Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Month: July 2014 (Page 2 of 7)

Since June 1, the Dodgers have won 29 games while hitting 21 home runs


For more Jon SooHoo highlights from Sunday’s game, visit the LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers swept the Giants this weekend — scoring 17 runs in three games with five doubles and five triples — but without hitting a single home run, and they remain stuck on eight homers in 21 games in July. Which leaves us with the following oddity:

March/April: 27 homers, 15 wins
May: 30 homers, 15 wins
June: 13 homers, 18 wins
July: eight homers, 11 wins

Not only have the Dodgers hit only 21 homers while going 29-20 in June-July, they’ve allowed 38. Nevertheless, Los Angeles has outscored opponents, 195-157.

How odd is that June-July run? I can’t say the last time it happened over a two-month stretch, but for a full season, the Dodgers haven’t had more wins than home runs since 1976, when they won 92 games on 91 home runs.

For all of 2014, the Dodgers have 59 wins on 78 home runs.

Dodger home runs in July: Scott Van Slyke (3), Adrian Gonzalez (2), Yasiel Puig, Miguel Rojas, Juan Uribe.

Kenley Jansen, ladies and gentlemen

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Click to enlarge.

– Jon Weisman

Another chapter in Dee Gordon’s feats of feet


In the top of the fifth inning tonight at San Francisco, Dee Gordon …

… struck out but reached first base on a wild pitch without a throw.

… ran on a 3-2 pitch and cruised into second base on a Yasiel Puig walk.

… sped to third base on a Jake Peavy wild pitch.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS… beat the throw home from first base after Adrian Gonzalez was thrown out at first on a strike three in the dirt.

Four bases, one base at a time, no hits, one walk.

Lots of other stuff happened, in a game the Dodgers led 4-3 going into the eighth inning, but in a year of mindblowing Dee Gordon moments, this deserves to be called out.

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Is Hanley Ramirez’s offense underappreciated?

For more Jon SooHoo highlights from Saturday, visit the LA Photog Blog.

Dodgers at Giants, 5:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Matt Kemp, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P

By Jon Weisman

In 2013, Hanley Ramirez arguably had the greatest offensive season ever for a Dodger shortstop.

You might have noticed that Ramirez has not been so fortunate this year.

You might not have noticed this:

In 2014, Hanley Ramirez is arguably having the second greatest offensive season ever for a Dodger shortstop.

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Ramirez’s offense was so incredible a year ago that even with a noticeable decline, he’s still producing at a rate that tops anyone else in the past 100-plus years. A .374 on-base percentage and .466 slugging percentage is nothing to dismiss.

LOS ANGELES DODGERS AT SAN FRANCISCO GIANTSOf course, a key issue with Ramirez is remaining in the starting lineup. According to, Ramirez’s had 79 runs created in 2013, placing him 14th in Dodger history. This year, Ramirez has 56 runs created in the Dodgers’ 105 games (he’s played in 88), putting him on pace for 86 in a 162-game season. That would place him in the Dodger top 10.

Wrote Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A.: “Ramirez has started only 34 of the last 51 games, exactly two-thirds, but he has reached base by hit or walk in all 34 starts, overall hitting .333/.448/.513 with nine doubles, four home runs and 26 RBI during that span.”

The defense isn’t always pretty. Ramirez doesn’t play every day. But when he does, the bat is still amazing.

Clayton Kershaw supreme again (and Adrian Gonzalez is hot)

By Jon Weisman

There’s a risk of taking Clayton Kershaw for granted, which I sincerely do not do. No matter my expectations, I genuinely take pleasure each and every time he fulfills and surpasses them, as he did in tonight’s 5-0 victory over San Francisco.

Coming off what — ridiculously — was his worst start since May, a seven-inning, three-run no decision at St. Louis, Kershaw came back and simply put the Giants to sleep. He went nine innings on 113 pitches, allowing two hits and one walk while striking out seven.

The lefty magician threw his ninth career shutout and third career two-hitter.

