Saturday, May 31, 2008

Contract/trade news on Furcal and Penny

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports has a new video up on the main page of where he talks about contract issues of Rafael Furcal and Brad Penny. Here's the breakdown:

Furcal - The Dodgers were in serious discussions with him to resign him to a long-term deal. Then he got hurt with his back injury, and those extension talks came to a screeching halt. For the Dodgers, they have to be extremely careful on their end not to sign another injury-plagued veteran that will spend more time on the DL than on the diamond while raking in millions (see Schmidt, Jason and Garciaparra, Nomar). Furcal will be 31 next season, which is still young enough to hope that he won't be damaged goods. I say all the time how much he's missed in the lineup, so I'd resign him.

Penny - Before the season it appeared very likely that his option for next year would be picked up. Now? Not so much. He has been absolutely horrific in the month of May, going 1-4 with an 8.82 ERA. Ouch. I knew it was bad, but not this bad. Rosenthal suggests that they will try to move him by the July 31 trade deadline rather than buying him out for $2 million at the end of this season. At least by trading him they can see what they can get in return. I don't think Penny is this bad, but with his history of fading in the 2nd half of the season, it might not be a bad idea to see if any other team wants to roll the dice with him.

Broxton snatches defeat from the jaws of victory

Chad Billingsley pitched his guts out, but in true Dodger-like fashion, they found a new way to lose. This time, it was Jonathan Broxton getting absolutely smoked in the 8th trying to protect a 2-0 lead as the New York Mets scored 3 and went on to win, 3-2. If it's not one thing going wrong for the Dodgers, it's the other.

This is quickly turning into the road trip from hell. They played 3 close games against the Chicago Cubs, but lost all of them. Brad Penny was rocked on Thursday in New York, now Broxton can't do his job today. Maybe they're lucky to be at 1-5. I've got to face reality at some point - without Rafael Furcal in the lineup, they are a decent team, but not a very good one. They've proved it this week. They simply do not have the type of offense that can pull games out.

Billingsley certainly wasn't flawless, despite his good line: 7 IP, 4 H, O ER, 3 BB, 4 K. Those of you that didn't watch the game probably think I'm being way too hard on him, but those that did know what I mean. To his credit, he got some huge outs when he needed them. He walked the first 2 guys in the 4th, but retired the next 3. He worked around a Blake DeWitt error and walk in the 5th to escape trouble. And he got Jose Reyes to pop up in foul territory to 3rd and Endy Chavez to fly to left with runners on the corners to end the 7th.

In the end, though, all that mattered was how poorly Broxton performed. Wow, he looks great one day, then horrible the next. That's now his 4th blown lead in his last 10 appearances. His ERA stands at 4.94, which is way too high. That'll eventually go down, but it's also an indication that he's not ready to be a closer like so many people want him to be. He's still learning.

As for the offense... hell, I could beat it into the ground of how bad they were again, but what's the point? They've got to just hope that Furcal comes back somewhat soon and that youngsters like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and James Loney start to pick it up. If that stuff doesn't happen, they'll continue to be an average, but beatable team. And that's reality.

Despite another huge letdown of a loss, I'm still excited to be in Shea Stadium tomorrow for the last Dodgers-Mets game ever in Shea. I'll be sure to post some pics from that game early next week. It's a great pitching duel between Hiroki Kuroda and Johan Santana. Who knows, maybe the Dodgers can shock the world and actually hit Santana around. I'll be saying that to myself over and over on the 3 1/2 hour bus ride from Binghamton.

Still no clue on how long Raffy will be out

We've been waiting for awhile now, but Rafael Furcal has still not come back from his back injury that forced him out since May 6. What looked like a minor injury has turned into a month-long ordeal.

It really sucks to not see him in there considering he was playing at such a high level. The Dodgers are only 8-13 with him out, which is really no surprise considering he was their offense on most nights. His number were pretty darn good before he went out: .366 AVG, .448 OBP, 34 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 12 2B, 2 3B, 5 SB. In my mind, he was clearly the best shortstop in the NL before he went out.

The article on states that the team in "aggressively looking for middle infield help." Chin-lung Hu has a great glove, but a .170 AVG with only 2 extra base hits in 88 AB's. Luis Maza is a better at the plate with a .281 AVG, but is nothing special. Jeff Kent is 40-years-old and is battling nagging injuries, as well as only hitting .248 with 5 HR. Ya... I'd say they need some help.

For now, there's not a whole lot Joe Torre can do without Furcal in there. I guess we should all pray Kent can stay healthy, because poor average or not, he's still their most feared hitter when he's in there. I've given up on Hu ever hitting this year. He looks totally overmatched and the prime candidate to get sent down. Maybe Maza will find a groove.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bats finally come alive in win

Clayton Kershaw never really could find a groove in his 2nd career start, being forced out during the 4th inning. But, in a nice change of pace, the offense was able to lift the Dodgers to their 1st victory since Sunday, snapping their 4-game losing streak to beat the Mets, 9-5.

Juan Pierre started things off by walking and stealing 2nd off of Mets starter John Maine. After Matt Kemp and Jeff Kent could not reach base, it was starting to look like the same old inning for the Dodgers. James Loney, though, stroked a double to center, scoring Pierre, and then he came around to score on Russell Martin's ground rule double. Andre Ethier singled home Martin, and it was quickly 3-0.

As I said before, Kershaw just couldn't get going. Hey, he's only 20-years-old, so it's not like we shouldn't expect bumps in the road. His curveball was still excellent, but he had trouble locating the fastball. He left one up to Luis Castillo, who pounded a 2-run shot. He walked the bases loaded in the 3rd, but luckily only gave up a sac-fly for a run.

Chan Ho Park was called on for long relief, and ended up getting good results, despite not being in total control himself. He walked 3 and and gave up 2 hits in 3.1 IP, but only allowed 1 run. He and Hong-Chih Kuo have really been great in the long relief role. Park has totally exceeded anyone's expectations. I guess the Dodgers really are good at finding 1 washed up pitcher per year and finding success.

After going down 5-4 entering the 8th, the offense really picked up... though to be fair, they got some help from the men in black. Pierre hit a slow roller to Jose Reyes, who appeared to gun him out at 1st, but the umpire called him safe. It all unraveled after that for the Mets. A double by Kemp, followed by 4 singles and a wild pitch brought in 5 runs to open the game up. The Dodgers still can't hit for power, but when they get in a groove like that, they can up up runs.

Takashi Saito got some of his good vibes back with a scoreless 9th. He still walked Carlos Beltran and beaned Ramon Castro on an 0-2 count, but Carlos Delgado grounded out to end the game. It wasn't perfect, but far and away better than Wednesday's appearance in Chicago.

Considering they have to face Johan Santana on Sunday (with me in attendance), tomorrow's game would be good to have. Chad Billingsley gets the start against Mike Pelfrey, so on paper, the matchup favors the Dodgers. We shall see.

Penny bombed in Shea

The Dodgers' offense came into last night's game against the New York Mets looking pretty much lifeless and pathetic the last few games. They needed their so called #1 pitcher Brad Penny to get deep into the game and keep it close.

What exactly happened, you ask? 4 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. And once again, the Dodgers fell short, 8-4.

I will say this, despite the fact that Penny sucked... again... he didn't get any help from a freak play in the 4th inning. He should have gotten out of it when Claudio Vargas grounded for what looked like the 3rd out. But, Russell Martin, one of the top offensive and defensive catchers in the league, committed a CATCHER'S INTERFERENCE to keep the inning alive. Like all the other runs the Mets scored, 4 more runs came in, and the game was blown wide open.

An argument can be made that without that play, this game would have at least gone into extra innings. Who knows what would have happened, but homers by Jeff Kent and Blake DeWitt, as well as an RBI-single by James Loney gave the Dodgers 4 runs of their own. Leave it to them to find a new, creative way to lose.

Juan Pierre is now 1 for his last 12 with 1 walk in 3 games hitting leadoff. He certainly isn't the only one struggling, but his numbers are magnified even more with Rafael Furcal not in there. Announcers love to talk about Pierre's incredible work ethic, which is true. But, I highly doubt that's going to change people not wanting him in there. He's simply not a leadoff hitter, no matter how times he gets thrown in there.

As pathetic as the Dodgers have been to watch lately (thank God the Lakers were on and I could just push the Dodgers game aside), there's a good reason to watch tonight, and it's Clayton Kershaw. He was fantastic in his debut last Sunday, so it will be fun to watch him pitch in the Big Apple. Maybe a miracle will happen and guys like Andre Ethier, James Loney, or Matt Kemp will actually hit a home run. Probably not.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I guess winning isn't much fun

I swear that watching the Dodgers is like serving some sort of a punishment. That's a good idea for you parents out there reading this: if you want to discipline your kids, force them to watch these bunch of losers for 3 hours. They'll never do anything wrong again.

Remember how I said in my last post how last game I couldn't help but feel that they were going to blow the game - so of course they did? Tonight, same sort of feeling, same sort of result. I guess I can now understand why all of those people have been critical of Takashi Saito. He looked like an absolute pile of dog crap tonight. An absolutely embarrassing loss.

I really hope Joe Torre chews their asses out tonight for looking like a bunch of little girls out there. How in the hell any team can go an entire 3-game series and score 3 damn runs is beyond me. I don't really care who's hurt and who isn't - that doesn't matter. The team is made up of Major League players, and they should feel embarrassed and humiliated for playing like such trash. No excuse whatsoever for playing with no fire and no enthusiasm like I saw these last 3 games.

What's lost in all of this is that Derek Lowe, for the 2nd straight game, deserved a win. Not unlike Hiroki Kuroda the night before and Chad Billingsley the day before that. 7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K, and he couldn't get the win. That's 14 innings and 2 runs the last 2 games, and still 0 wins. Every offensive player needs to find the local CVS tonight and buy apology cards for the starting pitching staff for playing so piss poor.

