Here’s what’s going on, based on the information I have been able to cull from several sources: Clayton Kershaw was pulled after one inning last night because the Dodgers are CONSIDERING calling him up, and that’s a decision they aren’t necessarily going to make today. As it was put to me, if he had thrown 90-100 pitches, six or seven innings last night, bringing him up wouldn’t even be an option. I’m not sure why, as he still would have been perfectly lined up to start on Tuesday at Chicago, the next time the Dodgers need a fifth starter, but it probably has something to do with that 170-inning limit they have Kershaw on for the season. … Below is the lineup, which doesn’t have Rafael Furcal in it. That’s the next thing I have to run down, is why he isn’t being activated, and if he is, why he isn’t in the lineup.
I have been in PHX all day dealing with a personal matter (buying a piece of property there, but that’s a different story for a different day), and only just now getting around to checking my email. But several people, including my editor at Baseball America and a couple of you readers, have let me know that Clayton Kershaw was yanked after striking out two of the first three batters for Double-A Jacksonville tonight. Called Josh Rawitch at 11 p.m., waking him up (for which I apologized profusely), he said I was at least the second person to call him but that he knew nothing about it. Suggested I call Colletti, then realized it was 11 and suggested I NOT call Colletti (I went with his SECOND suggestion), so it might or might not mean Kershaw is on his way. The team doesn’t need a fifth starter until Tuesday at Chicago, and Clayton would be perfectly lined up for that. But they already will have to send SOMEONE down tomorrow (probably a pitcher) to make room for Furcal, so I’m not sure how they’re going to add Kershaw. Stay tuned.
The wind was blowing so hard during the early innings that the foul poles were swaying, but it finally died down about midway through the game, and now that the game is over, it appears to be kicking back up again. Watching the rightfield foul pole go back and forth reminded me of that walkoff homer Hee Seop Choi hit against the Twins back in 2005 that hit high off the pole. I wondered what would happen if someone hit one to that exact spot tonight while the pole was leaning to the left in the wind, which would have resulted in the ball going BY the pole to the foul side. I wonder what the umpires would have called in that case. … Anyway, the Dodgers have now swept the Reds at home three years in a row, and one of the Japanese reporters told me that tonight is the first time in major-league history that a Japanese pitcher has gotten the win and another Japanese pitcher has gotten the save in the same game. Kuroda became just the second Dodgers pitcher this season to go eight innings (Derek Lowe vs. SD on April 12), and he held the Reds to two runs on five hits. James Loney homered and now has hit both of the Dodgers’ only two home runs in their past seven home games. … Dodgers go to 25-21 and move within three of the Snakes, the closest they have been to first place since May 7.
He underwent some tests that showed a strained left calf, which we already knew he had. According to Torre, that means, “we just wait for him to feel better.”
Here’s the lineup
You may recall that Collins, the former Angels manager, left his position as Dodgers player development director two winters ago to take the Orix job. One of the Japanese reporters who regularly covers the Dodgers just told me that Terry and his bench coach, longtime Dodgers minor-league coach/instructor Jon Debus resigned, along with pitching coach Mike Brown. The Buffaloes had just fallen into fifth place in the six-team Pacific League. Debus was with the club for something like 25 years, with only one of them at the big-league level, when he was Jim Tracy’s bullpen coach in 2005.
I asked Torre after the game whether Billingsley can be considered the ace of this staff, especially considering he is the only Dodgers’ starter to win during the club’s past 16 games (he has done it three times during that stretch) and the only starter to go seven innings during the club’s past 17 games (he has done that twice).
As always, Joe gave an interesting, insightful answer.
“I don’t want to put that (ace label) on him,” Torre said. “His personality is such that he puts enough pressure on himself without thinking he has to be the leader of this staff. Right now, he is taking his turn and giving us reasons to feel good about him, just giving us very solid performances. He had seven strikeouts in the first five innings, but he also made them hit the ball, and that’s a really big thing for him.”
Well, whether Chad is an ace pitcher or not, he is routinely delivering ace-worthy performances, and this was just the latest one. He also managed to siphon off Adam Dunn’s home run streak at five games by striking him out twice and walking him once — Dunn did get an infield single off Joe Beimel in the ninth.
