Jul 20

Moving right along … something to see here: Dodgers outlast Nationals in 10

The story through nine innings:

Runners to first base: Nationals 14, Dodgers 11

Runners to second base: Nationals 8, Dodgers 7

Runners to third base: Nationals 5, Dodgers 3

Runners home: Nationals 1, Dodgers 1

Needless to say, it was a night of just trying to survive.

Then, after 239 minutes and 23 runners stranded between them, Washington and Los Angeles moved into extra innings. And Hanley Ramirez was heroic again, following Adrian Gonzalez’s 10th-inning double with his third hit of the night, a booming two-bagger of his own, providing the winning run in the Dodgers’ 3-1 victory, their 19th in 24 games.

Andre Ethier’s sacrifice fly added an insurance run, and then Kenley Jansen for the second night in a row struck out two in a perfect inning for the save.

Jansen followed Chris Withrow, who had pitched a perfect ninth with a With-wow strikeout of Bryce Harper to end the inning. Withrow came away with his first major-league win.

Earlier, in the eighth inning, Harper was struck out by Paco Rodriguez, who entered the game with two on and one out. Rodriguez was then pulled in favor of Ronald Belisario, who retired Jayson Werth on a grounder. Werth stranded seven runners on an 0-for-5 night.

Yasiel Puig went 0 for 5. His timing is off: He wasn’t swinging desperately at pitches that were out of reach, but rather missing hittable pitches that he was lashing only a couple of weeks ago. As nervewracking as that might be – we’re past the point, for example, that Matt Kemp was sent to the minors following his hot start as a rookie in 2006 – Puig deserves some time to see if he can counter-adjust. And he can still contribute on defense even when he is slumping.

Zack Greinke was bobbing and weaving in his six innings, but he allowed only one run and also went 2 for 2, raising his season on-base percentage to .486, currently the highest mark in major-league history for a pitcher with at least 39 plate appearances. Greinke had a 21-inning scoreless streak snapped.

Tim Federowicz was 1 for 5 and has a season OPS of .561, but we saw why the Dodgers finally decided to rely on him as the backup catcher instead of Ramon Hernandez. Federowicz made multiple big stops of tough pitches to help keep the Dodgers in the game.

The Dodgers also stayed alive with some big plays in the infield, close plays that the umpires could have called either way.

Los Angeles is one game behind Arizona in the National League West, with the Diamondbacks trailing San Francisco in the seventh inning and Clayton Kershaw on the mound for the Dodgers Sunday. Matt Kemp could be activated from the disabled list for the game, though the Dodgers could also wait until Monday, when they go to Toronto and can use a designated hitter for three games.

Jul 19

Joe Friday recaps Dodger victory over Nationals

This is the city. Washington, July 19. We are on assignment. The details of the case:

• Bryce Harper tags up at second base to try to advance to third base on a fly ball. Yasiel Puig catches the ball and throws it. The throw is high, hard and accurate. Juan Uribe tags Harper before Harper reaches the base. Umpire rules Harper safe. No citation issued.

• Harper scores one batter later on a wild pitch. Coincidence, we are asked to believe. The batter, Ian Desmond, doubles to cover up the crime.

• Hanley Ramirez hits two-run homer in third inning off Stephen Strasburg – to put Dodgers ahead, 2-1. Vigilante justice.

• Nationals load bases against Ricky Nolasco with none out in bottom of fourth, but none score. Dodgers put on six baserunners combined in first, second and fourth innings, but none score. Tit for tat.

• Puig hits sky-high fly to the wall in left field to lead off the top of the fifth. Harper catches it.

• Jayson Werth gets a one-out, two-strike hit in the bottom of the sixth to put runners at first base and third. Desmond hits a bloop single to center field to tie the game. Runs keep scoring with Desmond at the plate. Investigating connection.

• Jose Dominguez relieves Nolasco. He induces Dodgers’ third double play in the first six innings to prevent further damage in the sixth.

• Puig (0 for 4) disappears with a Washington runner on second base and two out in the bottom of the seventh. APB is issued. Surveillance footage reveals Puig made spectacular catch running into padded wall in right-field foul territory.

• With two out and none on in the bottom of the eighth, Don Mattingly removes Paco Rodriguez, who has retired all four batters he has faced on 15 pitches (including a Harper strikeout), to put in Ronald Belisario to face Werth. The aforementioned Mattingly double-switches Puig out of the game in the process, replacing him with one Jared Michael “Skip” Schumaker. In short, Mattingly has sacrificed Puig out of a fear that Rodriguez will give up a run with two out and the bases empty. Inside job afoot?

• Werth flies out against Belisario to end the eighth inning. But the mystery remains.

• Andre Ethier golfs solo tiebreaking home run in ninth inning off reliever Rafael Soriano. It is Ethier’s first home run in 107 at-bats since June 11. Where did his power go? Why did it suddenly return. The timing is eerily timely.

• Kenley Jansen replaces Belisario and strikes out Wilson Ramos to end a perfect ninth inning and the game.

