Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Kuroda nearly unhittable in shutting down Phils

Two rare events occurred at Dodger Stadium on Monday night for Hiroki Kuroda. The first was that he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against the Phillies.

The second? After 45 at-bats of nothing but failure, Kuroda finally got a hit. It was a single off of Roy Halladay, no less.

Things got quite interesting for Kuroda and the Dodgers, as he was five outs away from getting his first career no-hitter. Unfortunately, former Dodger Shane Victorino hit a sharp single into right to end it. Kuroda and Hong-Chih Kuo went on for a combined one-hitter as the Dodgers got the win, 3-0.

The Dodgers pretty much limped into this game, having suffered two straight losses in Colorado, and watching Manny Ramirez leave through the back door, never to be heard from again. Oh ya, they had to face Halladay too.

But, the Dodgers got on the board with runs in the first couple of innings. In the first, Ryan Theriot drew a walk with one out. Andre Ethier singled, but Matt Kemp struck out. James Loney came through with two outs with an RBI single and a 1-0 lead.

Casey Blake and Jamey Carroll singled to start the second. Rod Barajas grounded into a double play, but Blake was still able to score to grab at 2-0 lead.

With Kuroda rolling, Barajas led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run, his third as a Dodger. It was a nice treat for him, as he is a native of California and had plenty of friends and family watching his first start in L.A.

Once the Dodgers got up 3-0, the attention fully shifted towards Kuroda's no-hit bid. The seventh inning was a tough test, as Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, and Ryan Howard were due up. Kuroda mowed through them on a flyout, lineout, and pop-up.

After getting through the heart of the order, a no-hitter was now a distinct possibility. Plus, Kuroda's pitch count was only in the upper 80's. To start the eighth, Jayson Werth drew a walk. Raul Ibanez grounded into a fielder's choice, as Werth's hard slide broke up a double play.

Up came Victorino, who left no doubt with a single to right. Kuroda stayed on to strike out Carlos Ruiz before exiting for Kuo. Kuo faced pinch-hitter Mike Sweeney, who grounded out on one pitch.

Kuo stayed on to get the Phillies in order in the ninth for his seventh save.

Kuroda was the true star of the night, as he did everything he could to nearly give the Dodgers their first no-hitter since Hideo Nomo got the Rockies in Coors Field on September 17, 1996. It was close, but the Phillies had just enough good hitters to prevent that from happening.

The Dodgers haven't exactly had that many big moments this season, so it was great to see such excitement in the stadium again, even if it was only for one night. With their postseason hopes pretty much slim and none, I'm glad the fans, both live and at home, had a reason to stand up and cheer.

So now the question can be asked: Where will the Dodgers go from here? Their post-Manny era has started off beautifully, with a big win against a good team. Maybe the team can relax, forget about Manny drama, and just play ball? It sure looked like that was the case tonight. Beating Halladay is never easy, and they did it without the guy that's given them many big hits the last two seasons.

In looking at the remaining schedule, the Dodgers have 11 games left at home. That's a good thing since they're 40-27 there. The downside is that they have 16 games left on the road, where they clearly don't play as well. So any thoughts of going on a late run appear to be against the odds.

All the Dodgers can do for now is concentrate on winning this series and the next one against the Giants. In the very least, they can get some momentum for next season, and see which players are worth bringing back. Plus, they can give their fans a reason to care by playing inspired baseball, much like they did tonight.

Carlos Monasterios has a really tough act to follow, but he will try his best to do so on Tuesday. The Phillies will counter with Kyle Kendrick.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Manny Timeline

Manny Ramirez is officially a member of the White Sox as of today. And with that, the whirlwind era of Manny has come to an end after a little over two years as a Dodger.

There were certainly some big moments from one of the best hitters the game has ever seen. Here's a timeline of those big happenings from Manny in Dodger blue.

July 31, 2008 - Traded to the Dodgers in a three-way deal with the Red Sox and Pirates. The other big name to move was Jason Bay to the Red Sox. The Dodgers gave up Andy LaRoche to the Pirates. Manny wore #99 for reasons only known to Manny.

August 1, 2008 - Goes 2-for-4 in his Dodgers debut. Grounds into a double play in the ninth inning of a 2-1 loss to the Diamondbacks.

August 2, 2008 - Hits his first home run with the Dodgers, a two-run shot in the first inning against Diamondbacks pitcher Yusmeiro Petit. The Dodgers win, 4-2.

August 30, 2008 - Has his first multi-homer game with the Dodgers. Hits first homer against Diamondbacks pitcher Dan Haren and the second one against Juan Cruz. Helps Dodgers break a seven-game losing streak, 6-2. Dodgers then proceed to win eight straight and 12 of 13.

October 4, 2008 - Goes 1-for-2 with two walks in helping the Dodgers beat the Cubs 3-1 to earn a sweep in the NLDS. It marked the first postseason series win for the Dodgers since the 1988 World Series.

October 15, 2008 - Hits a solo homer off of Phillies starter Cole Hamels, but the Dodgers lose, 5-1. With the loss, the Phillies win the NLCS 4-1. Ends the postseason with a .520 average, four homers, and 10 RBIs in eight games. Famously says after the game, "Gas is up and so am I" in response to a question about resigning with the Dodgers.

March 4, 2009 - After a long offseason of negotiating, accepts a two-year, $45 million deal to stay with the Dodgers.

May 6, 2009 - Goes 1-for-3 with a double, a run, and two RBIs as the Dodgers beat the Nationals, 10-3. The Dodgers have the best record in baseball at 21-8. Has a .348 average at the time.

May 7, 2009 - Suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for violating the Performance Enhancing Drug policy. It was reported that he took hCg, a women's fertility drug that restarts the body's testosterone production after coming off a steroid cycle.

July 3, 2009 - Returns to the Dodgers and goes 0-for-3 with a walk in a 6-2 victory over the Padres.

July 20, 2009 - Hits his 537th career home run, passing Mickey Mantle for 15th on the all-time list.

July 22, 2009 - As a pinch-hitter, hits a grand slam on the first pitch he sees from Reds reliever Nick Masset to break a 2-2 tie. The Dodgers win, 6-2.

October 10, 2009 - Goes 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBIs to lead the Dodgers past the Cardinals, 5-1. As a result, the Dodgers sweep the NLDS for the second consecutive year.

October 21, 2009 - Goes 0-for-3 with a walk as the Dodgers lose to the Phillies, 10-4. Once again, the Phillies win the NLCS 4-1. Ends the postseason hitting .281 with one homer and four RBIs.

April 10, 2010 - Collects his 2,500th career hit with a single against the Marlins.

April 23, 2010 - Strains his right calf and goes on the 15-day DL, missing 14 games.

May 28, 2010 - Hits a two-run homer against the Rockies to pass Mike Schmidt for 14th on the all-time list with #549.

June 18, 2010 - Returns to Fenway Park for the first time since leaving the Red Sox. Goes 1-for-5 with a run as the Dodgers lose, 10-6.

June 19, 2010 - Hits a solo homer against his old mates, though the Dodgers still lose, 5-4. It was also his last homer with the Dodgers.

June 30, 2010 - Makes his second trip to the 15-day DL with a right hamstring injury. Misses 11 games.

July 17, 2010 - Makes his third trip to the 15-day DL with a right calf injury, sidelining him for 33 games.

August 25, 2010 - In his last start with the Dodgers, goes 2-for-2 with two doubles, two walks, a run, and an RBI as the Dodgers beat the Brewers, 5-4.

August 29, 2010 - Appearing as a pinch-hitter with the bases loaded in the sixth inning with the Dodgers down 8-2 against the Rockies, gets ejected for arguing a strike call after the first pitch. It is his last appearance with the Dodgers.

August 30, 2010 - Is officially awarded to the White Sox on a waiver claim. It is his fourth team he's been on.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Manny's swan song ends with an ejection

Manny Ramirez was only with the Dodgers a little over two years, but he sure knew how to create highlight moments.

The last one he made in Dodger blue came on Sunday. Pinch-hitting with the bases loaded in Coors Field, Manny was ejected for arguing after only one pitch. The new hitter Reed Johnson then grounded into an inning ending double play. The Rockies went on to beat the Dodgers, 10-5.

And with that, the Dodgers not only lost their slim hopes for a playoff spot, but also lost Manny for good. The White Sox will be awarded a waiver claim for him on Monday. That means they'll assume the remaining $4.3 million of his salary for this season.

As for the game itself, the Rockies started the scoring in the second. Todd Helton doubled leading off. One out later, Chris Iannetta hit an RBI double off of Ted Lilly to make it 1-0. A solo homer by Carlos Gonzalez an inning later bumped it to 2-0.

A microcosm for the Dodgers' afternoon (or should I say season?) came in the fourth. Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot singled leading off to put men on the corners. Manny wasn't starting again, so the "power" of Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and James Loney came up.

Here's how they did: Ethier popped up, Kemp struck out, and Loney grounded out. No sac-fly, not RBI groundout, nothing. That's why the Dodgers will be on the outside looking in during the playoffs.

That blown opportunity just led to a barrage of runs for the Rockies in the bottom of the fourth. Five runs scored on a single by Jason Hammel, a two-run triple by Dexter Fowler, and another homer by Gonzalez. It was 7-0 just like that.

Jay Gibbons finally got the Dodgers on the board in the fifth with a pinch-hit RBI single. Once again the Dodgers had big chances to plate some runners. Once again, they didn't. Ethier found himself up with the bases loaded and struck out. This is not a day he'd like to remember, as he was an awful 0-for-5 with eight men left on base. Ouch.

Both teams traded runs in the sixth. The Rockies got another homer, this time from Ryan Spilborghs to go up 8-1. Kemp doubled leading off and came home on Loney's RBI double, making it 8-2. This was also the inning where Manny got tossed, ending his L.A. career. So, you guessed it, the Dodgers again failed to deliver with runners on.

The eighth got pretty interesting in that the Dodgers looked like they may make it a close game. Ronnie Belliard pinch-hit and hit an RBI single for the first run. Podsednik loaded the bases with a single, and Theriot drove in two with another single, putting the score at 8-5.

There was still only one out with two men on for the heart of the order. Ethier again struck out. Kemp reached on an infield single to load the bases. In sticking with the theme of the day, Loney grounded out just to make sure the Dodgers couldn't possibly get another big hit.

