Dodgers 8, Diamondbacks 3 … a possible awakening

Not by me, mind you. I’m on my last legs, what with it now being almost 2:30 a.m. Eastern time, which is the time on which my day began when the alarm went off at 6 this morning. But I digress … The boys finally worked counts tonight, which was a big reason why they were able to unload on the same Dan Haren who had dominated them just 16 days earlier. Haren had not pitched less than six innings in any of his four previous starts, nor had he thrown more than 100 pitches. Tonight, he threw 106 pitches, and he was gone after 4 2/3. The Dodgers finally seem to be getting what Torre has been preaching since Day 1 of spring training, and what worked so well for Torre’s Yankees teams for so many years. Ironically, the idea is to get the starter out early so you can face mediocre middle relief, and tonight, the Dodgers scored all six of their earned runs off Haren and would have been shut out by the bullpen if not for that two-out dropped fly ball by Justin Upton in the eighth. But whatever works, right? The boys go to 9-12 and move into a second-place tie with the Rox, six games behind the D-backs. Buenos noches. I’m going home and going to bed.

Minor correction: Brazoban hasn’t been promoted to Vegas yet

Sounds like it’s going to happen soon, possibly later this week. But it hasn’t happened yet. Meanwhile, Yhency proved to be human last night in Jacksonville’s win over Montgomery — he actually gave up a hit, just his second of the season in nine appearances. He has now struck out 11 batters in 8 2/3 innings and has yet to give up a run, either earned or unearned. He is unlikely to continue to dominate on that level in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League, but he clearly has overcome his injury issues, and Torre said he has even lost a few pounds since the start of spring training.

The lineup — more juggling

SS Furcal
CF Jones
LF Ethier
3B Nomar
C Martin
1B Loney
RF Kemp
2B Hu
RH Lowe

Kent gets the night off. Torre said that way back when he first started managing 30 years ago and he wanted to get a slumping hitter going, he would bat him leadoff. He then said he wasn’t willing to take Furcal OUT of the leadoff spot, so he batted Andruw second instead of first. Someone pointed out a surprising stat during Torre’s pregame session today, that Andruw is second in the league in pitches per plate appearance. Torre pointed out that in this case, that isn’t a good thing because Andruw is taking a lot of pitches that are being called strikes. … Yhency Brazoban is being promoted to Triple-A because club officials want to get a look at him there before calling him up, but Torre hinted that the club isn’t going to stick with an 11-man pitching staff for too long, so that could mean Brazo gets the call in the next few days. … Joe also said he is leaning toward moving Kuo back to the bullpen to relieve the workload on Proctor and Beimel because Kuo, unlike Park and Loaiza, can enter a game after a quick warmup in the pen.

Renovations to be announced tomorrow at Dodger Stadium, but right now on your favorite blog

Actually, they were made public in a release sent out by the mayor’s office that one of my colleagues back at the Daily News was kind enough to forward to me. This is the copied-and-pasted paragraph I took directly from that release, with further comment from your humble correspondent below:

The $500 million renovation and modernization plans include building a new entrance beyond center field, a new plaza inside the stadium gates, a “Top of the Park” outdoor deck area, a modern promenade, restaurants and new Dodger history museum.

This entry way in center field is something Frank has been talking about since he took over the team. I remember him describing it to me in great detail in his office one day early in the 2004 season. It sounds to me like it’s going to be very similar to what they have at Turner Field in Atlanta, if you have ever been there to see it, a big cluster of restaurants and stuff beyond center field. Although in this case, it might not be as prominently visible from inside the ballpark as it is at the Ted. The rest of it all sounds like stuff that won’t dramatically change the look of the park.

