Dodger Thoughts

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

Category: Midgame (Page 2 of 3)

Clayton Kershaw nearly perfect in season debut

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Photos by Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Every season, every single season in this glorious era of Clayton Kershaw, it’s impertinent to ask whether he can top himself. How can you demand more of someone who has perched at the summit so long, we’re all losing oxygen?

It seems gauche even to hope Kershaw can match his performance from previous years, during which he led the Majors in ERA for four of the past five seasons and had a 1.99 FIP in the year he didn’t.

And yet out comes Kershaw in San Diego, into the gloaming as he begins what unbelievably is his ninth big-league campaign. And as he has he before, he picks up the thread from the last season like it is one continuous stitch.

In the last meaningful regular-season game he pitched in 2015, he allowed one hit and one walk, pitching the Dodgers to a National League West-clinching victory.

In his seven innings tonight, while the Dodgers built a 15-0 lead, Kershaw allowed one hit and one walk, pitching the Dodgers toward a sixth consecutive Opening Day victory.

Read More

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).

Seager’s blast lifts Dodgers to rookie homer record

[mlbvideo id=”488582183″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

Corey Seager’s fourth-inning home run tonight was the 47th by a Dodger rookie this year, setting a franchise record.

Dodger rookies who have homered this year include Joc Pederson (25), Alex Guerrero (11), Kiké Hernandez (6), Scott Schebler (3) and Seager (2).

The previous record was shared by the 1960 Dodgers — Frank Howard (23), Tommy Davis (11), Norm Sherry (8), Willie Davis (2), Bob Aspromonte (1), Doug Camilli (1) — and the 1958 Dodgers — John Roseboro (14), Dick Gray (9), Joe Pignatano (9), Don Demeter (5), Norm Larker (4), Ron Fairly (2), Frank Howard (1), Bob Lillis (1), Stan Williams (1).

Seager’s homer gave the Dodgers a 4-1 lead, one they extended to 6-1 in the seventh. That was mighty fine for Zack Greinke, who retired 11 batters in a row after allowing a fourth-inning homer to Pirates second baseman Neil Walker. Greinke himself sacrificed, singled and doubled (and scored) in three plate appearances tonight, raising his batting average to .234.

Update: Greinke left the game after allowing a single and walk to start the eighth. With one out, Starling Marte singled home a run off Chris Hatcher, raising Greinke’s ERA from 1.60 to 1.65. But Hatcher got a huge out by getting Andrew McCutchen to foul out, and when Aramis Ramirez grounded out, the Dodgers retained a 6-2 lead.

Update 2: Kenley Jansen closed out the victory with a four-batter save, lowering the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West to nine. In San Francisco, Madison Bumgarner gave up two runs (one earned) in eight innings and left trailing, 2-0. The Giants had one inning left to rally.

Update 3: San Francisco lost, reducing the Dodgers’ magic number to eight with 16 games to play.

Zack Greinke’s streak ends at 45 2/3 innings

By Jon Weisman

It was more death by paper cuts than a single crushing blow, but sadly for fans of the Dodgers and history, Zack Greinke’s consecutive scoreless inning streak ended in the third inning against the Mets today at 45 2/3 innings.

After retiring the first six hitters of the game, Greinke hit Kirk Nieuwenheis with an 0-1 fastball to start the bottom of the third. Catcher and No. 8 hitter Kevin Plawecki then lined a 1-1 fastball to center field, which — in a key moment — Joc Pederson bobbled trying to backhand for an error that allowed Nieuwenheis to reach third base with nobody out.

That was the first baserunner in scoring position against Greinke since the fourth inning July 4 (21 innings) and the first to reach third base since the first inning June 23 (37 2/3 innings)

The Dodgers played the infield in at the corners, and pitcher Jacob deGrom hit a chopper to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Gonalez fired home, but Yasmani Grandal’s tag on Nieuwenheis was a hair late.

[mlbvideo id=”297613283″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

At first, it looked like this might invite the classic umpire reversal that benefited both Don Drysdale and Orel Hershiser in their streaks. But there was no doubt looking at a replay about the call.