The Rockies added two more on a Fowler triple and Gonzalez sac-fly. Huston Street mowed through the Dodgers in order to end the game.

In looking at the hit column, it reveals that both teams had 13 apiece. Then you look deeper to see what kind of production each team got in those hits. The Dodgers had four extra-base hits, the Rockies had eight. The Dodgers had one two-out RBI, the Rockies had six. The Dodgers left 12 men on, the Rockies left seven. You get the point by now.

Lilly suffered by far his worst outing as a Dodger, as he took his first loss after five straight wins. He went four innings for nine hits, seven runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. It's pretty surprising he had that many strikeouts considering he was hit all over the place. Could he be the next to go? He was placed on waivers, so we shall see.

At this point, the Dodgers find themselves in a position to try some new things. Being 6 1/2 games in back of the Wild Card isn't insurmountable, but there's four other teams in front of them that look a whole lot better. I guess it just wasn't meant to be this year.

When the rosters get expanded on September 1, the Dodgers don't have to be as afraid to let guys like Chin-lung Hu and Ivan DeJesus play. I'm not saying bench all the veterans, but they might as well let the youth show what they've got.

In the meantime, the Dodgers will welcome the Phillies to Dodger Stadium for three starting Monday. The Phillies just got a four-game sweep over the Padres. Oh joy. Hiroki Kuroda goes in the first game against the great Roy Halladay.

Manny is heading to the White Sox

Apparently, Manny Ramirez just kept walking to Chicago after getting tossed from Sunday's game.

With the Dodgers dropping two of three in Colorado to all but eliminate them from the playoffs, Manny will be going to Chicago in a straight waiver claim on Monday. That means the White Sox will be picking up the remaining $4.3 million on his salary for this season.

While it looks to be a straight waiver deal, it's not 100% official, so a trade could possibly be worked out. But it sure doesn't look like that will happen.

Many more details to follow when they come through.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Blake's granny gives the Dodgers 4 straight

Hold on, Manny. You're not going anywhere yet.

On a day where Manny Ramirez was claimed by the White Sox (then sat out this game), the Dodgers entered Colorado needing to make a statement to keep their playoff hopes alive. They did in the first game, as Casey Blake's grand slam in the eighth led to a win, 6-2.

The game featured a great pitching matchup between Clayton Kershaw and Ubaldo Jimenez. Back on May 9 in Dodger Stadium, Kershaw got the slight edge in a 2-0 game that gave Jimenez his first loss after six wins. Not much has changed since then, as both are still among the best hurlers in the National League.

To start the game, the Dodgers had a chance to score but couldn't come through. Scott Podsednik led off and singled, but was soon erased on Ryan Theriot's double play. Andre Ethier hit a bloop double to left and went to third on a wild pitch. Matt Kemp struck out for the last out.

Kershaw got the first five hitters in order, but then Todd Helton hit a solo shot to left to put the Rockies up 1-0. It's not surprising to see Helton jack one out, but it was against Kershaw, who had plenty of success getting Helton out in the past.

Not much was happening for the Dodgers for much of the game against Jimenez. Ethier lined into a double play to end the third, Barajas struck out with two on to end the fourth, and Jay Gibbons pinch-hit and grounded into an inning ending DP in the seventh. There were opportunities, but nothing was cashed in.

The eighth was when it all came together. Despite being over 100 pitches at the time, Jim Tracy stayed with Jimenez. It turned out to be a bad decision. Podsednik singled again and easily stole second. Theriot was trying to lay down the sacrifice bunt, but instead walked on some pitches that weren't even close.

Ethier was up in another big spot for the Dodgers, but this time he gave the team a big lift with an RBI double to tie it at 1-1. Just like that, Jimenez went from possible winner to possible loser.

Matt Belisle came on, and he hadn't given up an earned run the entire month of August. Would the Dodgers take the lead anyway? They sure did. It didn't happen right away, though, as Kemp grounded out to short, failing to get either run home. James Loney was intentionally walked to load the bases for Blake.

It was a battle between pitcher and hitter, as Blake fouled off some close pitches. With a full count, Belisle grooved one right down Broadway that Blake deposited into left for a grand slam and 5-1 lead. The old man can still get it done.

Jonathan Broxton came on an inning before and got the Rockies in order. He stayed on in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a double to Carlos Gonzalez with one down. Troy Tulowitzki popped up for two outs, but Melvin Mora's RBI single cut it to 5-2.

Joe Torre brought in Hong-Chih Kuo to face Helton and get the four-out save. It worked, as Helton struck out on a fastball looking.

Kemp added an RBI single in the ninth to make it 6-2. Kuo stayed on and got the side in order, ending with a strikeout of Chris Iannetta to end the game. Since Kuo entered with a three-run lead, he still got the save in case you didn't know.

Before the game started, I was initially surprised that Manny wasn't playing. But when you consider that he may be traded, it makes since to protect him from injury. He's already been on the DL three times this year, so a potential deal would disappear if he gets hurt again.

At the start of this week, the Dodgers didn't look much like a playoff team. A lot had to right for them to get back into the race. Well, a lot has gone right so far. They swept the Brewers and got a big win in Coors Field. They still have plenty of work to do, but with five wins in six games, they're on the right track.

Even though Broxton gave up a run, he still did a good job in keeping the Dodgers comfortably ahead. Kuo deserves plenty of credit for getting the final four outs in order. Using both of these men in this order is exactly what needs to keep happening.

The Dodgers will go for five straight by sending Chad Billingsley to the mound on Saturday. He was pushed back to this start because of a right calf issue, so hopefully he's over that. It's a little scary since he had leg issues last season that really caused him to tank in the second half.

Friday, August 27, 2010

White Sox win the claim

As suspected, the White Sox have won the claim for Manny Ramirez. Other teams rumored to be involved were the Rays and Rangers. Since those two teams have a better record, the Sox were awarded the claim.

With that being settled, the three-game series in Colorado has become huge. Not only are both teams trying to chase down first in the Wild Card, but for the Dodgers, it will likely be the final factor in whether to deal Manny or not.

Get a sweep, and he stays. Anything less than that will probably send him out.

Say the Dodgers lose tonight. Will that mean Manny is dealt this weekend? It's a high possibility. Stay tuned.

The latest on Manny

With today being "claim day," the word going around is that multiple teams have put a claim in on Manny Ramirez. Which teams they are is not immediately clear.

The White Sox have been the most likely destination for days now. But since a few teams have put in a claim, that doesn't appear to be slam dunk anymore. Other teams rumored in the past have been the Rays and Rangers. Then there's the Yankees, who could do it just to block their AL rivals from getting him.

No word if the Red Sox are in on this. Now that would make a story!

The team that won the claim will have until Tuesday at midnight ET to work out some sort of deal. The Dodgers can trade him for perhaps some cash and prospects, or let the other team take on his entire $4.3 million deal straight up.

Many more updates to come on this I'm sure.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Dodgers drop Brewers for a sweep

Everything came together for the Dodgers on Thursday afternoon. Carlos Monasterios was solid, the bullpen didn't give up a hit, and Casey Blake hit a two-run homer. Add it all up and it meant a win for the Dodgers over the Brewers, 7-1. The Dodgers swept the three-game series.

Scott Podsednik singled leading off the game to get things going. Ryan Theriot lifted a long fly ball to center that bounced over the wall for a ground rule double, which actually hurt since Podsednik would have easily scored if it didn't. Only Matt Kemp's groundout could score a run as the Dodgers went up 1-0.

The only thing that went right for the Brewers all day came in the fourth. With one out, Prince Fielder hit a solo shot to right to tie the game at 1-1. After that hit, it was all Dodgers. In fact, they didn't give up a hit the rest of the way.

The Dodgers got the lead back and for good in the fifth. Brad Ausmus had a great day with three hits, and this was one of them with a single. Monasterios put a sacrifice bunt down to get Ausmus to third, and Podsednik's RBI single made it 2-1.

Joe Torre had to play matchup again to get out of the fifth unscathed. Monasterios walked Yovanni Gallardo with one out, then beaned both Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart to load the bases.

Just like the previous night, Ronald Belisario came on and got Ryan Braun, this time with a strikeout. George Sherrill faced Fielder and again got a good result with a grounder for a fielder's choice.

The sixth inning was interesting. Andre Ethier struck out looking and jawed about it. After Kemp struck out swinging, home plate umpire Adrian Johnson tossed Ethier for continuing to argue. With that out of the way, James Loney walked. Blake stepped up and hit a two-run shot to make it 4-1. It was his 13th homer of the season.

Kenley Jansen relieved Sherrill in the sixth and got through the Brewers in order. He then got to hit in the seventh and somehow drew a walk. He is a former catcher, so it's not like he's clueless on how to hit. Podsednik singled to chase Gallardo from the game.

Todd Coffey came in, and Theriot greeted him with a soft single to center to score Jansen. The throw home by Chris Dickerson sailed over everybody, so both runners advanced. Reed Johnson, who replaced Ethier, hit an RBI single to make it 6-1. Another run came across on a wild pitch.

Jansen stayed on and stuck out the side in the seventh. Octavio Dotel did the same in the eighth, and Jeff Weaver retired the side in order to finish the game.

It was another impressive performance by the bullpen, who came into this series looking like a mess. The combination of Belisario, Sherrill, Jansen, Dotel, and Weaver pitched the final 4 2/3 innings for no hits, no runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. The Brewers stink, but they still have some big power, making the bullpen's performance very impressive.

Monasterios did what he needed to do, which was keep the Dodgers in the game. In fact, he left on the winning side. He ended up with 4 1/3 innings, two hits, one run, one walk, and three strikeouts. He also beaned two guys, but thankfully it didn't hurt. Well, it did hurt, but only those who got beaned. Not the Dodgers. You get all of that? I'm not sure I did.

With Manny Ramirez getting the day off (day game after a night game = not gonna happen), it was good to see the offense come through anyway. They went 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Podsednik added a two-out RBI, and Blake had two.

The Brewers are a long way from the team that went to the playoffs in 2008. They're 14 games in back of the Reds in the NL Central, and are five games under .500 at home. So, beating them three straight is nothing to get too excited about. It's nice, but not worth getting carried away about.

What the Dodgers should be happy about is that they look like an actual team again. They've been burned in so many different ways in the second half (bad baserunning, horrible bullpen, no clutch hitting), it was good to see them finally get things right.