It was a tense case. But the Dodgers were ruled the winners of the game. The Nationals were sentenced to defeat. Los Angeles will sleep peacefully tonight.



Jul 19

We were on a break?

It might have been four days off for the Dodgers, but it wasn’t for me, otherwise you might have seen a post here since last weekend. I have watched the first nine episodes of Orange Is the New Black, though. And spent a lot of time with the Primetime Emmy nominations.

Tons could have been written about the Dodgers during this time, but it all boils down to this: Team health is clearly paramount to the Dodgers’ fate, yet mostly — despite what we’d like to believe — out of the team’s control.

This team could be awesome. Or it could revisit the depths that marked most of the season. As much as any year, we just need to see them play the games.

Good thing we have Vin Scully around for most of the ride (though not this weekend).

Dodgers at Nationals, 4:05 p.m.

Carl Crawford, LF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Andre Ethier, CF
A.J. Ellis, C
Juan Uribe, 3B
Mark Ellis, 2B
Ricky Nolasco, P

Jul 13

Greinke shuts down Rockies, two-thirds of the outfield

In Zack Greinke’s 110-pitch two-hit, one-walk, 1-0 shutout of the Rockies today, neither Dodger centerfielder Andre Ethier nor rightfielder Skip Schumaker touched a ball in play.

Greinke got his 27 outs on 14 grounders, nine strikeouts, two popouts, a lineout and a caught stealing. There was a bunt single in the sixth inning by Colorado. The only ball that reached the outfield was a single to left field in the fifth inning.

Schumaker’s leadoff double in the bottom of the first led to the game’s only run. He then could have just as easily joined Andre Ethier in a beachside cabana.

Jul 11

July 11 game chat

Sorry I couldn’t deliver a post worthy of Wednesday’s fairly epic Dodger victory. But here is a tidbit.

Following his pinch-walk, Zack Greinke currently has the sixth-highest on-base percentage (minimum 30 plate appearances) of any pitcher in major-league history.

Rk Player OBP PA Year Age Tm Lg
1 Jim Tobin .500 38 1937 24 PIT NL
2 Hal McKain .486 37 1930 23 CHW AL
3 Dan Schatzeder .484 31 1986 31 TOT NL
4 Jake Thielman .483 32 1908 29 TOT AL
5 Mickey McDermott .472 53 1950 21 BOS AL
6 Zack Greinke .469 34 2013 29 LAD NL
7 Dick Hall .464 30 1963 32 BAL AL
8 Earl Yingling .464 71 1913 24 BRO NL
9 Red Faber .462 30 1932 43 CHW AL
10 Ray Collins .459 38 1915 28 BOS AL
11 Walter Johnson .455 107 1925 37 WSH AL

Rockies at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.

Jul 10

Choose your Dodger stat of the day

1) Since June 22, the Dodgers (14-3) have gained 11 games on Giants and Padres (each 3-14).

2) “According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez are the first pair of teammates in more than 80 years to concurrently own batting averages of .400 or better at the end of a game, at least 100 at-bats into a season. The last teammates to do so were Al Simmons (58-for-144, .403) and Mickey Cochrane (60-for-149, .403) of the Philadelphia Athletics, who were each batting .400 through the first game of a doubleheader on May 30, 1931.” (Dodger press notes)

3) “Dodger pitchers have hit .458 (11-for-24) with two doubles, a triple and two RBI in 11 games against Arizona, including a 3-for-3 game at the plate by Hyun-Jin Ryu on April 13 at Arizona.” (ibid.)

Dodgers at Diamondbacks, 6:40 p.m.

Jul 06

Glancing at the Dodger starting rotation of 2014 and beyond (Hola, Julio)

Forgive me for getting ahead of myself here, but the Ricky Nolasco trade interests me as much for what it might mean for future seasons as it does for the current one.

I imagine the Dodgers will re-sign the newly acquired Southern California native, who is eligible to be a free agent after this season, if he does half-decently. Assuming Los Angeles parts ways with Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly by Veterans Day, the Dodgers would greet 2014 featuring Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Nolasco in the first four spots of the starting roation, with Josh Beckett and Stephen Fife among the contenders for the fifth slot. (Hint: Ned Colletti doesn’t figure to want to settle for those two.)

But it could get more fun as springtime progresses, if and when Chad Billingsley (a year removed from Tommy John surgery in April) and Zach Lee (2.79 ERA, 1.121 WHIP, 8.2 K/9 with Double-A Chattanooga) enter the mix. Heck, maybe even someone like a Ross Stripling (2.29 ERA, 1.039 WHIP, 8.6 K/9 with Chattanooga) or a Rob Rassmussen (2.42 ERA, 1.074 WHIP, 8.5 K/9) gets run up the flagpole.

All that aside, I’ll admit that my biggest future question about the Dodger starting rotation is whether Julio Urias will still be a teenager when he arrives in Los Angeles. Urias is so young, he was born August 12, 1996 – the second anniversary of the shutdown of the 1994 baseball season (I was supposed to take my then-girlfriend to the game that night) – giving him three years and change to become a teen team player. He is the youngest pitcher in the Midwest League in decades, and though he initially wasn’t meant to stay there, it’s been hard to kick him out.

