Dodger Thoughts

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

Author: Jon Weisman (Page 75 of 362)

Dodgers-Mets 2006: Meet the mess

Ugh. (Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

Ugh. (Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

OK, brace yourselves, because this post is going to mention that time in the playoffs when J.D. Drew and Jeff Kent … I can barely even say it.

The last year the Dodgers faced the Mets in the playoffs is also the last year the Mets were in the playoffs at all: 2006. Los Angeles was swept in three National League Division Series games by New York, which went on to lose a seven-game series to the Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

Nine years have passed, and of those who played in that NLDS, eight remain in the Major Leagues: Carlos Beltran, Jose Reyes, David Wright, Chad Billingsley, Jonathan Broxton, Andre Ethier, James Loney and Russell Martin. Ethier and Wright are the only players who are still with the Dodgers and Mets, respectively.

Here’s how it went down …

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NLDS game times and parking information

More than 100,000 fans took the Dodger Stadium Express to games this year. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

More than 100,000 fans have taken the Dodger Stadium Express to games this year. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Game times for the first two games of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium have been set.

Game 1 will begin at 6:45 p.m. Friday, and Game 2 will begin at 6:07 p.m. Saturday. TBS is televising the games.

Auto gates are scheduled to open three hours before the first pitch, with stadium entry gates to open 2 1/2 hours before first pitch.

What follows is more information about parking and alternative transportation for the NLDS …

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Adrian Gonzalez nominated for Hank Aaron Award

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Adrian Gonzalez, who had a .350 on-base percentage, .480 slugging percentage and 28 homers this year, is the Dodgers’ finalist in the fan balloting for the 2015 Hank Aaron Award, given to the top offensive player in each league. Vote here.

— Jon Weisman

Dodger playoff series rarely go to final game

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Dodger winner-take-all playoff games
10/12/88: *Dodgers 6, Mets 0 (NLCS)
10/19/81: Dodgers 2, *Expos 1 (NLCS)
10/11/81: *Dodgers 4, Astros 0 (NLDS)
10/14/65: Dodgers 2, *Twins 0 (WS)
10/10/56: Yankees 9, *Dodgers 0 (WS)
10/4/55: *Dodgers 2, Yankees 0 (WS)
10/7/52: Yankees 4, *Dodgers 2 (WS)
10/6/47: *Yankees 5, Dodgers 2 (WS)
*home team

By Jon Weisman

The last time the Dodgers played in a winner-take-all playoff game, the winning pitcher was Orel Hershiser.

That was October 12, 1988, when Hershiser pitched the Dodgers to a 6-0 victory in Game 7 of the 1988 National League Championship Series (a series that receives some fine oral history treatment from Lyle Spencer of MLB.com).

For all the talk of home-field advantage in the postseason, the Dodgers have been in 12 playoff series since the last time one of them went down to the final game. Will this year be different? We’re certainly due.

The last time the Dodgers played the final game of a playoff series on the road was October 19, 1981, when Rick Monday homered in the ninth and Bob Welch got the final out for Fernando Valenzuela to win Game 5 of the 1981 NLCS.

In fact, the Dodgers haven’t lost a winner-take-all playoff game since Game 7 of the 1956 World Series, and haven’t lost one on the road since Game 7 of the 1952 World Series. The Dodgers are 5-3 overall in winner-take-all playoff games, triumphing in their past four, and have pitched shutouts in half of them.

Clayton 300Kershaw!

Kershaw-300-Ks-880x440

By Jon Weisman
He’s done it. Clayton Kershaw has become the first pitcher since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling in 2002 to strike out at least 300 batters in a season. Kershaw fanned Melvin Upton, Jr. in the top of the third inning to reach the milestone.

It took Kershaw 37 pitches to get the six strikeouts he needed today. He has the most strikeouts by a Dodger pitcher since Sandy Koufax had 317 in 1966. Kershaw and Zack Greinke are the Dodgers’ first 300-200 strikeout duo since Koufax and Don Drysdale in 1965.

With the first out of the fourth inning, Kershaw also won the 2015 MLB innings pitched title.

Kershaw wrapped up his day once he reached his 60-pitch limit in the fourth inning, finishing with seven strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of two-hit, no-walk ball. He has 301 for the season, 1,746 for his career, and needs 254 next year to become the fourth pitcher in MLB history to strike out 2,000 batters before turning 29, after Sam McDowell, Walter Johnson and Bert Blyleven.

As a pitching staff, the 2015 Dodgers have the fourth-highest strikeout total in National League history. The Chicago Cubs broke the NL record earlier this week.

Jimmy Rollins to guest-manage Dodgers today

By Jon Weisman

Jimmy Rollins will be the guest manager for today’s regular-season finale, and Kenley Jansen will be the guest pitching coach, Don Mattingly told reporters today. The opportunity arose when the Dodgers clinched home-field advantage for the National League Division series, which will now begin Friday at Dodger Stadium (game times to be announced).