Will it last? That's always tough to tell. Manny is still pretty much as good as gone, so you can't factor his bat into the equation. Who knows, maybe he'll stay, but I'm guessing he won't. If they can still get guys to drive in runs with runners on and get more solid bullpen work, they should be fine. I just don't want to see the boring team we've had to suffer through watching from before this series.

Next up is three in Colorado, which are always wild games. The Dodgers took two of three from them at home last week. The Rockies have won four straight, including a big three-game sweep of the Braves. If the Dodgers can take a couple in this series, then maybe they have turned a corner. Clayton Kershaw and Ubaldo Jimenez will go in the first game.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Torre plays matchmaker to close it out

Give Joe Torre credit: he had a vision on how to close out the game, and it was executed to perfection.

Hong-Chih Kuo was unavailable since he pitched yesterday and Jonathan Broxton is still not trusted closing. So Torre used Ronald Belisario, George Sherrill, and Octavio Dotel to get Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, and Casey McGehee in the ninth, respectively. The result was three outs for the Dodgers to hold on over the Brewers, 5-4.

Another storyline to this game was that it may be Manny Ramirez's final appearance with the Dodgers. If it was, he sure picked a good way to go out. He went 2-for-2 with two doubles, an RBI, and two walks. He drove the ball with authority on both his hits.

It kind of figures that the second the Dodgers get their big slugger back, he may soon be gone. But that's the way it goes when your playoff hopes are slim.

The Dodgers got the scoring started in the third. With one out, Andre Ethier lifted his 20th homer of the season, a solo shot to right. That was his only hit in five at-bats, but at least he made it count. He's enjoying a solid August with a .325 average.

The Brewers burnt themselves by hitting into a double play in the third, but they made up for it in the fourth. Rickie Weeks singled to lead off and scored on Corey Hart's double. Braun followed with his own RBI double to go up 2-1. With Braun now on third, McGehee hit a sac-fly RBI to make it 3-1.

Faced with a deficit, the Dodgers' offense immediately went to work starting with the top of the order. Ryan Theriot doubled to center. Ethier grounded out but got Theriot to third. Manny then took a walk for runners on the corners. A sac-fly RBI by Matt Kemp made it 3-2. Casey Blake cranked a double to put runners in scoring position, as Manny held up after getting gunned at home earlier in the game.

With two outs and James Loney up, it was a spot the Dodgers have failed with flying colors in the second half of the season. Not this time, as Loney's two-run single gave them a 4-3 lead. Once again, Loney drives in runs not with the longball, but with liners. Good enough.

In the sixth, both teams traded single runs. Theriot hit another double with one out. He tagged to third on Ethier's flyout and came home on Manny's RBI double. The Brewers cut it to 5-4 thanks to an RBI single with two down from Fielder.

Up by a run, Hiroki Kuroda gave them one more good inning by striking out the side in the seventh. He finished the night with seven innings, seven hits, four runs, no walks, and six strikeouts. It was good to see him battle back from being hit around in the third. He improved to 9-11.

Broxton came on in the eighth and had a great inning. It wasn't the pressure situation of a save, but was still a big spot in that he had to protect a single run lead late in the game. He got Chris Dickerson grounding out, Weeks flying out, and Hart striking out.

So now things got interesting, as Torre had to decide how to get through the heart of the Brewers order without Kuo available. Belisario got Braun bouncing out to Blake at third.

Congrats, Belisario. Now in came Sherrill. He was down in the count 3-0, but fought back to get Fielder to bounce one up the middle. Theriot ranged to his right, turned in the air and just got Fielder at first. A great play for the second out.

Congrats, Sherrill. Now in came Dotel. McGehee put some good wood on it, but it hung up enough for Kemp to track it down in center to end the game.

It's not often you'll see a line like three pitchers for three outs to win a game, but it worked. Dotel earned the save since he got the final out, but really Broxton, Belisario, and Sherrill deserve tons of credit as well. It was an all-around great job by the bullpen.

I've criticized Torre recently for his (mis)handling of the 'pen, but he was on the money tonight. My first thought was that he'd leave Broxton out there, but I'm glad that didn't happen. Broxton got three good outs, so he needed to end his night on a high. I wasn't sure how the three pitcher theory was going to work out, especially when Sherrill nearly walked Fielder, but it was flawless.

Of course, things would be a lot easier if Broxton hasn't gotten bombed in these situations lately. But I'm just glad he did something right tonight. Any good appearance will hopefully push him back to being his old self again.

The Dodgers will go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon. Carlos Monasterios goes against the Brewers' ace, Yovanni Gallardo.

Manny placed on waivers

The move that has seemed inevitable since Manny Ramirez came back from the DL appears to have happened this afternoon. Sources tell ESPN that Manny has been placed on waivers. Teams have until Friday afternoon to put a claim in on him.

First, the specifics of this whole waiver thing. Once a team puts a claim in, they have to be awarded a shot at Manny. The team that is awarded the claim will have until Tuesday to get a deal done. While Manny has been rumored to be willing to accept a deal, he also has a full no-trade clause, complicating the process a bit.

Teams in the National League will get first crack at him. It seems unlikely any team would, but you never know. The more likely scenario is that the White Sox will follow through on their plan to claim him. They were rumored to have wanted him at the original trade deadline, but money issues got in the way.

Because of Manny's no-trade clause, if he were to veto a trade, the Dodgers would have to pull him back off of waivers and keep him for the rest of the season. So it's another potential issue in this whole ordeal.

Any team that gets Manny would owe him $1.1 million for the rest of this season and $3.3 million in deferred salary. Basically, his contract wouldn't be difficult to move.

With all of that said, the signs seem to point towards Manny being moved. He's made it known that he'd be willing to go to the American League to be a DH somewhere. The White Sox are a perfect fit, and the Rays have been talked about too, who are another great fit.

The next few days will be interesting, as Manny is the biggest name by far on waivers now. Will an unknown team step up and try to nab him? We shall see in the very near future.

Was that Mike Piazza at catcher?

Nope, it was the mighty Rod Barajas!

The Dodgers acquired Barajas from the Mets a few days ago, and in one appearance he already had the biggest game for any Dodger catcher this year. His two doubles and three-run homer helped propel the Dodgers to a win over the Brewers, 5-3.

With Ted Lilly on the mound, the Dodgers knew that if they scored a few runs, they'd have a great shot at winning. It started in the second with a single by James Loney leading off. Matt Kemp then cranked a long two-run homer to dead center for the 2-0 lead. That's three straight games with a home run, which the team desperately needs.

The Brewers fought right back in the bottom of the frame. Prince Fielder singled to lead off. Casey McGehee had a big night himself, and his RBI triple cut the lead to 2-1. On the night, McGehee went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a triple.

Up 2-1 in the fifth, Lilly gave up the lead. With two outs, Rickie Weeks hit a solo shot to right to tie it at 2-2. Alcides Escobar kept the inning alive with a single, and Ryan Braun burned Lilly with an RBI double to go up 3-2.

The Dodgers haven't been the kind of team to fight back from a deficit, but they finally got someone to step up and get a big hit. Now in the sixth, Ronnie Belliard and Jamey Carroll hit what seemed like innocent two-out singles. Barajas stepped up and launched a three-run homer to give the Dodgers the lead at 5-3.

Lilly worked around a McGehee double to lead off the sixth and ended up pitching into the seventh. Ronald Belisario got the final two outs of the seventh. He got out of the eighth thanks to a slick play from Belliard at third, who caught a liner by McGehee and fired to second to double up Fielder.

Once again the Dodgers found themselves with a late lead and a decision to make. Joe Torre went with Hong-Chih Kuo, who was recently named closer but hasn't always been used that way. Kuo got Lorenzo Cain on a grounder before Carlos Gomez reached on a bunt single. It was a close play, but Kuo's throw to first was wide of Loney.

Jonthan Lucroy then bounced an easy one to Kuo for what should have been a game ending double play. But, Kuo threw it over second for the error and two on. It's safe to say he won't be winning any Gold Glove awards anytime soon.

Corey Hart pinch-hit but popped up. Weeks had a chance to be a hero but struck out on an inside fastball to end the game. It was Kuo's fifth save.

Lilly got his fifth straight win for the Dodgers in as many starts. It wasn't his sharpest effort, but good enough to give his team a chance to win. He finished with 6 1/3 innings, seven hits, three runs, one walk, and two strikeouts. At 5-0 in L.A., the Dodgers have gotten everything they could have possibly asked for and more.

Barajas was the story of the night, as his go-ahead homer was the difference. The Dodgers are 25th in the majors in home runs, so whenever they get one, it's a pretty big deal. Kemp's homer was the start, but Barajas's was clutch. People may have wondered what the point was in bringing him aboard, but he made it clear that when he's healthy, he packs good power.

I'm not going to get carried away and say Barajas is some sort of savior. He had one good night and nothing more. He obviously made a great first impression, but he also has a .233 average, so it's not like he's been tearing things up all year. But after watching Russell Martin falter for the second straight year, and Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis do next to nothing in his place, Tuesday night was a very welcome sight.

Kuo made things interesting unnecessarily thanks to his own error, but I'll give him credit simply for having a short memory. He made two poor throws in the ninth, yet put it aside to get two huge outs to end the game. That's something Jonathan Broxton has not been able to do - put aside bad moments and make big pitches. And that is why Kuo is the man finishing games.

Hiroki Kuroda has given up only five runs in his last 21 innings, yet is only 0-1 in that span thanks to a lack of offense. He'll look to get his ninth win today. Old friend Randy Wolf will go for the Brewers. He had a horrible start to the year, but has put together four good starts in his last five.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Votto's big bat carries the Reds

The Dodgers and Reds were locked in a 2-2 battle going into the sixth when Joey Votto lifted a solo homer off of Clayton Kershaw. That turned out to be the difference as the Reds went on to win, 5-2.

Kershaw didn't start the day off right, as he gave up two in the first. Brandon Phillips loves to hit at Dodger Stadium, and he started things off with a single. After Miguel Cairo struck out, Votto and Jonny Gomes walked to load the bases. Chris Heisey struck out, but Ryan Hanigan's two-run single up the middle put the Reds in the lead.

Matt Kemp cut the deficit in half with a solo shot to center in the second. That's two straight days with a home run, which is refreshing to see. Granted, those are his only two hits, but he's made them count. Any sign of swinging better will be met with open arms.

