Anybody who could have imagined these Dodgers beating Joe Saunders before the game started would have seemed delusional at the time. But now, they seem prescient. Russell Martin homered in the first inning, a solo shot, and Andre Ethier hit a three-run blast in the seventh after entering defensively to start the inning. It marked the first time the Dodgers homered twice in the same game since June 7, the day they beat the Cubs and Carlos Zambrano. Only three of the runs came off Saunders, because the Dodgers drove his pitch count to 92 by the end of the fifth inning, so Scioscia had to pinch hit for him in the sixth. Chan Ho Park was magnificent, shutting out the Halos on four hits over six innings, and he now has allowed a run on seven hits over 11 innings in two starts since being inserted into the rotation. Brian Falkenborg, Jonathan Broxton and Takashi Saito retired the final nine Angels batters in order, Broxton and Saito striking out the final six. Dodgers go to 37-42 and move within 2 1/2 of the Snakes, the closest they have been since May 30. The Snakes are now leading the division at 40-40. Unbelievable.
… even if it’s delivered with crossed fingers and held breath. … Rafael Furcal, Andruw Jones and Nomar Garciaparra all are scheduled to begin minor-league rehabilitation assignments on Monday at Las Vegas, and Furcal and Garciaparra are expected for now to rejoin the team in time for the final homestand of the first half, which begins a week from Monday. Jones is expected for now to rejoin the team in time for the start of the second half on July 18 at Arizona. His rehab will be split into two segments, the first four days to test his knee and make sure it holds up to the stress, then a three-day break back in Los Angeles, then eight more days at Vegas to get his swing back in midseason form. … Jason Schmidt will start his second rehab assignment by pitching for Las Vegas tonight at Fresno. His previous assignment was spent entirely with Single-A Inland Empire. He’ll throw 45 pitches. … Brad Penny will NOT throw a simulated game tomorrow, but he will throw a bullpen, as will Hiroki Kuroda, and Kuroda might even pitch batting practice to one or two batters.
Finally, here’s today’s lineup
Can’t believe THIS lineup didn’t score. Dodgers left at least one runner on base in each of the first seven innings, then went without a whimper over the final two. Three times, the Dodgers got a man to third with less than two outs. Obviously, they didn’t score any of them. Forget about the standings, because if this team doesn’t learn situational hitting, it’s not going anywhere. Snakes are idle today, so the boys fall 3 1/2 back, and their record falls to 36-42. Starting to look like a long summer, folks.
The former big-league right-hander was last seen going 0-5 with a 7.20 ERA in six starts for the Nationals last year before they released him. He also spent 2 1/2 seasons with the Giants and 1 1/2 with the Cubs. For his career, he is 23-29 with a 4.25 ERA in the majors. But to illustrate just how far his star has fallen, the Dodgers have assigned him to high Single-A Inland Empire. He was originally drafted by the Giants as a first-round sandwich pick in 1999.
He’ll play for the World Team. He is batting .294 for Double-A Jacksonville, with 11 doubles, a triple, two homers, 30 RBI and 51 runs scored. He has a .409 on-base percentage, having walked 50 times while striking out just 44 times. … The U.S. team will feature the U.S. Olympic team’s coaching staff, meaning it will be managed by former Dodgers skipper Davey Johnson. The hitting coach will be former Dodgers OF Reggie Smith. The game will be played on July 13 at Yankee Stadium.
He already fielded a one-hop throw from third for a force and started a GIDP, all in the first inning. Looks pretty comfortable there so far. The 3B who made that throw was Russell Martin, who is starting there for the fourth time while Ardoin catches. … Dodgers stole THREE bases in the bottom of the first and DIDN’T SCORE. Now that’s hard to do.
Eric Stults becomes the second Dodgers pitcher, and arguably the least likely, to throw a complete-game shutout this month, this year or in any of the past three years, and he was dazzling. He held the Sox to four hits and allowed only two runners to get as far as second base. Torre intended to take him out after eight innings, going so far as to shake his hand and tell him he was done, but Russell Martin pled Stults’ case to Torre, and Torre agreed to let him start the ninth and take it batter by batter. So I’m sure he was cutting it close when he started the first batter, Carlos Quentin, off 3-0. But Quentin eventually flied to deep center, and Stults wound up pitching a perfect inning. He threw 116 pitches, an incredible 81 of them for strikes. In case you forgot, Kuroda had the other shutout, on June 6 against the Cubs. It was also a four-hitter. … The boys go to 36-41 and move within three games of the Snakes, who are now just one game above .500 at 40-39. What a division. … See ya bright and early.
This is from the group interview he did earlier today. I wasn’t there for it, but Padilla was.
“To me, it sounds like an excuse and that’s the hardest part for me,” Proctor said. “Bottom line, I don’t care how bad you’re hurt it’s just about execution. I don’t like how this thing looks right now but you have to take it how it is.
“Right now all I care about is the respect of my teammates and my coaches. As long as those guys understand this situation that’s all that matters because those are the guys that battle together every day.”
This is Torre:
“You ask if anything was bothering him and he’d say, ‘I’m all right,’ ” Torre said. “That would be the answer. You love him for his heart and he has a belly full of guts and all that stuff but he doesn’t always make the right choices.”
This is Proctor again:
“I don’t like talking about injuries,” Proctor said. “I wanted to go my entire career without going on the DL and unfortunately now that’s lost. Right now I can focus on getting healthy and getting right, that way I can take the ball every time.”
OK, this is going to sound like a manager covering his player’s rear end, but after listening to Torre’s explanation for the Proctor issue and checking it out with another source, it appears that what Torre said in his pregame media session is legit. Basically, Joe admitted that the original plan with Proctor was to option him to Vegas, and apparently, Proctor was willing to go, but after continuing to press him on the issue of his physical health, only then did Proctor admit that there was a problem with his elbow.
“I know it sounds like he just did that to keep from going to the minor leagues,” Torre said. “But I checked with (trainer) Stan (Conte), and I think he had the same conversation with (Proctor) late last night.”
Torre went on to say that Proctor isn’t the type of pitcher to admit — either to his manager or to himself — that he is hurt.
“Scotty is that guy who figures that even in spite of it, he can go out and get people out,” Torre said.
Torre said Proctor was even willing to accept the option and go to Vegas and pitch hurt, but that club officials weren’t going to allow him to do that.
So there you have it. That’s it from me for a while. Padilla is covering the game tonight while I work on some other stuff. I’ll check in with a recap when it’s over.
Not sure what the injury is, but what I can tell you is that we were originally told he was being optioned to Las Vegas. I’m not sure what’s behind that, because we haven’t talked to anyone yet, but rest assured we will. … Falkenborg has 13 saves at Vegas and a 3.60 ERA in 32 relief appearances. He isn’t on the 40-man, so to clear a spot, the club moved Gary Bennett to the 60-day DL, which is significant for Bennett because it means he isn’t coming back anytime soon. According to my very quick math, July 18 will be the day he becomes eligible.