Dee Gordon stole second base as a pinch-runner in the 10th inning of the Dodgers’ 5-3 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday.
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly second-guessed his own decision-making in the 10th inning Tuesday.
With Adrian Gonzalez on first base and Andre Ethier stepping to the plate with two outs, Dee Gordon was available to pinch-run off the Dodgers’ bench. The slow-footed Gonzalez stayed on first base while Josh Collmenter threw two balls to Ethier. Then Gordon came jogging out to pinch run.
Matt Kemp, out since July 21 with a sprained left ankle, felt tightness in his right hamstring Thursday while rehabbing in Glendale, Ariz. His timetable to return to the Dodgers has been delayed indefinitely. Continue reading →
Yasiel Puig (66) was called out for interfering with Colorado second baseman D.J. LeMahieu on this play in the first inning. (AAron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)
Coors Field is a special place.
Visiting teams are best advised to check their formula for winning at the front gate and pick it up on the flight out of Denver. That also applies to the Colorado Rockies, who have tried every formula in the franchise-building book and have failed. Since Coors opened in 1995, the Rockies have missed the playoffs in 17 of 20 seasons.
There was no recognizable formula for the Dodgers’ win. Their hottest pitcher and position player, Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig, were both on the field when Monday’s game began, but both were on the bench by the end of the Dodgers’ 10-8 win. Puig didn’t finish the game healthy and the major-league leader in innings pitched came nowhere close to finishing the game, getting yanked after five innings and 81 pitches. A series of mental errors, physical errors and pitching changes added up to a choppy game. Continue reading →
In digging through some numbers yesterday, here’s one:
This Dodgers team might well finish with no 100-strikeout batters.
Andre Ethier is the club’s most prolific whiffer, with 82 coming into today’s game against the San Diego Padres. He and Adrian Gonzalez (79) are likely to get a fair amount of rest in September, so keep an eye on Yasiel Puig (79 strikeouts) and, remarkably, Matt Kemp (69) over the final month too.
If the Phillies’ Ryan Howard can avoid striking out five more times over the final month of 2013, and Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig doesn’t stay stuck on 94, the Dodgers might be the majors’ only team without a 100-strikeout man.
How’s that for a statistical anomaly from a Mark McGwire-coached lineup?
Did we look up the last time that happened? Sure did: 2007, when Russell Martin whiffed a team-leading 89 times. Before Martin, the last Dodger to lead the team with fewer than 100 strikeouts was current third-base coach Tim Wallach in 1994.
But McGwire took the job last fall with a mantra about patience, and has stayed true to that in his first season as hitting coach.
Some bullet points for a Friday morning:
• Kemp went 0-for-5 with a strikeout and two double-play groundouts in his first rehab game with Single-A Rancho Cucamonga last night. Kemp was the Quakes’ designated hitter and figures to play center field the next couple days. There were no ankle problems, mercifully, but Kemp was fooled by a couple changeups.
• In one early-morning pre-waiver deadline trade, John Axford went from the Milwaukee Brewers to the St. Louis Cardinals. If the Dodgers hook up with the Cardinals in the postseason, they will face a bullpen that can claim this:
Axford/Siegrist/Rosenthal/Mujica have a combined K/BB ratio of 224/58 over 202 1/3 innings this season.
• From ESPN.com: “Scorekeeping in baseball, however, is an art form, individual expression that makes you feel you are part of the game. It personally and precisely records every moment of the game, allowing you to replay and relive it forever.” • Not a baseball photo, but: Championship-winning coach takes a photo of himself and his wife kissing a championship trophy in 1976, loses hair, joins Twitter, re-stages the photo in 2013, shares photo with the world. Enjoy. • Baseball photo.
Dodgers pitcher Ricky Nolasco becomes a free agent at the end of the season. (Hans Gutknecht/Staff Photographer)
Ricky Nolasco‘s next start will be his 10th in a Dodgers uniform. If the last two starts are any indication — the right-hander has pitched 16 innings and allowed zero runs against the Red Sox and Cubs, respectively — he’s grown quite comfortable pitching for his childhood team in a short amount of time.
While some professional athletes simply aren’t able to deal with the unique pressures of pitching near their hometown, Nolasco has adapted well, improving incrementally with each outing. A free agent at the end of the season, Nolasco chose his words carefully Wednesday when asked if he’d want to re-sign with the Dodgers.
“My teammates have been doing a great job of welcoming me here,” Nolasco said after blanking the Cubs. “As far as what the future holds, we’re just going to have to wait and see what happens. I’m from here, and this is where I want to be. We’ll just see what happens.
“I’ll focus right now on winning right now and all that will play itself out.”
The key words there — this is where I want to be — were easily lost yesterday, when Yasiel Puig‘s benching was the media focus after the game. (More on him in a bit.)