Kershaw went to ball three on the second and third batters he faced tonight. He gave up a 3-1 single to Gregor Blanco, and then, on a 3-2 pitch, induced a double-play grounder from Buster Posey. And that was all but it. Kershaw retired 25 of the last 28 batters, allowing only a single, a walk and a runner to reach base on an error, and went to ball three on merely six batters all game.

Since June 1, Kershaw has thrown 77 innings in 10 starts, allowing eight runs for a 0.94 ERA. He has allowed 39 hits, walked eight and struck out 95.

But while celebrating Kershaw without fail, we can risk overlooking some other players. And to that end, let me just say this: Isn’t it nice when Adrian Gonzalez gets on a roll?

Gonzalez had three more hits tonight, including two doubles (admittedly one that Hunter Pence lost in the sun, though it was still well-struck). Since the All-Star Break, Gonzalez has appeared rejuvenated, going 13 for 31 with four doubles, a homer and five walks. That’s a .486 on-base percentage and .645 slugging percentage. That’s good stuff.

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OK, so I ended up writing more about Kershaw than Gonzalez. Sometimes, it’s hard to ignore the best on the planet.

And I almost forgot to tell you. The Dodgers are in first place.

Dodgers to face Jake Peavy in Sunday series finale with Giants

For more Jon SooHoo highlights from Friday, visit the LA Photog Blog.

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.
Kershaw CXCVIII: The Kershawcial Network
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Matt Kemp, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

With first place in the National League West at stake, Ryan Vogelsong is taking tonight’s start for the Giants against the Dodgers  and Clayton Kershaw as planned, but a big change looms for Sunday.

San Francisco has picked up Jake Peavy from Boston for two prospects, and the right-hander is expected to arrive in time to take the mound in 24-ish hours against Los Angeles and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The 33-year-old Peavy, the starting pitcher in the 4+1 game for the Padres against the Dodgers nearly eight years ago, has an ERA of 3.90 in 14 games at AT&T Park and is a dominant 14-2 with a 2.21 ERA in 25 starts against the Dodgers. As recently as August 25 last season, Peavy pitched a complete-game three-hitter at Dodger Stadium, allowing one run on four baserunners while striking out five.

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Triple the joy: Puig, Dodgers make three-bag history, with innings to spare

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By Jon Weisman

It took only two batters for the Dodgers to get their first triple of the night in San Francisco. Most games, that would be more than you’d expect.

Puig 3bFor Yasiel Puig and his teammates, it was only the beginning of many happy handshakes with third-base coach Lorenzo Bundy.

The Dodgers hit five triples in the first six innings at AT&T Park — three by Puig himself — shocking and knocking out Tim Lincecum on their way to a 7-0 lead with three innings to go.

The incredible night began with Puig’s first-inning triple, which nearly became a home run after an official review studied whether fan interference had prevented it from going out of the park. Puig later scored on an Adrian Gonzalez single to take a 1-0 lead.

The game was a pitchers’ duel through the fourth, with Lincecum matching Dodger starter Zack Greinke by striking out six batters on 67 pitches. (Greinke, in an event I’m embarrassed to make parenthetical, had a four-strikeout fourth third inning.) Puig had the Dodgers’ only other hit, a third-inning double.

Then, after A.J. Ellis popped out to start the top of the fifth, things got wild.

Greinke singled, and then Dee Gordon blasted one to the gap in right-center. Greinke, running with better wheels than Josh Beckett did the last time Gordon had an extra-base hit with a pitcher on base, scored easily, and Gordon cruised into third. It was Gordon’s 10th triple of the year, making him the first Dodger to hit double digits on triples since Kenny Lofton had 12 in 2006.

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Then Puig followed with his second triple of the game, making him the first Los Angeles Dodger ever to have two triples and a double in a game. No Dodger had done this since Sandy Amoros in 1956.

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If Puig’s triple in the first had been ruled a home run, he’d have had four innings left with only a single needed for a cycle.

Another RBI single by Gonzalez — who now leads the National League in RBI with 67 — scored Puig to make it 4-0, and an ensuing single by Hanley Ramirez ended Lincecum’s night on the mound …

… if not in the box score. Because after Carl Crawford lined out to first, Matt Kemp got in on the act, tripling to right center to score Gonzalez and Ramirez.