The best way to explain the Dodgers is that if something can go wrong, it will. Lowe was fantastic, they had a 1-run lead with their closer on in the 9th, and come away empty. 10 men left on base. 5 left on in scoring position with 2 outs. 3 double plays grounded into. Pretty much your recipe for losing, which is what the Dodgers do quite nicely.

So now that they have been pimp slapped by the Cubs, they now move on to New York where the Mets will be coming off a dramatic comeback win against the Marlins tonight. They've now won 2 in a row, and are perhaps finding the groove they have been looking for. Maybe just splitting this series is the Dodgers best chance. I'll take any sort of win they can get these days.

At some point, the excuses about injuries and being too young has to stop. No matter who's in there, they have the responsibility of playing with much more passion and desire than the garbage they have shown lately. If not, then they'll be falling back into the cellar with the Rockies, Padres, and Giants in no time.


This one slipped through the cracks, but I managed to just stumble upon it today. This week's topics are how Joakim Soria of the Royals got away, who will be free agents after this season, if Blake DeWitt can be Rookie of the Year, if any more Clayton Kershaw-types are down on the farm, and how many people in the lineup this past Sunday were home-grown talent.

Read and enjoy.

Another strong performance by Kuroda wasted

Hiroki Kuroda came into last night's game against the Chicago Cubs with a 2-3 record, but a 3.48 ERA. That kind of goes to show that he's not gotten much help from his offense. Basically, he deserves better.

Last night, it was the same old song and dance for the Dodgers, and Kuroda got shafted again.

Despite giving up only 1 ER in 6.1 IP, the Dodgers' offense was putrid again and could only score 1 run, as the Cubs won 3-1. The Dodgers were up 1-0 heading into the 7th, but it all unraveled. Oh, and they also had the bases loaded with 1 down in the 8th, but couldn't push 1 damn run across the board. Horrible, just plain horrible.

The only run in the first 7 innings came when Blake DeWitt got his 24th RBI of the season with a 2-out single in the 4th to score James Loney. Some guy named Sean Gallagher pretty much shut them down except for that. Sad.

The 7th is when the Cubs made some noise. And you know what, I knew it was inevitable. The most frustrating thing about watching this game is that I couldn't help but feel that at some point, the Dodgers would blow it - and they sure did. Call me pessimistic all you want, but I've seen enough Dodger games in my life to know when they look like they will choke, and last night was one of them. When the offense is this anemic, there is no margin for error. The Dodgers sure like to live dangerously.

After the Cubs put 2 on with 1 down in the 7th, a slow roller to Blake DeWitt was misplayed, and the score was tied. Derek Lee then flew out, and the Dodgers could have gotten out of the inning with only 1 run given up. So of course that meant that Jonathan Broxton gave up 2 more runs right after that. Typical clutch Dodgers.

I already mentioned the blown opportunity in the 8th before, and it was pathetic. James Loney was the first up, and he flailed away at a breaking ball practically in the dirt to K, and Matt Kemp grounded into a fielder's choice. No wonder I nearly dropped dead the other day when Andre Ethier got the game-winning hit with 2 down - I'm not used to seeing them come through in that situation. God forbid it happens twice in a week.

Derek Lowe, who did pitch well last game, will look to stop the bleeding today, but it won't be easy against Carlos Zambrano. Great... just what they need before going to New York. At least the Mets suck these days.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Kershaw and Ethier lift Dodgers at home

Clayton Kershaw lived up to expectations on Sunday, pitching 6 strong innings, and Andre Ethier hit a walk-off single as the Dodgers avoided the sweep against the Cardinals, 4-3 in 10 innings. They finish their homestand at 4-2 as they get set to hit the road this week.

Kershaw started off the game symbolically with a swinging K of Skip Schumaker, then ran into a little bit of trouble. He walked #2 hitter Brian Barton on 4 straight outside pitches, then gave up an RBI-double to Albert Pujols to go down 1-0. He seemed to settle down nicely after that.

The only other time he ran into trouble would be in the 6th, but you can thank the scorching LA sun for that. Barton hit a lazy pop up just behind 1st base, but James Loney completely lost the ball in the sun and it bounced off his head for a hit. Pujols singled again to put men on 1st and 3rd. Ryan Ludwick hit a grounder to 3rd base, but Blake DeWitt barely got anything on his throw to home and Barton easily scored to tie the game at 2. With 2 on and 1 down, Kershaw retired Troy Glaus and Jason LaRue to end the threat.

Kershaw's final line was 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K. Overall, it was a fantastic debut for someone we will be hearing much more from in the future.

As for the offense, they yet again did just enough to get the W. One great scene was Luis Maza hitting his first career home run in the 1st to get the Dodgers on the board, a shot that barely got over the left field fence. He was hitting in the 2-hole, and responded with 2 hits and a sacrifice. Good job. He's currently 7-14 on the year with no K's, so it will be interesting to see if he gets sent back down once Rafael Furcal is ready to play again. I'm not so sure that would be the smart move. Chin-lung Hu continues to disappoint, as he pulled off another 0-4 to drop his average to .188. He's the one that looks completely overmatched at the plate. About the only thing going for him is his glove, as he's committed 1 error in 113 chances. But, with the offense struggling, it's hard to watch him look so helpless at the plate over and over.

Ethier and Russell Martin provided bit at-bats. Martin had 2 RBI's on a double and single hitting in the cleanup spot. Ethier's game-winning hit came with 2 down and a 3-2 count. It's good to see someone come through in a big spot like that. After going 3-5, Ethier's average is up to .299, and he has shown that he should have never taken a back seat nearly as much as he did to Andruw Jones in the beginning of the season. It's good to see his name in the lineup everyday.

Takashi Saito pitched 2 flawless innings for the win, K'ing 5. He came into the month of May with a 2.19 ERA, and it's now down to 1.66. He's only given up 1 run this month (in a non-save situation) and has 5 saves and 2 wins. I think people can stop claiming that he's lost his touch. He looks pretty darn good to me.

It's off to Chicago for an afternoon ballgame today, and Chad Billingsley takes the mound. 4 out of his last 5 starts have been fantastic, and with the team on short rest from a long flight, they'll need big outs from him to stand a chance.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Jones DL'd, will have knee surgery

Andruw Jones gave it a shot playing through his right knee pain, but it was too much to overcome. He will now be out 4-6 weeks while getting surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee. The move will land him on the 15-day DL.

He was originally out since last Sunday, then tried to make a comeback on Friday, but struck out with 2 runners on and 2 outs to end the game. He then made the rational decision that he's dead weight right now, so it's better to get fixed.

I'll give him credit for wanting to come back and help the team, and even more credit for recognizing that he has to be smart and get fixed. It's not like he can hit any worse, so let's hope that whatever has ailed his swing this year, surgery can fix that.

To replace Jones, the Dodgers have called up Terry Tiffee, who is having an outstanding season in Triple-A Las Vegas. His average is .422, leading the Pacific Coast League. With the way the Dodgers have (not) been hitting, I can see him getting chances to make some noise. Can't hurt to try.

Nomar Garciaparra will be switched from the 15-day to the 60-day DL, which proves that his calf injury isn't even close to being healed. Nothing against Nomar, but I doubt anybody is holding their breath that he comes back soon with Blake DeWitt playing so well and Andy LaRoche healthy again. Looks like another lost year for Nomar.

No Raffy = no offense... AGAIN

For the 2nd straight game, the Dodgers offense looked like it was on life support as they were completely dominated by Cardinals' pitching, 4-0. After sweeping the Reds, they have now dropped both games to the Cards and are in danger of being swept.

Kyle Lohse came in with an ERA of 4.71 and a career ERA of 4.80, but you sure as hell wouldn't know that last night. The Dodgers could only muster 6 hits and 0 walks against him in 6 innings, and were lost when it came to driving in runs in scoring position. Overall, they left 14 men on base, with 7 to end an inning, and 3 of those were left in scoring position with 2 outs. It's the typical problem that plagues a team like this - they don't hit home runs, so they will have plenty of nights like this where they can't string together enough hits to score. That's just the reality of the situation.

Brad Penny's final line won't look good, but all of the damage was done in the 3rd inning. A single by Chris Duncan and doubles by Albert Pujols and Rick Ankiel drove in all of the game's runs. Other than that, he was really good. With the help of a couple double plays, he got the Cards in order in the 6 other innings. It's a step in the right direction.

The same cannot be said about the offense, who once again put up anemic numbers. Wow, they are really hard to watch when they play like that. They literally put me to sleep. Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier did much better in the 1-2 spots (3-4 and 2-4), but nobody could drive them in (big shock, I know). The 3-6 hitters of Russell Martin, Jeff Kent, James Loney, and Matt Kemp were 2-16 with 6 K. Wow. Kent won't play today, and that's a good thing. I've never seem him look so old and unproductive. They need his bat to heat up.

If there's one way to forget about these past 2 games, it would be that Clayton Kershaw will make his long-awaited debut today. Who knows what kind of a pitch count he'll be on, but I would guess he wouldn't go more than 5 innings. We'll see. They've got the Cubs and Mets away this week, so a win today would be nice.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

The phenom has arrived

For the Dodgers, the future is NOW.

Clayton Kershaw has officially been called up and is set to make his Major League debut on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals. The 20-year-old is the best pitching prospect in the Dodgers' organization, and arguably in baseball as a whole.

The original report called for him to start the next time the Dodgers needed a 5th starter, which would have been Tuesday in Chicago. But, they decided that may not have been the best time to throw him in there, so Sunday it is. It's a good decision, even if it means I won't get to see him pitch when I'm at the Mets-Dodgers game on June 1. Oh well.

