Extra, extra, read all about it

One last note about Turn Back the Clock Night at the Trop, where they turned it back to 1955 in every way imaginable, including a postgame concert by the visibly aging Sha-Na-Na. As we were waiting to enter the clubhouse after the game, A Martinez, the Dodgers’ postgame host for KFWB, voiced his disappointment to me at the fact that the beat writers hadn’t chosen to join in. He pointed out that we all should have been using manual typewriters, chomping on cigars and wearing houndstooth fedoras with our press passes stuffed into the bands. Sometimes, I wish I had been around in that era, when covering baseball was the plum beat of every sports department of every newspaper in the country and the job was FUN all the time. Mostly, though, I’m glad to be covering it now, when all the ballparks (at least in the National League), the press boxes are more comfortable, and the travel is (mostly) easier. Plus, I never could have worked in the days when the writers wore suits to the ballpark. Of course, THEY didn’t have to go to PHX, where the forecast highs for this week’s four-gamer are 109, 110, 111 and 110.

St. Pete Saints 4, Brooklyn Dodgers 3

Fifteen runners left on base, eight of them in scoring position, plus two more who got erased in double plays. All leading to a one-run loss on a home run by former Dodgers catcher Dioner Navarro. It came off Randy Wolf, who probably would have been long gone at that point if not for the fact that Grady had to be careful with the bullpen because Saito wasn’t available — he had pitched three days in a row, including a 25-pitch outing last night. Too bad the Dodgers couldn’t turn back the clock to Friday night. Dodgers fall to 42-32. Pods and D-backs play later.

Good news all around

First, because I have been so diligent these past few weeks in chronicling the control problems of Dodgers minor-league lefty Greg Miller, I must tell you that he seems to have corrected them. In his past two outings for Double-A Jacksonville, he has walked just a run on two hits over three innings. More importantly, he has walked just two batters during that span. Even if he hasn’t completely turned the corner, he appears to be in the process of turning it. Good for him. He’s a good guy, and I hope we see him in the bigs come September. … Secondly, the the Dodgers have come out of their slumber, and they have done so in a way that perfectly illustrates the value of working counts early in games, which they sort of did and sort of didn’t do against Kazmir (see my earlier post). That they continued to do it into the middle innings is why they managed to erase a three-run deficit in a single inning, scoring three in the sixth after a leadoff triple by James Loney followed by a walk to Matt Kemp. Kazmir either walked or hit a batter in each of his six innings, and by the time Joe Maddon finally felt compelled to go to his very shaky bullpen, Kazmir already had thrown 112 pitches. How shaky is that pen? Jay Witasick started the seventh with the sixth walk to a Dodgers batter (Jeff Kent). Olmedo Saenz followed with a double, and after an intentional pass to Loney, the Dodgers have the bases jammed for the third time in the game with one out. Dodgers 3, D-Rays 3, top 7

Lost in an episode of Happy Days

They have taken this Turn Back the Clock Thing a little too far, even though the pregame ceremony honoring Don Zimmer was outstanding and included appearances by Duke Snider, Carl Erskine and Johnny Podres, as well as some old photos shown on the big board of Zim at Dodgertown (now home of the Single-A Vero Beach Devil Rays) during his playing days. But do we really need all this 50s music? Do we really need all these poodle skirts and black leather jackets worn over white T-shirts? Do we really need the scoreboard to read BKL and SPT (the old St. Petersburg Saints of the Florida State League)? … Something else the Dodgers don’t need: a lot of early-count outs agianst Scott Kazmir, a guy who has consistently fallen behind any hitter who will take enough pitches to let him. His first trip through the lineup, he walked two and hit a batter. Not one of them advanced. Kazmir hit Tony Abreu on the back of the left buttocks to begin the third, and Rafael Furcal, who was 1 for 19 at that point, made it 1 for 20 on Kazmir’s very next pitch, flying weakly to right field. Kazmir didn’t give up a hit until James Loney followed a one-out walk to Saenz (Saenz’s second of the game) in the fourth with a line single over the 2B’s head. Randy Wolf got roughed up in the first inning, as he often does, and would have gotten roughed up again in the second and third (he walked the leadoff man both times) if he hadn’t made some big pitches to get avoid it. D-Rays 2, Dodgers 0, but the Dodgers have the bases loaded and one out for Ethier, top 4