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Psychologically, the Dodgers avenged the three triples they allowed in the second inning of Clayton Kershaw’s nadir start on May 17.

Are we done yet? Not quite, because after Gordon beat out a grounder to third for a hit and stole second, Puig, unbelievably, hit his triple trifecta, his third of the game and the Dodgers’ fifth. Puig’s three triples are the most by a Dodger in 113 years, since Jimmy Sheckard of Brooklyn in 1901.

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The five triples are the most by the Dodgers in a game since the team record was set on July 7, 1921 — against the Giants — if they don’t hit any more tonight. And Puig’s 11 total bases are also the most by a Dodger in a game without a home run ever — if he doesn’t hit a home run before the night’s over. He’s the 50th Dodger since 1901 with at least 11 total bases in a game.

No Major League player has had more than three triples in a game since before 1901. The Major League record for a team is the eight by Pittsburgh at St. Louis on May 30, 1925. No Los Angeles Dodger team had ever had more than three triples in a game.

Players with at least three triples and a double in an MLB game (since 1914) Les Bell (1926), Herm Winningham (1990), Yasiel Puig (2014).

With 31 triples now in 2014, the Dodgers already had their most as a team for a full season since 2009. Gordon’s 10 triples and Puig’s eight this year give the Dodgers a shot at having a pair of 10-triplers for the first time since Maury Wills and Willie Davis in 1962.

Puig, Ramirez lead Dodgers into San Francisco

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Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Matt Kemp, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez are in the lineup together for the first time since July 19, batting second and fourth as the Dodgers open their much-anticipated series with San Francisco.

Puig is now the Dodgers’ center fielder, with manager Don Mattingly essentially becoming comfortable with Matt Kemp’s presence in right field.

If Puig, who has made 88 starts as the mainstay in right field so far in 2014, remains in center for the bulk of the remaining season, that would leave the Dodgers without anyone playing 100 games at a single outfield position for the second consecutive year. In 2013, Carl Crawford led Dodger outfielders with 96 starts in left field, followed by Yasiel Puig’s 89 starts in right and Andre Ethier’s 70 starts in center.

* * *

Zack Greinke has pitched fewer innings at San Francisco’s AT&T Park than any other in the National League. He has never pitched there in a Dodger uniform. In his only previous appearance there, on May 4, 2012, Greinke went 5 1/3 innings, allowing three earned runs on eight baserunners and 96 pitches while striking out five in a 6-4 Brewers victory.

Vin Scully on what keeps him going

Vin“As long as I get the goosebumps on the exciting play, as long as I feel that, that’s kind of my thermometer as to whether I belong or not. I still get them, so far. And when you realize no job advancement — I mean I’ve just stayed at the same spot all those years — what a laggard. When I come to the park, I always feel better.”

— Vin Scully, speaking to ESPN’s Hannah Storm in this clip

How to avoid a meltdown

Los Angeles Dodgers at St.Louis CardinalsBy Jon Weisman

There are things that are true, and there are things that people think that are true. Here’s an attempt to separate one from the other, as we head into the weekend series between the Giants and the Dodgers.

• The Giants ride on the wings of seraphim, while the Dodgers are a dysfunctional timebomb.
We had a welcome respite from this dichotomy while the Dodgers rallied from their 9 1/2-game deficit in the National League West, but once the Giants went back ahead in the race by two games in two days, it didn’t take long for this angle to return. Why even play the games?

• The Giants own the Dodgers this year.
This year, San Francisco has won seven of the first 10 games they have played against the Dodgers. Last year, Arizona won seven of the first 10 games they played against the Dodgers. Does anyone still think Arizona owned the Dodgers?

The New York Mets won 10 of 11 from the Dodgers in the 1988 regular season. Does anyone still think the Mets owned the Dodgers?

Nobody owns anybody.

P.S. In those first 10 games against the Giants this year, Clayton Kershaw has started once.

• The Dodgers need a sweep.
If the Dodgers win two out of three, they’ll be a half-game behind San Francisco with 56 games remaining in their season and reversed the momentum between the two teams. A sweep would be lovely, but it’s hardly do-or-die.

