The Dodgers’ lineup reverted to a normal look Monday, one day after a Sunday Crew (Mark Ellis batted leadoff and Nick Punto second, while Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis got the day off) put only four runners in scoring position against Cole Hamels and lost 3-2. It was the Dodgers’ first loss in their last 11 games.
One reason for Don Mattingly not to pull anything goofy today is that rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez, the Marlins’ scheduled starter, has been an equal-opportunity inducer of misery. Lefties are hitting him at a .192 clip; righties, .182. In Marlins Park, batters are slugging — slugging — .227 against him this year. The 45 batters who have been lucky enough to take Fernandez to a 3-1 count this season have two hits.
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.
Here’s the set-up: Two outs, two strikes, bottom of the ninth inning. Joe Nathan is pitching for the Texas Rangers with a 5-4 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays. Nathan is stuck on 299 career saves. Home-plate umpire Marty Foster has a dinner bet riding on Nathan picking up number 300 tonight and his reservations are for 20 minutes after the final pitch.
OK, we made that last part up … or did we? Here’s where the pitch was relative to the strike zone (h/t MSimonESPN):
Foster’s call reeked so foul of dinner-reservation theories, he second-guessed himself.
“I saw the pitch and, of course I don’t have the chance to do it again, but if I did, I wouldn’t call that pitch a strike,” Foster told a pool reporter after the game. “Joe [Maddon, the Rays' manager] was not violent. Joe was very professional. He was frustrated and I understand. He acted probably the best he can under that situation.”
Nathan didn’t disagree.
“It’s pretty safe to say we got fortunate, but I’ve seen plenty of them go the other way,” Nathan noted diplomatically. “I threw the pitch where I wanted to. He just didn’t offer at it like I wanted him to. Did I draw it up this way for my 300th? No, but I’ll take it.”
Not only did Maddon tweet about it, he still hasn’t deleted the tweet a day later.
One Dodger fan has begun a crusade to get his beer.
The fan, Thomas Nagano, claims that he was charged for 24 ounces of beer but received less than that at Dodger Stadium when he attended a game this season. The video, which had about 500 views on YouTube when I checked it out this morning, explains the mix-up fairly clearly:
Nagano has already taken up his case with the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs. An isolated incident, or a sudsy scam on a seismic scale? Feel free to add your comment below.
The Marlins beat the Dodgers 8-6 today to win the weekend series. For a full recap and boxscore click here.
THE BARE ESSENTIALS:
Jason Schmidt was completely ineffective, allowing five runs in 3+ plus innings and earning the loss. Long reliever Jeff Weaver didn’t get the job done either, allowing three runs of his own in 3 innings. That put the Dodgers in a 8-0 hole.
.The Dodgers put up four runs in the sixth and two more in the ninth, but couldn’t rally all the way back. They put up 13 hits to the Marlins’ 11.
Spots 2-6 in the Dodgers order — Orlando Hudson, Andre Ethier, James Loney, and Kemp — went 9-for-18. Loney had 3 RBI.
Manny Ramirez had the day off with a sore left hand and didn’t pinch hit. Juan Pierre replaced him, batting ninth, and went 1-for-4.
Marlins starter Chris Volstad shut the Dodgers down through five innings, but he ran into trouble quickly in the sixth. A two-run homer by Russell Martin sent Fredi Gonzalez to the mound to pull him.
A ninth-inning rally that brought in two runs fell short when Matt Kemp popped out on a Leo Nunez fastball to end the game.
Randy Wolf (5-4, 3.45) and Chris Carpenter (8-3, 2.26) face off in St. Louis tomorrow as the Dodgers face a Cardinals team featuring new acquisition Matt Holliday.
The Dodgers beat the Marlins 4-3 tonight at Dodger Stadium. For a full recap and boxscore click here.
THE BARE ESSENTIALS:
Casey Blake won it with a walk-off single in the ninth with the bases loaded, two outs, and a 2-2 count. He was facing Marlins reliever Luis Ayala and hit a bloop pop-up that found a hole between second and center.
Hiroki Kuroda turned in only his second quality start this season, going six innings and giving up three runs.
The Dodgers won this one on the strength of their bullpen, as Guillermo Mota and Jonathan Broxton turned in spotless relief (only one walk and no hits allowed in three innings), and they scored three runs off a total of five Marlins relievers. Mota extended his scoreless innings streak to 19. Broxton got the win, his seventh.
Andre Ethier and Orlando Hudson each had three hits as Ethier continued his tear of late. Rafael Furcal went 2-for-5.
Marlins starter Rick Vandenhurk stymied the Blue, allowing a run in the first but shutting them down before exiting after five innings.
After 14 hits last night, Florida had only six Saturday. No Marlin had more than one hit.
Manny Ramirez went 1-for-5 and struck out in a key situation in the ninth.
Chris Volstad (7-9, 4.34) and Jason Schmidt (1-0, 5.40) tomorrow night in the rubber game of the three-game set.
The Marlins beat the Dodgers 6-3 tonight at Dodger Stadium to win the first game of a weekend series. For a full recap and boxscore click here.
THE BARE ESSENTIALS:
Clayton Kershaw wasn’t nearly as sharp as he has been in recent weeks, but he still turned in a quality start: 6 innings and two earned runs, with nine hits and three walks.
The bullpen lost it for the Dodgers, as James McDonald was charged with the loss and the Marlins scored three runs (their margin of victory) after Kershaw exited.
Only six hits for the Blue, and half of them were from Andre Ethier. Ethier drove in the two runs with a double in the sixth.
Wes Helms did it big for the Marlins, going 3-for-6 with an RBI and kick-starting the scoring off Kershaw. Florida ace Josh Johnson turned in a solid start: seven innings, seven baserunners, and three runs.
The Dodgers go back to 26 games above .500 at 61-35. Joe Torre said earlier this week that his next goal for the team is 30 games over.
Don’t look now, but bullpen newcomer Claudio Vargas has allowed just one run in seven innings pitched since his return on July 4.
Ramon Troncoso was a bit out of control in the eighth, hitting two batters and giving up three hits. He was charged with two runs.
Rick VandenHurk (1-0, 3.00 in one start) and Hiroki Kuroda (3-5, 4.73) tomorrow night in the second game of the series.