Despite the error, the run was earned. Assuming that Nieuwenheis would have remained at second on the Plawecki single, you also have to assume he’d go to third base on deGrom’s grounder. Subsequent fly balls by Curtis Granderson and Ruben Tejada could have scored him. Of course, we’ll never really know what happened, but that’s how it goes down officially.

Some might blame Pederson, but my guess is that Greinke blames himself for hitting Nieuwenheis with the pitch — a mistake for a pitcher who had avoided them for so long.

Nevertheless, Greinke finishes with the sixth-longest scoreless streak of all-time:

  • 59 Orel Hershiser (1988)
  • 58 Don Drysdale (1968)
  • 55 2/3 Walter Johnson (1913)
  • 53 Jack Coombs (1910)
  • 47 Bob Gibson (1968)
  • 45 2/3 Zack Greinke (2015)

During Greinke’s streak, opponents had a .124 batting average, .152 on-base percentage and .144 slugging percentage — while Greinke, who singled in his first at-bat today — hit .188/.188/.188.

Soon, the spotlight will turn back to Clayton Kershaw, who now has the longest active scoreless streak in baseball at 29 innings.

As we tip our hat to Greinke, here’s a final look at the wondrous run.

Screen Shot 2015-07-26 at 11.09.52 AM

A second hit-by-pitch, this striking Michael Conforto with the bases loaded, led to a second run off Greinke, who finished his day with seven innings and a 1.37 ERA on the season.

Doubles by Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner and a single by Yasmani Grandal tied the game for the Dodgers in the ninth, but Juan Uribe — facing the Dodgers with his second team this week — drove in the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th.

Ian Thomas steady in first Dodger start

Getty Images

Getty Images

By Jon Weisman

Trite but true: The Dodgers’ 13th starting pitcher of the season brought good luck tonight.

Backed by six runs in the first three innings, Ian Thomas had a successful first Major League start for the Dodgers, leaving for a pinch-hitter in the top of the sixth with a 6-1 lead.

Thomas didn’t inspire confidence from the get-go tonight. He started with two balls against Curtis Granderson before getting a full-count groundout to third, then went 3-0 to Ruben Tejada before allowing a single to left.

But with a 72 mph curveball, Thomas induced an inning-ending 3-6-3 double play from Daniel Murphy, and from that moment on, whether it was coincidence or confidence, the 28-year-old rookie took charge.

Thomas allowed only two more baserunners over his next four innings, while striking out five. He finally conceded a run in the fifth inning on a bloop double and two groundouts, but by that time, he was firmly in control.

Though 32 of his 81 pitches were called balls, Thomas walked none, and of the 17 Mets that he faced, four hit the ball into the outfield.

Suspended game returns memories of Chicago 1982

Los Angeles Dodgers vs Washington Nationals
Reuss headshotBy Jon Weisman

In every issue of Dodger Insider magazine, we run a boxscore of the month, and the one for August happens to tie in with what’s happening in Washington right now.

Dodgers 2, Cubs 1
August 17-18, 1982

It began innocuously enough one afternoon in Chicago. Ex-Dodger Bill Buckner drove in a run for the Cubs with a groundout in the bottom of the first. Dodger catcher Mike Scioscia tied the game in the top of the second with an RBI single. But no more runs would cross the plate that day, all the way into the top of the 18th, when darkness at the lightless Wrigley Field forced the game to be suspended until after the next sunrise.

When the teams reunited, the Dodgers’ scheduled starting pitcher for Tuesday, Jerry Reuss, took the mound in relief. By the time it was over, after the Dodgers pushed across a run in the top of the 21st inning on Dusty Baker’s sacrifice fly, pitchers Fernando Valenzuela and Bob Welch had both played outfield. Reuss got the win – and then another when he pitched five innings that afternoon in a 7-4 Dodger victory that was over in 2:21.

I bring this up because I can’t help imagining Clayton Kershaw repeating the Reuss ruse of getting all his innings out of the way at first by starting the day in relief.

Read More

The night the lights went out in Georgetown

Darkness YYBy Jon Weisman

It wasn’t too long ago that you would never have found a Major League team playing baseball in the nation’s capital at any time of day. So I guess we shouldn’t complain.