The Dodgers need to win two out of three.
If the Dodgers only win one game, they’ll be 2 1/2 games behind San Francisco with 56 games left. They’ll look like the second-best team in the division, especially if San Francisco wins the series against the best of the Dodger rotation.

But reverse the positions. If the Dodgers took two of three at home from the Giants and led by 2 1/2 games with 56 remaining, would you think that the race was over? Heck, if the Dodgers led by 2 1/2 games with five or six games remaining, would you think the race was over?

• Surely the Dodgers must win at least one out of three.
This is false for the reasons alluded to above, but I’ll concede that if Zack Greinke, Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu can’t do enough to keep the Dodgers from being swept, the Dodger fan base will turn into this:

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Dodger pitching set up beautifully for San Francisco series

MLB All Star TuesdayBy Jon Weisman

In dropping their final two games at Pittsburgh while the Giants were scoring in the 14th inning Tuesday and the ninth inning Wednesday to defeat the Phillies, the Dodgers have fallen two games behind in the National League West standings. That figure will be 1 1/2 or 2 1/2 games after San Francisco plays a final game today at Philadelphia (and against Cole Hamels) beginning at 10:05 a.m. Pacific.

For the time being, this is the farthest back the Dodgers have been since June 27. Since going 16-6 to gain 10 games on the Giants between June 8-30 and move into first place in the division, the Dodgers are 8-10 in July.

Nevertheless, the Dodgers’ pitching is lined up about as well you could imagine for their three-game series at San Francisco that begins Friday, with Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu taking the mound and relievers Kenley Jansen and J.P. Howell off since Monday.

On top of everything else, the Giants will arrive in San Francisco well after the Dodgers have gotten there.

MLB All Star TuesdayGreinke is scheduled to face Tim Lincecum, who picked up his first career save Tuesday and has been on a roll since throwing his second career no-hitter June 25. Lincecum has an ERA of 0.95 in his past 38 innings with 31 strikeouts against 28 baserunners. The batting average on balls in play against Lincecum during that time, however, is .140.

Saturday figures to pit Kershaw against Ryan Voglesong, who has a 3.99 ERA after allowing 11 hits to the 22 batters he faced in an abbreviated start Monday at Philadelphia — a game the Giants ended up winning, 7-4.

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh PiratesSunday’s scheduled pitchers are Ryu and Yusmeiro Petit, who has mostly pitched in relief and would be making his seventh start of the season. Petit has a 6.32 ERA as a starter this season after allowing five runs in five innings at the top of Tuesday’s 14-inning game, his first start since May 31. Petit was replacing Matt Cain, who went on the disabled list Monday.

Madison Bumgarner and Tim Hudson, the Giants’ two best starting pitchers this season, will have pitched Wednesday and today and therefore should miss the Dodgers. Mark Saxon of ESPN Los Angeles has a nice preview of the upcoming series.

Down-and-up performance leaves Haren’s status unclear

By Jon Weisman

The Dodgers play only three games over the next 130 hours, and you can make the argument that all that off time couldn’t come at a better time.

With two off days over the next five, Josh Beckett will have six days between starts and Dan Haren will likely be off for at least the rest of the month, if not in a swingman role like Paul Maholm. The earliest the Dodgers absolutely need a fifth starter is August 2, nine days from now and two days after the non-waiver trade dealine.

Haren’s status and whether he might be replaced as the Dodgers’ fifth starter by a trade is drawing major speculation. Since May 1, the 33-year-old righty has a 5.32 ERA and opponents’ OPS of .831, and is allowing a home run every 4.8 innings. And since throwing seven shutout innings of one-hit ball on the last day of June, Haren has lasted 19 innings in four July starts with a 9.47 ERA and opponents’ OPS of 1.012, which is like facing a lineup of nine Mike Trouts.

Here’s what Haren himself told Ken Gurnick of

“I know we talked a while back about off days,” said Haren. “I’ll do anything for the team and if it means I get skipped, I totally understand. I’m not going to march into the office. I’ve got to earn their respect to go back out there.

