Jun 07

Monahysteria spreads while DeWitt drives home five in 12-4 victory

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire
Blake DeWitt drove in five runs, three on this, his first home run of the year.

On a night that Blake DeWitt drove in a career-high five runs, one of the mesmo men was at it again.

Carlos Monasterios pitched a two-hitter for six innings despite striking out nary a batter. Even after giving up Ryan Ludwick’s second solo homer of the night and a Randy Winn single to start the seventh inning, Monasterios can go to sleep tonight with his ERA still at 2.27 for the season and, thanks to an efficient Dodger offense capped by DeWitt’s first home run of the season, a 12-4 Dodger victory Monday over St. Louis.

Monasterios needed only 41 pitches to get through four innings, then got into a two-walk, none-out jam in the fifth but escaped with a double play and a fly out. He cruised into the seventh inning even though, according to Vin Scully, there was only one swing and miss against Monasterios all night. But as has been the case most of the year with Monasterios and John Ely, the contact wasn’t enough to do major damage.

After taking a 2-0 lead in the first inning and then seeing it halved in the next frame by Ludwick’s first home run, the Dodgers scored four runs in both the fourth and fifth innings, with pretty much everyone getting into the act. Manny Ramirez started things off with a double, and after a Ronnie Belliard walk, scored on a DeWitt single. A.J. Ellis squeezed home Belliard, and after Monasterios sacrificed, Rafael Furcal hit a ground-rule double to right to make the score 6-1.

In the fifth, walks to Andre Ethier and James Loney were followed by a Belliard RBI single, and then DeWitt hit one off the right-field foul-pole screen to make it 10-1.

Every Dodger starting position player (plus pinch-hitter Garret Anderson) had a hit except Loney, who walked three times. And every Dodger starter scored in this emphatic end to the streak of winning games by one run.

* * *

Congrats to the family of Dodger PR veep Josh Rawitch, who not only became the father of his second child today, but had the birth announced on the air by Scully.

Jun 07

And the Dodgers’ first-round pick is …

… Zach Lee, 6-foot-4, 195-pound right handed high school pitcher from McKinney, Texas.

He’s a high-school quarterback committed to Louisiana State, so there are immediate signability issues. This draft choice sets up a new referendum on the McCourt ownership.

Here’s a scouting report with video from MLB.com. An excerpt:

Summary: With above-average to plus stuff across the board — fastball, slider, changeup — good command and tremendous athleticsm, Lee should be one of the high school arms being mentioned up close to the top of the Draft, or at least on a short list of top high school arms. If he’s not, it’s largely because of one thing: signability. As a quarterback recruit, he’s committed to play two sports at LSU next year, and many think he’s unsignable as a result. That said, there’s bound to be a team with deep pockets that will take a shot at luring him away from the gridiron and life as a collegiate athlete.

Here’s what Marc Hulet of Fangraphs has to say:

A top quarterback prospect from Texas, it will clearly take a lot ($$$) to sway Lee away from his commitment to Louisiana State University. A team drafting Lee in the first round will have to have a pretty good feel on his signability. Lee has a three pitch repertoire that includes a low-90s fastball, slider, and change-up. His arm slot tends to wander at times. Thanks to his focus on the football field, the right-hander is still raw but he does display solid control for his age.

From ESPN.com:

Lee is a star quarterback who has committed to LSU to play both football and baseball, but if he put word out tomorrow that he was willing to sign and focus exclusively on the world’s greatest sport, he’d go off the board in the top 50 picks next month.

Lee will show three pitches, with the changeup already flashing plus, and his fastball velocity is likely to increase as he fills out and if he dedicates himself to baseball.

He has a really bright future if and when he chooses baseball, but if he’s not interested in a pro career now, doesn’t that say something about the kid’s commitment to football and/or school? Buying him out of LSU isn’t the solution, and I think he’ll be a top-20 guy in 2013.

