A few odds and ends … Furcal extended his hitting streak to 10 games, although he cooled off a bit by going just 1 for 4. … Juan Pierre just can’t catch a break. The poor guy drops a perfect bunt in the first inning that he would have beaten out, but when Brewers third baseman Tony Graffanino threw wide of first and Prince Fielder then made a motion to go for the ball, Pierre must have figured based on Fielder’s movement that the ball was coming straight for the back of his head. So Pierre threw up his arms as he crossed the bag, and Fielder appeared to accidentally clothesline Pierre, resulting in Pierre falling to the turf on the other side of the bag. The call? Interference on Pierre, of course, negating the whole play and resulting in an out. Pierre went 0 for 4 for the second night in a row since moving into the leadoff spot. … Another crazy deadline story tonight, just the opposite of the one I laid out in this blog a couple of weeks ago. Our deadline for first edition is 10 p.m. or the end of the game, whichever comes first, with the second-edition story due at 11:15. Well, tonight’s game went so fast that I didn’t have time to get the first edition story done by the time the game ended at 9:25 p.m. So, just before the game ended, I called the sports desk and proposed that I not file the story until 10 p.m., after going to the clubhouse for quotes, and thus they wouldn’t have to worry about a second story at all. Thankfully, they obliged, making my life easier because I didn’t have to stay in the press box frantically finishing my first story while I should have been in the clubhouse getting interviews, and making the desk’s life easier too because they only had to edit, and write a headline for, one story instead of the usual two. … I was the guest on Rick Monday’s pregame show tonight, and the topic was this blog and the changing nature of the print media. Some of you might have heard it. I mentioned to him that I wanted no part of this blog in the beginning, but that I now enjoy it more than anything else I do. That is in large part a testament to you, the readers, and especially those of you who post your comments on occasion. This blog wouldn’t serve much of a purpose if it were just me pontificating. So thanks to all of you for your responses, and please keep them coming. … Good night, all.
Russell Martin’s third homer of the year, a two-run shot off Ben Sheets after Jeff Kent’s double, just gave the Dodgers the lead in the fourth. Tony Abreu made a throwing error on the first play of his first game in the majors and momentarily bobbled another grounder in the second. But he settled in from there and now has four assists, including starting an inning-ending double play with runners on first and third in the third. Randy Wolf has settled in, also, retiring the side in order in the fourth after getting out of that third-inning jam. Furcal extended his hitting streak to 10 games with a single in the third. The Dodgers already have twice as many runs (two) and hits (four) as they got off Sheets on opening day. Dodgers 3, Brewers 1, bottom 4
Didn’t get this in tomorrow’s notebook because of space, but Jason Schmidt threw a side session today and, if he has no lingering ill effects from that tomorrow, will throw a simulated game before Friday night’s game with the Cubs. He’ll likely need at least two or three simulated games before he is ready for a rehab assignment. “He definitely has to build up his stamina more than he has now,” Grady said.
Grady wasted no time getting Tony Abreu into the lineup. He also wasted no time hinting that Abreu could move into the leadoff spot if Juan Pierre doesn’t start producing, although he didn’t mention Pierre by name. “None of us around here should be assuming anything about our batting order at this point in time,” Little said. Sounds like more changes could be coming. But they aren”t coming tonight.
CF Pierre — 8-24 lifetime against Ben Sheets
SS Furcal — 9-gm hitting streak (21-38)
1B Nomar — 6-gm hitting streak, but just 6-23
LF Gonzo — strikes out once every 18.6 PAs, second best in NL
3B Abreu — major-league debut
LH Wolf — 10.5 Ks/9 innings, second best in NL
The Dodgers have purchased the contract of hot-hitting, multi-faceted infielder Tony Abreu from Triple-A Las Vegas, sliding him into the vacant 40-man spot that has existed since Wilson Valdez was designated for assignment last week. Abreu, who was hitting .347 with a .397 OBP at Vegas, is in tonight’s lineup at 3B and batting eighth. He will be making his major-league debut, and because he still has all of his options, he affords the Dodgers a bit of roster flexibility if they decide to go back to 12 pitchers. Abreu won the Jim and Dearie Mulvey Award during big-league spring training as the top rookie in camp.