From innings 3-5, Kershaw found his groove as he struck out six. The Dodgers tied the game up in the fifth. Casey Blake legged out an infield single with one out. You know the ball must have been going very slowly for that guy to beat it out. Jamey Carroll then singled for two on.

A.J. Ellis will be the odd man out when Rod Barajas arrives on Tuesday, so he was starting his last game for the foreseeable future. It's no surprise considering he's one of the worst hitters in baseball, but he actually got an RBI single up the middle to tie the game at 2-2. It's safe to say that can be considered a bonus.

With new life, that quickly faded away as Votto got just enough of one to put it over the left field fence in the sixth. It's too bad for Kershaw because he really did a nice job as the game progressed. He ended with seven innings for five hits, three runs, five walks, and 11 strikeouts. That's too many walks, though, and he paid for it in the first.

The Dodgers went down feebly the rest of the game. Ryan Theriot got an infield single in the sixth, and Ellis another single in the seventh. That's it. Francisco Cordero got three easy outs to shut the door.

The game was still close, however, entering the ninth. Joe Torre called on Jonathan Broxton, who did a good job in getting the save the night before. Once again, Broxton proved why he can't be trusted as the full-time closer anymore. He got a flyout to start, then loaded the bases on a walk to Paul Janish and singles to Jay Bruce and Phillips.

Scott Rolen pinch-hit and struck out on some heat. In stepped Votto, and he was quickly down 0-2 on swings. He then fouled off four pitches before loading the count. Could Broxton make one more big pitch? Nope. Votto singled for two runs.

Broxton did show some good heat, especially in the at-bat to Rolen. But like I said, he just doesn't have the ability to make that one more big pitch to get out of an inning. He used to, but not this year. He's young enough where he has plenty of time to figure it out, but Torre should not use him in close games like this. The results prove he fails more often than not.

Even if Broxton got the job done, it still would have been a loss thanks to another poor offensive showing. They hit four home runs and a double the night before, but could muster only one homer and no other extra-base hits today. That's just the way they are now, even with Manny Ramirez back, though he rested today. Men will reach base, but with such a lousy power-hitting team, they stand little chance of scoring.

The Dodgers will hit the road now for three in Milwaukee before going to Colorado for three more. If Manny follows his pattern of resting during the day, then he should play in four of those games. Let's see if he can get going. Hiroki Kuroda pitches on Tuesday.

Dodgers claim Barajas off waivers

The Dodgers made a minor move today by acquiring veteran catcher Rod Barajas from the Mets. In exchange, the Dodgers have sent cash considerations.

Barajas had a good month of May to up his average to .269 with 11 homers and 30 RBIs. He was put on the 15-day DL with a strained oblique at the end of July, and his numbers have taken a nosedive regardless. He now checks in with a .225 average, 12 homers, and 34 RBIs.

I give the Dodgers credit for trying to stop the insanity of being forced to watch A.J. Ellis and Brad Ausmus catch. I like Ausmus, who's a solid veteran backup, but he's hitting .196 with no homers and 2 RBIs in 15 games after suffering from a bad back for most of the year. Ellis is just awful with a .176 average, no homers, and nine RBIs. Neither one of these two can throw out baserunners if their lives depended on it either.

Ellis will be optioned when Barajas arrives on Tuesday, says Joe Torre. Thank God for that.

Barajas will never win a batting title, but he at least has shown some pop when healthy. Plus the Dodgers didn't have to give up anyone to get him. It's worth a shot, though it will hardly make a different this year.

Manny activated from the DL

Manny Ramirez has made his way back into the Dodgers' lineup for the first time since July 16. He's missed the last 33 games with a strained calf. Juan Castro has been designated for assignment to make room.

In his first game back, Manny hit third in the order and went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts before Reed Johnson replaced him in the sixth. On the year, he's hitting .312 with eight homers and 39 RBIs.

There's a couple of interesting stories that will play out now that Manny's back. One is to see if he can actually stay healthy this time. He's already been on the DL three times this season, and for a 38-year-old man, it's safe to say his body takes longer to bounce back from injuries. Plus there's the assumption that he's no longer taking certain "other" remedies for his body anymore...

The other is if he'll remain with the Dodgers the rest of the season. There's still time to send Manny to another team before the August 31 waiver deadline. The Dodgers are still mathematically alive for the postseason, but since they're 11 games in back of the Padres and seven in back of the wild card, the chances of getting in are very slim.

Any team that can swing a deal for Manny would get a nice boost, especially if he's the DH. Who wouldn't want four swings a game from one of the all-time great power hitters? It will be interesting to see which teams might attempt to make a move for him. Stay tuned.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The offensive snoozefest continues


That's the exact feeling I get whenever the Dodgers are at the plate. You may as well go to the bathroom, get something to eat, run around the house... hell, anything else would be more exciting than watching these guys try to hit.

You can probably make an educated guess that the Dodgers lost again. And you would be right. The Reds used clutch two-out hitting against Carlos Monasterios to edge the Dodgers, 3-1. Well, a two-run advantage is small to most teams, but not against the Dodgers. So it was basically a blowout.

Monasterios had an interesting night. It seemed like he was either striking people out or giving up singles. Take the first inning for example. Brandon Phillips and Lance Nix singled to lead off the game. The next three guys struck out swinging.

Phillips had a good night at the plate, and it continued in the second. Ryan Hanigan singled leading off. Two outs later, Homer Bailey kept the inning alive with a sharp single up the middle. Phillips then hit an RBI single to make it 1-0.

The Dodgers have zero power (like I needed to remind you of that...), so they have to definitely manufacture runs. That happened in the third. Jamey Carroll walked leading off, and Brad Ausmus singled. Yes, a Dodger catcher actually got a hit. I didn't think I'd ever see the day. Monasterios laid down a great bunt with two strikes to get both runners over.

Scott Podsednik lined out to short for two down. Ryan Theriot then got creative, as he laid down a perfect bunt for an RBI single. There were still two on, so that gave Andre Ethier a chance to strike out to end the inning. And, naturally, he did.

With the game tied at 1-1, Monasterios was his own worst enemy in giving the Reds back the lead. In the fourth, Hanigan singled again to start. Drew Stubbs bunted, but Monaterios threw wide of first for the error. It came back to haunt him, as Phillips hit a two-run single with two outs for the 3-1 lead.

That's all the support Bailey would need, as he kept the Dodgers off-balance the rest of the night. About the only threat was in the fifth. Ausmus again singled and Jay Gibbons pinch-hit and drew a walk with one down. Podsednik and Theriot both couldn't reach.

Actually, the seventh could be considered a threat as well. Casey Blake hit a leadoff double. Carroll's groundout got him to third with one out. But, Ausmus and Ronnie Belliard struck out.

Is it me, or does Belliard pinch-hit and strike out just about every game now? Here's an idea - quit having him pinch-hit! Geez, it's not rocket science here.

The end of the game was symbolic to just how far the Dodgers have fallen the second half of the season. Matt Kemp singled with one out. It was a bloop single, but good enough for a guy that spends 95% of the time looking totally lost at the plate. Blake promptly hit into the game-ending double play.

With Vicente Padilla on the DL with a bad neck, Monasterios once again got a spot start. He wasn't too bad, but not exactly good either. He lasted 4 1/3 innings for eight hits, three runs (one earned, though it was his own fault), one walk, and six strikeouts. The strikeouts were good, but like I said before, he gave up a lot of singles.

The bullpen of Ronald Belisario, Kenley Jansen, and Octavio Dotel held the Reds hitless over the final 4 2/3, so they did a good job. But when the offense was so helpless once again, it didn't really matter.

Think about this: When's the last time anyone on the Dodgers hit a big home run? I honestly can't remember. I know Reed Johnson hit one last game, but I'm talking about one late in the game to really make a difference. Ethier? Kemp? Blake? James Loney? Anyone?

Besides losing nearly every game now, the problem with the Dodgers is that they're just not fun to watch. You have to really appreciate low scoring, well-pitched games to stay tuned in for three hours. But even that can only go so far. Eventually, people grow tired of the pitching doing all the work and the bats in hibernation.

I understand that any team that loses Rafael Furcal and Manny Ramirez would feel the effects. But man, the rest of the Dodgers sure make them look like all-time greats. They don't have anybody to fill their void, and their young core of Ethier, Kemp, and Loney do practically nothing to carry the team. It's just sad.

Chad Billingsley will get the start on Saturday. I'm not so much concerned how he'll do on the mound. Rather, I just hope he goes 4-for-4 with three homers and a double. Then maybe they'll actually put some runs on the board.

Friday, August 20, 2010

4-0 for Lilly in Dodger blue

It's time to start talking long-term deal for Ted Lilly right now!

For a season that has been dwindling downhill, Lilly gave Dodger fans some excitement by tossing a complete game shutout. Reed Johnson's two-run homer in the second held up as they beat the Rockies, 2-0. The Dodgers took two of three in the series.

Yesterday was all about how awful Octavio Dotel was, and in comparison to the success James McDonald has enjoyed in Pittsburgh, that trade has certainly looked pretty bad. But not with Lilly. He's been awesome with the Dodgers, going 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA.

Today he had everything clicking in pitching the whole game. He gave up a mere two hits, two walks, and struck out 11. He'll never overpower hitters, but his breaking stuff froze them all night. Just ask Miguel Olivo, who was ejected in the eighth after striking out for the third time.

The lone highlight at the plate came in the second. Casey Blake walked with one down. Johnson got the start in place of a resting Andre Ethier. He launched a two-run homer to left for the 2-0 lead.

Now the Dodgers had chances to add on as the game progressed, but like usual, blew it over and over. They can all thank Lilly for being such a stud, because if he wasn't, we'd all be talking about more failure with runners on.

But what the heck, I'll talk about it anyway. In the third, Matt Kemp lined into a double play to end the inning. Kemp can't hit anymore, and when he does hit it hard, he gets no luck. Two innings later, Lilly tried to advance Brad Ausmus on a bunt, but it turned into a double play.

Then the sixth came, and Scott Podsednik singled and Ryan Theriot doubled to lead off. That meant three chances to score one run. Take a lucky guess what ended up happening. Try zero runs. Kemp and James Loney grounded out. Blake was given the intentional pass to face Johnson, who grounded into a fielder's choice.

Finally, in the eighth, the Dodgers again put two on thanks to Ryan Spilborghs dropping a fly ball to right. Podsednik hit into another double play to end the inning.

