Monday, October 25, 2010

World Series preview: Rangers vs. Giants

It's got nothing to do with the Dodgers, but here goes anyway...

Starting Pitching

Giants - Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez, Madison Bumgarner
Lincecum may be the ace, but Cain has been pitching like one as well. In 13 2/3 innings this postseason, Cain is 1-0 without giving up a run. Lincecum is 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, and 30 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings. Sanchez has been trusted as the #2 starter, and responded with a 2.93 ERA in 15 1/3 innings. Bumgarner won the clincher in Atlanta in a pressure situation, and also pitched two scoreless innings in the final game in Philly.

Rangers - Cliff Lee, Colby Lewis, C.J. Wilson, Tommy Hunter
It's hard to claim anyone has done better than Lincecum and Cain, but Lee is definitely that guy. He's gone a perfect 3-0 this postseason for a 0.75 ERA, plus 34 strikeouts in 24 innings. Lewis shut down the Yankees to win the ALCS, as he won two games in that series, and a collective 1.45 ERA in three October starts. Wilson had two great starts before losing to the Yankees in Game 5. Hunter faded as the season wore on, as has been hit around in two postseason starts.

Edge: Giants, but slightly. Lee is awesome, but the Giants can go four deep. Hunter is a question mark.


Giants - Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla, Ramon Ramirez, Guillermo Mota
Nobody has been better this postseason in finishing out games than Wilson. He's a perfect 5-for-5 with no runs surrendered. Romo had 21 holds during the regular season. Affeldt, Lopez, and Casilla have all stepped up in October. Despite Sanchez only lasting two innings in Game 6 in Philly, the bullpen held the Phillies down the rest of the way for the win.

Rangers - Neftali Feliz, Darren Oliver, Darren O'Day, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando
The young Feliz notched 40 saves this season, and has only given up one run in 4 1/3 innings this postseason. He's looked stronger in each appearance. Holland didn't find much success against the Rays, but had two strong appearances against the Yankees. O'Day has been called on seven times in 11 games, and has only given up one run. Oliver had a solid season, but not so much in the postseason with a 5.40 ERA.

Edge: Giants. Wilson looks unstoppable, and their top setup men have produced through two series thus far.


Giants - Buster Posey
Cooled a bit after a great start to the postseason, but has still made a huge difference. Went 4-for-5 with two RBIs in the Game 4 win.

Rangers - Bengie Molina
As good as the Giants have been since Posey took over, the Rangers gladly stuck Molina in as their catcher and haven't looked back. Hit two big homers to help lead the Rangers to wins in Game 1 against the Rays and Game 4 against the Yankees.

Edge: Giants. The Rangers still have big sluggers in their lineup, so Posey's success means a little more to the Giants.

First Base
Giants - Aubrey Huff
Collected hits in 7 of 10 games this postseason. Although, no extra-base hits.

Rangers - Mitch Moreland
Only played in 47 games during the regular season, but has stepped up to hit .303 in October, with 8 hits in 10 games.

Edge: Giants. Even without a longball yet, Huff is the bigger threat.

Second Base
Giants - Freddy Sanchez
Has 11 hits this postseason in 10 games. Comes in with a five-game hitting streak.

Rangers - Ian Kinsler
Hitting a great .342 with three homers and nine RBIs in 11 games. Plus, two steals.

Edge: Rangers. Sanchez quietly does well, but Kinsler is a stud.

Giants - Edgar Renteria
After not starting in the Atlanta series, received four starts against the Phillies. But, he's a collective 3-for-18.

Rangers - Elvis Andrus
Has hit safely in all 11 postseason games for a .333 average. Is 7-for-8 in stolen base attempts, and has been a huge sparkplug leading off.

Edge: Rangers. Andrus is showing the world how his speed can change games.

Third Base
Giants - Juan Uribe and Pablo Sandoval
Sandoval is pretty much a forgotten man, though his big two-run double in Game 4 against the Phillies helped lead to a win. Uribe was very quiet until his game-winning solo shot against the Phillies in the clinching Game 6.

