Who Quit on Whom?

  • Monday, September 20, 2010 7:46 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

Call me a cynic, but Sunday’s comeback win over the Rockies doesn’t prove to me that the Dodgers aren’t quitters. It proves that baseball is a funny game where the better team doesn’t always win.

As for these Dodgers, it’s not so much the players who quit as the management team around them. Over the 2009-10 winter, the front office quit on the team by failing to sign players to replace the departing Orlando Hudson and Randy Wolf, both of whom left without even a draft pick in return. Hudson was the offensive sparkplug for the 2009 team, hitting for the cycle in his Dodger Stadium opener. He hit a surprising .283 and OPSed .774, better even than the $10 million man Rafael Furcal at short. Wolf led the team in starts and innings pitched, but the Dodgers thought it was a career year and let him go.

Jon Garland put up serviceable numbers in his short career with the Dodgers, but they let him go as well.

As the trading deadline loomed, management again quit on the Dodgers, failing to acquire the kind of players who would make the team better. Off went Cliff Lee. For the third time in two years, no less. Off went Roy Oswalt. Ted Lilly came west, but only at the price of weak-hitting Ryan theriot. Octavio Dotel was another drain on the farm system that didn’t seem to indicate any immediate upside.

By the time the non-waiver deadline approached, the Dodgers were barely in contention, but kept trying to have it both ways. They wanted to unload Manny Ramirez and his hefty contract. But instead of simply dealing him, they waited until the last minute to see if the team would magically re-enter the pennant race. Still, they refused to play Manny for fear that he might get hurt and ruin the deal worked out with the White Sox.

Finally, Joe Torre quit on the team, announcing last week that he would not return in 2011. He also revealed that he had made his successor, Don Mattingly, a contractual part of his deal with the team when Torre signed in 2008. There never was, and never would be any discussion about who would follow Torre, because it was even more in writing than the name of the McCourt who owned the team.

Torre clearly had to know his mind before September 15. The timing of his announcement, however, followed the remarks by former Dodger owner Peter O’Malley, who said the McCourts had disgraced the proud Dodger franchise. You know, the one the O’Malleys sold to those fine citizens, the Fox broadcasting company. Still, the PR hit left a mark, one that could only be erased by a new news cycle in which Grandpa Torre passes on the family farm to Little Don.

Does the Jackie Robinson signing automatically exempt the Dodgers from having to do anything on behalf of minorities ever again? The team had to scramble to find an African-American player to introduce Rachel Robinson in 2006 and 2007. The 25-man roster in 2010 has had no more than four black players at a time: Matt Kemp, James Loney, and Russell Martin, with Kenley Jansen, replacing Garret Anderson when the latter proved no better a hitter than the former.

The 2010 Dodger season was over before it even began. There were flashes of above-average play, but nothing inspired other than an early season stretch where the team averaged six runs a game. Their fielding was sloppy, the pitching was uneven, and players could not stay off the disabled list. They looked like an older, duller version of the 2009 team that started out so strong and merely hung on to win the division.

The 2011 team looks to be just as awful. There will be no budget for free agent signings, and no farm system to raid for dividends that pay sooner. Mattingly may wish he had taken the opportunity to learn in the minor leagues under Tim Wallach while the team struggles through the horrible McCourt divorce. It’s going to be a long run and the temptation to quit will be just as great.

-- JOHN ROSENTHAL

Breaking Down The NLCS

  • Thursday, October 15, 2009 7:40 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

Joe Torre made an unexpected move by naming Clayton Kershaw his Game 1 starter. But if you factor in a desire to have Vicente Padilla start at home, the choice isn’t that surprising after all. Given the choice of moving one of his lefties to the road, Torre opted for the more seasoned Wolf, who spent the first eight years of his career in the city of brotherly love and is almost assuredly itching to show the Philly faithful what he has left in the tank.

The rest of the roster filled out almost in lockstep, with the same 11 pitchers as in the NLDS except for Kuroda replacing Garland. The hitters include the usual starting eight, plus Belliard (or Hudson if you consider Belliard the new starting 2B), Castro, Ausmus, Pierre, Loretta and Thome. Sorry Jon, but you didn’t see any action in the NLDS, and you definitely won’t in this series. Then again, neither did Chad Billingsley, who started the season as the Dodgers’ ace. Baseball is a funny game.

With the Phillies’ abundance of left-handed pitching, it would have been nice to add a right-handed bat to the bench, especially one that could play the outfield as a defensive replacement for Manny Ramirez in the late innings. Problem is the Dodgers don’t have a player like that in their system. Xavier Paul is probably their best outfielder not in the starting lineup, but he too is a lefty. The only right-handed bat in the system is Jason Repko, known more for his glove. And after Mark Loretta’s heroics against St. Louis, there’s no way the Dodgers were going to bump him from the roster.