From Baseball America:

Lee’s status as one of the best quarterback recruits in the nation and a top student will make him one of the most difficult signing decisions in this draft. The perception among area scouts is that Lee might require as much as $3 million—and even that might not be enough to steer him away from playing two sports at Louisiana State. He passed for 2,565 yards and 31 touchdowns last fall, and his arm is just as potent on the mound. He already has a 90-93 mph fastball with room for more projection in his 6-foot-4, 195-pound frame. He also throws a sharp slider and a changeup that needs work but shows promise. Unlike many two-sport stars, he has a lot of polish. Lee has a clean delivery that he repeats, enabling him to throw strikes with ease.

Here’s some video of Lee playing football at YouTube. And here he is on the mound last summer at the Area Code Games.

Jim Callis of Baseball America called the Dodgers “the last team” he expected to go after Lee.

Of course, there’s always the possibility that football is leverage, rather than the top priority for Lee. And it’s not as if the Dodgers have no draft budget – they could always have made a conservative pick that would sign relatively inexpensively. But hardcore fans will be watching carefully to see if the Dodgers punted this pick, or if they will complete the Hail Mary. Certainly, there is going to be tons of skepticism.

The draft continues Tuesday.

Update: From Ken Gurnick of MLB.com:

“People can think what they want, he was the best talent available and I want to sign him, absolutely,” said Logan White, assistant general manager of scouting. “I didn’t take Zach to not sign him. You’ll see as the summer goes along we’ll make every effort to sign him, and I want to sign him. I know it won’t be easy, but hopefully we’ll get it done.” …

“If he focuses on baseball, I think he can move quickly, like Kershaw and Billingsley,” said White. “A lot will be made of the two sports, but as a pitcher, he has a real good arm and delivery, a plus breaking ball, he has a feel for a changeup, and when I saw him he was 90-92 [mph] with the fastball and up to 95. The ball comes out of his hand easily.

“The guy’s a competitor, he’s smart. Put it all together and we really couldn’t pass him up. He’s worth the risk of not signing. I like him that much.”

Unlike many recent Dodgers top picks, the club did not hold a special workout for Lee. According to White, Lee was surprised to get the call.

“He certainly was surprised,” White said. “They didn’t have a feel for what we were going to do. It’s part of the gamesmanship of the Draft.”

Update 2: From Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

“These are unusual circumstances,” White said. “I can only say that I am optimistic we will sign him. … [But] I can’t sit here and tell you that we’re going to sign him. It will really be Zach’s decision and his family’s decision. But we feel confident that once he and his family are able to get a good look at what this organization is all about, we’ll have a good chance to get him.”

White said Lee’s fastball has been clocked anywhere between 89-95 mph and routinely hits 93 and that he already has a plus changeup and curveball to go with it.

“One thing I will tell you is that he is quite an athlete,” White said. “One thing we liked was his athleticism, his size and his strength. He is tall and has a very good delivery, just easy, easy arm action. He is a strike thrower, and he knows how to change speeds. He has a great feel for pitching. He doesn’t just try to blow it by everybody, even though he has that ability. It’s a chess game for him because he is very competitive.”

White said Lee plans to follow through with his plans to participate in LSU’s summer football workouts, so an agreement with the Dodgers probably isn’t imminent. White wouldn’t rule out an agreement that would allow Lee to play football at LSU while playing baseball professionally in the Dodgers’ system, but it also didn’t sound like the kind of agreement White is eager to enter into.

“I wouldn’t rule anything out, but I just feel like if we can get him into our organization, he is going to be [in the majors] pretty fast,” White said.

Jun 07

Torre thinks Blake will avoid disabled list, Martin rests again

Casey Blake, who hasn’t played since Thursday’s 14-inning game, might be available to pinch-hit tonight, Joe Torre told reporters today. Torre now believes Blake will avoid a trip to the disabled list.

A.J. Ellis is starting for the second consecutive day in place of Russell Martin. Torre said Martin was ready to play, but Torre felt that he could use the extra rest. This is the first time since June 30-July 1, 2009 that Martin has missed consecutive starts.