In the end it all didn't matter thanks to Lilly. Joe Torre had Ronald Belisario and Hong-Chih Kuo warming up after Lilly walked Eric Young leading off. Dexter Fowler followed with a double play grounder, and Spilborghs struck out looking at a hook to end it.

Lilly's masterpiece aside, I'm not sure what Torre can do to get the offense even somewhat going at this point. He hit Kemp and Loney in the 3-4 spots, and they went 0-for-8. Podsednik's hit .301 since coming over, so he's been getting on base. But as has been pointed out over and over, the lack of a big power threat or two in the middle of the order just bites this team in the behind each game.

Manny Ramirez is supposedly a week or so away from being back in the lineup. Of course, that's assuming he doesn't suffer another setback. That brings up an interesting question for Torre: Which outfielder will sit when he's back? With Rafael Furcal still out, I can't see Podsednik sitting, since he's one of the few that's actually hit lately.

It really comes down to picking between Ethier and Kemp, as crazy as that might have seemed at the start of the season. Ethier has picked it up in August by hitting .333, so he'll get his playing time. To me, Kemp will be the odd man out, at least for most of the games. As much as everyone wants him to hit, it's just not happening. He's hitting .218 this month after going .245 last month.

I'm not saying Kemp will sit the bench and never play again. I just think Manny, Ethier, and Podsednik should play more. Manny won't be playing everyday, so Kemp will get in there. But at this point, he's looking at being a defensive replacement late in games since the Dodgers play so many close ones.

Of course, there's still a chance of Manny being traded. So all of this talk about who plays where will figure itself out.

The Dodgers will welcome the Reds for three starting Friday. The Reds are on top of the Cardinals by 3 1/2 games in the NL Central, so every game for them is big. Carlos Monasterios will start in place of the recently DL'd Vicente Padilla.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Boring Dodgers lose again

That trade for Octavio Dotel is working out great, eh?

Dotel was absolutely pathetic in the 10th inning, as he somehow managed to walk three and uncork three wild pitches. The Rockies scored a run, and you knew the Dodgers wouldn't, as the Rockies won, 3-2.

Of course, it all traces back to the fact the Dodgers are just helpless at the plate. This team is so boring, they literally can put people to sleep. I should know because I honestly dozed off during the game. When the offensive highlights consist of a single and not much else, that will happen.

Somehow the Dodgers scored in the first couple of innings. In the first, Scott Podsednik led off with a single. Ryan Theriot sacrificed him over to second, and a wild pitch put him at third. I guess the wild pitch was the theme of the night, as another one by Jason Hammel allowed him to score for the 1-0 lead.

The Rockies tied the game in the second. Seth Smith and Ian Stewart were both on with singles. With two down, Miguel Olivo hit an RBI double to left to knot the game at 1-1.

Casey Blake led off the bottom of the second with a single, which in Dodger terms, is like hitting a home run. Jay Gibbons forced Blake at second for one down. Now get this - Jamey Carroll DOUBLED for an RBI and a 2-1 lead. A double? Wow, I just didn't think that would ever happen! Talk about excitement!

Naturally, the Dodgers quit hitting after the second and did nothing to support Hiroki Kuroda's great game. Sound familiar? It's the same tune that Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw, Vicente Padilla, and Ted Lilly can sing. They pitch great, and the offense is atrocious.

In the fourth, the Rockies tied the game again. Smith walked leading off. An out later, Stewart found a hole in the infield for runners on the corners. Olivo hit one soft enough to short for an RBI groundout, and it was 2-2.

With a tie game, the Dodgers faced a massive uphill climb. The offense was probably thinking to themselves, "How dare our pitchers give up two runs? Don't they want to win? They know we can't possibly top that massive offensive output from the Rockies!"

Kuroda did all he could, and he kept the game tied until he left the game late. He lasted seven innings for six hits, two runs, one walk, and seven strikeouts. That's three straight great starts for him, and he's actually 0-1 in that span. Thanks, great Dodger offense!

Jonathan Broxton pitched the eighth and got some help from Matt Kemp to keep the game tied. Dexter Fowler led off with a single, but when he tried to stretch it to a double, Kemp gunned him out. Broxton then got a strikeout and a flyout. It was a good outing from him, and thankfully it wasn't a closing situation.

Hong-Chih Kuo came in the ninth to keep the game tied, and he got a double play ball for the final two outs. James Loney took a walk in the bottom of the ninth, but Rafael Betancourt blew away Blake and Ronnie Belliard to send it to extras.

Then Dotel entered, and boy was he just awful. Ned Colletti made a bunch of moves at the deadline, but the one criticized the most was Dotel for James McDonald. Personally, I never liked McDonald, but can certainly understand people wanting him to stay because he's so young.

To say the top of the 10th was an adventure would be an understatement. It started with Olivo striking out before Melvin Mora walked. Eric Young then struck out as Mora stole second. With two outs, things went crazy for Dotel. A wild pitch sent Mora to third, Fowler walked, and then Mora scored on another wild pitch. Eventually he had another wild pitch before getting Troy Tulowitzki grounding out.

The end of the game symbolized what kind of a year it's been for the Dodgers. With one out, Reed Johnson pinch-hit and singled. Kemp then struck out, as he was 0-for-2 with two K's. Magical. Podsednik then singled to center.

What happened next can either be considered great effort or just plain stupidity. Johnson tried to score on the single and was thrown out by... oh, about 15 feet. Seriously, it wasn't even close. I can understand Johnson's thinking that nobody else would get a hit, so why not give it a shot. But he was thrown out so easily, it looked like the latest bad baserunning decision in a season full of them.

The offense continues to be embarrassing. Seven hits, one for extra bases, and five walks. They were also caught stealing twice in two attempts. Even when they do get on base and try to make something happen, they screw it up. Of course, there were no home runs. Shocking, I know.

Back to Dotel, who rightfully took the loss. He's given up two runs in 4 2/3 innings so far with the Dodgers. Not terrible numbers, but he also has four walks for a high 1.50 WHIP. It's fair to say he's been a disappointment, because he was supposed to help the bullpen, not hurt it.

Oh by the way, McDonald is 2-1 with a 2.55 ERA, and 20 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings with the Pirates.

The Dodgers are not going to make the playoffs, so for those of you still holding out hope, you can throw that right out the window. I'm just being realistic here, folks. What the Dodgers need to do is get guys like Kemp and Broxton right again. If those guys individually get better, then at least the Dodgers can play better ball to end the season.

Ted Lilly has been a bright spot since he came in, and despite the horrendous offense, has managed to win all three starts. He'll go tonight against Jorge De La Rosa.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Seriously, Joe, what were you thinking?

That's one question I would love to ask Joe Torre after his handling of Hong-Chih Kuo tonight.

Despite being handed two runs on a throwing error, the Dodgers once again coughed up a lead in the ninth to lose to the Braves, 4-3. The Braves took three of four in this miserable four-game set. Thank God it's over.

Poor Chad Billingsley. He pitched his guts out, giving up a run in seven strong innings, striking out eight. But it didn't matter. Not when the offense is a joke, the bullpen is a disgrace, and the managing gets worse by the day. Maybe Bills and the rest of the starters should just go on strike.

I'll get to Torre's five-star managing skills later. What you need to know is that Dodgers actually scored in the first to take an early lead. And get this - it was with a runner on base. No joke.

Ryan Theriot hit an infield single to third with one out. As he was taking off on a steal, Andre Ethier gaped a double to right-center for an RBI, and it was 1-0.

Of course, these are the Dodgers we're talking about here, so the offensive highlights pretty much stopped after that. As has been the pattern with them, they'll have a game every now and then when they put it all together, then follow it up with a whole bunch of crap.

At least Billingsley was well on his game, as he held the Braves scoreless until the sixth. Omar Infante hit a triple to center to lead off. Jason Heyward lifted a sac-fly RBI to right, and the game was tied at 1-1. But with the Dodgers, it felt more like they were losing.

The Braves nearly cost themselves the game by literally throwing it away in the eighth. Reed Johnson pinch-hit for Billingsley and reached on an error by Brooks Conrad. Remember that name. Scott Podsednik drew a walk, and there were two on with none out.

Theriot once again hit a soft one to Conrad at third, and he threw the ball clear into the outfield, allowing both runners to score and Theriot to advance to third. It looked like it could finally be a big inning.

With a runner on third and nobody out, Ethier stepped up and pulled his best Matt Kemp impersonation by striking out in a key spot. James Loney then lined out to Melky Cabrera in left, who then fired home and nailed Theriot by about five miles. Opportunity to increase the lead there, opportunity lost.

So here's where I wholeheartedly question what in the world Torre was thinking. He mercifully tells everyone a few days ago that Jonathan Broxton would no longer by the closer. In his place would be Kuo. Closers usually pitch the ninth inning, right?

And yet here was the start of the eighth and Kuo in the game. Why not use Octavio Dotel or Kenley Jansen in that spot? Shouldn't they be the setup men for the new closer? I just don't get it.

Like it or not, that's what Torre decided to do, and Kuo did get through the eighth in order. When that happened, my first thought was that Broxton would pitch the ninth. Thankfully that didn't happen.

Instead, Kuo came back out. Alex Gonzalez and Brian McCann singled to start. Following a wild pitch to advance them, Troy Glaus struck out. Conrad, however, walked to load the bases.

Out went Kuo for Dotel, who walked in a run before giving up the game-winning two-run single to Cabrera. An appropriate ending for a horribly mismanaged last couple of innings.

Here's what we know about Kuo: he has electric stuff and was just named the closer. He also has an arm as fragile as glass. Normally that would mean he should only pitch one inning. Instead, Torre wanted him to go two. It obviously didn't work out, but Kuo shouldn't feel bad. This one's on Torre.

Now I fully realize that this entire game wasn't Torre's fault. The Dodgers can't hit worth a damn, as taking an 0-for-7 today with runners in scoring position meant they were 0-for-23 over these four games. That's just so pathetic, I don't even know what else to say about it.

But Torre should be squarely blamed for the end of the game. If Kuo is your closer, use him in that role, not in the eighth. It's not hard! Don't say one thing and then turn around and do another. It just makes no sense whatsoever.