Clayton Kershaw is expected to throw roughly 50-60 pitches in his final start. Kershaw needs six strikeouts to become the first pitcher since 2002 with 300, and needs 3 1/3 innings to lead the Majors in innings (which he probably cares more about).

Kershaw lost one milestone Saturday, when Max Scherzer surpassed him with most strikeouts (17) ever in a no-hit, no-walk MLB game.

The Dodgers have not set their NLDS rotation yet, Don Mattingly told reporters today, and will wait until after this week’s workouts to finalize their NLDS roster — including the number of pitchers vs. position players that they will include. Rosters aren’t due until the morning of the first game.

Dodger health peaking for October (knock on wood)

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres

Padres at Dodgers, 12:10 p.m.
Kershaw CCXLII: The Kershawrtian
Carl Crawford, LF
Chase Utley, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Corey Seager, SS
A.J. Ellis, C
Alex Guerrero, 3B
Joc Pederson, CF
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

It’s the feel-good story of the year, literally.

In their final regular-season game before the National League Division Series begins, the Dodgers are about the healthiest they’ve been all year.

When Yasiel Puig returned to active duty Saturday, that meant the Dodgers didn’t have a position player on the disabled list for the first time since April 25.

Los Angeles’ disabled list is down to four pitchers, and that includes Bronson Arroyo, who was for this season at least simply ballast in the July deadline trade that brought Alex Wood, Luis Avilan, Jim Johnson and Jose Peraza from Atlanta.

Another disabled pitcher, Josh Ravin, was a big-league Dodger for nine games this year, leaving Hyun-Jin Ryu and Brandon McCarthy as the only Dodgers on the DL who were expected to play a significant role.

It’s true that the medical charts for the position players aren’t entirely clean. Peraza, who was a playoff 25th man candidate before injuring a hamstring in early September, would have been on the DL in any other month. Puig is said to be under no restrictions, but his return Saturday hasn’t cleared up his availability for the NLDS. Scott Van Slyke’s inflamed right wrist makes him a question mark as well.

But other key players who have had recent injuries, such as Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Kiké Hernandez, Howie Kendrick, Jimmy Rollins and Justin Turner, are all about as good shape as could be expected after the February-to-October grind,

Alex Wood likes Dodger Stadium

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Alex Wood has turned his new house into a home.

Wood pitched six shutout innings tonight against the Padres before getting touched for two runs in the seventh, giving him a 2.21 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in 40 2/3 innings at Dodger Stadium this year.

In his first 2015 appearance at Chavez Ravine, the 24-year-old lefty allowed one run in seven innings for the Braves on May 27, which matched his totals in his first career start here on July 30, 2014. Since becoming a Dodger at the July 31 trade deadline, Wood’s home ERA is 2.41.

Wood is a candidate to start against the Mets in Game 3 of the National League Division Series, along with Brett Anderson, who has a better ERA on the road (4.29) this year than at home (3.07). Anderson does have nearly identical WHIPs on the road (1.37) vs. at home (1.30).

What Zack Greinke needs to win ERA title

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Jake Arrieta pitched six more shutout innings tonight for the Cubs, lowering his ERA this season to 1.77. Zack Greinke is still in the driver’s seat to lock up the Major League ERA title when he starts Saturday for the Dodgers, but there is suspense.

If Greinke …

  • … allows no more than two earned runs, he will win the ERA title no matter how many innings he pitches. You could add two earned runs to Greinke’s total right now, and his ERA would be 1.76.
  • … allows a third earned run, he will win the ERA title if he pitches at least 4 1/3 innings.
  • … allows a fourth earned run, you can hand the ERA title to Arrieta. Greinke would need to pitch at least 9 1/3 innings to finish with a lower ERA. Even a complete game by Greinke would leave him with a 1.770 ERA, compared to 1.769 for Arrieta.

Nancy Bea Hefley announces retirement

IMG_2115
NBH

By Jon Weisman

After 28 years, beloved Dodger Stadium organist Nancy Bea Hefley is retiring at the conclusion of the 2015 season.

Hefley lives in Silver Springs, Nevada, and has been making the commute for each homestand, while renting a second home locally. She brought her family to Dodger Stadium tonight as she made her announcement.

“I have had a wonderful time playing for the Dodgers and their fans,” she said. “My husband and I felt that this was the right time to settle down in our home in Silver Springs and eliminate all the travel.  The Dodgers have told me I can come back and make guest appearances and I greatly appreciate this gesture.  I hope to get back to Dodger Stadium on occasion.”

It’s the end of an era similar to the one the Dodgers enjoyed from 1954-1996 with managers Walter Alston and Tommy Lasorda. In the 45 seasons since 1971, the Dodgers have had two stadium organists: Helen Dell and Hefley, who came aboard before the 1988 season. Bob Mitchell, Don Beamsley and Donna Parker (a high school student when she was hired) preceded Dell and Hefley at the organ in Los Angeles.