How long can the club keep riding Brett Tomko? That was the question, exact wording, that I asked Grady Little after the game. The answer was short, vague and in no way a ringing endorsement. “We’ll see,” he said. I kept waiting for the elaboration. but there wasn’t any. Tomko clearly is in trouble, and well he should be at 1-5 with a 6.28 ERA. And while it’s clear that Chad Billingsley isn’t ready to take Tomko’s spot — he gave up hits to four of the six batters he faced, allowed two of Tomko’s runners to score and gave up a run of his own — don’t forget about D.J. Houlton. This guy isn’t the same, inconsistent, not-ready-for-prime-time rookie the Dodgers suffered through as a Rule 5 pick in 2005. He overhauled his mechanics in spring training, taking a side mound almost every morning while pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, bullpen coach Dan Warthen and a varied host of minor-league pitching coaches like Ken Howell, Marty Reed, Danny Darwin, Charlie Hough all watched intently. It had to be somewhat embarrassing for the kid, having all those coaches standing around him every morning. But it worked. Houlton is 5-2 with a 3.28 ERA at Las Vegas, and the Dodgers are in desperate need of another reliable starter. … Funny thing about Furcal’s Pals, this program Rafael Furcal has started this season where he brings kids out to the ballpark. The correct pronunciation of Furcal’s last name, from what I have been told, is Fur-CAHL. That doesn’t rhyme with “pals.” But when the program was referenced by the Dodger Stadium PA guy tonight, it was pronounced Fur-CAL’s pals. Conveniently, that does rhyme. … Kudos to Dodgers clubhouse manager Mitch Poole, who a couple of days ago changed the ring tone on his cell phone. The new one is Journey’s Don’t Stop Believin’. If, like Mitch and myself, you were a teenager during the 1980s, I don’t have to tell you why that is simply OUTSTANDING.
Rafael Furcal extended his hitting streak to nine games with a gift single in the first inning when a ground ball got stuck in Brewers 2B Rickie Weeks’ glove. Furcal also walked in the third inning. Other than that, the Dodgers look like the same team that sputtered all weekend. This team has NO OFFENSE. Meanwhlie, Tomko is getting knocked around. He has given up two BOMBS in four innings to Prince Fielder and Johnny Estrada. Brewers 3, Dodgers 0, top 4
LaRoche is batting seventh, ahead of Ethier. And Tomko, not Wolf, is pitching tonight. My bad on both accounts. Sorry
Grady finally shook up the lineup, although it isn’t the change a lot of you have been clamoring for. He flipped Furcal and Pierre, and then he flipped Gonzo and Martin. This is the result
Personally, I thought Furcal should have been dropped to third because it’s an RBI spot, with Martin moving up to second and Nomar going to fifth. But as Grady is so fond of pointing out, he is the manager, and he gets to fill out the lineup card.
Four Brewers players — pitchers Jeff Suppan and Chris Capuano, infielder J.J. Hardy and outfielder Bill Hall — will tape a segment tomorrow for an episode of Young & the Restless scheduled to air on June 20. For those of you who watch regularly, they are playing themselves, Brewers players appearing at a political rally for Jack Abbott. (My mom is a HUGE fan of the show). The show is set in the fictional town of Genoa City, which I guess is supposed to be in Wisconsin, which is why Brewers players would be attending a political rally there. Yet for some reason, no one on the show speaks with a Wisconsin accent. If you have ever been to Milwaukee (or Green Bay, or Madison, or Kenosha), you know exactly what I am talking about. … Horrendous day today, cloudier and more overcast even than yesterday, and it’s already cold at 3 o’clock. Brewers should feel right at home. Then again, they have a domed stadium.