But on a night that began the night with bright sobriety, before a bar crawl to the darkly ridiculous, the Dodgers and Nationals found themselves going to bed five innings into a suspended game, with the Nationals leading, 3-2.

The third power outage in the stadium lights, coming shortly before 10:45 p.m. at Nationals Park, proved one too many — although it left the Dodgers disconcertingly on the short end of a game they had led during the first two delays.

Read More

In fifth All-Star Game, Kershaw shutout streak ends

Clayton Kershaw reacts in the fifth inning tonight. (Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw reacts in the fifth inning tonight. (Getty Images)

By Jon Weisman

Having gradually whittled down his 2015 detractors with a 1.53 ERA over his past nine starts, Clayton Kershaw was back on the defensive at tonight’s All-Star Game.

Kershaw came within a hair of a scoreless inning before giving up two runs, allowing the American League to take a 3-1 lead at the Midsummer Classic’s halfway point.

Kershaw, who had pitched shutout innings in each of his four previous All-Star Games, retiring 12 of 15 batters, began by surrendering a leadoff single to Alcides Escobar just under the glove of a drawn-in Todd Frazier.

Mike Trout then hit what looked like a double-play grounder to second baseman DJ LeMahieu near second base, but a slow turn allowed a fast Trout to reach first on a force play. Manny Machado flied out to Kershaw teammate Joc Pederson on the warning track for the second out.

After appearing to have Albert Pujols whiffed on a 2-2 pitch that was ruled just off, Kershaw smiled as he walked back to the rubber. But that was it for the fun.

Pujols walked, and then, left-handed Prince Fielder hit an 0-2 fastball that missed its spot for a tiebreaking RBI single the opposite way, scoring Trout ahead of Pederson’s throw home. Kershaw’s next pitch was hit sharply down the left-field line by Lorenzo Cain for an RBI double that gave the AL a 3-1 lead.

Kershaw ended his inning, and his night, by striking out Brett Gardner. He threw 22 pitches (15 for strikes) to his seven batters.

“It was fun until I started giving up runs,” Kershaw told reporters afterward.

The inning left Kershaw with a 3.60 career All-Star ERA, with five hits, two walks and three strikeouts in five innings.

Brandon Beachy goes four innings in MLB return

Screen Shot 2015-07-11 at 8.20.14 PM

By Jon Weisman

Three cheers for Brandon Beachy, who no longer has to say his last Major League game was August 20, 2013.

The 28-year-old right-hander officially put his second Tommy John surgery behind him, going four innings and throwing 78 pitches tonight, before being replaced at the start of the fifth inning by Chin-hui Tsao.

His fastball ran between 88-93 mph, with his slider at 82-85 mph.

Beachy was touched up for three runs in the third inning, allowing a leadoff single to pitcher Taylor Jungmann after five foul balls and two outs later, long doubles to the left-field wall that Andre Ethier got near but couldn’t glove. (On the first, the ball ricocheted off the wall, then Ethier’s knee, then into the stands, and was ruled a ground-rule double.)

Watching Beachy, the one thing that was hard not to notice was how few swinging strikes he had. In those 78 pitches, Brewer batters swung and missed at three, taking 10 for called strikes, compared with 19 fouls and 14 put in play. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful step forward for a pitcher who has certainly put in countless hours toward making it back.

Beachy through 4 IP

Update: Beachy was mostly unhappy with how he pitched, according to Ken Gurnick of

“I was really excited to get out there and I’m really disappointed now,” said Beachy. “It’s not the way I pictured it for 23 months, but it is what it is. It took me way too long to get settled in. I’ve just got to be better than that.

“I fought to get the ball today and didn’t back that up the way I wanted. That’s where my disappointment is.”

Said Don Mattingly: “A little bit rusty for me. But you can also see what’s there, if he gets his command where he needs it. You see the stuff there.”


Zack Greinke finishes historic first half with 1.39 ERA, 35 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings

Getty Images

Getty Images

By Jon Weisman



With his eight shutout innings against the Philadelphia Phillies tonight, extending his scoreless inning streak to 35 2/3 innings, Zack Greinke has the lowest ERA at the All-Star Break by a pitcher with at least 100 innings since 1968.