Hefley played for more than 55 years at Bellflower Baptist Church, where she met her husband Bill. She was a substitute organist for the Angels before auditioning for the Dodger job on Valentine’s Day 1988, at an exhibition game between the Dodgers and USC.

“Nancy Bea has been a very dedicated Dodger employee, who has entertained our fans for many years, and we are most appreciative of her contributions each and every night,” Dodger executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen said “We wish Nancy Bea and Bill well in their plans for retirement, and we’re looking forward to her coming back for special performances at Dodger Stadium.”

Our fondest best wishes and thanks to Nancy Bea.

Remembering ’65: Koufax for the pennant, on two days’ rest

remembering-65-wide-v1-jersey

By Jon Weisman

Having won nine straight games, coming from 4 1/2 games back 10 days earlier to tie the Giants for the National League lead on September 26, 1965, the Dodgers still had work to do.

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Dodger Insider magazine — October 2015 edition

October 2015 magazine cover

By Jon Weisman

Dodger Insider magazine gears up for the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason with its October issue, the final issue of the 2015 season.

October also brings a special, 15-page photo essay celebrating the 30th anniversary of the wonderful Jon SooHoo as team photographer, along with numerous other stories, games, tidbits and more. For $5 at the ballpark, it’s a bargain.

Dodger Insider magazine is available at all Dodger team stores.

Dodgers finish roadwork on winning note in San Francisco

BA by soohoo

By Jon Weisman

For seven innings, the Dodgers were a great sight for fans who might be concerned about how healthy and sharp the team is heading into the playoffs.

For the final two innings, it was a test of how well the Dodgers could hold up at crunch time.

On his game and backed by superb defense, Brett Anderson pitched seven innings of shutout ball, before being charged with two runs in the eighth despite not allowing a ball out of the infield.

Nevertheless, Kenley Jansen came on in the ninth to preserve a 3-2 Dodger win in their 2015 finale against the rival San Francisco Giants.

The victory gave the Dodgers an 89-70 record, the same as the New York Mets, with three games remaining. If the Dodgers finish a game ahead of the Mets, Los Angeles will have home-field advantage in their National League Division Series. (If not, life will go on.)

This weekend, the Dodgers host the Padres, while the Washington Nationals travel to a rainy New York, which is readying for Hurricane Joaquin. A rainout is a definite possibility for the Mets this weekend, which conceivably could force them to play a doubleheader or on Monday if home field at stake.

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Back in San Francisco, today’s game was a full-on Dodger highlight reel, with Corey Seager, Howie Kendrick and Chase Utley all made difficult, ranging plays for outs.

Most stunning, perhaps, was Utley. In only his third career start at third base, the 36-year-old twice charged in to barehand balls and throw to Adrian Gonzalez, who was reaching and lunging like a human backscratcher.

[mlbvideo id=”512430983″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

[mlbvideo id=”512458983″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Though he made an eighth-inning throwing error, Kendrick also singled and doubled in his best all-around game since returning from the disabled list. His third-inning single was the last of the 2,957 career hits off retiring Giants pitcher Tim Hudson, who then left the field to a heartwarming ovation. Kendrick drove in Anderson, who scored the first run of his career.

More importantly for Anderson, he reached a career high in starts (31) and innings (180 1/3) for a season.

[mlbvideo id=”512473683″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Andre Ethier tripled for the second time in this series and the seventh time in 2015, tying a career high set back in 2006 when he was a rookie.

Dodgers taking measure of their pitching

Andrew Friedman gets a champagne bath after the clinch Tuesday.

Andrew Friedman gets a champagne bath after the NL West clinch Tuesday.

Dodgers at Giants, 7:15 p.m.
Carl Crawford, LF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Corey Seager, 3B
Andre Ethier, RF
Chase Utley, 2B
Yasmani Grandal, 1B
Austin Barnes, C
Joc Pederson, CF
Mike Bolsinger, P

By Jon Weisman

This afternoon to reporters, Don Mattingly disclosed some of the Dodgers’ pitching plans for the final five games of the regular season.

Thursday starter Brett Anderson might have a scheduled shortened start, and the same goes for Clayton Kershaw on Monday. By all appearances the Dodgers’ National League Division Series Game 1 starter on October 9, Kershaw will be on four days’ rest when the playoffs begin, so the Dodgers don’t need to skip him entirely. But it’s not like he’s going to be going the distance or anything, even if it means the difference between getting 300 strikeouts for the year or not.

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Clayton Kershaw chops the Giants’ beanstalk

[mlbvideo id=”509059483″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Clayton Kershaw against the Giants in September: Two starts, 18 innings, one run, seven singles, no extra-base hits, two walks, 28 strikeouts, and one hellacious at-bat against Madison Bumgarner.

In 227 1/3 career innings against the Giants, Kershaw has 243 strikeouts with a 1.54 ERA, the fourth-lowest career ERA against a single opponent in MLB history, and a 0.82 WHIP, the lowest against a single opponent ever.

— Jon Weisman

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