Games like this nudge me in the direction of hoping Torre won't be back. I have great respect for all of the success he's had in his career, which is among the best of all-time. But right now, I just don't see any fire in this team. Plus add in the stupid use of Kuo tonight, and a clean slate isn't looking so bad for next year.

The Dodgers return home to face the Rockies on Tuesday in a battle of two playoff teams from last year that will most likely be on the outside looking in this time around. Clayton Kershaw gets the start.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Padilla, Dodgers waxed in Atlanta

One step forward, one step back.

The Dodgers got a solid win on Saturday night, but that was all flushed away after watching today's lousy effort. They couldn't do anything right, as the Braves crushed them on their home turf, 13-1. Hitting, starting pitching, bullpen... it didn't matter. It was all terrible.

The tone was set right away for the Dodgers, as they showed not what they could do to win a game, but what they could do to lose it. Scott Podsednik led off and ripped a double to right. Ryan Theriot laid down a great bunt and was just thrown out at first, but Podsednik advanced to third with one down.

So here came the heart of the Dodgers' order: Andre Ethier and James Loney. Even a sacrifice fly would be alright. Anything to score a run. What would happen? Ethier struck out and Loney grounded out.

And that, my friends, sums up the Dodgers in a nutshell. Provide a glimmer of hope, only to fail miserably when the heat is on.

Still, Vicente Padilla looked like he'd be locked in a pitcher's duel with Jair Jurrjens based on the first couple of innings. Padilla got through the Braves in order thanks to a double play grounder from Troy Glaus in the second.

Then the third came, and the wheels started to fall off the bus.

It started with a single by Brooks Conrad. He scored on Melky Cabrera's double. Jurrjens laid down a sacrifice bunt, and Omar Infante hit an RBI single to go up 2-0. Rick Ankiel singled, and Alex Gonzalez hit a two-run triple to make it 4-0.

Judging by this past week, it seems as if the Dodgers either score a whole lot of runs or little to none. Facing a good pitcher like Jurrjens and not doing much to start the game, it was obvious that this was going to be a long afternoon. Boy was it ever.

Of course, the Dodgers did have a chance to at least cut into the deficit in the fourth. Theriot singled and Loney doubled an out later for runners in scoring position. What would Matt Kemp do with it? Strike out, that's what. Ronnie Belliard grounded out to end the inning.

Padilla was chased in the fifth after giving up a sac-fly RBI to Brian McCann and a long three-run homer to Glaus. The game was already over at 4-0, but you may as well have sent everyone home at 8-0. Maybe catch the end of the PGA Championship or something.

The bullpen came in and turned a blowout into an absolute joke, as the Braves just did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted with the bats. Carlos Monasterios gave up a run in 1 2/3 innings. George Sherrill got an out, but don't you worry, he still gave up two hits.

Sandwiched in between those two was Ronald Belisario, who was pitiful. In 1 2/3 innings, he gave up four runs on four hits and a walk. For a guy who once looked like a future star, this year has been a total waste for him. In between arriving late to start the year, injuries, and getting arrested, he's put together a 5.63 ERA. Impressive! Not.

Look, the Dodgers aren't this bad, but they aren't good either. They're struggling just to be a decent team right now. They put men on base and do jack squat with them. The Braves don't have huge power numbers at all, but find ways to get those guys in. And there's a major difference between a team in decline and one in playoff contention.

Even if the Dodgers did score more, it's not like it would have mattered much when the pitching gave up double-digit runs. The bullpen is just a complete mess. The only two guys I'd trust right now are Hong-Chih Kuo and Octavio Dotel. Kenley Jansen is close, but needs more seasoning. The rest could be good, but do a whole to show why they're not.

Both teams will play a wraparound game on Monday. For reasons that only make sense to Major League Baseball, it will be played at night. Then the Dodgers have to get on a plane, fly across the country, and host a home game on Tuesday. Why isn't Monday's game during the day? I have no idea.

Chad Billingsley will look to give the Dodgers a split. It won't be easy, as the Braves counter with Tommy Hanson.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The new closer gets it done

Hong-Chih Kuo did something Saturday night that Jonathan Broxton hasn't in awhile: pitch a clean, drama-less ninth for a save.

The Dodgers only scored two runs, but a great effort from Ted Lilly and Kuo turned it into a 2-1 victory over the Braves. Each team has a win so far in this four-game set, and both games have been nail-biters.

Scoring was few and far between, just like Friday night. It was the fourth when the Dodgers got on the board. James Loney and Casey Blake hit consecutive singles to open the inning. With Loney on third, Matt Kemp grounded into a double play. Loney scored, but there would be no RBI for Kemp.

I'm sure Kemp blamed not getting an RBI for that play on Larry Bowa and Bob Schaefer.

The Dodgers added another run in the seventh, which turned out to be huge in such a low scoring, close game. With one out, Scott Podsednik singled to center. Ryan Theriot followed with one of his own, putting runners at the corners. Andre Ethier had a good at-bat with a sac-fly RBI and a 2-0 lead.

Lilly was pinch-hit for in the seventh, so his night was over. Enter Kenley Jansen. He immediately walked Matt Diaz before striking out Brooks Conrad. However, Melky Cabrera doubled to put runners in scoring position.

Lefty Eric Hinske was due up, and with Kuo being saved to close because Broxton sucks, Joe Torre could only turn to good old George Sherrill. For such a lousy pitcher, he sure finds a way to get into about every single game possible. Anyway, he got David Ross to ground out, but a run scored to make it 2-1.

Octavio Dotel was then summoned to pitch to Omar Infante, and he struck out to end the inning. Dotel would go on to pitch a perfect eighth. That's why the Dodgers got him - to get big outs in innings 7-8 where needed. It worked on this night.

Now it was up to Kuo to get the save. Not Broxton, thankfully. Kuo did what he always does, which is blow hitters away. Brian McCann and Diaz struck out before Conrad flied to center to end it.

Kuo did great, but if Broxton came in and still blew the save, I'm sure there are those who would have blamed the following people instead: Torre, Ned Colletti, the McCourts, Fernando Valenzuela, the bat boy, Phil Jackson, some dog named Ralph, Norm from Cheers, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. It couldn't be Broxton's fault, of course!

Rant aside, this victory was all about the pitching. Lilly went six innings for three hits, no runs, two walks, and four strikeouts. Three starts with the Dodgers, three wins. Jansen didn't do so hot, but Sherrill got an out (see, I can compliment bad players when they do well), Dotel had four great outs, and Kuo was money.

If the Braves did end up coming back, the Dodgers would have easily blamed their poor hitting with runners on. They had 12 hits and took a walk, but only scored two. 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position is the reason why. I'm just glad it didn't matter.

I don't think the Dodgers stand a chance of making the playoffs, but they're not dead either. They're going to have to go on an incredible role to make it happen. It's not out of the question, and starts like Lilly's tonight make it possible. But a lot will have to go right. We shall see.

Next up is Vicente Padilla taking the mound on Sunday. He got the win during the 15 run game in Philly, but got hit around a bit. He'll look to get his seventh win.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

R.I.P Dodgers 2010

Mark down August 12, 2010 as the day the Dodgers are OFFICIALLY done.

Up 9-2 entering the eighth inning, the combination of Ronald Belisario and Jonathan Broxton, two of the biggest clowns I can think of, could not hold the lead and lost to the Phillies, 10-9. Who cares how many games the Dodgers are in back of the NL West or Wild Card because it no longer matters.

The season is over. It's as simple as that.

It's a shame that the supposed "mighty bullpen" couldn't back up a great effort from the guys with the bats. But that's the Dodgers for ya. If there's a way to lose, they'll not only accomplish it but find new ways as well.

In happier times, the Dodgers started off on fire in the first. Scott Podsednik led off with a single. He soon advanced to third on a couple of grounders, and James Loney walked with two outs. What came next were three straight RBI singles from Ronnie Belliard, Matt Kemp, and Jamey Carroll for the 3-0 lead.

Clayton Kershaw gave up a couple of singles in the first, but worked out of it. In the second, Carlos Ruiz singled and Wilson Valdez doubled with one out. Joe Blanton hit a grounder that was good enough to score a run to make it 3-1.

The Phillies cut into the lead again in the fourth. Jayson Werth singled and stole second an out later. Ruiz had a big night (more on that later), and he added an RBI single to go down 3-2.

The Dodgers responded right away. Ryan Theriot and Andre Ethier singled for runners on the corners in the fifth. After an out, Belliard lined out to left, but Theriot had a great slide to tack on another run to make it 4-2.

From there, the Dodgers started pounding away, and sure looked like they put the game away. When you go up 9-2, you can't help but think the game is over. But nope, not the Dodgers. That's not the Dodger way! Not when your middle relief is horrible and your closer is complete p***y.

Anyway, Kemp made his return to the lineup and hit a two-run homer in the seventh to make it 6-2. It was his first home run in 10 days. It's a welcome sign for a guy that has looked as awful as Broxton. Well, maybe not that bad, but close.

The top of the eighth was great. Singles again hurt the Phillies, as Casey Blake, Kemp, and Carroll hit them in a row to score runs, and it was 9-2.

9-2 was the score entering the bottom of the eighth. Good enough for a win, right?


Belisario was flat out atrocious. But it's not a surprise considering this year has been a complete waste for him. Between arriving late for Spring Training and going on the restricted list, he's a shell of his former self. One year ago at this time he was among the best setup men in the game. Not so anymore.

Here's what Belisario did: single, single, wild pitch, single, balk, and double. That was good for two runs and not one damn out. Kenley Jansen came in, and he got Ruiz out before Valdez hit an RBI single to make it 9-6. It's kind of sad when George Sherrill was the star of the inning, getting the last two outs to avoid more trouble.

That left the game up to Broxton. He was facing the heart of the Phillies' lineup, but that was without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. And Matt Stairs. Did Broxton make big pitches and lead the way?

Ha ha, no way! He once again proved that he is the most overrated player in the game. End of story.

Placido Polanco was beaned to start, then walks came to Mike Sweeney and Werth. Bases loaded, nobody out.

The part that wasn't Broxton's fault came when Ben Francisco grounded one to Blake. One inning ago, Blake made a fantastic diving stop. This time, the ball went right through him to score two runs, making it 9-8. One out would have easily been made, but most likely two.

Ruiz doubled off the wall in center to end the game. So yes, Blake's error hurt, but it didn't matter much. Broxton would have given it up soon enough regardless. You can doubt me if you want, but that's what would have happened.