Rangers - Michael Young
Hitting .255 this postseason, but with seven RBIs in 11 games. Had two multi-hit games against the Yankees

Edge: Rangers, but slightly. Uribe and Sandoval haven't hit much, but have come through in the clutch when needed. Young has picked it up more as the postseason goes on.


Left Field
Giants - Pat Burrell
Is only hitting .207, but has drawn some walks that have lead to run. Usually gets yanked late in the game for a defensive replacement.

Rangers - David Murphy
Has six runs scored in eight games, but only hitting .200.

Edge: Giants. Both men are pretty even, but Burrell has a bigger power threat to make a difference.

Center Field
Giants - Andres Torres
Started very slowly against the Braves, but has picked up five hits in the last two games against the Phillies. Stole 26 bases during the regular season, but is only 1-for-4 this postseason.

Rangers - Josh Hamilton
The ALCS MVP has made all of his hits count. After shaking off the rust from injury against the Rays, he tore apart the Yankees with four homers, eight RBIs, and eight walks.

Edge: Rangers. Hamilton looks like the best hitter in the game again.

Right Field
Giants - Cody Ross
The darling of the postseason, has four homers, four doubles, and eight RBIs in 10 games. If there's a big hit to be had, he will get it. Was named NLCS MVP.

Rangers - Nelson Cruz
Has hit in all 11 postseason games, good for a .375 average. Plus, five homers and eight RBIs, and has teamed up with Hamilton for a deadly heart of the order.

Edge: Rangers. Ross has been fantastic, but Cruz continues to mash.

Giants - Eli Whiteside, C; Travis Ishikawa, 1B; Mike Fontenot, 2B; Nate Schierholtz, OF
Schierholtz can be used as a defensive replacement, mostly for Burrell. Fontenot could get a start if Sanchez isn't hitting.

Rangers - Matt Treanor, C; Jorge Cantu, 1B; Andres Blanco, 2B; Jeff Francoeur, OF; Julio Borbon, OF
There hasn't been much of a need for bench production this postseason. Francoeur has gotten the most opportunity, but is only 2-for-14. Cantu and Borbon are hitless.

Edge: Push. The Giants will use their bench more, and the Rangers can change the game with one swing from Francoeur and Cantu if needed. So, no real advantage either way.

My prediction: Rangers in 6.
I think the Giants have slightly better pitching, but I really like the Rangers' offense. Plus, the Rangers just have the "it" factor right now, and that will carry them to a championship.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lilly will stay with the Dodgers


The deal will be for three years and $33 million. He will have a full no-trade clause for the first two years.


Well that was fast.

Ted Lilly wasted very little time this offseason, as he has agreed to remain with the Dodgers on a three-year contract. A physical is still pending, so the deal may take a few days to become official.

Lilly came over to L.A. at the trade deadline at the end of July. In 12 starts, he went 7-4 with a 3.52 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 77 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. He won his first five starts before suffering a loss on August 29 in Colorado.

For his career, Lilly has pitched 11 seasons and compiled a 113-96 record with a 4.18 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. His best run came from 2007-2009 with the Cubs, where he won 44 games, including 17-9 in '08.

The Dodgers have many questions that need to be answered this offseason, so they have to be happy about already answering one of them. Lilly was clearly one of the top starters available this offseason along with guys like Bronson Arroyo, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Carl Pavano. The fact that Lilly wants to stay with the Dodgers is a good sign.

With Clayton Kershaw becoming more of an ace each season, and with Chad Billingsley regaining his form, Lilly will slide in at the #3 spot in the rotation quite nicely. True, he'll be 35 next season, but so far, he's still shown an ability to be a good pitcher.

The next question mark will be Kuroda, and if the Dodgers will now try to resign him. If he walks, then there's two open spots in the rotation that need to still be addressed. There's also Vicente Padilla to consider, but his many injuries this season are a major concern.

This shouldn't be considered a major signing, but a good step forward to start the offseason. Kudos to you, Dodgers. Now keep it going.