Jun 07

Dodgers making one-run history

The Dodgers’ past seven victories have been by one run, the longest such streak in baseball since Cleveland did the same from July 22-August 5, 1998. If the Dodgers’ next victory is by one run, it will tie the franchise record of eight last matched by the 1961 Dodgers from May 17-May 29.

Since 1900, the major-league record for consecutive victories by one run was set by the 1942 Phillies, from May 10 to June 3. Philadelphia went 42-109 that season.

Thanks to the Elias Sports Bureau for researching this for me.

Jun 07

Ellis joins the one-run fun bunch

Kirby Lee/US PresswireAyyyyyyyy, Jayyyyyyyy!

A.J. Ellis’ 11th-inning single to left gave the Dodgers’ their Dodgers’ sixth win in their past eight games – all by one run, four by walkoff hit and three in extra innings. In going 6-2, the Dodgers have been outscored by one run.

Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com recaps Ellis’ heroic finish, which came after a long day.

Ellis has only six hits on the season, five singles and a double, but also has seven RBI.

* * *

  • John Ely’s homerless streak to start his career ended at 196 batters, and his second homerless streak ended at two batters, as the Braves touched him for nine hits in addition to two walks. “I threw some fastballs that came back over the plate,” Ely told Jackson. “Good hitters don’t miss pitches over the plate. I can’t be missing over the plate that much, and today, I missed a couple of times.”
  • Casey Blake showed some improvement, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Times, and might avoid the disabled list. Nick Green cleared waivers and is back in Albuquerque in case the Dodgers want him to return.
  • Russell Martin, who scored the winning run after pinch-walking Sunday, almost ended up back at third base earlier in the game. Blake DeWitt had to be checked out after seeming to hurt himself on a slide, and the Dodgers had already used Ronnie Belliard as a pinch-hitter. With Blake out, that left Martin as the remaining infielder. But DeWitt stayed in the game and ultimately sacrificed Martin into scoring position in the 11th.
  • Here’s video of Jose Lima, Jr. throwing out the honorary first pitch on the day they honored his late father. Miguel A. Melendez has more details in the Daily News.
  • The Dodgers expect to activate George Sherrill from the disabled list Tuesday. Sherrill had back-to-back scoreless relief appearances this weekend. It would seem to me that Charlie Haeger is on a thinner bubble to stay on the team than Justin Miller, who has thrown 6 1/3 shutout innings since joining the team with two hits, one walk … and three hit batters. I’d also imagine it’s going to be a lot easier for Haeger to clear waivers at this point. There’s always the possibility of someone taking a trip to the disabled list, of course.
  • The enigma that is Ramon Troncoso is examined by Mike Petriello of Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness. And frankly, Petriello doesn’t see much of an enigma, but rather a pitcher who was due for a decline only in part because of Joe Torre’s frequent use of him.
  • There was a rogue fan at Dodger Stadium causing serious problems for Tim Hudson, writes The Associated Press.

    The two-time All-Star was about to make his third pitch of the eighth inning to Matt Kemp when he was distracted by someone in the crowd who had an object that was reflecting the sun right into his eyes.

    “One was a purse handle, one was a mirror, and some of the people up there were playing games up there,” (Braves manager Bobby) Cox said. “And these seats, the way they’re painted, you can’t see the ball off the bat in a day game at times. So that’s dangerous enough — along with somebody messing with mirrors to try to reflect light into your eyes.”

    The game was held up about 5 minutes until stadium security could identify the fan in question, and Kemp singled on Hudson’s next delivery. At that point, Eric O’Flaherty relieved. Kemp advanced to third on Garret Anderson’s bunt and DeWitt’s grounder, but Ellis was robbed of a bloop single on a diving catch by center fielder Melky Cabrera.

    “It kind of stinks that [the fan] screwed with the flow of the game, but you’re going to have occasions where people are idiots,” Hudson said. “I was probably just out there for one hitter, anyway, because we had O’Flaherty warming up. We were at the point of the game where we had to start going with matchups, because one run was probably going to win or lose the game.”

  • Since I wrote about them going 5 for 95 to start their season, Dodger pitchers went 3 for 7 this weekend. Ely’s 30-foot single Sunday was his first as a pro.
  • While my favorite baseball movie is “The Bad News Bears,” Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods today describes the greatness he sees in “The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training.”
  • Kyle Russell didn’t play for Inland Empire on Sunday, and Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus thinks it might be because he’s getting promoted to AA Chattanooga. Russell has a 1.140 OPS and 16 homers in 198 at-bats.
  • After getting more than halfway to Orel Hershiser’s 59 consecutive scoreless innings, Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez gave up a two-run homer in the eighth inning Sunday to reset his clock. Well, there’s always Bob Gibson – Jimenez’s ERA remains an unbelievable 0.93.
  • For those of you following the Dodgers’ playoff rivals in the East, Crashburn Alley and Phillies Nation are discussing whether the Phillies should release Raul Ibanez.
  • Another Phillies note, but much more fun: From Stat of the Day, Jamie Moyer has faced 20 players already in the Hall of Fame, and counting.
  • The Major League Baseball draft starts today – but in its new format, not until 4 p.m. and only with the first round and mini-supplemental round, before continuing Tuesday and Wednesday. The Dodgers’ first pick is 28th overall.
Jun 06

Whither Casey Blake?

The Dodgers might announce a move to the disabled list for Casey Blake before today’s game. Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com had the latest after Saturday’s 9-3 loss to Atlanta.

* * *

  • A.J. Ellis would have pitched the ninth inning for the Dodgers had they had an opportunity to pinch-hit for Charlie Haeger, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Haeger didn’t pitch all that well, but he would have had two shutout innings had Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier not let a Martin Prado fly ball fall between them for a hit.
  • Josh Wilker of Cardboard Gods is scheduled to be the guest of Ken Levine and Josh Suchon on KABC AM 790 at 6:05 p.m. tonight.
Jun 06

When Los Angeles met John Ely

Kirby Lee/Image of Sport/US Presswire
In seven starts, John Ely has walked eight batters, throwing nearly two-thirds of his pitches for strikes.

In Hollywood, they call it a “meet cute.” Like when Harry met Sally. The circumstances are more oddball than auspicious. A and B are thrown together, often in chaos, might not even like each other at first.

But from such quirky beginnings, love can bloom.

The Los Angeles Dodgers and John Ely met cute April 28, sharing a mostly unfulfilling cab ride in New York. Thanks to injuries and inadequacies, the Dodgers were stuck with this nobody, this fix-up date dressed in a cheap fastball – tell us someone has a “good changeup,” and you might as well be trying to sell us on a “good personality” – instead of someone more desirable, whether that was Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay or Sandy Koufax. The Dodgers deserved better, right?

As for Ely, he mostly was happy to be there, but this wasn’t exactly the team of his dreams, the team he’d written love poems to in his diary. That dream team was where he grew up, Chicago’s South Side, and in his late-night fantasies would have had a better record than the 8-12 Dodgers, losers of three in a row and practically the worst squad in the National League.

Expectations were low on that first date, and initially they weren’t exceeded. In just the second inning, Ely came undone, allowing four runs on a combination of poor pitching and a fielding mistake that made dinner conversation awkward to say the least. After another run in the third … well, not that Ely wasn’t a nice guy or good to his mother, not that the Dodgers didn’t pick up the check, but both were eying the door.

And then, as they lingered, a spark.

Adam Davis/Icon SMI
He’s Elyful, he’s elicious, he’s elovely.

Just about the time Ely should have been heading for a cold shower, he retired 10 of the last 11 he faced in New York. The Dodgers and Ely didn’t see each other again for another week, but they did arrange for a second date. And on that May 6 evening, with the 11-16 Dodgers still down in the dumps (after hard losses incurred by Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley) and starting to feel pretty sorry for themselves, this unassuming specimen stepped up and kept them from drowning their sorrows in ice cream or bourbon. Ely threw 6 2/3 innings before finally allowing a run, retiring 16 batters in a row at one point and overall giving up four hits, striking out seven and walking none. For a second date, it sure was better than a hole in the head.

Even so, the Dodgers continued to play hard to get. They optioned Ely back to Albuquerque. Oh, maybe they planned on a third date all along – this other fella they had been dallying with, Charlie Haeger, was looking so lame that no one objected when he was placed on the disabled list – but it wasn’t like the Dodgers and Ely were quite going steady yet.

Then came May 11, the third date. And you know what they say about third dates.

Once again, Ely made it into the seventh inning before allowing a run. Once again, he walked no one. And this time, there was no mistaking it – the Dodgers, whose 13-3 victory over Arizona gave them eight wins in their most recent 11 games, and John Ely, who had allowed no walks or extra-base hits to has most recent 48 batters – were definitely clicking. The Dodgers stopped being aloof – they wanted to keep seeing this guy with shades of Matthew McConaughey’s looks and Mark Fidrych’s personality, this guy who mesmerizes batters with his ability to mix speeds.

And so they entered that blissful time of the courtship where every night just seems more and more magical. May 17: Ely extends his streak without allowing a walk or extra-base hit to 84 batters. May 22: Ely shows his human side by allowing two runs on two doubles, a single and a walk in the first inning against Detroit, but then just becomes even more alluring by shutting the Tigers down for the next five innings. May 27: A two-hit shutout through seven innings before allowing a single run in the eighth. June 1: C’mon, now. A no-hitter into the fifth inning, another two-hit shutout through seven.

Is this heaven? I’ll tell you one thing – it ain’t Iowa.

This afternoon, Ely and the Dodgers go on Date No. 8, and it’s safe to say that their relationship has gone deeper than anyone would have thought that first time in New York 5 1/2 weeks ago. Ely has a 2.54 ERA in 46 innings with 37 strikeouts, allowing only 44 baserunners and still not a single home run. He has gone at least six innings in every appearance, averaging 15.1 pitches per inning. And not coincidentally, since his arrival, the sun has shone brighter on Los Angeles, the grass has smelled sweeter, and the wins have come easier. The Dodgers are 24-12 since Ely first went to the mound for the team, and while he doesn’t deserve all the credit, it’s not so absurd to think that on some level, he completes them.

There are no wedding bells yet; the Dodgers have not committed to Ely until retirement do them part. But let’s just say they find Ely rather engaging. “Meet cute,” indeed. At this point, this is one they’re going to try to make work for the long haul, so they’re going to put up with the occasional flaw, the occasional sour day, because like Mama said, who doesn’t have days like these? And because Ma, this one looks like a keeper.

Jun 04

Farewell, John Wooden


John Wooden, who held the city of Los Angeles tightly in his grip like the rolled-up program he clutched courtside, who along with Vin Scully was one of the city’s two true gentlemen, has passed away at age 99.

He was an influence on me as a child, like he was on so many others – an influence that wasn’t lost as I grew older. As much as anyone else outside my family, he taught me about sportsmanship, about striving for excellence without losing your bearings. And every time you heard him speak, you were reminded. The combination of Wooden’s dignity, sensitivity and acumen will never be surpassed.

Another thing he tried to teach is how to face death. I’m still struggling to learn — and today doesn’t make it any easier.

When news spread Thursday that his condition was grave, I began to prepare some thoughts about him, though I left them unfinished heading into today. This afternoon, I was walking and thinking about what I had written, thinking it was all a bit too grandiose – not for him, nothing could be too grandiose for him – but for me. I didn’t go to UCLA, though I grew up going to UCLA basketball games. I didn’t meet him, except for getting my picture with him at basketball camp. He was a hero of mine, but he belonged to so many others even more – on a deeply personal level. I will always have what I had with him. Others won’t. Think what their loss must feel like.

But still, I will miss him. I am not comfortable with the idea that someone with his life force is no longer alive. Even though Wooden would be the first, the very first, to say not to shed a tear, to say we should only celebrate the life instead of lamenting the death, I’m feeling a weakness, hearing this news. I feel him gone.

It’s not so easy to let go.

Jun 04

Kershaw LXIII: Kershawt My Dad Says

Paul Spinelli
With two hits, Chad Billingsley is the Dodgers’ Babe Ruth this year. (This picture is from last year.)

Even by pitcher standards, Dodger pitchers are stinking it up at the plate this year.

They’re the worst in the NL this season by almost every measure. Los Angeles pitchers have a .178 OPS at the plate, while their top NL West rival, San Diego, is best in the league at .502. (The Dodgers have an .086 batting average on balls in play, while the Padres are at .310.)

Through 54 games, they have a grand total of five hits — fewer hits than walks, in fact. That’s the one bright spot for Dodger pitchers — they’re tied for the league league in free passes received with eight. Last season, Dodger pitchers had 40 hits and 14 walks.

Chad Billingsley — who was the Dodgers’ best-hitting pitcher last year, not Randy Wolf (though Wolf had a noteworthy 11 RBI) — leads the Dodgers with two hits. Clayton Kershaw (1 for 17), Carlos Monasterios (1 for 5) and Jeff Weaver (1 for 1) have the others. Hiroki Kuroda and John Ely are a combined 0 for 34.

Dodger pitchers have no extra-base hits this year and one RBI – a sacrifice fly by the 0-for-6 Charlie Haeger. They do lead the NL in sacrifice hits.

Forget blaming Manny Ramirez, Russell Martin or anyone else for their slumps. It’s time for the Dodger arms to get in the swing!

* * *

  • Casey Blake went for an MRI, Joe Torre told reporters today.
  • Here’s one more take on the unperfect game and instant replay — I know we’ve overdosed on this stuff, but it’s from Josh Wilker so I can’t not push it.
Jun 04

Torre and Mattingly want Dodger batters to slow down to get better

The Dodgers are slumping at the plate mainly because of impatient at-bats, Joe Torre and Don Mattingly told Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.

“I hope guys aren’t trying to hit home runs, because we’re not that kind of team,” Mattingly said after (Thursday’s) game. “But in a 0-0 game that goes into extra innings, guys always like to be the hero. That is what we talked about, that hitting home runs is all good, but you have to keep fighting for those hits. I just told them we need to get back to making sure we’re doing what we do, because we’re not a sit-back-and-wait-for-the-home-run kind of team.”

In reality, the collective struggle goes back more than a week, to the start of the last road trip. It began as the Dodgers were being shut out in two of three games in Chicago, with Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster sailing through eight innings on 104 pitches in the opener. Then, on Saturday night at Colorado, Aaron Cook pitched into the seventh inning on fewer than 100 pitches in the only game the Rockies would win in that series.

All three Diamondbacks starters went at least eight innings, and while all three threw at least 115 pitches, the fact the Dodgers didn’t make them sweat much in terms of pitching out of jams was significant.

And then, finally, it all came to a head when Atlanta’s Kris Medlen needed fewer than 100 to pitch four batters deep into the eighth inning.

“We aren’t necessarily having real good at-bats,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “The opposing pitchers’ pitch counts haven’t been real high. I think we aren’t having the quality at-bats we had maybe a week or so ago. We’re just going to have to keep fighting our way out of it. I think it comes down to trying to do too much. Especially with the extra-inning games the last couple of days, guys might have been trying to hit home runs.”

Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. just posted a comparison between the first thirds of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Among others, Russell Martin is doing even worse now than he was after 54 games in 2009.

* * *

Chad Moriyama of Memories of Kevin Malone has a thoughtful take on the future of web journalism, both generally and as it relates to Dodger coverage. I agree with just about all of it – even the parts where I’m not quoted. (This is where I’d insert a smiley face if I did that sort of thing in my posts.)

Moriyama passes along the pessimistic view that even if an All-Star team of Dodger bloggers were assembled, most readers still wouldn’t be willing to pay for it, which exemplifies why journalism as a business is in such dire condition. The Irony Committee approves of the fact that I agree even though much of my current career depends on me being wrong about this.