With the season over, I really think the Dodgers need to do a couple of things. One, hope Manny gets healthy enough to ship him to the American League for some young guys. Let the guy go hit for a contender. Two, remove Broxton as the closer. He can't get it done anymore. Let Kuo and Jansen handle it.

The Dodgers now have four games in Atlanta. The Braves have a slight lead in the NL East, but just lost Chipper Jones for the year. They have plenty to play for, so this won't be a whole lot of fun. I'll be thrilled if the Dodgers win one. Hiroki Kuroda goes in the first game against Tim Hudson.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Oswalt handcuffs the Dodgers

The good news is that the Dodgers have averaged over seven runs a game against the Phillies the last two games.

The bad news is that they went from all to nothing overnight.

One night after lighting up Citizens Bank Park for 15 runs, the Dodgers were helpless against Roy Oswalt and the Phillies as the lost, 2-0. The loss snaps a three-game winning streak.

As good as Oswalt was, Chad Billingsley was doing everything he could to match. Through three innings, the game was scoreless. The Dodgers put runners on in the second and third, but failed to do anything with it.

The Phillies cracked the scoreboard in the fourth. Placido Palanco singled leading off. Ross Gload lined out to left for one down. Billingsley then walked Raul Ibanez and Jayson Werth consecutively to load the bases. Domonic Brown grounded one softly to second, but Ryan Theriot could only get one out, allowing Palanco to score for a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth, the Dodgers tried to fight right back. Jamey Carroll led off with a double to right. The bottom two of the order were A.J. Ellis and Billingsley, so that meant two automatic outs. Scott Podsednik legged out an infield single for runners on the corners and two outs. Theriot couldn't cash in anyone, as he grounded into a fielder's choice.

The Phillies extended their lead a bit in the sixth. Gload led off with a double to center, but he came up lame going into second and had to be lifted. Ibanez followed with his own double, and it was 2-0. Billingsley settled down to get out of the inning.

Once again, Matt Kemp did not get to start, as Joe Torre wanted to use the same lineup as the night before, as well he should. Kemp did pinch-hit in the seventh with two outs and Carroll on first. Surprise, surprise... Kemp struck out. And that's why he's on the bench.

The only thing the Dodgers got going in the last two innings was Podsednik leading off with a double in the eighth. He ended up getting stranded right there. Brad Lidge shut the Dodgers down in order for the save.

Tuesday night's game may have opened some eyes to the Dodgers' offense again, but tonight's effort closed them again. Oswalt is still a fantastic pitcher, but throwing against the Dodgers made him look even better. About the only guy who did anything was Podsednik in the leadoff spot going 3-for-4. The rest were pathetic.

But it's not like anyone should be surprised. The Dodgers simply do not have the offensive firepower to keep up with these types of teams. The guy who was regarded as their best player coming into the season, Kemp, can't even crack the starting lineup. Ethier went hitless in four at-bats. The guys who should be driving in runs don't do it nearly enough anymore.

The Dodgers just have to hope that something clicks inside of Kemp's head and he starts to hit again. Heck, he just needs to show up period. I remember fantasy heads raving about him before the season how this will be his breakout year. Well, that hasn't quite worked out now, has it?

Billingsley should be given credit for competing hard when runners were on base. He ended up with six innings for five hits, two runs, three walks, and three strikeouts. Kenley Jansen and Hong-Chih Kuo both put up blanks in an inning apiece.

Even with today's clunker, the Dodgers still have the opportunity to win the series on Thursday. They have a great chance of doing so by sending Clayton Kerhsaw to the mound. He'll go against Joe Blanton, who used to be pretty good, but now sports an ERA in the upper 5's.

On second thought, Raffy lands on the DL

Rafael Furcal tried his best to avoid it, but to no avail. As a result of a bad back, Raffy has landed on the 15-day DL. The move is retroactive to August 3, so he can be back a week from today if all goes well.

The injury is not considered to be serious, which is always good news. The concern is that he has a history of back problems. He had back surgery in 2008, limiting him to only 36 games. Supposedly, this injury is unrelated, but you can't help but wonder.

In his place will be veteran Juan Castro, who's no stranger to the Dodgers. He spent last year in L.A., hitting .277 in 57 games. He was let go from the Phillies after appearing in 54 games this season.

Expect Jamey Carroll to resume getting regular starts at short, with Castro providing an occasional rest if needed.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Offense bails out the pitching

Wait... what?

You read it right. On a night the pitching gave up nine runs on 14 hits, it was the Dodgers' offense that pounded the Phillies to the tune of a 15-9 win. The 15 runs are the most they've scored all season.

The Dodgers scored in every inning but three, and were never really threatened throughout. It started in the first. Scott Podsednik singled leading off and went to second on Ryan Theriot's groundout. Andre Ethier had a huge night, one that brought flashbacks to the start of the season, and he had an RBI single for the 1-0 lead.

After both teams traded double play balls in the second, the Dodgers bumped their lead up in the third. Theriot reached on a bunt with one down. Ethier hit an RBI double to make it 2-0. James Loney walked and Casey Blake grounded into a fielder's choice. With runners on the corners, Jay Gibbons hit an RBI single, making it 3-0.

Small ball brought the Dodgers a big lead in the fourth. Brad Ausmus singled to start. Vicente Padilla reached on an error by Jimmy Rollins to put two on. The bases then became loaded on Podsednik's single. Theriot produced a run with a good at-bat on a sacrifice fly, and it was 4-0.

Kyle Kendrick got the hook and Antonio Bastardo came in. What followed were three straight RBI singles by Ethier, Loney, and Blake, and just like that it was 7-0. On the whole, the Dodgers had five singles to keep the runners moving.

From there both teams found ways to score, but with the Dodgers up by so much, it hardly mattered. Padilla, however, didn't have his best outing. His own wildness hurt him a bit, as two walks led to a run on a Domonic Brown sac-fly RBI in the fourth.

About the only time the Phils put up somewhat of a threat was in the fifth. Placido Palanco had an RBI groundout to make it 7-2. Ross Gload had a good night, and it started with a two-run homer to put the score at 7-4.

The Dodgers got those runs right back and then some in the sixth. Theriot singled and stole second. Ethier walked, and Loney hit an RBI double. Blake had a sac-fly RBI to make it 9-4. Gibbons hit his first home run in Dodger blue, a two-run shot, and the lead was stretched to 11-4.

The rest of the game featured both teams adding more runs in quite the offensive display. The Phillies got a solo homer from Brown and another two-run shot by Gload off of the bullpen.

Matt Kemp chipped into the scoring by pinch-hitting in the seventh. With Theriot and Loney on and two outs, Kemp hit a two-run single to run the score up to 13-5. Blake added a two-run homer in the ninth to round out the scoring for the Dodgers.

The bottom of the ninth should have been easy, but it wasn't. Joe Torre tried to let George Sherrill finish it off, so of course it didn't work. Rollins singled leading off, and two outs later, Raul Ibanez did the same. That brought in Octavio Dotel, who gave up a two-run double to Brown. Cole Hamels (yes, the pitcher) pinch-hit and flew out to end the game.

There was a lot of good in this game, as the Dodgers chose a great time to put together their biggest offensive output of the season. This was their first game in Philly since getting smoked in Game 5 of the NLCS last season, so it was good to get some bad memories out of their systems. Plus there's that whole playoff spot thing they're trying to get.

The pessimist side of me is disappointed that they gave up nine runs and kept the game going much longer than it should have. Padilla earned the win, but was just so-so. He lasted five innings for six hits, four runs, two walks, and two strikeouts.

The bullpen wasn't much better. Ronald Belisario made his first appearance since June 29 and gave up a run in an inning. Carlos Monasterios went 1 2/3 innings, giving up two runs. Sherrill went an inning for a run, and Dotel gave up a double and a walk before getting the last out.

It wasn't the prettiest game in the world, but the Dodgers have to be thrilled to watch their bats break out in a big way. The top six in the order had multi-hits. Ethier was awesome, going 4-for-4 with four runs and three RBIs. Blake and Gibbons homered. Theriot had three hits and three runs; Loney had two hits and two runs.

I thought one of the most interesting aspects of this game was Torre's decision not to start Kemp. Here was a big game to start a big roadtrip for the Dodgers, and there was Kemp sitting it out. It was a clear message to Kemp that he needs to start producing much more to be trusted. If not, Torre won't be afraid to let him ride the pine.

Tuesday was a great start, now the Dodgers need to string together more wins. Chad Billingsley will take on new Phillie Roy Oswalt on Wednesday. A win over a great pitcher in Oswalt would be a huge step forward.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

4 runs in the 1st? Yup, it happened

If you didn't watch Sunday's Dodger game and just saw the box score, you would probably think it was some sort of typo. Four runs in one inning? That just doesn't seem possible.

I'm here to let you know that yes, indeed, it really did happen.

Those four runs propelled the Dodgers the rest of the afternoon, as they put up a few more along the way to get the win over the Nationals, 8-3. The Dodgers took two of three from them, and remain seven games in back of the Padres in the NL West.

Scott Podsednik walked and stole second to get things going in the first. Ryan Theriot laid down a bunt, and he would be safe when Jason Marquis couldn't field it cleanly, as Podsednik scampered to third. Theriot then took off for second on a steal, and the ball bounced away to let Podsednik score.

Andre Ethier followed with a walk. James Loney hit an RBI single to make it 2-0. Matt Kemp chipped in by... striking out swinging. So I guess he didn't chip in. Not that I'm surprised. Ronnie Belliard grounded Loney out to second, but Belliard soon stole second. A two-run single by Jamey Carroll pushed the lead to 4-0.

The Nationals found some unlikely power to cut the lead in half in the second. Michael Morse and Justin Maxwell hit back-to-back solo shots to go down 4-2. Both now have 10 homers together for the season.

As unlikely as those homers were, something even rarer occurred in the fourth for the Dodgers. With Carroll on second from a double, A.J. Ellis hit an RBI double to make it 5-2. That's his second extra-base hit... of his career. Seriously. It's not like he's played a lot, but that's still a pretty shocking number. But hey, you have to start somewhere, right?

Ted Lilly gave one back in the fifth as Will Nieves doubled and soon scored on a sacrifice fly. Lilly lasted six innings and did pretty well with five hits, three runs, no walks, and six strikeouts. It's his second win in as many starts with the Dodgers since being traded from the Cubs.

