the Dodgers own the tiebreaker edge over the Cardinals, so it’s effectively a one-game lead. Then again, the Braves own the tiebreaker edge over the Dodgers, so that’s effectively a three-game lead. And if the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Atlanta all finish with the same record? It’s still Atlanta on top with the Dodgers second and the Cardinals third.

Not far behind the Cardinals though are the resilient Pirates, who finished off a three-game sweep in Texas today. The Pirates are one game behind the Cardinals. If the Cardinals and Pirates tie for first in the NL Central, the tie would be broken on the field with the Pirates being the host. A three-way tie among the NL Central leaders (which Jon described earlier) would take a while to develop, especially because the Reds and Pirates play each other six times in the final two weeks.

But if you want real do or die fun, it looks the AL Wild Cards are the place to be. Texas has the first wild card spot by 2 1/2 games over Tampa Bay. The Yankees are one game back, but two in the mostly important loss column. Cleveland and the Orioles are 1 1/2 games back and Kansas City is 2 games back.

How would MLB break a five-way tie? (Which is somewhat unlikely because there are a lot of games left between the contenders) It’s not in MLB’s list of contingencies. If it’s like the tiebreaker set up for the 1973 NL East, which could have ended in a five-way tie, there would be some method to seed the teams 1-5 (best to worst). Team 1 gets a bye while 3 plays at 2 and 5 plays at 4. The winner of the game between 5 and 4 would host team 1. Then the winner of that game would play at the home stadium of the winner of the game between 2 and 3. It would take three days and it would be a mess. A big glorious mess. (If the five teams were playing for TWO wild card spots, then it would just take two days because you wouldn’t need the last tiebreaker game.)

And there are fewer teams left in contention now for playoff spots. The Giants, Rockies, and Mets all were put out to pasture. The only team that can be mathematically eliminated on Thursday is Minnesota, who plays an early game against Oakland. Whom they lost to by an 18-3 margin on Wednesday.




Sep 11

Welcome to Los Angeles, Onelki

The Dodgers selected the contract of Onelki Garcia from Albuquerque and placed Shawn Tolleson on the 60-day DL. This means that the Dodgers bullpen will now need stadium-style seating for all the players to see. Interestingly, the one place in Dodger Stadium without stadium-style seating is on the floor on the stadium.

Some players are holding out for cup holders in their seats.

The Dodgers bullpen has 12 members now. Although the status of Chris Capuano is hard to determine. It’s baffling to figure out just what it is and I’ve termed this problem “Schroedinger’s Cappy.”

If the Dodgers win tonight, the only teams in the NL with winning records will be the five teams in playoff positions and Washington.

Diamondbacks at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.

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 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.