With Jim Thome taking up two roster spots (one for himself and one for somebody to run for him should he reach base), the Dodgers’ bench is going to be short again. After Thome and Pierre pinch-hit, there isn’t much pop on the pine. Unlike the pitching staff, where the strength is in the late innings, the Dodgers' offensive attack is going to have to come from the front lines.

--- JOHN ROSENTHAL

Improvement

  • Tuesday, August 11, 2009 4:59 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

The Dodgers were shut out for eight of the nine innings in Monday’s game against the dreaded San Francisco Giants. Luckily, they pieced together three of their nine hits with two of their four walks to cash in four runs against San Francisco starter Jonathan Sanchez. Hiroki Kuroda did the rest, limiting the Giants to a solo home run by Travis Ishikawa in the second inning. Fred Lewis helped him out by getting caught stealing right before Ishikawa’s solo shot.

Were it not for Matt Kemp’s 3-RBI double, however, we might still be talking about an offense that struggles to cash in runs. Rafael Furcal walked to lead off the game, but never budged from first. Mark Loretta singled to lead off the third, but neither Rafael Furcal nor Russell Martin could drive him home. Martin led off the fifth with a single, and Orlando Hudson started the sixth with a double, but neither man scored. Worst of all was the ninth when Juan Pierre started things with a pinch-hit single and moved to second on a bloop by Furcal. But after Martin failed to bunt them over, Furcal was tagged out on the back end of a double steal and Martin hit a weak grounder to kill the threat of an insurance run.

In general, I like the idea of Martin hitting in the 2-spot. He gets on base at a much better rate than his .270 average would suggest. It lengthens the lineup and puts more runners on base in front of Ethier and Ramirez. But if he’s going to hit second -- and more importantly, if he’s not going to hit home runs any more -- he needs to learn how to bunt. His attempts at the sacrifice Monday were pathetic at best. He doesn’t even hold the bat right. He slides his right hand so far up the barrel that he leaves himself almost no bat head to hit the ball.

Hey, Russell, how about you take a day off from catching and go talk to Maury Wills for a few hours? You already catch too many games, and he’ll teach you a few things about bunting. --- John Rosenthal.

0 Takes  Submit Your Take   |   View All Takes

Not Quite

  • Tuesday, August 4, 2009 5:38 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

The way Clayton Kershaw was pitching over his past 10 starts, you started to think he had turned a corner. The wildness that plagued him throughout his first year and a half in the bigs seemed to be under control, and he went 5-0 in those 10 games. Never did he allow more than two earned runs, and never did he strike out fewer than four batters. His penultimate start, against the Cardinals, may have been his best ever. The Claw struck out seven, went eight innings deep and didn’t allow a run. (Let’s not talk about what happened after he was pulled).

The way the media were talking about Kershaw after those 10 starts, you’d think he was the second coming of Sandy Koufax. After 123 innings this season, everybody was saying he was suddenly the Dodgers’ ace.

What everyone forgot, at least for a moment, was that Kershaw is still a 21-year-old kid, still throws too many pitches, still walks too many batters, and is still learning how to pitch. That’s not to say that he isn’t going to be an ace very soon. But he’s not quite there yet.

Monday’s game was a quintessential example. Kershaw walked four batters in the fourth inning, plating two Milwaukee runs without the benefit of a base hit. Few of the pitches Claw threw were even close to the strike zone. Manny Parra, the Brewers pitcher, and Felipe Lopez, the second baseman, did him a favor by swinging, and both struck out to end the threat.

Trailing 6-1, the Dodgers mounted an unlikely comeback in the ninth, but that too was not quite what the 46,544 in attendance had hoped for. Blame Orlando Hudson for not taking second on a long single, or for not scoring on Rafael Furcal’s bizarre bunt single. Blame Furcal for bunting instead of trying to get the runner home. Blame Juan Pierre for bunting on a pitch when Hudson was trying to steal second base.

Or blame Manny Ramirez for making the last out with the winning runs on base instead of hitting a grand slam. That makes 13 straight days Manny has failed to hit a game-wining grand slam. The guy is really slipping. Maybe he, too, is not quite what the media has made him out to be. --- John Rosenthal.

0 Takes  Submit Your Take   |   View All Takes

No Quit

  • Monday, July 27, 2009 4:46 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

The Dodgers played the first five innings of Sunday’s game like they were mailing it in. Orlando Hudson got himself doubled off first base on a long out by Andre Ethier. Rafael Furcal didn’t hustle after a relay throw, allowing Hanley Ramirez to advance to third. And Jason Schmidt, who worked so hard to get back to the big leagues, looked like he was throwing batting practice.