The move also means a bunch of other moves. To start with, Chad Billingsley and Hiroki Kuroda will now be pitching on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, against the Cubs. That's a good thing considering how well the Cubs have been playing. It also means that I'll see Kuroda against the Mets... vs. Johan Santana! Ugh...

For Esteban Loaiza, the move also means quite possibly the end of his Dodgers' career. He was designated for assignment, and he'll probably be given his outright release in 10 days. The team tried to make it work, but it just hasn't. He'll argue that he was never given consistent starts, which is true, but that's something that needs to be earned, and I can't say he's done that. Too many injuries along the way certainly didn't help his cause.

Yhency Brazoban will also be sent back down to Triple-A Las Vegas. He's only been in 2 games since being recalled on May 9, so getting him more appearances will be key. He'll be back.

I for one am really excited about tomorrow's game. It's a dream day for us Laker/Dodger fans - Kershaw's debut first, then Lakers going up 3-0 on San Antonio later. And a day off Monday!

Life, indeed, is perfect.

Lowe finally pitches well, not that it mattered

It's been since April 23rd that Derek Lowe has had a productive start for the Dodgers. He pitched great last night, going 7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, but the offense was abysmal as they fell to the Cardinals, 2-1. Lowe gets the tough-luck loss to fall to 2-5 with a 5.03 ERA.

Lowe really only made 1 big mistake last night, and that was on a 2-run shot to Ryan Ludwick, who's already up to 13 HR and really have a breakout year. Other than that, he was fine. Notice that he only walked 2, which is great for over 7 innings. He also lowered his ERA by about .30, although it was so high, it's not like it was that hard to get it down. Still, he deserves credit for pitching well.

As for the offense, well... they sucked. They did just enough to sweep the Reds last series, but as I noted then, they were handed the win on Wednesday. With Adam Wainwright on the mound and a team 8 games over .500 in the field, it was a much harder game to win. Wainwright was awesome, only giving up 1 run over 7 innings on a Mark Sweeney sac-fly in the 7th. His ERA is now at 3.06, and only further shows how great the Tony La Russa-Dave Duncan connection is. They can make any pitcher look like gold.

The rumor leading up to the game was that Rafael Furcal would be back, but that was not the case. Hopefully soon. With Furcal still out, Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier combined for an 0-8, 3 K performance. Uh... that's not exactly going to get it done. They definitely need Raffy back and fast!

The Dodgers did have a chance to at least tie the game in the 9th. Actually, the whole 9th inning was one of the more bizarre innings I can remember. Ryan Franklin came on to go for the save, and a huge downpour came, which is obviously a rarity in LA. James Loney struck out to start the inning (part of his 0-4, 2 K night) before Matt Kemp fouled off a couple of 3-2 pitches. The umps finally called for a delay which totalled just over an hour. When play resumed, Kemp walked, then stole 2nd when Blake DeWitt K'd. Delwyn Young walked, and Kemp went to 3rd on a wild pitch.

The stage was set for a big, 2-out hit by a new LA hero. Who do the Dodgers decide to send up? Why Andruw Jones of course! Nevermind the fact that he hasn't played since last Sunday... I guess his .167 average was reason enough to give him a shot. What happened? Swinging K to end the game. Pathetic.

Like Lowe last night, Brad Penny will get the ball looking to reverse his bad fortune. He somehow has 5 wins, but has been horrendous lately. It's time for a big start from him.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Clayton Kershaw could be appearing soon

The biggest step in Clayton Kershaw's track the majors came on Thursday night when he was pulled after facing 3 batters. By limiting his start to 1 inning, speculation is now running wild that his next start will come this upcoming Tuesday in Chicago.

Management put Double-A Jacksonville under strict rules that he was not to have surpassed 25 innings per month in order to keep his arm fresh and ready. In April, he pitched 25.2 innings with a 1.40 ERA, despite going 0-3. This month, he's at 17.2 IP with a 3.57 ERA. In 43.1 IP, he's K'd 47. The funny thing is, he hasn't even recorded a win! Talk about great run support...

What the Dodgers hope will happen is that he will make the same type of splash that Joba Chamberlain did for the Yankees last year. That's going to be really hard to do considering Joba's ERA was 0.38, which was a solo shot in 24 IP. Kershaw will be a starter, so his numbers will obviously not be as microscopic. Still, his stuff is just as good, with the ability to dazzle hitters that are not at all used to him. It's going to be exciting to watch.

Here's what I'm really pumped for. By starting Tuesday against the Cubs, his next start would be on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball in New York against the Mets. I'M GOING TO BE AT THAT GAME!!! I'm getting my hopes up, so I can only pray it won't be Chan Ho Park when it's all said and done. Being able to say I was at the 2nd start of Kershaw's career would be something special.

Get ready, Dodger fans, the best is yet to come.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kuroda and Reds' miscues hand Dodgers the sweep

Hiroki Kuroda stepped up and pitched 8 strong innings to give the Dodgers the 3-game sweep over the Cincinnati Reds, 5-2. Kuroda and Chad Billingsley the night before combined for 15 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 10 K. Those are great number from 2 young studs.

Other than Kuroda, the real story of this game will probably be how the Reds seemingly wanted to lose this game. The first run of the game came when James Loney scored on a wild pitch from Johnny Cueto. Matt Kemp then scored on Chin-lung Hu's fielder's choice RBI.

After the Reds tied the game in the 4th on an Edwin Encarnacion sac-fly, the Dodgers added another run when Blake DeWitt scored on a passed ball. The next inning, Cueto committed a throwing error that allowed Kemp to score. James Loney finished off the scoring in the 7th with a solo shot into the right field bullpen, his 5th of the year.

A bit of history was made last night when Takashi Saito nailed down the Reds in order for his 8th save in 10 chances. For the 1st time in Major League history, an all-Japanese connection combined for a win and save in the same game. Let's hope there's plenty more of that to come.

These 3 games were very Dodger-like victories: good pitching and just enough hitting to score just enough runs to win. Really, it's how they win. Brad Penny was awful in the first game, but Billingsley and Kuroda were fantastic the last 2. Saito had 3 good appearances with 2 saves and a win via scoreless 9th inning before DeWitt's game-winning single on Monday. I'm glad Kuroda was able to finally pick up his 2nd win, which was long overdue. The bats did just enough help his cause.

After an off day Thursday (which will hopefully cause those horrid wins to go away), the St. Louis Cardinals will come to town. Albert Pujols certainly had an interesting game last night. He hit a line drive that bloodied Chris Young's face, and then slid into home plate and injured Josh Bard's ankle. 2 potentially big injuries that the Padres cannot afford considering how far back they are already. Hopefully the Dodgers won't get in his way!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Billingsley goes 7 strong for win

I ranted the other day about how bad Derek Lowe and Brad Penny have been this year. I also said that as of now, Chad Billingsley is clearly their best starter. Last night, he made the statement true.

Billingsley went 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K to get his 4th win in his last 5 starts, and has lowered his ERA from 6.53 on April 24 to 3.76 now. After starting the season very rocky and giving Dodger fans quite the reason to worry, he has more than settled in into the possible future ace he always looked like. To say that his performance gave a big sigh of relief from the Dodgers' management would be an understatement.

This game really didn't have a whole lot of action, as the Dodgers scored 2 each in the 2nd and 7th. The 2nd started off with back-to-back singles by Jeff Kent and James Loney. Matt Kemp then scored Kent on a fielder's choice, and Kemp went to 2nd on David Ross' error. After Blake DeWitt hit an infield single to load the bases, Chin-lung Hu had a perfect opportunity to break out of his slump, but instead grounded into a force play at home. Billingsley helped his own cause by singling to score another. Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier, however, were unable to score anymore.

Hu was finally able to get something going by singling to lead off the 7th, and came around on Pierre's RBI-single. Pierre then stole 2nd and went to 3rd on Ethier's single. Russell Martin picked up an RBI on a fielder's choice to score Pierre to go up 4-0.

Jonathan Broxton worked a perfect 8th, and has appeared to settle down since getting bombed for 6 runs in 0.1 IP against the Astros on May 11. Joe Beimel gave up a run, but Takashi Saito picked up an easy save by K'ing the only hitter he faced.

The win was good, as they are now 3 games over .500 and 4 games back of Arizona. One area of concern, though, is Hu. He clearly has not worked out nearly as well as people would have hoped. He's been handed a golden opportunity to play everyday with Rafael Furcal out, but has failed to impress. Currently, he's played in 34 games and has 67 AB's, but is only hitting .179 with no homers and 5 RBI. He doesn't strike out much, but only has 1 multi-hit game (April 23 against Arizona). With Furcal due back soon, Hu's playing time is about to tank. I can't say that's really a bad thing.

The Dodgers will look for the sweep tonight as Hiroki Kuroda, currently the 2nd best pitcher on the staff, takes the mound. After an off day tomorrow, they start a 3-game homestand against St. Louis.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Jones out with tear in right knee

An MRI revealed today that Andruw Jones has a slight cartilage tear in his right knee, which will sideline him for the time being. They will now wait a few days before deciding if surgery is necessary, which will then shelve him for 4-5 weeks.

I know most people will be glad to see him out of the lineup, but I'm not going to be sick enough to celebrate someone being hurt. No matter how he's hitting, it's not a good thing. A knee injury is nothing to be happy about.

The next question is whether or not this injury has caused him to play so poorly this season. Who knows what the answer is. I would think his weak play has much more to do with coming into the season out of shape and from a mysterious loss of power (hmm...) and the knee only adds to it.

The positive to the mess that is Andruw Jones this season is that Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and Juan Pierre will now be the main men in the outfield. Kemp is hitting .320 with 27 RBI, Ethier .291 with 18 RBI, and Pierre .286 with 17 SB. I know the thought of Pierre playing everyday will be a scary thought to most people, but I was just saying to another Dodger fan today how I like this year's Pierre better than last. He's stealing bases like usual, but the biggest difference is how OBP: .361 this year, .331 last. That's a big improvement that needs to stay the same.