Friday, October 15, 2010

2010 NL West Awards

As the League Championship series are about to start, let's take a look back at the regular season in the NL West. Here I'll give my awards for the division.

To view my midseason awards, click here.

MVP - Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, Padres
Even with the Padres collapsing down the stretch, Gonzalez did all he could to earn a playoff spot. He finished the season with a .298 average, .393 OBP, 31 home runs, 101 RBIs, and 33 doubles. He also played in 160 games and committed only eight errors for a .995 fielding %.

Honorable mention: Carlos Gonzalez, OF, Rockies; Brian Wilson, RP, Giants; Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies

Cy Young - Ubaldo Jimenez, SP, Rockies
He couldn't quite get that magical 20th win, but he still was dominant all season long. In the end he put together a 19-8 record with a 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 214 strikeouts in 221 2/3 innings. His road numbers were stronger away from Coors Field (as is the case with every Rockies' pitcher), but he still was 9-2 with a 3.19 ERA at home. Plus, let's not forget about his no-hitter back on April 17 against the Wild Card champion Braves.

Honorable mention: Matt Cain, SP, Giants; Tim Lincecum, SP, Giants; Clayton Kershaw, SP, Dodgers

Rookie of the Year - Buster Posey, C, Giants
There isn't any doubt about this one. Posey was clearly the top dog of the rookies. In helping the Giants claim the NL West crown, he finished the year with a .305 average, .357 OBP, 18 homers, 67 RBIs, and 23 doubles. He also gunned down 23 base stealers in 62 chances.

Honorable mention: Madison Bumgarner, SP, Giants, Eric Young, OF, Rockies

Comeback Player of the Year - Aubrey Huff, 1B, Giants
After doing next to nothing with the Orioles and Tigers last season, Huff was signed by the Giants to try and revive his power. It worked, as he ended up hitting .295 with a .380 OBP, 26 homers, 86 RBIs, 35 doubles, and even a perfect 7-for-7 in stolen bases. The Giants don't have any big stars in their lineup, but Huff is one of the big pieces to their success.

Honorable mention: Chris Young, OF, Diamondbacks

Best Relief Pitcher - Brian Wilson, Closer, Giants
Both Wilson and Heath Bell have similar numbers, but Wilson gets the nod based on his clutch performances down the stretch. A couple years ago, Wilson had 41 saves, but with a 4.62 ERA. After lowering his ERA last season, it went down to a minuscule 1.81 this year. He also had a whopping 48 saves and 93 strikeouts in 74 2/3 innings.

Honorable mention: Heath Bell, Closer, Padres; Hong-Chih Kuo, Setup/Closer, Dodgers

Monday, October 4, 2010

2010 report card

The 2010 season is history, as the Dodgers failed to reach the playoffs (or come anywhere close to it for that matter). Here is my report card for the whole team.

Clayton Kershaw - Stepped up into the #1 role with a 2.91 ERA and 212 strikeouts in 204 1/3 innings.
Hong-Chih Kuo - Pitched in a setup and closer's role and excelled both times. A 1.20 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, and 73 strikeouts in 60 innings.
Kenley Jansen - Only appeared in 25 games, but was awesome with an 0.67 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 27 innings. A future star indeed.
Hiroki Kuroda - Doesn't have "ace" numbers, but really good ones for a guy in the middle of the rotation. A 3.39 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 159 strikeouts, and a career-high 196 1/3 innings pitched.
Rod Barajas - Gave good pop when he came over for the Mets, as he hit .297 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 25 games.
Jamey Carroll - Played the super-sub role very well, hitting .291 with a .379 OBP in 133 games.

Chad Billingsley - Close to an A, but did have some bad starts in the beginning of the year. After peaking at 4.61 in mid-July, ended the year with a 3.57 ERA. Also had 171 strikeouts.
Andre Ethier - Would have easily been an A, but a broken pinkie in mid-May really hurt his numbers. Still, finished with a .292 average, 23 homers, and 82 RBIs.
Ted Lilly - A good addition at the trade deadline, as he went 7-4 in L.A. with a 3.52 ERA and 0.99 WHIP.
James Loney - His average dipped to .267, but still collected 88 RBIs and played his usual stellar defense.
Rafael Furcal - Hit .300 with 22 steals, but only appeared in 97 games. The injury bug struck again.
Jay Gibbons - A nice comeback story, and some decent games too. Hit .280 with five homers in 37 games.

