NLCS Game 2: Phillies 8, Dodgers 5

Much like last night, there was a ball that would have gone out of just about any other part of the ballpark, this one a drive by Casey Blake in the seventh that would have gone for a three-run, game-tying homer, but it came down at that distant part of the wall in left-center, and Shane Victorino made a leaping catch. Chad Billingsley was awful in the second after striking out the first two batters and then giving up a bouncing single up the middle to Greg Dobbs. Phils went on to score four in that inning and four in the next one, too, chasing Billingsley after 2 1/3 innings. Yes, the Dodgers are going home for the next three. Yes, Joe Torre’s Yankees blew a 3-0 lead in the 2004 American League Championship Series. But that’s all secondary to the fact this team is down 2-0 and absolutely MUST win Game 3 in the twilight on Saturday at Dodger Stadium. It could be worse. But it couldn’t be much worse.

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  • phillydodger

    yeeeeeeech! what a mess that was. everyone knows a pitcher is always thinking first pitch fast ball at the plate so what does Bills do – groove one twice to Myers. Not once but twice!?!

    two games in a row the D’s let the Phillies 7-8-9 hitters do the damage. rollins – 3 Ks. Utley – 4 BBs – Howard – nothing at all – so Bills gives up 3 RBI to Myers and 4 to Victorino.

    and where is the so-called veteran leadership? kent hasn’t gotten a ball out of the infield all post-season. if he can’t go or hit, he shouldn’t be on the roster. furacal and blake and esp nomar all came up small. yes, i know that is how it goes sometimes (often) in baseball. but these are all veteran and playoff tested guys.

    furcal seems to have regressed – i.e. the adrenaline has worn off and he is doing nothing at the plate. blake is blake, and save for that almost – blast in the seventh has done nothing for almost a full month.

    worst of all – nomar! that at bat to end the game was totally bush league. how could he go down on three pitches all nearly in the dirt. take ONE pitch at least.

    finally, i am again concerned about our problem child – matt kemp. looks like he about to leave his body again. lost at the plate, bobbling in the outfield. forgive me for saving this, but is it about time to put pierre in CF??? at least he has a ring and might actually make contact.

    i know the team has come back from worse, but the phillies seem to have the pixie dust working and the D’s can’t get a break or worse yet, create one.

  • Brooklyn Dodger

    “i am again concerned about our problem child….” In a word, NONSENSE. Sure, Matt Kemp isn’t having a great series, but that can be said about plenty of other players. Kemp is anything but a problem child. He plays hard, hustles, and yes, makes mistakes (like some veterans also do on occasion). For the impatient among us, sorry, but Matt Kemp, as with other young players, is still a work in progress.

    I have no doubt that the Dodgers can come back and win this series. But I also have no doubt that we could also have an unhappy ending.

    When the year began, I thought the Dodgers could win their division, and I also thought that 2008 could end up being a development year. Well, as it turns out, the Dodgers have reached the NLCS, but the development continues. Sorry for those of you who need instant gratification, but it may well be that it will take a year like this (successful or unsuccessful) to complete the education of the the younger players. The so-called “problem child” wasn’t a full time player until this year (and not right from the beginning, when he had to yield time to Andruuw Jones and Juan Pierre). Same can be said of Ethier.

    Win or lose, I see a lot of positives coming out of this year. Unlike 2008, Torre and his staff will enter spring training in 2009 knowing exactly what they have. The young players will begin next season having assimilated much of what they’ve learned this year, plus they will have an added year of maturity. One of the things I expect to see next year is a lot more power from Loney, DeWitt, Kemp and Ethier; because power is the last thing that generally comes to a hitter. I also suspect that we will see Russell Martin getting more rest next year to preclude his wearing down in the second half. Perhaps, A.J. Ellis will turn out to be better backup than the re-treads the Dodgers have employed the last couple of years, thereby making it possible to give Martin more than just an occasional day off.

    Same goes for the pitching staff. Billingsley, despite his performance today, should only get better. Same for Kershaw. Seeing James McDonald at the end of the season, and again today, leads me to believe that the scouting reports are accurate, and that he will be a valuable member of the rotation next year.

    Will the Dodgers sign Manny? Maybe, maybe not. But whatever the case, I believe that getting at least as far as the NCLS (and maybe farther) will whet their appetites, and that the Dodgers will be active in free agency this year. First and foremost, another starting pitcher should be the priority. The Dodgers also need to solve their third base problem (Casey Blake is not the answer), and can probably best do so via a trade (Adrian Beltre at the right price would be nice). As for another outfield bat, it could be Manny, or it could any number of other potential free agents. Dare I say (and this will undoubtedly get a rise out of some of you) that it might even be Andruuw Jones, assuming he comes into camp next year with a healthy knee, in the best shape of his life, and with a hopefully reformed attitude as regards taking advice regarding his hitting approach (i.e., using the whole field, and not trying to pull everything). Shortstop will be another decision. Should Furcal be re-signed or should the Dodgers consider going with youth (Hu and/or Ivan DeJesus)? Signing another free agent veteran shortstop other than Furcal, is probably also possible (but not one I favor).