As far as Jones, who knows... maybe some rest and rehab will do wonders for him. Hey, I can be optimistic.

DeWitt is clutch

That little Blake DeWitt has come through when the Dodgers most needed it yet again. Who would have thought before the season that with all of their young talent, he would be the one to shine the brightest?

Down 4-0 in the 3rd thanks to another terrible, piss-poor start from Brad Penny, the Dodgers showed some signs of life by battling back and eventually taking the win, 6-5. It was the their biggest comeback win of the season.

The game started off with Penny getting hit around like he always does. The team needed a big start from him, and he provided the exact opposite. Gee, what a shock. A 2-run shot by Adam Dunn put the Reds up 4, and it looked like another long night in Chavez Ravine.

Then the bats took over, but certainly received some luck along the way. Russell Martin plated Juan Pierre and Andre Ethier thanks to a Jerry Hairston throwing error to slash the lead in half. Penny then gave another run right back, because you know, God forbid he actually go through an inning without looking like crap.

In the 5th, James Loney, Matt Kemp, and DeWitt all had run scoring singles, and the game was knotted up until the 9th. There, Martin hit an infield single, and took 2nd on an error. After Jeff Kent grounded out and sent Martin to 3rd, IBB's were issued to Loney and Kemp to set up a force at home and/or a double play. DeWitt would have none of that, however, as he sliced a single to left to end the game. His 2-5 night raised his average to .322, and has further solidified his starting position at 3rd. So help me God, if Nomar Garciaparra is declared the starter once he comes back, I think we should all quit.

A big credit goes out to the bullpen, who had to pitch really well after Penny's debacle, and they did. Joe Beimel pitched a scoreless 7th, Jonathan Broxton a scoreless 8th, and Takashi Saito a perfect 9th to get the win. They were huge.

After an exciting win last night, Chad Billingsley will take the mound tonight. He was fantastic in his last start in Milwaukee, but was roughed up in his last home start against the Astros. With Penny and Lowe playing like ASS, the Dodgers really need Bills to pitch well again tonight.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Looking at the starting pitching

A little over 1/4 into the season, let's take a look at how the starting pitching has performed thus far.

RH - Derek Lowe
2-4, 5.34 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 55.2 IP, 17 BB, 39 K
To say that he's been a huge disappointment wouldn't do justice to how badly he's played. It's the same old BS with him year after year - some great starts, but more awful ones. His number back up my statements quite nicely. Look, I know he can't possibly be this bad of a pitcher, but he has got to step up and be one of the leaders on the staff. His ERA was as low as 2.45 on April 23, and has gone north since then. With the Diamondbacks playing so well, they can't afford one of their top pitchers to be this bad.

RH - Hiroki Kuroda
1-3, 3.67 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 54 IP, 16 BB, 31 K
For being the 4th starter, I think he's played very well so far. He's not asked to put up ace-like numbers, just anchor the bottom end of the staff, which he has done. He won his debut in San Diego and hasn't been on the winning end since. By my count, there's 6 other games in which the Dodgers could have won if they gave him more run support. Not a big shock there. In his last 2 starts, he's racked up 5 K's each, so he seems like he's getting more comfortable.

RH - Brad Penny
5-4, 5.09 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 53 IP, 18 BB, 28 K
Ya know all of that stuff I just wrote about Lowe? I could pretty much copy it for Penny. The great 1-2 punch each has ERA's over 5 and have been pounded into the ground lately. He had a good stretch in mid-late April in which he seemed to get his control issues figured out, but his last 2 starts have been atrocious. He doesn't strike out nearly as many guys anymore, which is another reason for concern. And, above everything else, he is battling a sore arm right now. I have a better feeling that he'll turn things around than Lowe, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt that it will happen.

RH - Chad Billingsley
3-4, 4.34 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, 45.2 IP, 27 BB, 53 K
Bills started off the year very rocky, but has since become a force. After losing 4 straight in April, he's dominated in 3 of his last 4. He's capable of K'ing 8-10 a game, and if he has his control in check, he's really good. His last start in Milwaukee, known for being a hitter's park, was very encouraging in that he lasted 7 and gave up only 1. With Penny and Lowe playing like Little Leaguers, his improved pitching has been huge.

After these 4, it's been a mixed bag of starts by Esteban Loaiza (bad), Hong-Chih Kuo (great), and Chan Ho Park (great). Loaiza is injured, and who knows what the plans for him will be once he's back considering that Park was really good in his only start, Jason Schmidt is making rehab appearances in the minors, and Clayton Kershaw will inevitably get the call to start. Kuo has actually been much better in the 'pen, where he's been lights out and a strikeout machine.

Seeing that their 3-4 starters are clearly outperforming their 1-2 starters, it could either be a good or bad sign, depending on your view. The good is that Penny and Lowe have good numbers in their careers, so they've got to figure things out at some point. The bad is that if they don't, it'll be really hard to make the playoffs. Here's to hoping that the former happens.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another pathetic Derek Lowe start

Brad Penny was the scheduled starter for today, but was unable to go with arm stiffness. No problem, think the Dodgers. They will just plug in Derek Lowe, their veteran, World Series winning starter who should be able to step up and pitch well, despite being on 3 days rest. Everything will be fine.

Well, needless to say, he was absolutely terrible and lost the game once the 2nd inning was over.

I am just so sick of tired of Lowe pitching like a 3rd grade girl when the Dodgers need a good start out of him. That's now 5 starts in a row where he's been horrible, just horrible. I say this all the time about him - some days he looks like an ace, others like a batting practice pitcher. In the last year of his contract, I can't exactly say right now that I'd miss him if he's gone. His inconsistency is way too frustrating.

The Angels starter, Jared Weaver, came in with a rocky start to the year himself, so leave it to the Dodgers' bats to turn that right around. 7 K's in a little over 5 IP and the Dodgers looked helpless. Only a Jeff Kent 2-run single made the offense look somewhat competent. Notice I said "somewhat" and not "completely" or "totally."

I really don't even know what else to say about this game because it was bad pretty much all game long. Lowe sucked (again) and the bats were non-existent. It was another one of those bad starting pitching/bad hitting combos. The one that we've seen way too much of lately.

Thank God they can escape Anaheim and at least get 1 win out of it. The Cincinnati Reds come to town starting Monday, and they are hovering around the .500 mark and in 4th in the NL Central. But, they just knocked around the Indians' Cliff Lee today, something no other team has been able to do, so it's obvious they can hit. Brad Penny will attempt to make the start. It's the start of 6 straight at home as the St. Louis Cardinals will visit next.

Park and Kuo team up for win

Chan Ho Park and Hong-Chih Kuo pitched 8 huge innings, and Blake DeWitt homered to help the Dodgers beat the Angels, 6-3. The loss for the Halos gives Ervin Santana his first blemish of the season.

Let's start off with Park. When Esteban Loaiza went down with right shoulder tightness, the 5th starter spot was again up for grabs. I'm sure many people were hoping that young Clayton Kershaw would be given the call-up. Instead, the Dodgers chose to reward Park for his good pitching out of the 'pen. I said it was a good move at the time since he deserved a shot.

Thankfully, he made me look pretty good. He threw 82 pitches over 4 innings, gave up 2 runs (1 earned), and K'd 3. Long relief specialist Kuo came in and was absolutely lights out yet again. He also pitched 4 innings, gave up 3 hits, no runs, and K'd 4. His work out of the bullpen has been nothing short of fantastic. With these strong performances, Park's ERA is 2.17, and Kuo's 2.40.

Of course, as is the case quite often with the Dodgers, getting enough offense would be the issue. For yesterday, it wasn't. Andruw Jones walked with 2 down in the 2nd (he can't hit, but at least he has 20 walks, 2nd on the team). DeWitt then hit one out to right, and it was a 2-0 advantage.

The 4th inning saw 2 more runs on RBI-singles by Andre Ethier and Russell Martin. The Angels began to battle back in the bottom half of the frame thanks in large part to a James Loney throwing error and a Maicer Izturis fielder's choice RBI, cutting the lead to 4-2.

The Dodgers were able to add another run in the 7th when Russell Martin got caught in a rundown trying to steal 2nd, and Juan Pierre hustled home. With 2 down in the 8th, DeWitt doubled and scored on a single by Luis Maza.

What's satisfying about a win like this is that the bottom of the order contributed in a big way. DeWitt homered and doubled, driving in 2 and scoring 2; Maza had 2 hits and 1 RBI; Chin-lung Hu walked and scored a run. At the top of the order, Pierre was 0-4, but was hit by a pitch and reached on an error, and scored both times.

The rubber game is today with Derek Lowe taking the mound instead of Brad Penny. Penny was scratched with arm stiffness, but could just be pushed back a day. Neither one of these 2 have done jack squat lately, so they need to get it going.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Angels win opener of Freeway Series

Joe Saunders pitched into the 8th inning, and the Dodgers were unable to muster much offense as the Angels took the first game of the 3-game set, 4-2. The win ups the all-time record for the Angels in this series at 36-27.

It was another makeshift lineup for the Dodgers, who did not have the services of Rafael Furcal (15-day DL) or Blake DeWitt (back spasms, day-to-day). With the DH in effect, Andruw Jones was placed there while Juan Pierre, Andre Ethier, and Matt Kemp also got starts. Russell Martin got his 4th start at 3rd, Luis Maza filled in at SS, and Garry Bennett was at catcher. Not exactly the lineup envisioned by Joe Torre before the year started, but injuries will happen to every team.

Despite scoring 13 runs in the last 2 games, the bats were in sleep mode most of the game. The only noise was Ethier's 2-run shot in the 7th to cut the Angel lead to 3-2. The Angels answered right back when leadoff hitter Maicer Izturis walked, then went to 2nd and 3rd on wild pitchers. Vlad Guerrero hit a grounded to Martin, who tried to gun Izturis out at home, but the throw was one-hopped and could not be handled.

