Stan Conte said it’s just an effort to get over that final hurdle that is preventing him from coming back. Everyone has been pleased with Kuroda’s recent bullpen, but there is still that last bit of discomfort that he is feeling in his left oblique muscle, and the belief is that this will get rid of it. He’s still probably a couple of weeks from coming back, because he won’t throw until this weekend and he’ll still probably need a rehab start. … It is COLD here tonight, even colder, I think, than it was in Denver yesterday, and the wind is blown HARD. Judging by the flags, it’s going right to left.
Well, it’s not the WHOLE secret, but it’s at least a part of it. It has to do with how he is hitting against left-handed pitchers, which is supposed to be a weakness for LH hitters. Ethier entered this season hitting .305 for his career against RHPs, .281 against LHPs. Last year, the difference was stark: .326 vs. RHPs, .243 vs. LHPs. Well, so far this year, he is hitting slightly HIGHER against LHPs (.316) than against RHPs (.314). He also has hit three of his five HRs and has seven of his 20 RBI against LHPs, and to put those numbers in perspective, he has 19 ABs and 21 PAs against LHPs as opposed to 51 ABs and 66 PAs against righties. He also has a ridiculous .842 slugging percentage against lefties (second in the majors) as opposed to just .510 against righties. He does have a higher OBP (.455) against righties than lefties (.381).
Here is tonight’s lineup. Many of you have been clamoring to see Matt Kemp in the cleanup spot, and you are getting your wish tonight. But don’t get used to it. My guess is the only reason he is there is because James Loney is sitting. Loney is 1 for 20 lifetime, albeit with six walks and no strikeouts, against Barry Zito. Kemp is 14 for 27 (.519) against him, with seven walks and only three Ks.
Well, the boys weren’t going to win EVERY game against the Rockies this season. They do play 18 times, after all. This one got away when Clayton Kershaw, who had dominated through the first two innings, walked Chris Iannetta to lead off the third and then gave up a first-pitch homer to Clint Barmes. Rox went on to score four in that inning and five more (all charged to Kershaw) in the fifth, and that was pretty much all she wrote.
In his past two starts, Kershaw has allowed 15 earned runs in exactly nine innings, which for the mathematically challenged is a 15.00 ERA. He was asked after the game if his mechanics are right.
“I think so,” he said. “It’s frustrating to give up runs like that, but there is no excuse for falling behind and giving up hits. That isn’t a mechanical thing. It’s just pitching poorly.”
Big day for James Loney, who went 3 for 5 with two doubles and three RBI. Bad day for the rest of the Dodgers. They had to settle for two out of three here, and they are now 3-3 on the trip. Dodgers fall to 13-6 overall. At the Giants tomorrow night at 7:15. Couple of veteran lefties going in Randy Wolf and Barry Zito.
James McDonald is scheduled for now to be the guy again on Thursday night against the Pods. But we asked Joe Torre this morning about McDonald’s tendency to lose focus. Joe mentioned that it seems to happen a lot against the opposing team’s pitcher after McDonald has pretty much mowed through the rest of the lineup.
“The thing that was a little baffling for me was that he got (No. 8 hitter Yorvit) Torrealba out on two pitches, and then he walks to the pitcher,” Torre said of McDonald’s third-inning letdown last night. “Then he walks the leadoff hitter, and all of a sudden, you are holding on, and losing focus is the only way you can really describe it. … The different thing about this league as opposed to the American League is that you get to face the pitcher. But you have to continue to pitch. you can’t concern yourself with just throwing strikes (to the pitcher), because (when you do that), you aren’t letting it go the same way. And then, when you try to get it back, a certain panic sets in.”
As I mentioned last night, Joe does like the thought of having McDonald in the bullpen. Jeff Weaver pitched decently for ABQ last night, and Eric Milton is pitching for ABQ today after throwing six shutout innings in his previous start. And keep in mind, Milton’s contract allows him to leave and become a free agent at any time, and he told club officials when he agreed to begin the season at ABQ that he would go for about a month and see what happened.
“We have no plan yet,” Torre said. “Until we get a plan, (McDonald) will still be (the fifth starter). I have no anticipation of changing that, but if something does change, obviously, that will change. We haven’t really talked a lot about any changes right now. I think we’ll wait until Cory (Wade) comes back and see where we are, because he certainly will help our bullpen.”
One interesting point about Orlando Hudson’s hitting streak, which is now at a career high-tying 11 games, is that the fact he hits in front of Manny HAS to be a big part of it. Today, he is hitting in front of Andre Ethier, who is even hotter than Manny, so the O-Dog shouldn’t miss a beat. … Todd Helton is also sitting today, not only because he needs a rest but also because Clint Hurdle wanted to get Jeff Baker into the lineup. he is 4 for 6 with a home run against Clayton Kershaw. He’ll play 3B, with Garrett Atkins moving to 1B.