Matt Kemp - Led the team with 28 homers and 89 RBIs, and still covers great ground in center. But, his season was plagued by bad baserunning, a sometimes aloof attitude, and a .249 average.
Manny Ramirez - Injuries derailed his season and his power, hitting only eight homers in 196 at-bats before being shipped to the White Sox.
Casey Blake - The veteran has started to slip, as he hit .248 with 17 homers and 64 RBIs. Still has a good glove at third, though.
Vicente Padilla - Great stuff when he's there, but only made 16 starts for a 4.07 ERA. Plus he got shelled Opening Day... in Pittsburgh!
Russell Martin - Another year taking a big step backwards, only hitting .248 with five homers and 26 RBIs. Lost for the year on August 4 with a hip injury.
Reed Johnson - Only hit .262 and gave little power.
Carlos Monasterios - Started the year off great in the bullpen and making spot starts, then faded as the year progressed for a 4.38 ERA and 1.45 WHIP.
Ramon Troncoso - Saved himself a bit with a pretty good second half of the season, but still had a 4.33 ERA and only eight holds.
Octavio Dotel - Logged 18 2/3 innings before being traded again to the Rockies, but compiled a respectable 3.38 ERA. Better than most of the other bullpen clowns.
Ryan Theriot - Covers good ground at second, but a .242 ERA for someone hitting high in the order is way too low.
Blake DeWitt - OK average at .270, but very little power with one homer and 15 doubles in 82 games. Never fully claimed the second base job like he was penciled in to do.
Scott Podsednik - Was brought over to spark the top of the order, but a .313 OBP and five steals in 39 games didn't cut it.
Brad Ausmus - His numbers look like a D (.222, no homers, two RBIs in 21 games), but I like him. So it's a C.

Jonathan Broxton - Even with 22 saves, crumbled in the second half to finish with seven blown saves, a 4.04 ERA, and countless times ripping the hearts out of Dodger fans.
Ronald Belisario - Went from a top setup guy to a season full of distractions and a 5.04 ERA.
John Ely - Started the year great, then got creamed to balloon his ERA up to 5.49 with a 4-10 record.
Jeff Weaver - Somehow went 5-1, but with a horrible 6.09 ERA.
Ronnie Belliard - Was brought back for his bat... then proceeded to hit .216 with two homers and 19 RBIs.

Garret Anderson - Supposed to be the key lefty bat off the bench, and was miserable with a .181 average, two homers, and 12 RBIs in 155 at-bats. A complete waste.
George Sherrill - Looked to be the setup man in the eighth, but got bombed to the tune of a 6.69 ERA.
Charlie Haeger - A great start in Florida with 12 strikeouts, then got crushed to go 0-4 with an 8.20 ERA in nine games.
The Ortizes - Russ (10.29 ERA in seven innings) and Ramon (6.30 in 30) sucked.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Hasta la vista, Mr. Torre

Joe Torre's Dodger career started with a win in 2008, and it has ended with another victory to close out the 2010 season.

Ted Lilly went seven strong, Matt Kemp homered for the fifth straight game, and Hong-Chih Kuo picked up another save as the Dodgers beat the Diamondbacks, 3-1. The Dodgers have ended the 2010 year with an 80-82 record, good for fourth place in the NL West.

Today was obviously all about Torre, who has guided the Dodgers to a three-year record of 259-227 for a .533 winning %. He also won two NL West titles and was a perfect 6-0 in the NLDS. The final hurdle was never cleared, as the Phillies won the NLCS the last two seasons by a 4-1 margin both times.

As for this one, the Dodgers wasted no time in getting on the board. Rafael Furcal and Jamey Carroll both struck out to begin. Andre Ethier then singled. Kemp has been on a tear lately, and it continued with a two-run blast to left center, a 423 foot bomb, making it 2-0.

The Diamondbacks got a run in the fourth, their only one of the day. Rusty Ryal hit a ground rule double to start the inning. Two outs later, Gerardo Parra hit an RBI single, slashing the lead to 2-1.

The final run of the game, and the season, came in the seventh. With Leo Rosales in to pitch, Reed Johnson greeted him with a single. An out later, Ryan Theriot reached on an infield single, and Carroll walked to load 'em up.

Mike Hampton relieved. Yes, THAT Mike Hampton, the guy who was once one of the best lefties in the league. I'll give him credit for sticking with it and still finding a job after all this time. Well, Ethier took a pitch off the right field wall to score one, but Theriot was easily gunned out at home. Kemp was put on base intentionally, and James Loney grounded out to end the inning up 3-1.

Kenley Jansen took over for Lilly in the eighth and made quick work of the Diamondbacks. Tony Abreu grounded out, and Augie Ojeda and Ryal struck out. Jansen ended this season with an impressive 0.67 ERA, four holds, and three saves. Actually, "impressive" doesn't cut it. He was flat out awesome in the short time he was here.

Kuo came in for the save, and he needed a clean inning for a 1.20 ERA. He got it, as a leadoff walk to Brandon Allen didn't hurt, with Kelly Schmidt grounding out to Loney to end the game. It was Kuo's 12th save.

Why is a 1.20 ERA a big deal? Because Kuo passed Eric Gagne for first place in the all-time Dodgers' list for lowest ERA in a season with at least 50 innings pitched. Gagne also had a 1.20 ERA in 2003, but Kuo's was statistically a bit better. Anytime you get mentioned in the same breath as doing something better than Gagne, that's a great accomplishment.

Plenty of other stories took place during this game. The first was Brad Ausmus, as this was the last game of his 18-year career. He had a good game, too. In the second he led off with a double, and singled in his last at-bat in the ninth. Not a bad way to go out. I can only hope the Dodgers try to keep him around as a coach, as he can be a great addition to Don Mattingly's staff.

Another story was John Lindsey. If you recall, Lindsey is the guy who finally made it to the big leagues after spending 16 years in the minors. Torre made sure he shared the spotlight, as he got to pinch-hit in the seventh to get an ovation before being lifted. He also took part in the pre-game lineup card exchange. A class move all around by Torre.

Kemp certainly ended the year with flair (and rewarded those who are in fantasy baseball championships this week). Over the last five games, he's hit five homers and 12 RBIs. Dodger fans can only hope it carries over into next year and he can lead the team. We shall see.

Lilly perhaps finished his brief Dodgers' career with another gem. He went seven innings for four hits, one run, two walks, and nine strikeouts. Even with the Dodgers tanking in the second half, he was a great trade deadline addition. Too bad it really didn't matter. A high price tag puts plenty of doubt into his future in L.A., but maybe the Dodgers pull it off. Doesn't seem too likely, though.

So this is it for the 2010 season. Plenty will be written in the offseason about what went wrong and what should be done going forward. For now, I'll take the time to commend Torre for helping make the Dodgers relevant again. This year wasn't so hot, but the previous two years have been. When it was all said and done, I'm glad he came, even if he didn't end this year on the greatest note.

Now the Dodgers get turned over to Mattingly and his zero managing experience. The roster will undoubtedly feature changes, perhaps many. This offseason will definitely be an exciting one.

Finally, to everyone reading this, thanks again. This has marked my third year writing about the boys in blue, and I'm looking forward to many more. See you soon!

A managerial debut for the ages

After years of blood, sweat, and sacrifice, Jamey Carroll has finally reached the pinnacle of his career: a win in a meaningless regular season October game in which he was pretending to be the real manager.

Nonetheless, a combination of a great start from Chad Billingsley and another homer from Matt Kemp was enough to lift the Dodgers over the Diamondbacks, 3-2. It was a well played game between two teams... that did absolutely jack squat this year.

In all seriousness, it was good to see a hard worker like Carroll get the win, as he was the chosen one of Joe Torre to manage Saturday night's ballgame. Carroll certainly wasn't a huge offseason signing, but he has played well this year. So good for him.

The game flew right by, as both Billingsley and Joe Saunders threw up blanks through four innings. In fact, Billingsley had a no-hitter going into the sixth, but it was broken up on a single by Gerardo Parra.

The Dodgers were the first to strike in the fifth. With two outs, Andre Ethier, hitting in the #2 spot, hit a single. Up came Kemp, who unloaded for the fourth straight game. His two-run shot to left made it 2-0. He is now up to 27 homers for the year.

In the sixth, Rod Barajas lifted a long fly ball to center. Chris Young got under it, but didn't exactly make a textbook attempt at catching it (you know, glove above his head, catching it with both hands). Instead, his lazy attempt at catching it near his left shoulder resulted in the ball bouncing off his glove for a three-base error. Reed Johnson's sac-fly RBI made it 3-0.

Billingsley would last into the eighth before getting pulled. Brandon Allen hit an infield single leading off. Parra then struck out, but Ryan Church pinch-hit and was plunked to put two on. Stephen Drew's RBI single into right made it 3-1.

Carroll came out to give Billingsley the hook in favor of Ramon Troncoso. Tony Abreu immediately got another run in with a sacrifice fly, and it was 3-2. Kelly Johnson struck out to end the threat.

With the score at 3-2 entering the ninth, Carroll went with Kenley Jansen for the save. It worked. Jansen blew away Young, then gave up a single to Adam LaRoche. Justin Upton pinch-ran and stole second. Two straight strikeouts of Miguel Montero and Allen ended the game. Jansen now has four saves.

Billingsley got the win to get his record up to 12-11. That's certainly not an indication of how well he's improved this year, however. Tonight's effort of 7 1/3 innings, four hits, two runs, one walk, and nine strikeouts lowered his ERA to 3.57. He's done a great job of answering critics who thought he couldn't bounce back from last season. He definitely has.

It was also great to see Jansen get the crack at getting the save. I was worried Jonathan Broxton was going to run out there, but I'm sure Carroll wanted to, you know... WIN. So kudos for not going that route. Jansen pretty much just threw fastballs. Actually, I'm not sure if he even went with a secondary pitch. But he shows great potential of growing into the closer's role in the future, or at least being a top setup guy.

Kemp has ended the year on quite the hot streak, as he now has four homers and 10 RBIs in the last four games. His batting average hasn't really changed (.249), but his home runs have been no-doubters. It's a good way to end the year, but the obvious focus for him now is to be that type of all-around player for an entire season. The talent is there, now let's see if the desire is.

I remember two years ago when these two teams were neck-and-neck for the NL West crown until the end of the season. My how times have changed. Things have been much worse for the Diamondbacks, as they went from losing the West by two games to the Dodgers in 2008 to having a combined 135-188 record since then. Ouch.

The Dodgers, on the other hand, are a day (or possibly two, depending on Sunday's Padres-Giants result) away from relinquishing their two-year hold on the NL West title. This year hasn't gone as planned, but hopefully it's just a bump in the road. Let's also hope that they don't tank like the Diamondbacks have after winning the division in 2007.

Sunday will be a big day for the Dodger organization, as they say goodbye to Torre. Love him or hate him, he's done a lot with this club, taking them one step away from the World Series twice. That can't be ignored. His final act will be sending Ted Lilly to the mound.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Loss guarantees a losing season

With zero riding on the final three-game series of the season, the Dodgers could at least finish at .500 if they got the sweep.

A quick 5-0 hole put an end to that thought.

The Diamondbacks built up a five-run lead after three, then held on get the win, 7-5. The loss means the Dodgers will finish the season with a losing record, their first since going a pathetic 71-91 in 2005.

Well, at least this year's Dodgers won't be THAT bad.

But make no mistake about it, this season has been a big disappointment. After two straight appearances in the NLCS, Dodger fans were thinking of bigger things this year. Instead, they regressed big time in the second half of the season, easily becoming one of the league's worst teams. That's why they'll finish in fourth place in the NL West.

As for this game, it didn't take long for the Diamondbacks to tee off of John Ely. Ely, if you recall, had a great start to the season, but his nosedive is symbolic to how this season has gone for the Dodgers. If he was trying to pitch his way into the rotation next year, he'll now need one heck of a Spring Training to get that done.

Stephen Drew doubled leading off the game. Chris Young did the same, and it was already 1-0. Kelly Johnson singled to center, and the lead was now 2-0. Somehow Ely didn't give up a hit the rest of the inning.

But don't worry, he sure gave up some more in the third. He got Drew swinging to open the inning, then walked Young, who stole second on a close play. Johnson took a walk as well for two on. Three straight runs came in on a double by Adam LaRoche, a single by Mark Reynolds, and sac-fly RBI from Brandon Allen, making it 5-0.

The Dodgers finally got on the board in the fifth off of the great Zach Kroenke. Actually, he's not great, as it was his first career start, but maybe he'll be great someday. Matt Kemp hit one out to deep left for his 26th homer of the season.

Good old Ely soon gave it right back and one more. With Drew on base from a walk and steal of second, LaRoche hit a two-run homer for his 100th RBI of the season. The Diamondbacks haven't had a lick to cheer about this season, but LaRoche's play has been a bright spot.

Down 7-1 in the sixth, the Dodgers made a small run. Esmerling Vasquez came on, and Ryan Theriot walked. Casey Blake took one as well, and Andre Ethier singled to load the bases. Kemp was then plunked for the easy RBI, and it was 7-2. Carlos Rosa came in, and James Loney's RBI single made it 7-3. Rod Barajas got a sac-fly RBI to put the score at 7-4.

With Sam Demel now on in the game, Reed Johnson led off and was beaned. Theriot's grounder forced Johnson at second for one down. Blake took a walk, and both men advanced to scoring position on a wild pitch. Ethier grounded out to second, but the run scored to cut the deficit to 7-5. Kemp struck out swinging to end the inning.

Hong-Chih Kuo struck out the side in the eighth, allowing a bloop double to Cole Gillespie with two outs. Ronald Belisario pitched the ninth and allowed a couple runners, but got out of it unscathed.

The Dodgers could do nothing in the final two innings with the bats. Aaron Heilman plowed through then in the eighth. Juan Gutierrez came on for the save, and only Theriot reached on a walk with two outs. Blake struck out to end the game and assure the Dodgers of a losing season.

Since it was the final series of the season and both teams are not in the playoff picture, Joe Torre did his annual tradition of letting a player manage. Like last year, Brad Ausmus got the nod, with Russell Martin as hitting coach (so many jokes come to mind with that move, but I'll let it go), and Jeff Weaver the bullpen coach. Ausmus beat the Rockies last year, but fell to .500 with this loss.

Like I said before, Ely was just awful. He lasted 4 2/3 innings for seven hits, seven runs, three walks, and three strikeouts. He'll mercifully end the season at 4-10 with a 5.49 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Yikes. And to think, after a strong start against the Diamondbacks on June 1, he was 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA. My how he has fallen.

Actually, it's more like the rest of the league caught up to him. He just never made the adjustment. In fact, he didn't come close to making any adjustments. Check out his monthly ERA totals after June: July - 19.80, September - 7.47, October - 13.50. Granted that only covers six starts, but that's because he went up and down from Triple-A since he kept getting shelled so much.

The bullpen did a good job, probably because the Diamondbacks were very deflated after watching Ely leave, which meant batting practice was over. Ramon Troncoso, George Sherrill, Kuo, and Belisario went 4 1/3 innings for three hits, no runs, no walks, and six strikeouts. At least that went well.

On the second-to-last game of the season, Torre will let Jamey Carroll take the reigns and manage tonight. Chad Billingsley will get the ball looking to improve to 12-11, despite improving very much from last season's bump in the road.