In the past 47 years, Greinke’s 1.39 ERA at the end of the so-called first half is surpassed only by Bob Gibson (1.06), Luis Tiant (1.24) and Don Drysdale (1.37). Major League Baseball lowered the pitcher’s mound the following season.

Other than those three legends, you have to go back to World War II to find a hurler with a lower first-half ERA than Greinke’s: Red Munger’s 1.34 in 1944.

Greinke’s scoreless inning streak is now the fourth-longest in Los Angeles Dodger history, behind Orel Hershiser’s MLB-record 59, Drysdale’s 58 and Clayton Kershaw’s 41 last year.

It says something that not until the seventh paragraph am I mentioning that Greinke has retired 36 of the past 37 batters he has faced, starting with the final 12 New York Mets on Independence Day.

Tonight, Ryan Howard’s leadoff single in the second inning removed the drama of a no-hitter or perfect game, which would have been considerable considering Greinke shut down every other batter, throwing a svelte 94 pitches. Greinke has now seen 125 hitters during the streak, allowing 10 singles, three doubles and three walks while striking out 31.

Only two players during the streak have reached third base — none in the past 27 2/3 innings. Greinke has pitched 12 consecutive innings without allowing a runner into scoring position.

Read More

Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson hit milestone homers

[mlbvideo id=”211064283″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

By Jon Weisman

Sandwiching a home run in the same inning by Yasmani Grandal, Dodger outfielders Andre Ethier and Joc Pederson each hit fourth-inning blasts that made a bit of history tonight in Arizona.

Pederson’s home run, which almost predictably came after a first-inning walk and third-inning strikeout, was his 20th of the season, making him the first Dodger since Gary Sheffield in 2000 and fourth in Los Angeles Dodger history to have at least 20 homers and 50 walks before the All-Star Break.

The 23-year-old rookie is only the eighth Dodger rooke ever to have 20 homers in an entire season.

As my colleague Cary Osborne informed me last week, Pederson is ahead of the pace needed to become the first rookie in MLB history with at least 40 homers and 100 walks. Al Rosen came closest in 1957 with Cleveland, homering 37 times and walking 100.

Only two National League rookies have hit more homers before July 1 than Pederson: Wally Berger (22, 1930, Boston Braves) and Albert Pujols (21, 2001, St. Louis Cardinals).

[mlbvideo id=”211018383″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

But let’s not forget Ethier. His home run was the 155th of his career, which the Dodgers’ public relations department noted put him in sole possession of ninth place on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ all-time list, ahead of Willie Davis.

It also gave the Dodgers six players with at least 10 homers before the All-Star Break for the first time since 1979, which admittedly was a team that finished the first half of the season in last place. Grandal, who hit his 11th home run, is one of those six players.

Same ol’ Clayton Kershaw — or even better?


By Jon Weisman

Clayton Kershaw through D-Day 2014: 3.32 ERA, .241 opponents’ batting average, .272 opponents’ on-base percentage, .392 opponents’ slugging percentage, .664 opponents’ OPS, 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

Clayton Kershaw through D-Day 2015: 3.36 ERA, .221 opponents’ batting average, .272 opponents’ on-base percentage, .339 opponents’ slugging percentage, .611 opponents’ OPS, 11.3 strikeouts per nine innings.

Tonight, Kershaw went eight innings, allowed one hit (a clean second-inning single by Randal Grichuk), walked two, hit Matt Carpenter with a pitch and struck out 11, giving him 101 for the year.

In his past three games, Kershaw has pitched 22 innings, allowing two runs (0.82 ERA) on 14 baserunners while striking out 28.

Fun fact: Kershaw has had a lower ERA in the second half of every season of his career.

Any questions?

Dodgers-Rockies in 18-round bout today


By Jon Weisman

So with at least 18 innings of baseball on tap today, my experiment is to score each inning like a boxing match, using the 10-point system.

This system assigns ten points to the winner of each round. The loser receives nine points for a close round, eight points if he was knocked down or dominated, and seven points if he was knocked down twice. If a round is even and neither boxer was knocked down, both boxers receive 10 points.

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. will join me as a fellow judge. Check back here for round-by-round updates.