The 4 hitters of Pierre-Jones-Kemp-Kent went a combined 0-15. Kind of hard to belief that they were still in the game with those kind of lousy numbers. Not too surprising, though. Pierre was hitting as high as .324 on May 5, but has plummeted to .287 since. Jones hit a homer yesterday to raise his power numbers to a dramatic 2 HR and 7 RBI. Kemp was NL Player of the Week for April 27-May 4 and was hitting .324, now he's down to .302. And for the first time, Kent is definitely showing his age by hitting a putrid .236. Man do they miss Furcal now more than ever.

Hiroki Kuroda tried his best, but plagued by a lack of run support yet again, he was practically in a no win situation. He finished at 6.1 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. He also had those 2 wild pitches to Izturis that lead to another run. The first run he gave up was unearned because he struck out Eric Aybar in the dirt, but Bennett threw the ball into right field on the throw to 1st, allowing Casey Kotchman to walk home. Weird play.

Now here's a number that's absolutely staggering - and not in a good way, unfortunately. In their last 28 road interleague games, the Dodgers have won a grand total of 4 GAMES. 4!!! Wow, that's really, really pathetic. I had no idea it was that bad. They are 3-15 in Anaheim in the last 18 meetings. Their next road interleague series isn't until June 13-15 in Detroit, and while the Tigers haven't been playing well, they still have loads of talent. The Dodgers simply cannot afford to roll over and play dead like that if they want to be considered a serious threat in the playoffs.

It's a Fox game this afternoon, and Chan Ho Park will receive his first start of the season against Ervin Santana, who's pitched outstanding this season. It's a well-deserved start for Park, as he has played a big role in getting key outs from the bullpen. Hopefully he can keep the game close because runs will be at a premium against Santana.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Huge 7th helps Dodgers take series in Milwaukee

After limping through 5 straight loses, the Dodgers' bats finally found ways to score runs in the absence of Rafael Furcal.

A scoreless game heading into the 7th, solo shots by Andruw Jones and Jeff Kent, and a 3-run shot by Gary Bennett was more than enough for the Dodgers to top the Brewers, 7-2. It was this type of clutch hitting that the Dodgers have been waiting to see since Furcal was Dl'd.

A whole bunch of credit goes to Chad Billingsley, who was simply brilliant all day long. He finished at 7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. After getting hit around by the Houston Astros in his last start, he didn't miss a beat all day. This type of game is exactly what he's capable of doing each start.

The Dodgers could only gather 3 hits heading into the 7th, and it looked like another one of those days. Then an inexplicable sight happened. Andruw Freakin' Jones hit a solo shot to left for the game's first run. After an Andre Ethier groundout, Jeff Kent followed with a solo homer of his own. James Loney tripled next, and was singled home by Russell Martin. Newly called-up Luis Maza singled, and Gary Bennett unloaded on a 3-run homer to blow the game wide open. It's the type of inning the Dodgers have shown plenty of times this year, which makes their offensive struggles even more mind boggling.

Bennett added another RBI on a double in the 9th, and he ended up going 2-4 with 4 RBI. It's a great sign that he's hitting in case the Dodgers want to start Martin at 3rd base more often, much like today. Blake DeWitt missed the game with a stiff lower back, so knowing that Bennett can provide runs is a big relief.

For those of you that missed yesterday's game, Juan Pierre provided the big flow off of closer Guillermo Mota in the 9th for a 2-run double to get the win. It was a game where the Dodgers were losing until the 9th, so the comeback was a great sign that their offensive futility may be over.

Taking 2 of 3 in Milwaukee is huge for a couple of reasons. One, the Brewers are a good team with loads of talent. Two, they had lost 5 straight, so any signs of life is welcome. Plus, winning without Furcal and putting runs on the board is good for the confidence of the team.

Friday night starts interleague play as they travel to Anaheim to meet the Angels. Hiroki Kuroda gets the ball, and he had a no-hitter going into the 7th against the Astros last start, a game in which Jonathan Broxton was bombed and lost the game. The Angels seem to always slap them around, so playing solid baseball would be another big statement that their bad play is over with.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Furcal hits the 15-day DL

The worst case scenario came true, as Rafael Furcal's lower back injury has forced him to the DL. It's retroactive to May 6, so he can come back on May 21, which is the final game of the home series against the Cincinnati Reds.

What started off as something that looked so minor has turned into a full fledged injury. At this point of the season, it's the logical move to use precaution. We saw last year that he's not nearly the same player when he's trying to play through pain (not that anybody else would be either). Getting their best offensive player rested and ready is the smart thing to do.

In the meantime, the Dodgers will be looking for another shortstop from outside the organization, so says's Ken Gurnick. suggests Andy Cannizaro from the Rays, who's mainly been in their Triple-A affiliate at Durham. Gurnick says that if nobody is acquired, they will most likely call up Luis Maza from Triple-A Las Vegas, where he is hitting a fantastic .402.

Another minor note is that Tony Abreu is now on the 60-day DL, transferred from the 15-day.


This week's mailbag is posted, and the topics are if Terry Tiffee will receive a call-up, why Andre Ethier has been out of the lineup, why Matt Kemp is left off the All-Star ballot, what the author would do when Nomar Garciaparra returns, and who has been the biggest surprise thus far.

It's all right here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Schmidt makes first rehab appearance

For the first time since June of last year, Jason Schmidt has pitched in an official game. It was for Single-A Inland Empire yesterday, where he tossed a scoreless inning. He threw 12 pitches, 10 fastballs and 2 changeups, and recorded 2 groundouts and 1 flyout. He then threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen.

While it's not any reason to declare him ready again, it's a pretty big deal to see him finally out there. It's been over 10 months since he had right shoulder surgery, and who knows if he'll ever be the same. But, it's little step after little step for him, and yesterday was the first one. It's encouraging.

Obviously, he still has many more hills to climb. I can't even possibly put a time table on an MLB return, but with the way he's been slowly built back up, it very well could happen. Stay tuned.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Broxton implodes, Dodgers drop another

One day after I got done praising Jonathan Broxton, he then raised his ERA by nearly 4 runs. It was the nightmare inning the Dodgers could not afford to have.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched out of his mind, but it was not enough as Broxton was bombed for 6 runs in only 0.1 IP as the Dodgers lost to the Astros, 8-5. Yes, that would mean the Dodgers just got swept... AGAIN.

It's really hard to imagine how this game went from so good to so bad in such a little amount of time. It sure looked like the Dodgers were going to at least even up the homestand for much of the game. James Loney put them on the board first with a 2-run shot in the 1st inning for a quick lead. It was scoreless after that until the 7th.

In the 7th, Kuroda finally lost his no-hit bid when Hunter Pence singled with 2 down. After a walk to Ty Wiggington, Joe Beimel relieved and walked Geoff Blum. Broxton then came in and walked Mark Loretta to force in a run. Michael Bourne hit one to deep center that was caught to end the inning.

Blake DeWitt came up big again when he doubled to lead off the bottom of the 7th, then scored on a Kaz Matsui error with Delwyn Young hitting. The Dodgers were up 3-1 going into the 8th with their main setup man in. My oh my did the bottom fall out for them. Broxton had about his worst outing ever. The inning started with 5 straight singles, and a stolen base, another single, double, and sac-fly later, the close game was blown wide open.

The Dodgers actually scored a couple in the bottom of the 9th, but it was too little, too late. Who knows if it could have been more if Bourne didn't make a fantastic catch off of the bat of Andruw Jones. Probably wouldn't have mattered, though.

This week summarizes the Dodgers in a nutshell. They can play very well, and then tank out of nowhere. I said all along during their winning streak that their lack of home run power will cost them, and it has. Well, that and some shoddy pitching along the way. Face it, they're going to have a hard time winning big games by scoring all of their runs by hitting singles. That's why the Jones signing has been the biggest disappointment of the year.

It's an off day on Monday, which they need, and then off to Milwaukee for 3. Brad Penny, Derek Lowe, and Chad Billingsley will look to redeem themselves after poor starts this week. That's not going to be easy to do against a team like the Brewers and players like Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. We shall see what happens.

3 straight games of futility

All of the things the Dodgers were doing during their recent winning streak has seemingly been thrown right out the window. They're now back to their old ways.

It was another weak effort last night as the game was essentially over after the 1st inning as the Houston Astros easily beat the Dodgers, 5-0. Chad Billingsley was lost in the first 2 innings, and the bats were in hibernation. Pretty sad effort all around.

Of course, nothing is quite as sad this year as Andruw Jones. Another 0-3, 2 K performance from the "big free agent signing." He has got to be the sorriest, worst, most pathetic, horrible excuse for a baseball player there is. He's a complete embarrassment and should be ashamed to even collect his paycheck for doing a big pile of NOTHING this year. I am now fully convinced that he's the worst player in the entire Major League.

As Karl Ravech said on Baseball Tonight, "Why is he playing over Andre Ethier?" Yes I know, the answer is the green stuff (not THAT green stuff, although I do feel like having plenty of it whenever I see Jones play).

Billingsley had come off 2 very strong performance, but wow, you wouldn't know that by watching him last night. The 'Stros just pounded him around for 5 runs in the 1st and 2nd. The big blow was a 2-out, 2-run double by Darin Erstad, a guy who hit a whopping .248 last year and .221 the year before that.

Obviously Rafael Furcal's absence hurts, as the offense looks ordinary without him there. But that's still no excuse for the other guys to play like they're not in the lineup either. Juan Pierre lead off again and was 0-4. Blake DeWitt hit 2nd and was 0-3 with a walk. Jeff Kent and Russell Martin were hitless. Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Chin-lung Hu all had 1 hit each. 3 hits and 2 walks was all they could gather. Furcal or no Furcal, that's pitiful.