Matt Kemp also helped out with a spectacular catch in center field in the fourth inning, robbing Ken Griffey Jr. of extra bases — the ball would have kicked off the top of the wall, and would NOT have been career HR No. 598.
Dodgers go to 24-21 and move within four games of the Snakes.
There was a lot of talk about Andruw Jones before the game, but there was nothing really new. He feels better today. That’s about it. One of you asked about the length of Gary Bennett’s recovery, well, the best answer is that no one knows. Stan Conte said the problem with plantar fasciitis, which can be very painful, is that it tends to get worse with activity, so they have to wait until it is completely gone before Bennett really starts rehabbing hard. Loaiza will probably make another rehab start before he comes back. Nomar is undergoing tests as we speak. And Furcal is pushing for a Wednesday return, but club officials are pushing back, saying the safe thing to do would be to wait until Friday.
Here’s the lineup
In addition to his throwing issues, he is now suffering from plantar fasciitis in his left foot. He has been replaced on the roster by veteran backup Danny Ardoin, who has been on fire of late at Triple-A Las Vegas and had his contract purchased. To get Ardoin onto the 40-man roster, Dodgers had to move Jason Schmidt to the 60-day DL. It won’t delay his return at all. I believe he has already been on the 15-day for 60 days, and if he hasn’t, he is only two or three days away.
We learned after the game that Andruw Jones had an MRI today, that the MRI showed fluid and torn cartilage in his right knee and that if it isn’t better by Thursday or Friday, he’ll have arthroscopic surgery that will sideline him, according to what Jones says the doctors told him, for four to five weeks. My experience has been that they usually don’t even TALK about surgery unless they’re fairly sure it’s going to happen. But he is going to get treatment and try to make it work. … By the way, if you get an early edition of tomorrow’s paper, you won’t read about Jones, because we didn’t know until after the game. But what you will read is a brief synopsis of a rather bizarre situation that took place at Dodger Stadium last week, a story that has been tossed around the rumor mill for several days and was finally confirmed to me tonight by Lon Rosenberg, the Dodgers’ VP of stadium operations. Anyway, here’s what happened:
Some guy wandered in off the street and somehow found a way to sneak into Dodger Stadium. This was one day last week while the team was on the road. So he gets in and goes unnoticed long enough to sneak down to the clubhouse area, and he finds a full bat boy’s uniform, jersey, pants, socks, the whole deal, and actually PUTS IT ON. Then he goes out onto the field and starts running sprints. Well, security finally sees him and approches him and he tells them — this is the funniest part of all — that he is a player the Dodgers have just called up from the minors (guess he didn’t realize the team was in Milwaukee). So while security officers are trying to confirm a story they’re pretty sure isn’t true to begin with, the guy tries to make his escape. He takes off running, right out the centerfield gate. Lon said he was quickly caught and arrested.
Dodgers go to 23-21 and pull within five games of the idle Snakes. They win this one on a walkoff, bases-loaded single by Blake DeWitt in the ninth, and have now beaten the team I used to cover seven consecutive times here at Dodger Stadium dating back to 2005, when they split a four-game series.
One of my all-time favorite quotes that I have ever read was from Anita Baker, who was a popular soul singer during the ’80s and still performs occasionally, in advance of her singing the anthem before Game 2 of the 2006 World Series in her hometown of Detroit. Someone from the Detroit Free Press caught up with her by phone in her hotel room in Las Vegas, where she was performing before flying to Detroit, and this person asked her to what degree she planned to personalize the anthem. What she said was simple, but incredibly appropo.
“It’s not about me. It’s about the song.”
That is a statement that should be read, memorized and taken to heart by anyone and everyone who ever sings the anthem at a sporting event — and especially by whoever that woman was who played it on a violin before tonight’s game. It wasn’t her fault that the microphone cut out on her early in the song. But it WAS her fault that she added all those contrived flourishes onto the end of it that made the song virtually unrecognizable. Just PLAY/SING THE SONG!!! Don’t jazz it up. Don’t personalize it. Don’t give it any special touches. It’s pretty special already.