My last consecutive-games streak was 448 games. This one was two games. A combination of a splitting, nauseating headache (gone now, thanks to Excedrin for Migraines), the usual deafening sound system of Dodger Stadium, a crowded press box where one too many people were squeezed into the area where I usually sit and a bad case of claustrophobia, I opted to take all the Grady and Ned quotes I had and, about 10 minutes before first pitch, head for the hacienda. Rich Hammond was covering the game anyway, and I was only doing the trade story, so it all worked out. … By the way, Proctor will join the team tomorrow. They called up Delwyn Young to take Betemit’s spot, and a pitcher will be sent down tomorrow to clear a roster spot for Proctor. … That’s it for tonight, at least from me. Hasta manana.
The Dodgers have re-acquired right-hander reliever Scott Proctor from the New York Yankees for third baseman Wilson Betemit. Proctor, 30, is tied for the American League lead with 54 appearances and led the A.L. with 83 appearances last season. He is 2-5 with a 3.81 ERA this season and has allowed just nine of 31 inherited runners to score.
Proctor will bolster a Dodgers’ bullpen that has been overworked for much of the past month because of too many short outings by the team’s starting rotation.
The Dodgers acquired Betemit from Atlanta last July 28, and he wound up hitting nine home runs for them down the stretch last season while getting most of the starts at third base. But he got off to a slow start this year and was relegated to the bench when Nomar Garciaparra was moved to third base to make room for James Loney at first. He was hitting .231 with 10 homers and 26 RBI. He had struck out 49 times in 156 at-bats.
Bill Robinson, the Dodgers’ roving minor league hitting coordinator for the past two seasons, passed away on Sunday at the age of 64. No details are known at this time, but I’m working on it. He was a really, really nice guy and a credit to the organization. He also had a major hand in the development of guys like James Loney and Matt Kemp, and he will be missed. It was only a few weeks ago that we were all speculating on whether he would be the guy to replace Eddie Murray as the big-league hitting coach when Murray inevitably got fired, which he did on June 14. The club went with Bill Mueller instead, and it turned out to be the right move as the offense instantly turned things around, but Robinson was the big-league hitting coach for two World Series-winning teams, the 1986 Mets and the 2003 Marlins. A sad day in the organization.
Billingsley wound up throwing 114 of them in 4 1/3 innings, which is one more than he threw in his previous career high 11 days ago against Philly when he went a full five. He went to three-ball counts on nine batters. Eric Hull, who took over for Billingsley, got two quick outs to start the sixth, then walked Jeff Baker. That led to a three-run inning for the Rockies that put this one to bed early and sent a message to the Dodgers that they are going to have to scratch and claw for every victory in this division. Andre Ethier led off the seventh with a double, but Wilson Betemit then stepped in to pinch hit for Seanez. Shockingly, he struck out on three pitches. … Snakes are down by six, but it’s early. Pods are going to win to pull within a half-game, and the Rox are going to pull within 3 1/2. This is now, officially, a four-team race. … Rockies 7, Dodgers 2, top 7
Chad Billingsley has reverted to his old self, throwing too many pitches. He walked the opposing pitcher, Ubaldo Jimenez, to load the bases with two outs in the fourth, but after a visit from pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, Billingsley managed to pitch his way out of that mess by getting Willy Taveras to fly to center. Billingsley gave up a solo homer to Yorvit Torrealba and a two-run shot to Matt Holliday, all in the third inning. Dodgers put runners on the corners with none out in the fourth and managed to get all of one run out of it, on a sac fly by Nomar. Furcal drew a two-out walk in the fifth, but for reasons known only to Juan Pierre, Pierre then tried to bunt his way on and failed. He seems to try that at least once a game, and it ALMOST NEVER works. Either he needs to work on his bunting, or he needs to SWING THE BAT. … Rockies 3, Dodgers 1, bottom 5
The rotation the rest of the week is as follows: Penny on Tuesday, Hendrickson Wed., Tomko Thurs, Billingsley Friday and Lowe Saturday. Lowe still hasn’t thrown off a mound, but Grady said Lowe has felt so good throwing off flat ground that they’re confident he is ready to go. And Penny’s cramps are apparently only an issue when he runs to cover first or on a batted ball, so they’ll send him back out and watch him closely. Still no date set for Randy Wolf’s next rehab outing because he still has stiffness in his shoulder. Grady admitted that it can be termed a setback. No telling when this guy is going to be back.
This one was over before it started. Rockies had their ace going. Dodgers had Tomko. Boys fall to 57-47 and into a first-place tie with AZ, 1 1/2 ahead of the Pods and 4 1/2 ahead of the Rox.
Tomko settled in and shut out the Rockies on three hits from the third through the sixth. But the Dodgers blew a potentially big seventh after Ethier’s RBI single got them within three runs and left runners on the corners with one out. Lieberthal popped up in foul territory, and Russ Martin, hitting for Tomko, popped up in fair territory. Seanez in now. Rockies 5, Dodgers 2, bottom 7
As the Dodgers jogged off the field at the end of the second inning, a Dodgers fan in the mezzanine, just to the right of the press box, stood up and yelled as loudly as he could, “Tomko, you (stink). You’re a disgrace to the blue.” Well, that’s a matter of opinion, I guess. But at least the guy had some supportive data. Tomko walked the first batter in each of the first two innings and would have walked the leadoff man in the third, too, if plate umpire Doug Eddings hadn’t given him a break and rung up Todd Helton on a 3-2 pitch that was clearly low. Ryan Spilborghs, who walked to lead off the first, scored on a two-run homer by Matt Holliday. Brad Hawpe, who walked to lead off the second, scored on a two-run homer by Troy Tulowitzki. Tomko then got ahead of Spilborghs 0-2, threw him two balls, then gave up an RBI single to center. Kent just drove in the Dodgers’ first run with an RBI single off Jeff Francis, extending Kent’s major-league-best on-base streak to 37 games. Rockies 5, Dodgers 1, middle 4
Russell Martin is NOT starting tonight. “Lieberthal was ready to go,” Grady said. “I think two days for Russ and another one on Monday might get him right back to where he needs to be (with his stiff lower back). I see a different look on his face today (after not playing Friday).” … Also, D-Lowe’s bullpen session was pushed back a day because the off-day made it less urgent that he start as scheduled on Tuesday, even though Grady hasn’t officially ruled him out of that game. Lowe did throw in a pitching motion off flat ground and said he felt “100 times better than yesterday.” … Still no news on Randy Wolf, but you can take it to the bank he’ll do at least one more rehab start.
Saenz got a big cake from his teammates congratulating him on his first start since June 23, when he DH’d at Tampa Bay, and his first start in the field since June 1, when he played 1B. The cake was decorated with three plastic ballplayer figures, one at each base, and the one at 1B had a picture of Saenz’s face glued to the head.