Tonight’s lineup: Nomar back in

Before any of you get on your daily James Loney soapbox, consider this: The Dodgers are facing a lefty tonight, one of the toughest lefties in the league and a guy who is going to be a star pitcher for years to come. After a game in which Loney went 3 for 5 with a double, this one could have been a real buzzkill if he had gone 0 for 4 with two or three Ks against Scott Kazmir. If he isn’t in there tomorrow against Edwin Jackson, then maybe you have a case for moral outrage. And besides, if Nomar is going to double his HR total to two, who better to do it against than the D-Rays? He has 15 career HRs against them, more than any other opponent except Baltimore (19). … Oh, and you can at least take solace in the fact that Kemp is playing while Gonzo sits, another obvious nod to Kazmir.

SS Furcal
CF Pierre
1B Nomar
2B Kent
DH Saenz
C Martin
RF Kemp
LF Ethier
3B Abreu

LH Wolf

A profound sense of deja vu

As Devil Rays executive VP (a fancy term they use for GM) Andrew Friedman held court before the game yesterday to discuss his decision to put troubled OF Elijah Dukes on the restricted list, it sounded so eerily familiar to those of us who were around for the final days — couldn’t the whole two years be classified as the “final days”? — of Milton Bradley is a Dodgers uniform. There came a point where anyone who observed the team could tell this was never going to work, and that time seemed to come well before any one inside the organization saw it, or wanted to see it. When Ned Colletti replaced Paul DePodesta as GM, he had the advantage of not being personally invested in Bradley the player (DePo had traded for him), so it was easy for Ned to do what everyone knew had to be done, and it has turned out to be arguably the best trade of his tenure with the Dodgers. A year and a half later, Oakland GM Billy Beane looks like he finally is realizing the same things that Colletti did and that DePo eventually would have if he had stuck around long enough, specifically that Bradley is more trouble than he is worth. And although the D-Rays haven’t come to that conclusion about Dukes just yet, it is evident they are getting there. The A’s designated Bradley for assignment two days ago, one day before the D-Rays put Dukes on their restricted list. The difference in the Dodgers’ dealings with Bradley and the D-Rays’ dealings with Duke? Colletti was fortunate enough to find another team willing to take Bradley, as well as fellow malcontent Antonio Perez, and actually give the Dodgers a valuable player (Andre Ethier) in return. Friedman reportedly tried for weeks to deal Dukes. But with Beane’s Bradley experience possibly on their minds, every GM Friedman talked to passed.

Dodgers 6, Devil Rays 3

Saito needed 25 pitches, 10 of them to ninth-inning leadoff man Ty Wigginton alone, to nail down the win, and he did it by striking out Jonny Gomes with two men on. It was Saito’s third game in a row, so he probably won’t be available tomorrow. But Loney and Kemp, starting in the same game for the first time this year, went a combined 5 for 9, and the Dodgers improved to 42-31. D-backs are losing big, Padres have jumped in front of Boston while wearing their old taco uniforms on turn back the clock night at Petco.

Comfortable lead turns uncomfortable

Tony Abreu killed a potential sixth-inning rally with a GIDP. Carl Crawford hit a two-out triple in the bottom half to drive in Brendan Harris, cutting the Dodgers’ once-comfortable, four-run lead to two. Dodgers just went down in order on what couldn’t have been more than a half-dozen pitches in the seventh. Lowe back to the hill, but Seanez and Beimel appear to be warmed up and ready to go in the pen. Carlos Pena, Greg Norton and Delmon Young due up. Dodgers 4, Devil Rays 2, middle 7

Water is healthier than soda

That much was just proven yet again, when Aquafina beat Sierra Mist and Pepsi in the bottled beverage races that they have here every night, the Tampa Bay answer to Milwaukee’s Sausage Races. Derek Lowe must have been drinking his milk today. He has retired 10 of 11 batters through three innings, giving up a harmless, one-out double to Jonny Gomes in the third that spoiled his no-hit bid. The Dodgers got two in the second, one on a solo homer by Luis Gonzalez and the other when shortstop Brendan Harris threw the ball into the stands on a relay trying to nail James Loney taking third on a fly ball by Andre Ethier. Also, Russell Martin stole his 12th base of the seson, tying him with John Roseboro for the all-time record by a catcher in Los Angeles Dodgers history. Dodgers 2, D-Rays 0, bottom 4