Franken-friar will be dancin’ ’til dawn after this one. Hey, I know I have been on this soapbox lately about the Dodgers not working counts, and I know Maddux throws so many strikes that it’s especially tough to work counts against him. But NINETY-FOUR PITCHES? FOR THE WHOLE GAME? BY THREE PITCHERS COMBINED? Please. And besides, when they finally got Maddux out of the game after seven innings, what did the Dodgers do against Scott Linebrink in the eighth? Why, they made three consecutive outs on a TOTAL OF SIX PITCHES, of course. Granted, one of them was that single by Juan Pierre that he foolishly tried to stretch into a double, but the result was the same. I don’t care who the pitcher is, any team that is trailing by one run in the eighth inning lets an opposing pitcher get through that eighth inning on six pitches simply doesn’t have a good collective approach at the plate. I will never forget the press conference at Dodger Stadium back in January of 2006 when the new coaching staff was formally introduced, and I asked new hitting coach Eddie Murray (yes, he HAD to talk to the media that day) the following question: “Your predecessor (Tim Wallach) constantly preached the gospel of working counts and making opposing pitchers work. Do you subscribe to that theory?” Well, first he looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted horns, then he gave me some explanation about how opposing pitchers are always trying to get ahead with the first pitch, so a hitter should always be ready to jump on that pitch. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have Nomar and Kent in the middle of the order, two guys who have made very nice careers for themselves out of almost NEVER working counts. But still, it isn’t always about an individual hitter and an individual at-bat. It’s about the whole lineup making the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches early in the game and getting the other team’s middle relievers — normally the weakest pitchers on any staff — into the game by the sixth inning. Again, that approach wouldn’t necessarily work against a strike-throwing machine like Maddux. But as a general rule, it might be something the Dodgers should try once in a while. … Dodgers fall to 14-10, and their lead shrinks to a half-game over Arizona and one game over the Padres and, as one reader called them in a posted response on this blog yesterday, the Geritols. Day game tomorrow so, as Jack McKeon used to say when I was covering the Reds, sleep fast.
Not to brag, but after the bottom of the third, I turned to the guy next to me in the press box and said, “You know, I really hate to see Brett Tomko throwing a perfect game, because he is the kind of guy who, the minute he DOES give up a hit, will completely lose focus and fall apart.” Well, with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Brian Giles broke up the perfecto with a single to center. Before he got out of the inning, Tomko would give up four consecutive hits and three runs. He finally did get out of it by getting .115-hitting Kevin Kouzmanoff to fly out on the first pitch. Tomko just completed a perfect fifth, but the three outs came on three balls that were absolutely tattooed — including one that none other than Greg Maddux drove to a spot just short of the warning track in straightaway center. Padres 3, Dodgers 2, top 6
Padres haven’t even come close to getting a hit, and the closest they have come to getting a man on was in the third, when catcher Rob Bowen did what those of us on the Dodgers beat the past couple of years came to call the “J.D. Drew walkaway,” which is when a hitter (Drew used to do it CONSTANTLY) takes a 3-2 pitch, then, assuming the pitch is ball four, takes three steps up the first-base line as the umpire is calling it strike three. Tomko has five groundballs outs, one strikeout and three flyball outs, and he has thrown just 37 pitches. Maddux appears to be settling in now, but he was shaky the first three innings. Juan Pierre has a single and a double, running his career avg. against Maddux to .393 (11 for 28), and has scored both runs. Jeff Kent also has a single and a double, each of which drove in Pierre. Dodgers 2, Pads 0, bottom 4
He was supposed to play, but he has been battling a stomach illness since late last night. Grady said Betemit is available to come off the bench.
SS Furcal — 5-game hitting streak, 7 for 23
CF Pierre — career .346 against Maddux
LF Gonzo — .317 lifetime with 10 HR, 21 RBI against Maddux
C Martin — 6 gm hit streak 8 for 19
1B coach Mariano Duncan went home to the Dominican after learning that his father had died after a long illness Bench coach Dave Jauss will coach 1B until Duncan returns. … Matt Kemp homered again in his first official game with Las Vegas, going 2 for 4 and stealing a base in Friday’s 6-4 loss to Tacoma. Yhency Brazoban began the Vegas portion of the rehab assignment with a scoreless inning.
… but if you’re thinking about driving down for the game tonight, don’t. First of all, it’s sold out. Second of all, the traffic around Del Mar is horrible, or at least it was yesterday, and one of my colleagues who is staying up there told me it was even worse today. A few of the Dodgers came out for early BP — Juan Pierre, Ramon Martinez, Wilson Valdez, Mike Lieberthal and Olmedo Saenz. The Padres have a new mascot this year, called Franken-friar. It’s a takeoff on the old standard Friar mascot, except this one has a green head that vaguely resembles Frankestein’s monster. It even has bolts sticking out of the sides of the neck. Right now, they’re testing the sound system by playing hiphop music — loudly — with the stadium empty, and Franken-friar and regular Friar on the field dancing to it, with the ballpark completely empty. You never know what you’re going to see when you go to a ballgame. Heading downstairs. Will check back later.