Round 1: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-10 (Weisman)
Comment: “Pitch count and strikeout edge for De La Rosa and the ground ball off Nicasio was hit harder.” — Stephen

Round 2: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-9 Rockies (Weisman)
Comment: “Dodgers initially parried the Rockies’ hard-hit punches, only for Colorado to sneak in a soft blow to the underbelly. ” — Weisman

Round 3: 10-8 Dodgers (Stephen), 10-8 Dodgers (Weisman)
Comment: “Pederson with the left hook! ” — Weisman

Round 4: 10-8 Rockies (Stephen), 10-8 Rockies (Weisman)
Comment: “The ball is really carrying today in this day game.” — Orel Hershiser

Boxing midpointRound 5: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-8 Rockies (Weisman)

Round 6: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-9 Rockies (Weisman)
Comment: “The Rockies have lost only one round so far, but a big round for the Dodgers could get them back in this fight.” — Weisman

Round 7: 10-8 Rockies (Stephen), 10-9 Rockies (Weisman)

Round 8: 10-9 Dodgers (Stephen), 10-10 (Weisman)

Round 9: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-9 Rockies (Weisman)
Comment: “The Rockies didn’t bat this inning, but sealing the victory seems worth an edge. The Dodgers had one baserunner in the final four innings.” — Weisman

Boxing finalRound 10: 10-8 Dodgers (Stephen), 10-9 Dodgers (Weisman)

Round 11: 10-9 Dodgers (Stephen), 10-9 Dodgers (Weisman)

Round 12: 10-9 Dodgers (Stephen), 10-9 Dodgers (Weisman)
Comment: “Lots of punches that landed.” – Stephen

Round 13: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-9 Rockies (Weisman)

Round 14: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-10 (Weisman)

Round 15: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-8 Rockies (Weisman)

Round 16: 10-8 Rockies (Stephen), 10-9 Rockies (Weisman)

Round 17: 10-9 Rockies (Stephen), 10-9 Rockies (Weisman)

Round 18: 10-7 Dodgers (Stephen), 10-6 Dodgers (Weisman)

But do we rule this a TKO?

[mlbvideo id=”142495683″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]

Brandon McCarthy, Challenger of Hitters

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (file photo)

Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers (file photo)

By Jon Weisman

Like Vin Scully says, come to the ballpark and you’ll probably see something you’ve never seen before. Like Brandon McCarthy becoming  the first pitcher in Major League history to allow at least four home runs in a game, strike out at least 10 and walk none.

There’s no denying that it was disconcerting to see Nelson Cruz homer twice and Corey Seager’s brother once for a 4-0 Seattle lead before the Dodgers got their first hit of the game. And right after the Dodgers cut the Mariners’ lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth (on an Alex Guerrero sacrifice fly and Joc Pederson’s first career hit against a southpaw, a two-run single), Dustin Ackley went deep off McCarthy in the top of the fifth.

All along, McCarthy was whiffing hitters — at least one in every inning. And the steadfastness of McCarthy was such that after giving up that fourth homer, he retired the final seven batters he faced, giving the Dodgers seven innings the night before they have what is essentially a bullpen game with David Huff starting.

Yasiel Puig (solo home run), Adrian Gonzalez (double) and Howie Kendrick (single) tied the game in the bottom of the fifth at 5-5, getting McCarthy off the hook for the loss. The score remained that way through the ninth, sending the Dodgers to their second extra-inning game of the season.

McCarthy, who struck out nine while allowing two homers in his five-inning Dodger debut last week, now has the oddity of having allowed six homers and one walk in 12 innings while striking out an MLB-leading 19. McCarthy leads the Majors in homers allowed, strikeouts and strikeout-walk ratio.

The low walk totals aren’t an anomaly. McCarthy has walked no more than three batters in his last 115 starts since April 14, 2009, according to the Dodger press notes — the longest active streak in the Majors.

One inning to go

Striking out his 10th and 11th batters of the game in the eighth, Clayton Kershaw put the Dodgers within one inning of the National League West title. He has thrown 117 pitches, allowing eight hits and walking none. He and the Dodgers lead, 5-1.

Update: In a lengthy bottom of the eighth, the Dodgers add four more runs to make it 9-1.

— Jon Weisman

Page 2 of 3

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén