Dodger Thoughts

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

Tag: Orel Hershiser (Page 2 of 3)

Dodger playoff series rarely go to final game


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

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.

Zack Greinke zeroing in

Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Mets

Dodgers at Mets, 10:10 a.m.
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, 2B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Justin Turner, 3B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Yasiel Puig, RF
Andre Ethier, LF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Zack Greinke, P
Notes: The Dodgers have activated Greinke and recalled Yimi Garcia, taking the roster spots of Chih-hui Tsao and Josh Ravin, who have been optioned to Oklahoma City.

By Jon Weisman

Closer and steeper. Zack Greinke can move within tantalizing range of Orel Hershiser’s all-time consecutive scoreless inning record today, if he can withstand the pressurized attention that comes with the approach.

Actually, I’m just imagining that last part. We’ll all be tense, but Greinke will probably be the most relaxed person out there today. (That includes the rest of the Dodgers, who will be facing the National League pitcher with the lowest ERA besides Greinke’s: Jacob deGrom.)

Greinke enters today’s game with his streak at 43 2/3 innings (see the inning-by-inning breakdown here). Recapping some of the highlights:

  • Greinke has retired 59 of the past 64 batters he has faced.
  • No runner has reached third base against Greinke since the first inning June 23 — a streak of 35 2/3 innings.
  • No runner has reached second base against Greinke since the third inning July 4 — a streak of 20 innings.

Here are the targets left for Greinke:

  • 43 2/3 Rube Waddell (1905)
  • 44 Ed Reulbach (1908)
  • 45 Sal Maglie (1950)
  • 45 Doc White (1904)
  • 45 Cy Young (1904)
  • 45 1/3 Carl Hubbell (1933)
  • 47 Bob Gibson (1968)
  • 53 Jack Coombs (1910)
  • 55 2/3 Walter Johnson (1913)
  • 58 Don Drysdale (1968)
  • 59 Orel Hershiser (1988)

Here are some links to check out before today’s game:

  • Joe Posnanski tells a classic Greinke story at his website.
  • A deep analytical dive on Greinke and Clayton Kershaw from Scott Spratt of Baseball Info Solutions.
  • Orel Hershiser’s take, via Mark Saxon at ESPN Los Angeles: “In my whole career, I never threw the ball better than Zack Greinke. Never,” Hershiser said. “I never threw with his velocity, I never threw with his change of speeds, I never was able to execute as many pitches as he can on any given night to both sides of the plate. On any given night in my career, I haven’t ever thrown the ball better than Clayton Kershaw. These guys are just better.”
  • Hershiser also spoke to Bill Plunkett of the Register. “Yeah, it’s kind of interesting that it’s come full circle, that there’s a possibility I’ll be sitting in the same chair that he (Drysdale) was sitting in during my streak,” Hershiser said. “Things have changed. It’s a completely different culture when it comes to media. It’s a different generation we’re living in.
  • We’re 111 days into the regular season. Only Bob Gibson in 1968 had a lower ERA at a similar point than Greinke’s 1.30, notes David Pinto of Baseball Musings.
  • Greinke is bucking conventional wisdom by reducing the difference in speed between his fastball and changeup, writes Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs.
  • Yasmani Grandal’s impact on Greinke’s streak is studied by Mike Petriello at

The greatest Los Angeles Dodger pitching performances in losses

Sutton '74
By Jon Weisman

A few days ago at Fangraphs, Miles Wray wrote about the five greatest pitching performances of 2014 that came in a loss. I thought I’d put a Dodger twist on this, and throw in some historical perspective as well.

Here are the five greatest pitching performances during a loss in Los Angeles Dodger history, dating back to 1958  and using, as Wray did, Win Probability Added as the measurement. Continue past the five for a couple of bonus epics, including one that will make your jaw drop …

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Mickey Hatcher’s other homer in 1988

hatcher on base01By Jon Weisman

Mickey Hatcher’s two World Series home runs in 1988 are well known, as is the fact that he only hit one regular-season homer that season. But do you remember the significance of that one homer?

It didn’t come until September 23, but it was a big one. In the season’s 154th game, Hatcher broke a scoreless tie in the eighth with a three-run shot at San Francisco to give Orel Hershiser his 23rd and final victory of ’88.

The win also reduced the Dodgers’ magic number in the National League West to two. Los Angeles clinched a tie for the division title the next day, and wrapped up the division outright on September 26.

You’ll recall that Hershiser went 10 innings in his next and last start of the regular season, at San Diego, to break Don Drysdale’s record for consecutive scoreless innings. If not for Hatcher’s homer, might Hershiser, who threw 112 pitches in his 3-0 shutout victory against the Giants, have gone extra innings in this one?

Footnote: How many games did Hatcher play in during the 1988 regular season? Answer: 88.

Team Jarrin takes over Spanish radio broadcasts


AwardBy Jon Weisman

For the first time, Hall of Fame broadcaster Jaime Jarrin and his son Jorge will form the broadcast team for the Dodgers’ Spanish radio broadcasts on KTNQ 1020 AM.

Pepe Yniguez and Fernando Valenzuela will be the Spanish broadcast team for SportsNet LA on television, with Manny Mota contributing on both radio and TV.

On the English-language side, the broadcast teams pick up where they left off, starting with Vin Scully on SportsNet LA for Dodger home games and select road games. Scully will simulcast the first three innings on KLAC 570 AM, with Charley Steiner and Rick Monday taking over on radio in the fourth inning.

For the other games, Steiner, Orel Hershiser and Nomar Garciaparra will work TV, with Monday joined by Kevin Kennedy on radio.

This is season No. 66 for Scully with the Dodgers and No. 57 for Jaime Jarrin. Monday is working his 23rd season behind the Dodger mic; Yniguez his 17th, Valenzuela his 13th and Steiner his 11th. Mota is in his sixth season as a Dodger broadcaster and 47th overall with the franchise.


Orel Hershiser’s postseason stumble

What pitcher blew a lead in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series against the Cardinals, then blew another lead in his very next postseason game — during a Cy Young-winning season?

Orel Hershiser.

– Jon Weisman

Time’s up: 10 reasons the 1988 Dodgers won’t make it to the World Series


Team of destiny, or team of doom?

By Jon Weisman

Well, here we are at the end of the 1988 regular season, and pennant fever is high in Los Angeles. And why not?

It’s been seven long years since the Dodgers went to and won the 1981 World Series. In the 26 years since Dodger Stadium opened, the Dodgers remain stuck on seven trips to the Fall Classic — barely one every four years — and a mere three World Series titles. That kind of drought just isn’t the Dodgers’ style.

Now, led by shutout streaker Orel Hershiser and the gritty but productive Kirk Gibson, the Dodgers are back in baseball’s Final Four, four games away from a National League pennant and eight games away from a parade. There’s no limit to what the Dodgers can do in the coming postseason.

But just as a reality check, here are 10 reasons that the Dodgers will have to wait another year to hang any banners. Take a deep breath and read on …

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Why Clayton Kershaw is beyond comprehension

Jon SooHoo/© Los Angeles Dodgers, LLC 2014

Jon SooHoo/© Los Angeles Dodgers, LLC 2014

By Jon Weisman

This post really began with modest scope in mind, but as with all things Clayton Kershaw, it evolved into something greater.

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May 2 pregame: Shutout relief is Wright on


Dodgers at Marlins, 4:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Andre Ethier, CF
Miguel Olivo, C
Carl Crawford, LF
Chone Figgins, 3B
Josh Beckett, P

By Jon Weisman

Unsung hero of the Dodgers’ Thursday nightcap victory — Jamey Wright.

The 39-year-old shut out Minnesota from the ninth inning through the 11th, scattering a single and a walk and lowering his 2014 ERA to 2.70. It was the longest stint of his Grover Cleveland-esque Dodger career.

The list of recent Dodger relievers who have thrown at least three shutout innings is an interesting one. Before Wright, Chris Withrow was the only Dodger to do it since 2010, when Jeff Weaver and Ronald Belisario did it in the same game. Weaver accomplished the feat four times in all in 2009.

The last time a Dodger pitched four innings of shutout relief was June 2, 2010, when Travis Schlichting did so in the game won by a Garret Anderson walkoff single in the 14th.

But the longest shutout relief stint in Dodger history was turned in by Orel Hershiser, who put zeroes on the scoreboard from the 14th inning through the 20th in the June 3, 1989 game at Houston, which ended in the 22nd with a two-strike, two-out single by Rafael Ramirez off third baseman-turned-relief pitcher Jeff Hamilton.

In case you missed it: Scioscia catches Hershiser (smile)


By Jon Weisman

Now, that was a nice battery. True or false: Mike Scioscia caught Orel Hershiser’s first Major League start. Answer below.

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Orel Hershiser on the power of Vin

Los Angeles Dodgers Broadcasters/Time Warner reception

Photos: Armando Arorizo/Los Angeles Dodgers

By Jon Weisman

Never underestimate the reach of Vin Scully.

When I spoke with Orel Hershiser the night of the Dodger Town Hall for an upcoming magazine piece, the new SportsNet LA analyst gave me an anecdote that caught me off guard (and I thought would be best to share online).

I was wondering how much Hershiser had gotten to hear of Scully, given that his playing days wouldn’t have offered much opportunity …

“Other than those transistor radios when you step back and you hear, ‘Hershiser winds,’ and you hear everybody’s radio,” Hershiser said. “That was amazing to be on the mound and hear his voice. Oh yeah, you could lock in and know on a day game, if they had the radios on, you could actually be doing something and hearing him announce you doing it. It was unbelievable. It was so much fun. You had to block it out, but I did hear it once in a while.”

Photo: Armando Arorizo/Los Angeles DodgersHershiser also had an interesting take on how he would approach the broadcast, given that by his own admission, he had a rooting interest in the Dodgers.

“I think I’ll feel the same way as the fans do,” he said. “I’ll feel the same way as Ned Colletti and Stan Kasten do in the front office when they put the team together. I’ll feel the same way as when Don Mattingly puts somebody up to pinch-hit to get a bunt down, and he doesn’t get it down. You’re killing yourself inside, but you figuring out a way. How do I impart knowledge? How do I vent my frustration so they can do better next time? How do I not kill this guy, though? And then when do they well, how do I keep them on a roll. Do you get in their way and compliment them when you’re around them, or do you just leave them alone?”

The 1988 Cy Young winner, famed for his endurance that season, realizes he faces a different kind of marathon with the hefty schedule of daily broadcasts.

“I think it’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “You have to know how to pace yourself. … I’ll be reminding myself – you’ve got a lot of time for a lot of material.”

Thoughts from Charley Steiner ahead of his 10th season with Dodgers

SNLA crew at Town Hall

By Jon Weisman

Charley Steiner hasn’t gotten that much attention this offseason among Dodger announcers, given the spotlight on the new members of the Dodger broadcast team at SportsNet LA (Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra, Jerry Hairston, Alanna Rizzo and John Hartung) and the focus that rightfully always falls on Vin Scully.

But Steiner, believe it or not, is entering his 10th season as a Dodger play-by-play man (the only one who does 162 games a year in that role). It’s not only a milestone, it also dwarfs his tenure doing New York Yankee games and is beginning to catch up to his long-running stint at ESPN.

I always find Steiner a warm, positive presence, someone who enjoys the game and appreciates it but never takes it excessively seriously. So I took the opportunity before Monday’s Town Hall to chat with him for a few minutes.

[mlbvideo id=”31355437″ width=”400″ height=”224″ /]

Steiner is always quick to credit Scully for inspiring his love for radio and career as a sportscaster.

“Radio was the first thing that attracted me to broadcasting,” Steiner said, “when I was 7 years old – listening to Vin, in New York.”

That’s why Steiner has always been comfortable even in years – unlike the coming year – when he has been paired with Rick Monday on radio and hasn’t done games for television. But he’s happy to switch between the two formats – and is eager to work with Hershiser on TV.

“It’s the difference between softball and hardball,” he said. “You still have to score runs, and you still have to put people on base. … In television, obviously, the picture tells the story, and in radio, it’s your responsibility to paint the picture. So we are backselling a play. Everybody has seen it, then it will be up to Orel to explain why we saw what we just saw, whether it’s a pitch or how a team is defending a given player. On radio, we have to do that all in a hurry.

“Orel is a really bright guy, who above and beyond the experience and career he had as a player, has coaching experience, front-office experience, television experience. His baseball IQ is way off the charts. So getting to work with him and getting to learn from him – we’ve spent a fair amount of time already in the offseason – it’s exciting. It’s exciting for me, that I’ll be able to just basically throw him BP fastballs and listen to him. He’s gonna be something.”

It won’t hurt that the Dodgers figure to be anything but dull in 2014. 

“This is just a wonderful confluence of events,” Steiner said. “Ownership. A franchise that has really been reborn. Then you throw into the mix this unbelievable television network that’s about to start.

“What I find so remarkable about beginning SportsNet LA is the people we are beginning it with. A: Vin – let’s set that aside. But the group that they’ve put together – Orel and I will get to do a ton of television games, and get to do a little with Nomar. Alanna’s a great talent; we all saw her at the MLB network. John Hartung has been in town forever and he’s just a perfectly cast quarterback – how’s that for a mixed metaphor – for the set. We’re working for and with one of the elite, iconic franchises in all of sports. We’re starting fresh and new with essentially an All-Star team. It’s hard to beat.”

Vin Scully, Stan Kasten star in ‘Tales from the Dodgers Town Hall’

By Jon Weisman

It’s tough to steal a show that features Vin Scully, but during tonight’s Town Hall at Dodger Stadium for season-ticket holders, Dodger president and CEO Stan Kasten did his very best.

When one transistor-toting fan asked why there was a delay between the game action and Scully’s call on the radio, Kasten was quick with a zing.

“The delay is there for a reason,” Kasten said, “and it’s because we never know what Vin is going to say.”

While Kasten might have had the night’s funniest line, Scully might have had both the most heartwarming and also the boldest.

Heartwarming: “It’s nice to be a bridge (for generations of fans), not a toll bridge, not a bridge that has a traffic jam. I’d like to be that bridge for a little bit longer, God willing.”

As you try to read into those tea leaves (I have no insight into them), here’s the bold:

“Tonight,” Scully said, “I really have the feeling we are beginning one of the great stretch runs in the history of the Dodgers.”

Scully explained the latter remark  in a couple of ways, most entertainingly in his telling of the story of the Dodger ownership transfer in 1925. Listen here:

Later, Scully characterized the level of dedication that he felt the current leadership brought to the Dodgers.

“You know the definition of dedicated?” Scully asked. “There’s two men; they’re partners in a clothing company, and one goes to Rome and has an audience with the Pope, and he comes back, and his partner says, ‘What kind of a guy is the Pope?’ And the other guy says, ‘He’s a 44 regular.’ ”

For his part, Kasten – who indicated that he was ready for fans and the media to stop referring to the current ownership as “the new ownership,” as opposed to just “the ownership” – said Dodger fans had every right to expect as much.

“We didn’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Kasten said. “We just had to restore the Dodgers. We knew what we wanted – what we always were.”

“We’re the Dodgers. We’re supposed to contend every year. And I believe that’s what we’re going to do this year.”

Orel Hershiser, who joined new SportsNet LA teammates Nomar Garciaparra, John Hartung, Alanna Rizzo and Charley Steiner (along with a number of Time Warner Cable Sports executives) at tonight’s event, talked about how much the approach meant to him and his fellow Dodger alumni. Listen:

There was a lot of patting on the back tonight, much of it from the season-ticket holders who asked questions for the final 20 minutes of the program, but Kasten was questioned on the topic of paperless tickets. He said the team was prepared to deal with everyone’s issues.