* * *

  • How my mind works: My first reaction upon hearing that Juan Samuel had been named interim manager of the Baltimore Orioles was that I would have thought the way he stunk things up in the second half of the 1991 season for the Dodgers would have disqualified him. Obviously, though, that’s not the case. Congratuations, Juan, and good luck.
  • Xavier Paul returned to the Albuquerque Isotopes just like he left: with a three-hit game.
  • Blue Heaven links to a handwritten journal of Wee Willie Keeler’s up for auction.
Jun 03

Dodgers can’t quite bounce back, fall 4-3

Danny Moloshok/AP
Manny Ramirez’s failure to come up with this sinking drive by Atlanta pitcher Kris Medlen in the sixth inning allowed what proved to be the winning run to score.

Well, the Dodger offense indeed was slumping. Shut out for the first seven innings tonight by Atlanta’s Kris Medlen, the Dodgers had only two runs to show for their past 31 innings.

Still, they almost extended their winning streak. Almost.

Danny Moloshok/AP
Takashi Saito’s Dodger Stadium homecoming was nearly perfect, until his leg gave way.

Down 4-0 and held to three runners in the first seven innings by 24-year-old Atlanta righty Kris Medlen, the Dodgers picked and poked their way back into it in the bottom of the eighth, scoring three runs on singles by James Loney, Blake DeWitt, Jamey Carroll and Ronnie Belliard, a throwing error by the Braves (which DeWitt barely converted into a run with a devilish hand-touch of home), and an RBI groundout by Rafael Furcal. But after Matt Kemp walked, mojo-free Andre Ethier struck out on a 2-2 fastball.

And then control of the game turned to our truly old friend, 40-year-old Takashi Saito, pitching against the Dodgers for the first time in his career. In the ninth, Saito retired Manny Ramirez and Loney, then got to 0-2 on Martin … when he had to leave the game with an apparent left hamstring injury. After a delay of several minutes, Jonny Venters came in and threw one pitch to strike out Martin and walk away with Saito’s save of a 4-3 Atlanta victory.

It was a disappointing night for Los Angeles, but not quite the bad taste that a shutout would have left. And the Lakers’ NBA Finals Game 1 victory will certainly provide some cover and consolation.

Hiroki Kuroda is also slumping now, by the way. His performance tonight wasn’t terrible – three earned runs in six innings – but the seven hits and four walks against two strikeouts hint at how sloppy it was. In his past two starts (the previous one an even more uncomfortable outing in Colorado), Kuroda has allowed 11 runs (eight earned) on 23 baserunners in 10 innings with three strikeouts. Yikes.

But this all, I believe, will pass. Perhaps around the time that the Dodger bullpen, which hasn’t allowed an earned run in its past 20 innings (according to the Dodger press notes), cracks.

* * *

  • Jeff Weaver entered the game in the top of the seventh, only to depart with trainer Stan Conte without throwing an official pitch. No details immediately available.
  • Casey Blake is day-to-day with back spasms, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
  • Spurred to investigate the situation by questioners during his online chat today, Jackson found that minor-league pitcher Josh Lindblom is being converted back to relief. “When he gets back, we’re probably going to transition him back to the bullpen,” assistant general manager for player development DeJon Watson told Jackson. “I think he is better suited to the bullpen. It’s just his delivery and his stuff, and I think this will give him a chance to help our big league club at some point this year. We just want to get him back to where he was at the end of last year.”
  • Pitching rehab outings for Inland Empire tonight, Vicente Padilla threw 37 pitches, allowing one hit and striking out five in three innings, while George Sherrill struck out two in an eight-pitch inning of relief.
  • Vin Scully will make a rare trip East in two weeks, broadcasting the Dodgers’ game at Fenway Park for Prime Ticket on June 18, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. Lucky us.
Jun 03

Dodgers activate Charlie Haeger, option Schlichting

With their bullpen worked over by back-to-back extra inning games, the Dodgers have activated Charlie Haeger from the disabled list and optioned Wednesday’s relief hero, Travis Schlichting.

Haeger presumably will work in relief if needed tonight and be on call if Carlos Monasterios’ blister prevents him from starting Monday.

* * *

Garret Anderson’s walkoff hit Wednesday was the eighth of his career, the first since 2001. He had a walkoff walk in 2008.