“It’s really gotten away from me the last four times out. I was having a great year, I felt great throwing the ball, then a few starts ago it kind of snowballed and everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.”

It has to be vexing for Haren that, after allowing four runs in the first inning and a second-inning home run to Travis Snider, he was then able to set down the final 11 batters he faced on four groundouts, six strikeouts and one soft fly out. Though that might seem encouraging, the postgame comments from Haren and Don Mattingly did not reflect that sentiment.

Andre Ethier poised to become HBP champ

Andre Ethier tied the Los Angeles Dodger record for career HBPs with this plunking on June 13. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Andre Ethier tied the Los Angeles Dodger record for career HBPs with this June 13 plunking. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Matt Kemp, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
Miguel Rojas, SS
Drew Butera, C
Dan Haren, P

By Jon Weisman

This week seems like as good as any to post a list of the Dodgers’ all-time leaders in hit by pitches. One list features the expected — the other, perhaps, a surprise.

The Plunkers
154 Don Drysdale
82 Henry McIntire
79 Jeff Pfeffer
74 Chan Ho Park
73 Nap Rucker
70 Dazzy Vance
65 Orel Hershiser
62 Don Sutton
56 Burleigh Grimes
53 Ramon Martinez
49 Charlie Hough
45 Oscar Jones
43 Chad Billingsley
40 Darren Dreifort
38 Jeff Weaver

Drysdale’s spot on the chart might be the least surprising piece of trivia you’ll see for some time, but even Drysdale would have to tip his hat to McIntire, who hit a better nearly every other game for Brooklyn (179 games in all). And Park amassed his total in even fewer innings than McIntire.

The Plunkees
73 Zack Wheat
72 Jackie Robinson
52 Andre Ethier
52 Alex Cora
47 Carl Furillo
43 Ron Cey
41 Willie Davis
39 Whitey Alperman
37 Lou Johnson
37 Jake Daubert
36 Bill Russell
35 Mark Grudzielanek

Yep, that’s Andre Ethier quietly bruising his way up the list — with his next HBP, he’ll become the franchise’s all-time leader in Los Angeles. Ethier tied Cora when Chase Anderson nailed him on June 13, immediately after a Matt Kemp home run. Ethier earned 25 percent of his total in one season — 2009, while Cora set the Los Angeles single-season record with 18 in 2004.

Wheat got his Dodger-leading total in 18 seasons; Robinson came within one despite playing only 10 years in Brooklyn. Cora, somewhat amazingly, averaged an HBP every 13.1 games, while Sweet Lou was soured every 10.5 games as a Dodger.

* * *

Dodger team historian Mark Langill is a participant in this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary short, “The High Five.” It’s a story that most Dodger fans know very well, but it never hurts to revisit.

Dodgers host Japan Night on July 30

Japan dogJoin the Dodgers as we host our annual Japan Night.

Fans will enjoy a Japanese-themed pregame, including a performance by the Japan Pom Pom Girls, a Taiko performance by LA Matsuri Taiko, an appearance by the 2013 Nisei Week Court and our National Anthem sung by 2011 Nisei Week Queen Erika Olsen.

In addition, stop by the Right Field Plaza before the game to learn how to make origami.

Special food items will be available for Japan night, including the Teriyaki Dog: a beef dog with Japanese mayo, teriyaki sauce, caramelized onions and nori seaweed, located at the Extreme Loaded Dodger Dog stand. Sushi, Sapporo and Kirin Frozen Draft are also available at select areas of the ballpark.

Tickets for the event are still available at Groups of 30 or more that order in advance will receive a Hello Kitty Mini Bobblehead.  If interested in bringing a group, contact (323) 224-1421.

— Afton Kurth

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Happy 100th birthday, Eleanor Wigley

Last year, Dodgers Magazine profiled Eleanor Wigley, who had a special trip to Dodger Stadium shortly before her 99th birthday. Well today, Eleanor is officially 100. Congratulations and all our best birthday wishes!

— Jon Weisman

(Click images below to enlarge.)

Wigley 1

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