    Of course, I’m getting ahead of myself, because the NLCS isn’t over, and the Dodgers can still win. For those of you looking for encouragement, remember that the 1981 Dodgers lost the first two games of the WS to the Yankees, and followed it up by winning the next four. GO DODGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • El Lay Dave

    Late on this, and Shane Victorino is 20-20 hindsight, but Tony, do you remember who was on the 40-man roster in mid-2005? The following players played for the 2005 Dodgers, thus were on the 40-man during the season and deemed to be more valuable on the 40-man than the Flyin’ Hawaiian:

    Mike Edwards, 28 years old
    Jason Grabowski, 29
    Mike Rose, 28
    Paul Bako, 33
    Norihiro Nakamura, 31 (no, he was not released until the end of the year)
    Brian Myrow, 28
    Chin-Feng Chen, 27 (released at the end of the year)

    That’s a lot of AAAA-type chaff. And that’s not even accounting for minor-leaguers that were soon to be given up on.

  • Brooklyn Dodger

    El Lay,

    By the way, the Dodgers weren’t the only team who overlooked Victorino’s talent. The Padres took him from the Dodgers in the 2002 Rule 5 Draft and returned him in 2003 after he hit .151 for them in 73 ABs that year.

    Although I don’t think he would start on the Dodgers over Ethier, Ramirez or Kemp, he does serve as an example of why it’s important for Dodger fans to not to jump to negative conclusions about some of our younger players. It often takes time for a player to reach major league proficiency. If Victorino had come up with Dodgers and hit .151, most fans would have been screaming for the Dodgers to get rid of him. Victorino is 28 years old, in other words, several years older than the Kemp, Loney, Ethier, DeWitt, Martin, etc. In other words, we need to be patient, and allow our younger players to continue their development. The progress we saw this year needs to be allowed to continue into next year. Things should get better.

  • phillydodger

    Okay, I am not inferring that Kemp is a “problem child” regarding attitude or hustle or off-field issues. I have an issue with the strike outs and the long streaks of little or no contact. And also, quite honestly, I saw him as a Dodger who could have had a breakout series hitting the Phillies hitter-friendly park.

    Let’s face it Kemp has huge potential and a great upside and we have seen what he can do with his bat and glove and legs. I am just frustrated that so far, he has given us nothing in the post-season.

    Some one has to step up and help Manny win this thing!

  • Mario DiLeo

    Victorino is the Hawaiian Jason Repko – a singles-hitting outfielder with a weak arm…at least that was the perception of the Dodgers staff at that time which is why he was passed on not once but twice…hmmm, doesn’t L.A. already have one of those types of players that they’re paying $5 million per?

  • Brooklyn Dodger


    I mostly agree with your second post. However, the emphasis should be on “some one”, not just Matt Kemp. He’s not the only one who hasn’t stepped up. What the Dodgers are doing now is in keeping with their tendency to be streaky (e.g., the 8 game losing streak that was followed by an 8 game winning streak). It’s something I think will disappear with experience and maturity. Also, the Dodgers have been somewhat snake-bit in this series. Everyone knows about the balls hit by Manny and Casey Blake to the deepest part of an otherwise bandbox. And in Kemp’s case there was the ball he ripped on the ground in the top of the 6th in the first game that turned into a double play. A little further to the right and that scorcher was a base hit, leaving the Dodgers with runners on first and second (or third), and no one out. Maybe the Dodgers would have scored nothing, or maybe they would have had a big inning. We’ll never know, but it couldn’t have been worse that what actually transpired. Furthermore, it would have changed the dynamic of that entire inning, and perhaps the Philly 4 run 6th (begun with a broken bat bloop by Greg Dobbs) would never have happened.

    Here’s hoping that the Dodgers have another steak left in them, of the winning variety. A repeat of the 1981 WS would be nice (lose the first two, win the next four).

  • Brooklyn Dodger


    Assuming you’re referring to Pierre, I believe that’s about $9 million per, with three years to go. Actually, though not power hitters, both Repko and Victorino have considerably more pop in their bats than Pierre, and at far less money. Fact is, Victorino is a late bloomer, and there was probably no way for the Dodgers to foresee that. Those sort of mistakes happen, and they happen to every team. If we’re going to talk about Victorino, then maybe we should do the same regarding Dioner Navarro. Fact is, he would have made a nice backup behind Russell Martin instead of the re-treads the Dodgers have employed the last couple of years. But then again, who is to say that either player would have progressed as they have without the regular playing time they’ve received with their respective teams? Quite simply, it’s a crapshoot.

  • phillydodger

    brooklyn dodger
    Nice point about Martin and Navarro. Remember, Martin pretty much made it to the club because Navarro went down with an injury…who knows if Martin ever gets a chance and ends up like LoDuca, forever mired in the minors waiting for a break?

    Another example is probably Eithier. Here’s a guy who could have very easily been stuck in the fourth outfielder role forever on another club. And lets not forget about Werth, who unfortunately could not stay healthy as a Dodger but has blossomed as a part time + outfielder in Philly.

  • Brooklyn Dodger


    You’re absolutely correct about Martin/Ethier/Werth. I should have thought of that. Also, after I wrote “…who is to say that either player would have progressed…”, I should have added a parenthetical remark that I meant Navarro and Victorino. It’s very possible that with the Dodgers Victorino would have become either a spare outfielder, or perhaps would have been mired at AAA. All of this points out how much the element of luck is a factor in major league success or failure. El Lay Dave is absolutely correct to bring up 20-20 hindsight. We all have it.

  • Mario DiLeo-Not a big deal, but I would just like to point out that Repko actually has a very strong arm from what i’ve seen and scouting reports. So does Victorino.

    They both have some pop, and they both can fly. The difference is in the contact they make. Victorino does it much better, and is thus the much superior player.