Since Magic Johnson and his Guggenheim Baseball Management cohorts bought the club, the Dodgers’ new owners have gone out of their way to show they are choosers, not beggars. This winter, they potentially can choose from a free-agent pitching crop that includes Nolasco, Matt Garza, Phil Hughes, Tim Lincecum, Ervin Santana, A.J. Burnett and Jon Lester (for whom the Red Sox hold a team option worth $13 million). You can certainly argue that Nolasco, who turns 31 in December, isn’t the best pitcher in that group. He isn’t the worst. More importantly, would any accept the job of fourth starter more willingly, with lower contract demands, than the Rialto right-hander?
That question ignores the Dodgers’ plans for Josh Beckett, prospect Zach Lee, and Chad Billingsley, who’s due to return from Tommy John surgery at some point next season if his rehab goes well. (All three would love to have a permanent spot in the Dodgers’ 2014 rotation behind Kershaw-Greinke-Ryu.) But it’s a question that the Dodgers will have to ponder if Nolasco continues to force his way into the team’s long-term blueprints.
“I wanted to kind of mix that up just a little bit,” manager Don Mattingly said. “One start with Ricky (Nolasco), A.J. caught him. Then Fed went back to him. I want to keep the mixture of guys’ playing time the same. Cap’s been OK the last couple times out and I just wanted to change the dynamic just a little bit.”
Second baseman Mark Ellis and center fielder Andre Ethier were both healthy scratches against Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy. Yasiel Puig is playing right field and batting fifth for the first time in his major-league career, while Skip Schumaker is batting sixth and playing center field.
The left-handed hitting Ethier typically sits against left-handed pitchers, and Peavy is almost equally stingy against lefties (.254/.289/.465) and righties (.240/.282/.399).
“I needed Puiggy back there a little bit,” Mattingly said. “It’s easier for me just to move one guy. With the group of guys I have in there today, it’s more balanced.”
Based on an informal press box poll, that might be the first time Mattingly has referred to Puig as “Puiggy.”
Hyun-Jin Ryu will get a look at Jose Fernandez‘s 99-mph fastballs tonight. (Associated Press photo)
A Dodgers-Marlins series in mid-August has no plot really, only subplots. The hottest team in baseball against the team with the National League’s worst record? Move along, nothing to see here.
The Dodgers are 7 ½ games ahead of Arizona in the National League West. The Marlins are 6 ½ games behind (ahead of?) the Astros for baseball’s worst record and the first pick in next year’s draft. Wins and losses are probably only news if the Dodgers lose today — it will be their first back-to-back losses since June 20 and 21. So there’s that.
Tonight’s starting pitching matchup pits a pair of rookies, Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu and 20-year-old marlins right-hander Jose Fernandez, who have carved opposing paths to the distinction of National League’s best rookie pitcher. (Julio Teheran, Shelby Miller and Jim Henderson probably have something to say about this.) The Palm Beach Postnotes that at 139 ⅔ innings, Fernandez is approaching his limit of roughly 170 innings before being shut down.
Ryu is starting his 24th game of the season today, and is scheduled to make eight more starts after this one, not including playoffs. His career high is 30 starts, which he compiled six years ago as a 20-year-old in Korea. Ryu would have to pitch another 63 innings to reach his previous career high; assuming he averages seven innings per start, he’ll get there. Direct comparisons are difficult to draw, since Ryu typically threw fewer pitches per inning in the KBO, so it will be interesting to see how the Dodgers handle him in September.
Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that a new instant replay policy was adopted Thursday morning by MLB owners, beginning next season, that would allow one manager’s challenge in the first six innings and two more beginning in the seventh inning. The challenged calls would be reviewed by an off-site crew at MLB headquarters in New York. Balls and strikes would not be subject to review.
The policy is expected to be formally adopted at the next owner’s meetings in November.
The net benefit to the game could be a good one. The policy is a success if a bad call never decides the outcome of a game (or a perfect game) again.
Yet you wonder how much slower the games will be as a result of the policy and how soon — not if — MLB will make the inevitable tweaks to the system. It’s not likely that baseball gets this right on the first try.
Andre Ethier is available to pinch hit today, one day after a bruise on his calf sparked enough concern to send him to the hospital prior to Tuesday’s 4-2 win over the New York Mets.
“It’s still a little sore, but nothing to be concerned with,” Ethier said. “I’ll just keep progressing.”
Ethier sustained the injury Aug. 4 when he was hit by a pitch in the series finale against the Chicago Cubs, but it worsened after Monday’s game. When Ethier woke up Tuesday morning, the condition had worsened such that there was alarm a blood clot could be forming, something that was ruled out during his visit to the hospital.
When Dodgers second baseman Mark Ellis was caught on the wrong end of a hard slide in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals last year, he was rushed to the hospital and had emergency surgery — a decision that might have allowed him to keep his left leg below the knee.
Andre Ethier‘s situation isn’t that dire. But like Ellis, Ethier’s bruised left calf wasn’t improving, even nine days after getting hit with a pitch by the Chicago Cubs’ Pedro Strop on Aug. 4.
“That’s why I went over to the hospital, just to see if there was a clot,” he said. “Kind of the same thing Mark (Ellis) had last year — they were concerned it was something along that line.” Continue reading →