So it was comforting to see them refuse to roll over in the last four innings. Teams trailing often like to say “let’s cut it in half,” which is exactly what the blue did in the sixth. Down 8-0, James Loney doubled in two and Russell Martin did likewise with a home run.

The Dodgers threatened again in the seventh, and scored two more times in the ninth, ultimately bringing Matt Kemp to the plate as the tying run. But he popped up softly to end the game. In the end, the hole that Jason Schmidt created and Jeff Weaver dug deeper was just too big.

In a season as successful as this one, there have been few infuriating managerial decisions. But a couple continue to annoy me. The pitcher batting eighth cost the Dodgers a legitimate shot at a run in the second inning. After Kemp singled and stole second, Martin struck out for the second out. The Marlins then walked Mark Loretta to get to Schmidt, hitting eighth, who weakly grounded into a fielder’s choice. There’s no guarantee that Juan Pierre gets a hit in that situation, but it’s a lot more likely than Schmidt delivering a run.

The other is the treatment of Blake DeWitt. Did he spit in Joe Torre’s Bigelow green tea? The guy has been up and down more often than the stock market this year, and each time he gets called up to the big league club, he languishes on the bench in pinch-hitting duty. Yesterday was a perfect opportunity to give him four at-bats, as Casey Blake took the day off. Instead, Torre played Loretta, a veteran who’s accustomed to sitting for days on end. If DeWitt is to be used as trade bait, all the more reason to get him some face time. --- John Rosenthal.

Handicapping The Second Half

  • Tuesday, July 14, 2009 1:17 PM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

At the All-Star break, the Dodgers are 56-32, the best team in baseball. It’s safe to say nobody expected them to be here, especially after the guy who was supposed to carry them to the promised land got his ass suspended for 50 games for taking a female fertility drug that can mask steroid use.

But here they are anyway, despite a pitching staff that lost its Opening Day starter on Day 2, and has gotten wins out of pitchers like Eric Milton and Jeff Weaver, and the team’s only shutout from Eric Stults. Milton looks to be out for the rest of the s eason, and the saga of Stults seems never to end, leaving only Weaver and James McDonald to compete for the fifth starter position the rest of the way.

Or does it. There have been Jason Schmidt sightings in Albuquerque, and the Dodgers might bring him up just to see if they can squeeze a nickel out of that obscene contract they tendered him in 2007. Roy Halladay is also on the horizon. Toronto has said it will listen to offers for arguably the best pitcher in baseball. Speculation says Toronto might take Canada’s favorite son Russell Martin plus a few prospects in exchange.

A year ago, I never would have parted with Martin, who appeared to be the leader of the team. His struggles in the first half have changed my opinion. I don’t think he’s as bad as he has been so far (.258/.373 2HR 27 RBI) but I think we may have seen his ceiling. Plus any time you have the opportunity to get one of the top 5 players in baseball without giving up a cornerstone of your franchise, you need to pull the plug.

The other reason to get Halladay: to make sure the Phillies don’t get him. Even without Halladay, the Dodgers have the talent to beat Philadelphia. But if the world champs add Halladay to Hamels, they’d quickly become the favorites.

Closer Jonathan Broxton’s toe is a concern, but there aren’t exactly a lot of All-Star closers available on the open market. If he can’t go the rest of the way, the Dodgers will have to fill that role from within.

I don’t see a lot of holes in the lineup. The starting infield has been consistently good, with Rafael Furcal showing renewed energy in the last two weeks, and Orlando Hudson regaining his power stroke, if only for a game. All three starting outfielders could have been All-Stars, though Andre Ethier has forgotten how to take a walk.

Holding the top spot at midseason is no guarantee of anything. A year ago, the Cubs and Angels were running away with their respective leagues and looked destined for a World Series date. Neither got out of the first round of the playoffs. That’s not to say t hat will happen to the Dodgers. But there’s a lot of baseball between now and October. With summer nights finally here in Los Angeles, that’s a happy thought.
--- John Rosenthal.

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

  • Monday, July 13, 2009 9:43 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

The Dodgers finished the first half of the season with another win over the Milwaukee Brewers. Clayton Kershaw survived another rocky first inning without giving up a run and pitched into the seventh inning for just the fifth time all year. He held the Brewers scoreless while in the game, though Hiroki Kuroda gave up a run that Kershaw put on base to lead off the seventh.

As good as Kershaw was, Kuroda was awful, allowing three runs in just 1.1 innings. Luckily, the Dodgers had a six-run lead to play with, and Kuroda had a margin for error. It didn’t look like the team would need shelved closer Jon Broxton, yet when Milwaukee closed the gap to 7-4 in the ninth, and got two runners on against Ramon Troncoso, the tying run came to the plate. Troncoso got the final out and all was well again in Dodgerland.