The Dodgers will look to at least seem like a Major League team today by finishing up their homestand with Hiroki Kuroda on the mound. He was a bit shaky against the Mets last outing, and they really need him to step up. Like the last couple of days, Furcal will be a game-time decision.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Looking at the bullpen

While the Dodgers get ready to take on the Houston Astros tonight, let's take a look at how the bullpen has performed thus far.

LH - Joe Beimel
3-0, 12 IP, 0.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 1 ER, 11 H, 4 BB, 9 K
Beimel has been great so far, excelling in his role of left-handed specialist. Lefties stand virtually no chance against him, compiling a meager .190 BAA. He also leads the team in appearances with 18 since he has proven over and over that he is very much reliable.

RH - Scott Proctor
0-0, 17.2 IP, 6.11 ERA, 1.58 WHIP, 12 ER, 19 H, 9 BB, 16 K
Probably the most surprising of all the numbers I have seen is Proctor's. For whatever reason, he has yet to really get on track, as evidenced by his bloated ERA. He's still a Joe Torre favorite, so he'll be given plenty of chances I'm sure.

RH - Cory Wade
0-0, 7.2 IP, 2.35 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 2 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 4 K
The book on Wade was that he's a good strike thrower, and that has certainly carried over to the Bigs. After Ramon Troncoso flopped, Wade has played his limited role very nicely. Righties are only hitting .125 against him.

RH - Chan Ho Park
1-0, 1 SV, 22 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6 ER, 20 H, 10 BB, 9 K
Park was briefly sent down to Triple-A to start the season after losing the 5th starter battle, but was quickly recalled. He has really given the Dodgers big innings in games where the starters have not been so hot. I never thought he'd be playing anywhere close to this well, but he has.

LH - Hong-Chih Kuo
2-1, 24.1 IP, 2.59 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 7 ER, 19 H, 9 BB, 33 K
While it's not the situation he would want to be in, he has been outstanding in his role of long relief. Earlier this week against the Mets, Hiroki Kuroda wasn't getting the job done, so Kuo came in struck out 8 in 3.2 innings. He's challenging hitters and winning with his overpowering stuff. If he stays healthy (BIG if), he will continue to play a huge role.

RH - Jonathan Broxton
1-0, 15 IP, 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 ER, 9 H, 6 BB, 21 K
Another year, another dominating performance by Broxton. He is easily one of the top setup men in the game. There have been calls for him to take over closer duties already. While I think that's premature, it wouldn't surprise me to see it happen next year. For now, he still owns the 8th inning.

RH - Takashi Saito
1-1, 5 SV, 15.1 IP, 1.76 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 3 ER, 13 H, 5 BB, 16 K
I hear people say Saito should be replaced, and then I look at these numbers and wonder what those people are thinking. I believe the problem is that he's been so good the last few years, any little slip up (like his blown save against Pittsburgh) gets magnified way too much. He's still one of the top closers in the game, and I'll take my chances with him closing out any game.

Overall, I think the bullpen has pitched very well. With the exception of Proctor, they all have really good numbers, which shows that with a little offense, the Dodgers are capable of winning any game. The return of a healthy Yhency Brazoban only gives them another weapon to turn to in innings 5-8. I really believe that if the starters can give 5-6 good innings, then it's a winnable game. Even when a starter isn't clicking, Park and Kuo have shown they can keep the game steady.

They're deep, talented, and most importantly, can get people out!

Dodgers rocked for 2nd straight game

Here we go again with Derek Lowe...

For the 3rd time in a row, Lowe was awful as the Dodgers got creamed, 7-1. After starting the year with 3 great starts and a 1.80 ERA, he now is 2-3 with a 4.43 ERA after giving up 6 runs in 5.1 IP last night. Since going 8 innings in an 11-1 rout of San Diego on April 12, he has yet to get out of the 6th inning.

This is the thing that is so maddeningly frustrating about him. He does this stuff ALL THE TIME. Over the past 3 full seasons as a Dodger, he ends up with an ERA in the upper 3's, which would suggest that he's done pretty well. The down side is that he's prone to getting bombed in way too many starts, just like last night. One day, his stuff is nasty enough to justify Derek Jeter once saying he had the best stuff in the game. Other days, it's batting practice. Very frustrating.

It's not like he got any help, though, as the Dodgers could only muster 1 lousy run, just like Wednesday's game vs. the Mets. And, just like Wednesday, the run came in the 9th inning, when the game had well been in hand. They had 7 hits, only 2 walks, and left 8 men on base. Not going to get it done.

Of course, it's no surprise that the offense has struggled with Rafael Fucal out. They're 1-2 without him, and could very well be 0-3 if Blake DeWitt hadn't played the game of his life on Tuesday. Thank God Furcal is supposed to be back today, because they really need him. His value has gone up even more by sitting out these last few games.

If the Dodgers are going to beat the Astros, they're going to have to figure out Lance Berkman, who is playing out of his mind this year. He's hitting .380 with 12 HR and 35 RBI. Can you even imagine the Dodgers having someone like that? Oh wait... Andruw Jones was supposed to. Ya, that's really worked out well for them. At least his 1-3 raised his average to a staggering .173. That's All-Star quality right there.

With Furcal back (we hope), Chad Billingsley will look to get the Dodgers back on the winning side tonight. He's given up only 2 runs in his last 13 innings, winning 2 games in the process. They need a big start from him as their starters (Kuroda, Penny, Lowe) have all sucked royal lately.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Loaiza hits the 15-day DL, Brazoban back

Esteban Loaiza was placed on the 15-day DL with "tightness and spasming" in his right shoulder. The move is retroactive to last Sunday, May 4. Fortunately for the Dodgers, with off days, they will not need to use the 5th starter until May 17.

It's been an up and down season for Loaiza, as he was originally the #5 starter coming out of Spring Training, beating out the likes of Chan Ho Park and Hong-Chih Kuo. However, he's only made 3 starts and made 4 relief appearances, gathering at 1-2 record and a 5.63 ERA. Of his 3 starts, only his one against Colorado on April 27 would be considered good, as he gave up 2 runs in 5 innings.

With Loaiza gone for now, Yhency Brazoban has received the call to return to the Bigs. Between AA and AAA ball, he had an ERA of 2.45 in 14.2 IP, including 17 K. I think he's proven that he's ready to be back in LA by now. Back before all of his arm problems, he was looking like the closer of the future with a dominating fastball. It'll be good to get him back in the mix with Beimel, Broxton, and Saito at the end of games. It's another great weapon to shorten games with.

There should be an official release on Brazoban's return soon, as I only saw that it was happening on the ESPN ticker.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Penny rocked, Dodgers squashed

Brad Penny did absolutely nothing right today as the New York Mets teed off on him on their way to a 12-1 win. 4 runs in the 2nd and 6 more in the 5th was plenty of runs on a day where the Dodgers' bats didn't do anything either.

Penny looked completely lost out there today. Much like Kuroda the night before, he was consistently... inconsistent. He would get behind hitters, be unable to locate his fastball, and the batters just sat on his fat pitches and hit single after single. It was not at all an encouraging start to say the very least.

Of his 112 pitches, 71 were for strikes, with plenty of them via the foul ball. Give the Mets credit - they had a great gameplan and followed through to perfection. His final line was 4.2 IP, 10 H, 10 ER, 3 BB, 2 K. Yikes.

John Maine was awesome from the start, and it was established early on that the Dodgers were in for a long afternoon. He nearly pitched a complete game shutout, but that was denied in the 9th when Matt Kemp had an RBI-single to score Andruw Jones and extend his hitting streak to 11 games. That's about the only bright spot from today. The game was that bad.

For those of you that didn't see the game, be thankful. Also, do not be fooled when you look at the box score and see that Jones had a pinch-hit double. Please. It was a complete cheeseball, bloop double down the right field line. To call that a double is a disgrace. Pretty much like Jones' entire year.

The good part is that the Dodgers did indeed take this series 2-1, which is a good sign against a team like the Mets, even if they are not playing that great right now. After an off day tomorrow, the Houston Astros will be coming to town. Roy Oswalt should be avoided, but considering how bad he's been this year, that may not be a good thing.

The off day also means a couple of things. The first is that the 5th starter should be skipped, so Kuroda will go on Sunday. The second is that it's another day of rest for Rafael Furcal, who will hopefully be back in the lineup on Friday. With the way he's played, they need him to win, bottom line.

I think Blake DeWitt has earned that starting job

Moises Alou had stolen home. Nelson Figueroa had walked to load the bases. Luis Castillo had an RBI. The Mets were up 4-1 in the 3rd, and it looked like a long night for the Dodgers.

Enter Blake DeWitt.

With the help of some excellent relief work, DeWitt provided the offense by driving in 4 of the team's 5 runs, including an inside-the-park home run to lift the Dodgers to a comeback victory over the Mets, 5-4. It's the 10th win in 11 games for LA, who remain the hottest team in baseball.

The start of the game sure didn't look promising for a win. Hiroki Kuroda was just awful. If he wasn't getting pounded, he was forcing Russell Martin to play goalie by constantly throwing balls in the dirt. It was by far his worst start of his brief career, not even lasting the 4th inning. With 8 hits and 3 walks, I'm shocked he only surrendered 4 runs. The Mets helped him out by leaving a whopping 8 men in scoring position with 2 outs. That's not going to get it done.

Like I said before, the bullpen was fantastic yet again. Hong-Chih Kuo K'd 8 in only 3.2 IP, to go along with 0 hits and only 1 walk. Wow. Jonathan Broxton got the hold with 2 K's in the 8th, and Takashi Saito got the save by K'ing Castillo looking to end the game with 2 runners on. It wasn't pretty, but hey, a save is a save, and closers will take it anyway they can get it (just ask Trevor Hoffman).