In the sixth, it was the new guy Jay Gibbons who got in on the act. It started with Kemp striking out. OK, so I guess it didn't start with him then. Belliard and Carroll singled, and Ellis popped up for two down. In came Gibbons to hit for Lilly, and he bounced one to center for the RBI single and 6-3 advantage.

The final runs came in the eighth on a two-run single from pinch-hitter Reed Johnson.

The bullpen did a great job of keeping the Nationals grounded. Kenley Jansen had another scoreless inning with two strikeouts. Octavio Dotel equaled those numbers in the eighth. Ramon Troncoso tried to finish it out, but only got two outs before Hong-Chih Kuo got Kevin Mench to pop up to Ellis to end the game.

In addition to scoring the early runs, another major key to winning was holding Ryan Zimmerman and Adam Dunn in check. Both went 0-for-4, and Dunn had three strikeouts. That lineup doesn't stand much of a chance if those guys don't get on.

Beating the Nationals is nothing to get excited about. Good teams should win at least two of three from them. It was still good to see the Dodgers take both weekend games after getting beat on Friday. Nothing heroic or anything, but still positive wins.

Coming up is a week that could very well make or break the Dodgers. They play three in Philadelphia starting Tuesday, then four more in Atlanta on Friday. Their combined record? 126-96. Oh joy.

The good news is that the Dodgers avoid Roy Halladay, who pitched against the Mets today. Vicente Padilla has been fantastic lately, and he'll go on Tuesday.

Say goodbye to Anderson

At long last, the Dodgers did something that it didn't look like they would do - get rid of Garret Anderson.

Anderson was designed for assignment on Sunday to make room for Jay Gibbons
. This marks the end of a miserable season for Anderson, who put together a .181 average, two homers, and 12 RBIs in 155 at-bats. Yikes.

To put it in perspective just how bad of a season he was having, he was second-to-last in batting average for people with at least 100 at-bats.

The Dodgers can certainly say they gave Anderson every single chance possible to turn things around, but it just didn't happen. Had he not come in with the reputation of one of the best lefty hitters during his time, I highly doubt he would have been granted nearly this much time to play better.

I thought the signing of Anderson was a good idea. Like I said, he was a great hitter during his prime. I think people forget just how much he meant to those Angels' teams he was on in the late 90's - early 2000's. He had four straight seasons of well over 100 RBIs.

The hope was that he'd be the primary lefty off the bench. It was a good idea in theory, but it never came close to working out. His highest average of any month was June... where he hit .217! It's been said that adjusting to a part-time player requires a whole lot of patience, and maybe that's something he just never could get used to.

In his place will be Gibbons, who's certainly enjoying a big year at Triple-A Albuquerque. He was mashing the ball for a .347 average, 19 homers, and 83 RBIs. He's the former Baltimore Orioles slugger who has 121 career home runs.

He also was named in the Mitchell Report as being one of "those guys." I guess he can just get in line and join the others. All of that aside, he's certainly made the most of the second life he was granted with the Dodgers. Here's hoping he can get some big hits for them, because we all know they can sure use it.

Loney's single wins it in 10

The Dodgers got a much-needed clutch hit on Saturday, as James Loney's bases loaded single in the 10th inning gave them the win over the Nationals, 3-2. With the Padres losing, the Dodgers are now seven games back in the NL West.

Judging by the first inning, you would think the Dodgers would have rolled over and played dead yet again. With Hiroki Kuroda on the mound, Roger Bernadina walked leading off. Iam Desmond followed with a foul out to first. Ryan Zimmerman then stepped up and took a low pitch out to center for the quick 2-0 lead.

The Dodgers responded by going down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the frame. A long night at Dodger Stadium looked to be on tap.

Kuorda, however, wouldn't let that happen as he settled down quite nicely. He actually gave up a couple of singles to Pudge Rodriguez and Adam Kennedy in the second, but got the final two outs of the inning to prevent anymore damage.

With Kuroda now locked it, the Dodgers got on the board thanks to a very strange sequence in the fourth. Ryan Theriot hit a single with one out, something he's become quite good at. Andre Ethier followed with a double, and Loney walked to load the bases for Matt Kemp.

Kemp has certainly gone through his fair amount of struggles, but he lifted a long fly to right. Looking like it could be a grand slam, Michael Morse erased that thought with a nice catch above the wall. Theriot tagged and scored, making it 2-1. Kennedy got the ball on the cutoff and threw to first to try and get Loney sneaking off the bag too far.

The only problem was that nobody was covering first, so it went to the fence, allowing Ethier to score and tie the game at 2-2. It was dumb luck (and a dumb throw), but the Dodgers will take any sort of run they can get at this point.

The Dodgers had a chance to get more runs, but as has plagued them terribly lately, they couldn't deliver with men on. In the sixth, Loney hit a ground rule double to right with two outs. Kemp was given the intentional walk to get to Casey Blake, who drew a walk himself. Jamey Carroll grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.

Kuroda checked out after the seventh, as he retired 17 men straight to end his night. Overall, he gave up three hits, two runs, one walk, and eight strikeouts. He didn't get the win, though he very much deserved it. It was good to see him battle back from a rough first inning.

Hong-Chih Kuo came on in the eighth, and had to wiggle out of some trouble. The bases got loaded with two outs on a single by Kevin Mench, a bunt single by Bernadina, and a walk to Zimmerman. Adam Dunn absolutely killed the Dodgers on Friday, but he popped up this time, all part of his 0-for-4 night.

Next up was Jonathan Broxton, who got a double play ball from Morse to easily get out of the ninth. After the Dodgers went down in order to put the game into extras, Blake's error let Alberto Gonzalez reach, and Broxton walked pinch-hitter Willie Harris get bring up Zimmerman. In a big spot, Broxton got Zimmerman swinging.

The Dodgers quickly went to work on Sean Burnett. Ronnie Belliard pinch-hit and walked, and Scott Podsednik singled for runners on the corners. Nationals skipper Jim Riggleman brought in five infielders to face Theriot, and it worked as he grounded out. Ethier was given the intentional pass to face Loney. Loney lined one just inside the right field line to end the game.

True, the Nationals are not a contender and not a very good team, even if they're not as awful as they used to be. But it doesn't matter how the Dodgers win or who they beat anymore - they need all the positive vibes they can get.

It's not like all of their offensive woes were solved, because they left nine men on and went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position. That one hit, however, was Loney's game-winning single. He hit cleanup against the righty Livan Hernandez and went 2-for-4 with a double and RBI. Not huge slugger numbers, but better than watching Kemp go 0-for-everything.

The goal for Sunday is to get the win to take two of three from this series. Their series record since the All-Star break is 1-4-1, with the lone win over the Mets. With a tough road schedule coming up next against the Phillies and Braves, the Dodgers need to win the winnable games.

Ted Lilly was brilliant in his first start with the Dodgers, and he'll look to repeat that performance today.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Dunn's bombs do in Dodgers

It's safe to say Clayton Kershaw won't be pitching anywhere near the strike zone the next time he faces Adam Dunn.

Dunn hit two three-run homers, accounting for all six Nationals' runs as they beat the Dodgers, 6-3. The Padres also lost, but the Giants won. But let's be honest, as long as the Dodgers keep losing, the amount of games back make no difference, so I'll skip that part. If you want to know, look it up yourself. I won't waste my time.

The first blow came in the first. With one out, Ian Desmond hit an infield single, and Ryan Zimmerman reached on a walk. Dunn then crushed one that just stayed inside the foul pole in right for a three-run shot, and it was 3-0.

Scott Podsednik tried to get things going for the Dodgers by laying down a great bunt to lead off. Ryan Theriot walked, and the Dodgers were in business.

I'd like to pause right here to give you a chance to guess what happened next. Did they A) Hit a home run? B) Get any other sort of hit? Or C) Fail to score any runs and end the inning with a double play?

These are the Dodgers, so of course it was C! Andre Ethier flied to center, and Matt Kemp grounded into a double play. Surprising? Nope. The Dodgers continually find ways to screw up when opportunity knocks.

Dunn was back at it again in the third. Desmond and Zimmerman flopped roles this time, as Desmond walked and Zimmerman singled with nobody out. Dunn then knocked one square off of the foul pole in right, and it was 6-0 just like that.

The only time the Dodgers looked even somewhat in this game was in the fourth. Theriot has been a singles machine, and he got another one leading off. Ethier then hit his 18th homer of the season, a two-run job to make it 6-2. Now with one out, James Loney walked and took second on a passed ball. Casey Blake's RBI single made it 6-3.

The rest of the night the Dodgers managed only one hit. One. Measly. Hit. That came from Theriot in the fifth, another single. Maybe he should hit cleanup. Seriously, better than watching Kemp go through the motions of another horrible at-bat. I'll take singles over nothing.

Kershaw will have better days, as he couldn't hold Dunn down if his life depended on it. To his defense, Dunn is in the middle of a hot streak, so he shouldn't feel too bad. He's just the latest pitcher to be victimized. On the night, he went six innings for seven hits, six run, two walks, and nine strikeouts.

Kenley Jansen pitched the seventh and survived a couple walks for a scoreless inning. Ramon Troncoso pitched the eighth well, then got into a little trouble in the ninth by letting two reach with two outs. George Sherrill struck out Adam Kennedy with a nice breaking ball to end the inning.

That makes three straight good appearances by Sherrill. Dare I say that means he's back to being a good reliever? No I wouldn't, because I'd be an idiot if I did.

New Nationals closer Drew Storen worked the ninth for his first save. He faced the bottom part of the order. Not that it matters. Top, middle, or bottom, it all looks the same: terrible.

John Lannan has been so bad this year that he was sent down to Triple-A at one point. How poorly did the Dodgers do against him? Let's put it this way - his ERA after this game stands at 5.44. Way to make a horrible pitcher look like Cy Young, offense.

There's not a whole lot to say about the Dodgers at this point that hasn't been spoken (or yelled, or cursed) in recent weeks. If the pitching isn't top notch, they won't win. It's not like the offense will bail them out. They just don't nearly have enough punch to get it done. And that's reality with this bunch.

Hiroki Kuroda will look to reverse a poor start against the Padres last time out by going to the hill on Saturday. He'll be opposed by 97-year-old Livan Hernandez, who's actually enjoying a great season with a 3.12 ERA. He's probably licking his chops right now.