The 16-year-old from Mexico has a 2.78 ERA, 1.268 WHIP and 10.6 K/9 with Single-A Great Lakes, for whom Lee – the Dodgers’ No. 1 pitching prospect entering this year – had a 3.47 ERA, 1.220 WHIP and 7.5 K at age 19 in 2011. If Lee is on track for a mid-2014 arrival in the majors (notwithstanding a potential cup of coffee this September), Urias could realistically hit Dodger Stadium before his 20th birthday in 2016.

Like I said, I’m getting ahead of myself.  Just having fun thinking about it.

For perspective, Clayton Kershaw had a 2.77 ERA, 1.253 WHIP and 12.4 K/9 with Great Lakes at age 19 in 2007. He was in the majors one year later, two months after turning 20. Urias is arguably the Dodgers’ best pitching prospect in the seven years since they drafted Kershaw, the gold standard.

Jul 06

Bums aim to garner another victory

As you can see at left, the Dodgers have momentum since June 21, particularly against the Giants, but they’ll be tested tonight.

They face Madison “Don’t Call Me James” Bumgarner, who has a 3.08 ERA this year and a 2.54 career ERA when facing Los Angeles. In two starts this year against the Dodgers, Bumgarner has pitched 15 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk, while striking out 11.

For his part, Bumgarner might well be looking forward to his rematch with Yasiel Puig who homered and singled in a 3-1 Dodger victory June 24.

Since June 21, the Dodgers and Giants have each allowed 53 runs. But Los Angeles has scored 72, while San Francisco has tallied 24.

In the Dodgers’ two losses, they have allowed a total of 25 runs. In their 11 wins, they have allowed 28 runs.

* * *

Here’s an update on the Dodgers’ apparently nearly completed pursuit of Marlins pitcher Ricky Nolasco, from MLB Trade Rumors.

* * *

Clayton Kershaw is an National League All-Star. Yasiel Puig was not named to the NL reserves, but we’ll see if he (or teammate Adrian Gonzalez) can make it in via the final fan vote. Personally, I’m perfectly happy to have Puig chill for the All-Star break.

Dodgers at Giants, 4:15 p.m.

Jul 05

The redemption of Juan Uribe reaches new levels

There have been Dodgers who have had their downs and ups, but I can’t remember such a purely bottom-to-top tale of redemption as the one of Juan Uribe.

Uribe’s season-long renaissance, in the third year of his three-year contract with the Dodgers, reached full flower tonight, with a double, triple, home run and seven RBI in the Dodgers’ 10-2 rout of San Francisco.

It was an astonishing performance but bearly out of the blue the way it would have been in 2011 or 2012, when Uribe hit a combined .199 with a .262 on-base percentage and .289 slugging percentage. Despite being on the roster all season last year, Uribe had one plate appearance after August 27.

But practically from day one in 2013, Uribe has brought plate discipline to his game, already surpassing his 2011 and 2012 totals in walks, and when he has swung, he has made an impact – to the point where Dodger fans have slowly learned not only not to fear his at-bats, but to embrace them. Last summer, Dodger fans were begging for his release; his 2013 OPS is now exactly .800. Combine that with the fielding that was always solid – in his latest exploit, he turned a bullet by Matt Cain tonight into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play – and the Dodgers have had, believe it or not, a productive third baseman.

Tonight, with the Dodgers trailing 1-0 in the second inning, Uribe worked the count to 2-1 in his favor, then delivered a two-run double to left field. Then, with the bases loaded and one out in the third, Uribe worked the count full before sending a hard, sinking liner into left field that Carlos Gonzalez of Colorado might have caught, but he was yesterday’s opponent. Cole Gillespie dove for the ball and missed, and Uribe had his first triple since July 28, 2010.

Uribe’s two-run homer in the seventh not only helped him match his career high in RBI in a game, it put him a single away from hitting for the cycle. Alas, Uribe went down in the ninth on a check-swing strike three.

But back to the original point. What Dodger endured two miserable years, while collecting a big paycheck, before putting it together in his third season? Looking at this list of Dodgers in the post-1975 free-agent era, no one with the profile of Uribe leaps to mind. It’s not like Dave Goltz, Don Stanhouse, Mike Davis or Eric Davis turned it on in Los Angeles after stinking for two years. But Uribe has.

It’s remarkable.

This week, in five different games, Dodgers have been within single hits of hitting for the cycle. Yasiel Puig needed a home run one game and a triple the next, Hanley Ramirez needed a triple Wednesday, Adrian Gonzalez needed a triple Thursday, and now Uribe’s missing single.

The Uribextravaganza and the final score would indicate a night of complete celebration for the Dodgers, but that’s not the case. Two innings into the first game in which the Dodgers had Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp on their active roster, Kemp irritated the AC joint in his left shoulder with a swing. He is day to day.