On a night where Rafael Furcal was scratched with a bad back, it's good to still see them post a W. All 5 of their runs were with 2 down, and they stole 3 more bases to reach 34, 2nd in the Majors behind San Francisco. Great win on a night where their starter was way off.

It's an afternoon set today, 3 p.m. my time, so I get to rush out of work and catch a good pitching duel between Brad Penny and John Maine. Let's hope Furcal is back in the lineup along with Andre Ethier, who's been odd man out with Pierre playing so well.

Hmm..... perhaps play Ethier for Andruw Jones? Now there's a great idea!!!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

How's the rest of the NL West doing?

With so much attention paid to the Dodgers on here, let's take a look at their main competition in the NL West:

San Diego Padres
In one way I'm shocked by how awful they've been, but in another way I'm not. The book on the Padres before this season (heck, for the last few years) has been that they can pitch with anybody, but won't put a whole lot of runs on the board.

Well, the pitching has been middle-of-the-pack with a 4.18 ERA, though Jake Peavy has been fantastic again with 4 wins and a 2.22 ERA. Trevor Hoffman has settled down lately, but there's still talk that he's washed up. Can Randy Wolf stay healthy all year? Will Mark Prior give them quality starts? Will Greg Maddux ever break down? They do have some uncertainty to deal with.

The hitting has been downright atrocious - dead last in AVG, OBP, SLG, 2B, SB. Throw in a 2nd-to-last in runs, and it's not exactly a winning formula. Losing Mike Cameron has definitely hurt more than people may have thought. Adrian Gonzalez has been great (.302, 8, 23) and that's about it. Kevin Kouzmanoff, Khalil Greene, Tad Iguchi, and Jim Edmonds have been deplorable and need to step up if they ever want to claw their way back in this division.

Arizona Diamondbacks
While they played very well last year, they've exceeded expectations this year. Their pitching is just nasty, and their young players are producing big-time at the plate. They've clearly become the team to beat in the West.

They lead the NL in ERA and WHIP, 2 great indicators for effectiveness. Brandon Webb continues to be one of the best in the Bigs with 7 wins, followed by 4 apiece from Micah Owings and Danny Haren. Then they have Max Scherzer called up, a nasty, strikeout machine. Brandon Lyon started rocky, but is 8 for his last 8 in saves, giving up no runs in the process. Yes, they have it all.

Their offense is tops in R, 3B, RBI, SLG. Mark Reynolds, Justin Upton, and Conor Jackson have been fantastic. What's surprising is that Eric Byrnes hasn't done anything yet, but they haven't missed a beat. This team has it all, and barring injuries, should be back in the playoffs.

Colorado Rockies
Much like the Padres, their play has been flat and uninspired thus far, which is surprising. Granted the West is tough, but they've been a pushover. For a team with their kind of talent, there's no excuse for that.

They'll never be known for their pitching, but they're at or near the bottom in ERA, WHIP, BB, H, K. Aaron Cook has been the lone bright spot with 5 wins and 2.40 ERA. Jeff Francis was supposed to anchor this staff, but has 0 wins and an ERA over 5. Ubaldo Jimenez and Mark Redman have been a joke. Manny Corpas has already lost the closer role with as many blown saves as saves (4). Oh, and an ERA in the 8's doesn't help either.

Their hitting has either been so-so or bad, which should never happen in Coors Field. Garrett Atkins and Matt Holliday have done their part, but guys like Todd Helton, Willy Taveras, and Brad Hawpe could be doing much more. Troy Tulowitzki has been horrendous, and is now out for awhile with with a torn left quad. In that ballpark and with that talent, they can kick it in gear at any point, so don't count them out yet.

San Francisco Giants
When I saw them on Opening Day, I thought they were the worst team on Earth. Old, slow, dull, incredibly boring. But, I'll give them credit for playing somewhat decently after a rough start.

Their pitching stats is a microcosm for their young flamethrowers - high K's, but his BB's as well. Tim Lincecum has fulfilled expectations with 4 wins and a 1.49 ERA. Jonathan Sanchez has been a nice surprise. Matt Cain started poorly, but has turned it around. I don't even need to talk about Barry Zito - we all know how he's done. So, there's good promise for the future with those arms.

They're dead last in runs scored, and nearly last in OBP. At the end of the day, those are the only stats that matter. Aaron Rowand and Bengie Molina are doing well, but when they're the main RBI guys, it's hard to win. Of course, it's hard to win when every game has to be pitched so well. Their main hope is that they can find young players that can hit, much like they've found youth on the mound.

3 home runs in 1 game??? It's true!!!

I've talked about before how when the Dodgers win games, it's usually because of small ball. For one night, it was nice to see them put it out of the park.

The Dodgers rode the home runs of Rafael Furcal, Blake DeWitt, and Matt Kemp en route to a 5-1 win over the New York Mets. The combination of the long ball and solid pitching was more than enough to put the Mets away.

First things first, Chad Billingsley has figured out how to avoid the bad innings that plagued him to start the year. While he wasn't picture perfect, he got the big outs when he needed them in going 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K. Joe Torre wanted him to go 7, but a leadoff walk to the putrid Luis Castillo was more than enough reason to pull the plug. The strikeouts were down, but so were the runs, which is the important thing at the end of the day. The 1st inning alone was enough to show how nasty he can be by forcing Jose Reyes to pop out to 3rd and K'ing Ryan Church and David Wright swinging.

Oliver Perez was the opposing starter, and he really didn't look to have anything going. Furcal's homer was on an 0-2 count with a pitch right down the middle. The Dodgers only had 7 hits, but a surprising homer by DeWitt and then the 2-run shot to right by Kemp was plenty of scoring on this night.

The other main contributors were Juan Pierre and Russell Martin. Pierre was again in the #2 hole, and was 1-3, 2 R, BB, SB. Martin was 2-3, RBI, SB. The bullpen of Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton, and Takashi Saito pitched 3 hitless innings, K'ing 4. Great stuff all around.

Even though it's only 1 game, I've gotta be honest here - the Mets just do not impress me much. They're certainly not awful, but at 16-14, I thought they'd be better. It seems to me that the key to beating them is by keeping Jose Reyes and David Wright off base. Carlos Beltran is hitting a measly .221, and Moises Alou and Carlos Delgado are shells of their former selves. That organization will have plenty of decisions to make if they miss the playoffs again, and at this rate, I think that's very possible with the Phillies and the Braves lurking.

Both teams are back in action Tuesday night with Hiroki Kuroda getting the ball. He hasn't won a game since... well, his 1st start. But, a 3.82 ERA and 1.27 WHIP shows that he deserves better fate. Hopefully it'll be win #2 tonight.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Kemp named NL Player of the Week

Congratulations to Matt Kemp for being named the National League's Player of the Week for this past week. His numbers were absolutely staggering in leading the Dodgers to an undefeated week:

.407 AVG
.433 OBP
7 R
4 2B
11 RBI
6 SB

It's a great change from the beginning of the year when he was 2-16 with 1 RBI and 7 K. Before the season, he was one of those young studs that fantasy owners love to target. I just had someone tell me the other day how much he's been carrying his team thus far. With his talent and 5-tool ability, he can make an impact all year long when he keeps his focus.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Winning streak ends with a thud

The bad news? The Dodgers lost 7-2 to the Rockies today, ending their 8-game winning streak.

The good news? Aaron Cook is on my fantasy team.

Ok so that's not exactly much consolation for us Dodger fans but still, I gotta look for the silver lining in this game. There's really not a whole lot to say other than the bats went dry and the Rockies were in command from the first inning. It was fun while it lasted.

Derek Lowe was Bad Lowe today, barely being able to throw a strike as he gave up 3 runs in the 1st inning. He then set the Rocks down in order the next 3 innings, only to fall apart again in the 5th. He's a really weird pitcher. Flawless one second, horrible the next. But that's what you're going to get from him. His numbers will be good when it's all said and done, but when he's bad, he's REALLY bad.

The bats were set down in order through 3, then Juan Pierre, hitting in the #2 hole again, hit a double with 1 down in the 4th. Matt Kemp struck out and James Loney grounded out to strand him there. Andre Ethier hit a solo shot in the 5th, and Pierre hit an RBI-single in the 8th for the only 2 runs. Pretty much a blah day all around.

What's interesting to note is that each team had 9 hits, with the real difference being that the Rocks took 5 walks compared to none for LA. On the last day of the roadtrip, down 3 runs from the start, it seems like everyone was overanxious and trying to kill the ball instead of playing small ball. In Coors Field, that's natural to aim for the fences. Didn't work today.

I'm sure the Dodgers will easily take 5 of 6 from Colorado, the defending NL Champions. Even if the Rocks are 12-19, that's pretty impressive. With Arizona's loss, they're still 4 games out of 1st in the NL West.

Now, it's back home for a 3-game set against the New York Mets, another elite team in the NL. Chad Billingsley will look to build off his recent good start against the Marlins. Taking the series against a team like the Mets would be another great step in the right direction. Oh, and thankfully they won't have to face some Johan Santana guy. What a shame!

LaRoche sent to Triple-A

Andy LaRoche is officially healthy after suffering a torn thumb ligament on March 7. In order to get him consistent playing time, he was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday.

It's really not much of a surprise when you think about it. Blake DeWitt has shown he can handle the rigors of the Majors (for now at least) and Russell Martin is filling in nicely on the hot corner as well. It doesn't do someone like LaRoche much good to just sit on the bench and not play more than here and there. He can go kill the ball in Vegas and feel good about himself again.

The question will now be when they will call him back up. Nomar Garciaparra is once again, for the 743rd time in 2 season, back on the DL. Tony Abreu does not seem like he's getting much closer from returning from a right groin strain. It's not like either one of them can be relied on too heavily.