Reds 8, Dodgers 1

And thus ends a five-game road trip on which the Dodgers went 1-4 and scored one run in each of the four losses, going 2 for 29 with RISP in those four games (they went 5 for 12 in the win). Not a lot of momentum to take into this monumental two-game set with the Snakes, especially with Haren pitching tomorrow night, but the Dodgers are going to have to beat good pitching sometime. … By the way, I didn’t get into tomorrow’s paper that Andy LaRoche will, as expected, begin his rehab assignment at Double-A Jacksonville at Montgomery tomorrow. He’ll DH in that game, then play 3B for the first time on Thursday night at Huntsville. Torre reiterated before the game that Andy will likely need the full 20 days because he didn’t have much of a spring training. … You’re also going to read a Juan Castro update in tomorrow’s paper, and my initial gut instinct is that the Dodgers are eventually going end up with this guy, whether it’s through a trade or waiting until the Reds release him and then signing him. Again, he’s no Babe Ruth, but he is a great glove man and he’ll be a great addition to this clubhouse. … Dodgers fall to 8-12, their worst start since they also went 8-12 in 1996. They made the playoffs that year as a wild card.

Andruw says it’s allergies, Torre says it’s flu-like symptoms

Whatever it is, Andruw said his entire body has been feeling a bit achy lately. That’s why, when Torre asked him if he wanted to sit tonight, Andruw didn’t exactly argue about it. Torre called a little flu bug, but he also said his wife’s relatives, who live here in Cincinnati, have told him on this trip that the allergy season here has been particularly severe this year. At any rate, and whatever the reason, Andruw and his .159 average are sitting tonight.

Update on why you can’t comment

It has now been almost two weeks since I was warned in advance about this possible glitch, and I apologize profusely to all of you. I’m still being told this is allegedly going to be fixed in the very near future, so I appreciate your continued patience, but I also understand that patience isn’t infinite. This is a great blog because of YOU, and it isn’t a great blog when there is no input from YOU. In the meantime, I’ll keep posting my thoughts and hope that is enough to keep you coming back. … For those who were wondering, and who might not have found this blog yet when I explained it last year, this little scheduling quirk the Dodgers and every other National League team are going through this week, is called “squeeze week.” It’s a necessary evil for making the schedule actually fit into a 27-week template. Each team must play 54 series during the year (three games times 54 equals 162, even though some series are four games and others are two). But it is the All-Star break that screws it all up. Each week has two windows for series, mid-week and weekend. Sometimes the two overlap, with some series going Mon-Thurs, some going Thurs-Sun and occasionally one going Fri-Mon. What the All-Star break does is wipe out one of those mid-week windows, so to make up for that, each team has to cram TWO series into the four-day window of Mon-Thurs once a year, and this is that week. When I was covering the Reds, a Midwestern team that was no more than an hour or so flight from most N.L. cities, they seemed to always get the whole thing at home, just as they are this year with the Dodgers and Astros coming in. Now that I am covering a West Coast team that has a lot of long trips, ironically, the Dodgers NEVER got the entire four games at home, and it usually involves weird, sleep-deprivation kind of travel. One year, it was at Milwaukee/at San Diego, Last year, it was at Arizona/at Colorado. This year, it’s at Cincinnati/home, but that home series is a big one for the Dodgers, two games with Arizona that are as close to must-win as games get in late April, and the Dodgers get to play them after a crosscountry flight while the Diamondbacks come in fresh off a two-game series at home with the Giants and a 45-minute jaunt to Los Angeles. Yeah, that seems fair.

Dodgers 9, Reds 3

The boys busted out offensively — and (gasp!) even went 5 for 12 w/RISP — but what got lost in their 15-hit performance tonight was that Brad Penny gave them another solid outing. It wasn’t terribly efficient — he threw 114 pitches in just six innings — but it was good enough, and he is now 5-0 with a 1.91 ERA in Great American Ball Park since it opened in 2003. (I have just never gotten over the fact that the Reds insist on making ballpark two words). That is the fifth-best ERA by any pitcher who has made at least three starts here. … Dodgers to go 8-11, but still too early in the evening to know how it will affect the standings because the Giants and Snakes are playing now. Pods and Rox both lost.