“Like all new things, there’s going to be a period of time when people struggle with it,” Kasten said. “Every time so far that we have gotten on the phone and talked them through their questions, there’s going to be a very high acceptance factor. … Two or three years from now, we’re all going to be wondering what took us so long.”

Kasten also offered snippets on other topics. A sampling:

  • Another player acquisition: “We have 59 players in camp. There’s going to be one more coming. Nothing I can say about that just yet. I’ll let the media go crazy with that.”
  • The Australia trip: “We have so many resources to deal with problems, to deal with preparation, and so much planning, that the only downside we have is people using it as an excuse. And we won’t accept excuses.”
  • Improved wi-fi: “For the second consecutive year, I’ve been promised it’s going to be here on Opening Day. This year I’m kind of sure we’re going to have it on Opening Day.”

In case you missed it: First take from Orel Hershiser

[mlbvideo id=”31317421″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
By Jon Weisman

Above, Orel Hershiser talks about coming back to the Dodgers as a broadcaster for SportsNet LA.

  • Ned Colletti’s trip to the Dominican Republic included a look with Dodger scouts at the private workout of 26-year-old outfielder Rusney Castillo, according to Ben Badler of Baseball America.… Castillo, 26, left Cuba at the end of 2013, and while he’s not a free agent yet, he’s expected to draw considerable interest from major league teams given his tool set and track record in Cuba, including playing for the Cuban national team.

    At 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, Castillo is a righthanded hitter with experience playing second and third base in addition to center field, so his versatility could be intriguing to a variety of teams. …

  • We’ll turn to Jon Rosen at Kings Insider for the latest leading up to the Kings-Ducks hockey game Saturday at Dodger Stadium, which included a celebrity skate.
  • Bill James is doing a big series of stories on big game pitchers, and as Rob Neyer points out at Baseball Nation, while the list of top big-game pitchers includes Johnny Padres, Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Don Sutton, one name on there that might surprise you is former Dodger pitcher Jerry Reuss.
  • Neyer also points us to an video offering the history of Japanese pitchers in the majors.
  • Joc Pederson ranks seventh on’s list of top 10 outfield prospects.
  • Dodgers Digest is running down the top 50 Dodger prospects, and Dustin Nosler kicks things off with Nos. 41-50.

SportsNet LA officially set for February 25 launch

[mlbvideo id=”31316965″ width=”550″ height=”308″ /]
By Jon Weisman

Today brings the official announcement that the new 24/7 Dodgers channel, SportsNet LA, will launch February 25, along with the official introduction of its on-air talent team: Orel Hershiser, Nomar Garciaparra, Charley Steiner, Jerry Hairston, Alanna Rizzo and John Hartung, along with of course the previously announced master of it all, Vin Scully.

In addition to televising more than 140 live regular season games and every Spring Training game (with the exception of split squads) in its inaugural season, SportsNet LA will air classic games, live studio shows, numerous original programs and more.

Scully will call all Dodger home games and road games for SportsNet LA in California and Arizona. Steiner and Hershiser will team up on the other SportsNet LA games, with Hershiser appearing on the pregame and postgame shows when Scully is broadcasting.

Steiner and Rick Monday will be the radio team for Dodger games that Scully is manning for television, following the simulcast portion.

Garciaparra (who will provide color commentary next to Monday’s play-by-play on the remaining road radio games) and Hairston will contribute to the pregame and postgame. Rizzo will host those shows from Dodger Stadium, while also serving as an in-game reporter for the Steiner-Hershiser telecasts.

Hartung will be the in-studio host for Sports Net LA’s live studio shows.

Time Warner Cable is committed to carrying SportsNetLA when it launches, and discussions are taking place with other distributors, such as DirecTV. To make your voice heard on this matter, visit or call your provider to tell them you need the network.

In the meantime, you can follow SportsNet LA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.


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