It seems to me that the call-up will come if DeWitt hits the rookie wall. That has not happened yet, giving the Dodgers some time to let LaRoche feel good swinging the bat again. While Martin is a nice option at the hot corner, his real value is obviously behind the plate. LaRoche could be back once he's in a good groove.

As I said before, I really think the Dodgers should look to move Nomar elsewhere, especially if LaRoche can hit well and DeWitt continues his good play. Nomar is way too injury-prone and at this point in his career, is not worth the trouble.

Who's hot, who's not: April

With 1 month down in the Major League Baseball season, it's time to look back at the month of April and see who's pulling their weight (Furcal), who's not (Nomar), and who's just plain overweight (Jones).

Who's Hot?


Rafael Furcal: .367 AVG, .448 OBP, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 25 R, 11 2B, 2 3B, 7 SB
Andre Ethier: .329 AVG, .415 OBP, 2 HR, 13 RBI, 18 R, 7 2B, 2 SB
Matt Kemp: .321 AVG, .348 OBP, 2 HR, 15 RBI, 13 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 4 SB
James Loney: .272 AVG, .322 OBP, 2 HR, 19 RBI, 11 R, 5 2B, 1 3B
Russell Martin: .305 AVG, .455 OBP, 3 HR, 11 RBI, 16 R, 5 2B, 1 SB


Brad Penny (including March 31): 4-2, 2.89 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 19 K, 10 BB
Derek Lowe: 2-1, 2.88 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 22 K, 7 BB
Joe Beimel: 2-0, 1.04 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 8 K, 3 BB
Jonathan Broxton: 1-0, 2.31 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 16 K, 6 BB

Who's Not?


Andruw Jones: .155 AVG, .283 OBP, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 13 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 29 K
Nomar Garciaparra: .226 AVG, .314 OBP, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 6 R, 1 S
Juan Pierre: .250 AVG, .328 OBP, 8 RBI, 3 R, 2 2B, 6 SB
Mark Sweeney: .118 AVG, .211 OBP, 0 RBI, 0 R, 1 2B
Chin-lung Hu: .208 AVG, .345 OBP, 3 RBI, 4 R, 1 SB


Chad Billingsley: 1-4, 5.20 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 40 K, 17 BB
Scott Proctor: 0-0, 5.27 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 11 K, 5 BB

Team Record: 13-13

8 straight, and the Dodgers are BALLIN'!!!

The hottest team in baseball just got even hotter last night.

James Loney led the charge by going 2-5 with a 3-run double and 3-run home run to lead the Dodgers to victory, 12-7. Much like the previous game, the Dodgers built a big lead, suffered through a big Rockies' comeback, then put the game away late with another big run. The way they are swinging the bats is not only fantastic, it's downright shocking after the way they started the season.

Of course, facing some clown named Jorge De La Rosa didn't hurt, as the Dodgers just pounded on the poor boy. To his defense, he was just acquired this past Wednesday from the Royals, and hadn't even pitched in the Bigs yet this year. He didn't exactly have that much time to prepare, so him getting the start seemed odd. Still, giving up 9 runs in 4 innings is lousy no matter what the circumstances were.

The lead was 4-0 at the end of 1 thanks to a bases loaded walk to Russell Martin (starting at 3rd base again) and the double by Loney. A Matt Kemp sac-fly and Jeff Kent groundout pushed it to 6-0 in the 2nd. Esteban Loaiza then hit a big rough patch, giving up 6 runs in the 2nd and 3rd, chasing him after 2.1 IP. Fortunately, Hong-Chih Kuo pitched 3.1 great innings of relief, giving up 1 run and K'ing 5 to get the win.

What's been great about this recent winning streak is that the Dodgers have had to battle back from adversity on numerous occasions. It's not like they've won each game from the start without much of a battle. Last night, with the game tied at 6 in the 5th, Loney unloaded on his 3-run shot to put the game away. Unlike the start of the season, it's that type of clutch hitting that is carrying them over the top.

While Rafael Furcal and Kemp continue to scorch the ball, Juan Pierre deserves plenty of praise as well. He was 3-4, 2 R, 2 SB, 1 BB. He started once again for Andre Ethier, but proved he belonged out there with another big game.

Andruw Jones? 1-5 with 2 K's. He still sucks.

Anyway, it'll be hard to get Pierre out of the lineup when he plays like that, and he realistically should be playing in place of Jones. But, that's not going to happen. I think Ethier will need to get used to sitting more than usual. Jones might get days off every now and then, but as the "big free agent signing" this offseason, he'll be out there, completely sucking up the place in the process.

The Dodgers will look to enter Cloud 9 and go 6 for 6 against the Rockies when Derek Lowe goes against Aaron Cook in a solid pitching duel this afternoon. It'll then be right back home for 6 games against the Mets and Astros.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Raffy powers Dodgers to 7 straight

Whatever has gotten into the Dodgers' bats, whether that be cork or not, I hope it stays there for a long time.

Down 3-0 entering the 7th inning and largely doing nothing on offense, the Dodgers EXPLODED for 7 runs and and tacked on 4 more in the 8th to take the victory and 7 in a row, 11-6. The win puts the Dodgers 4 games behind 1st place Arizona.

Brad Penny got his 5th win in 7 appearances, going 5 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 1 K. He can thank his offense for the win, since he didn't exactly set the world on fire last night. But I guess at Coors Field, giving up 3 runs in 5 might not be too shabby after all. He is now 1 behind Brandon Webb for the most wins in the NL, and is tied with (you'll never believe this one)... MARK HENDRICKSON. Wow.

Rafael Furcal was once again the main event as he finished at 3-5, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI. During the 6th with 2 outs, he powered a 3-run shot to left to give the Dodgers some more breathing room. It was his 4th homer of the year. We're only 1 month into the season, but he's definitely the All-Star starter at shortstop and an early MVP candidate. Where would they be without him? Resign him now!

Someone else who is locked in right now is Matt Kemp. He's had at least 1 hit for each of the past 7 wins, and 5 of those games have been multi-hit. He got the Dodgers on the board with a double to plate Juan Pierre to start the 6th. His big hit came when Colorado cut the game to 7-6 after 7. In the top of the 8th, he hit a bases clearing double to put the game away. He's now up to .316 with 21 RBI on the season. That's why he's an everyday player.

Pierre got the start in place of Andre Ethier and delivered another solid game. He may not like his life on the bench, but when he's played lately, he's been great. It's no secret, but when he does get on base, he's a huge threat. It's that whole "getting on base" thing that has plagued him, especially in the Spring when he lost his job. With Andruw Jones continuing to be a miserable failure that couldn't even get a hit in my slow pitch softball league, Pierre could see much more PT soon.

With the Majors longest winning streak, Esteban Loaiza gets another start tonight against Jorge De La Rosa. The game was originally scheduled for 9, but I guess the cold weather moved it up to 8. Either way, it'll be cold. Really cold. So bring a blanket. Or just don't go and watch from home. That's the ticket.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Dodgers have that sweeping feeling

Whether the Dodgers are getting swept or are doing the sweeping, they sure don't seem to like doing things halfway. Unlike the start of the season, they were the aggressors this time around.

An RBI-single by Matt Kemp broke a 3-all tie in the 9th off of closer Kevin Gregg. An error by Gregg put another run on the board, and the Dodgers got another save from Takashi Saito to take the victory and 3-game sweep, 5-3.

Playing in a day game after a night game, it was another strange lineup set forth by Joe Torre. Mark Sweeney started for James Loney at 1st base and hit 4th. Chin-lung Hu played for Jeff Kent at 2nd base and hit 8th. I never, EVER, thought I'd say this before the season, but thank God Juan Pierre started in place on Andruw Jones. Gee, I really missed another fantastic 0-4 performance from Jones. Can't imagine why he'd sit...

After Hanley Ramirez doubled home Matt Treanor in the 3rd to start the scoring, Andre Ethier singled and scored Pierre to start the 4th. In the 5th with 1 out, Pierre laced a single into right-center to score Rafael Furcal and Hu for a 3-1 lead. That was short-lived when Cody Ross (former Dodger) cracked a 2-run shot to left for a 3-3 game.

Just like Tuesday night, the Marlins turned to Gregg to keep the score tied, and again he failed. A leadoff walk to Furcal was the worst thing he could have done. Pierre sacrificed Furcal to 2nd and Kemp hit him home for the lead. Saito K'd Jorge Cantu and Wes Helms in the 9th to get his 4th save.

Hiroki Kuroda pitched very well, save for the homer he gave up to Ross. He went 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K. It's unfortunate he didn't get the win, but he still had a great game. In fact, over these past 6 games, the pitching has held either the Rockies or Marlins to 3 runs or less in 4 of the 6 games. The other 2 games were high scoring, but the bats carried them through. It's great to see them gelling so well.

The Dodgers still don't hit home runs to save their lives, so if they want to win consistently, today's game is the blueprint on how it needs to be done. They could hit more home runs, if Andruw Jones could hit the damn ball... But forget it, that's just not going to happen, so I won't bother ranting. Rather, they will need to continue taking pitches to draw walks, moving runners along, stealing bases, and hitting singles and doubles to score them. That's the way they'll win.

Now, don't get me wrong, they have played great lately and deserve praise, but it's a little scary too. When you rarely hit home runs, you have to do a lot of work each night just to get a win. They've done that lately, but they could just as easily lose some games because of their lack of power. As I've stated in the past, I really hope the hitters give praise to their pitchers on a daily basis for playing so well. Starters and bullpen have all come through.

With that said, the Dodgers will look to make it 7 games straight when they visit Colorado Friday night. Brad Penny, coming off of 3 straight great starts and wins, will take the mound against Jeff Francis, who stymied the Dodgers his last start. Both of these guys are 2 of the tops in the NL, so it will be a fun matchup.