The Dodgers scored with a mix of timely hits and long balls. For most of the year, they’ve pushed runs across one at a time. The first two games of the Milwaukee series, though, home runs were responsible for most of the scoring. This time, they got it just right: three runs on solo homers by Brad Ausmus and Orlando Hudson, who hit one from each side of the plate; and four runs driven in by singles, a groundout, and a Milwaukee error.

Positives include Rafael Furcal getting on base twice without a hit, two hits from James Loney and three from Manny Ramirez. Negatives include Kuroda’s performance, and that’s about it, other than that ugly 40-pitch first inning from Kershaw. The kid is lights out when he’s not walking the bases full. He’s going to be something special. He maybe already is. --- John Rosenthal.

Dodgers At Midseason: Part 2, The Hitting

  • Tuesday, July 7, 2009 2:22 PM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

Nobody doubted this team’s ability to hit. Casey Blake, a guy with 20 homers in 2008, was in the eight spot. Overall, the Dodgers are batting a robust .272, tops in the National League. The team’s 64 home runs rank them 13th in the NL, but that’s to be expected when your top slugger gets suspended for 50 games. Assuming Manny Ramirez had hit another 13 homers over those 50 games, the team would be eighth in the NL in jacks.

Other positive signs: The Dodgers are fifth in the NL in slugging, right in the middle of the pack in doubles, and third in runs scored, behind Colorado and Philadelphia, both of which play in bandboxes. In short, the team is scoring runs in every way you can imagine.

So who has been the hitting star of the team in the first half of 2009? I’d call it a six-way tie.

Andre Ethier leads the club in homers and RBIs, and he has made a habit of getting clutch walk-off hits and home runs. His batting average isn’t where he’d like it to be, but his power is definitely coming along.

Matt Kemp is about to become the All-Star he has been predicted to be, whether he makes this year’s game in St. Louis as a vote-in player or not. The offense was always there, despite a tendency to swing wildly at pitches low and away. And he still strikes out too much. Kemp’s biggest step forward has been his defense. Starting in center field every day, he gets better jumps on balls than he used to, takes more direct routes and still has that incredible athletic ability to make tough catches look easy.

Juan Pierre was a running joke for all of 2008. Get it, running? In 2009, he was serious business, filling in capably when Manny Ramirez got suspended for using whatever it is he used. He cooled off just as Manny returned, but is still hitting .328 with a .386 OBP, both career highs. He’s hitting the ball harder than his usual slap through the left side. I can’t see the Dodgers getting much for him in a trade, so he’ll have to contribute as a bench player in the second half. But between off days for Manny, Kemp and Ethier and pinch-hitting and pinch-running spots in tight games, he can still play a big role.

Casey Blake has played such flawless defense at the hot corner that it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been an everyday third baseman his whole career. In Cleveland, he bounced from first to third to right field and wasn’t sure what position he’d be playing when he arrived in L.A. last year. He’s plugged a hole that has existed ever since Adrian Beltre left town and hit a career high .289 with 12 HRs.

Orlando Hudson won Dodger fans over immediately by hitting for the cycle on Opening Day. O-Dog’s production has regressed from All-Star numbers to those more in line with his career (.282 AVG, .355 OBP) but his boundless enthusiasm for the game hasn’t. What a marked change from sourpuss Jeff Kent! It has clearly had an effect on the clubhouse, and on new BFF Juan Pierre in particular.

James Loney will never be an All-Star as long as he plays in the same league as Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Todd Helton, Adrian Gonzalez and that Pujols dude. But he remains a steady presence in the Dodger lineup. He has yet to go three straight days without a hit this season, and has taken two 0-fers in a row just three times. He’s slugging just .396, yet is tied for second on the team with 51 RBIs.

The other three regulars in the Dodger starting lineup have to be considered disappointments. Rafael Furcal’s .254 AVG and .324 OBP are making the three-year deal the Dodgers signed with him look very long indeed. He has picked it up since the return of his countryman Manny Ramirez. But he has a long way to go before he merits the $10 million the Dodgers are spending on him annually.

Russell Martin’s .248 average is not as appalling as it seems. Because Martin walks so often, he’s got a .364 OBP. But his power has evaporated. One homer in 74 games. It’s as if additional rest has sapped him of his strength. His doubles are down as well, and he’s stealing fewer bases. Luckily, the Dodgers haven’t needed production from their catcher so far.

Manny Ramirez has been the biggest disappointment, however. I’m not interested in rehashing everything that has been said to death. His numbers are still basically April numbers. His next at-bat will be his 100th of the season. Manny was a second-half acquisition for the Dodgers in 2008, and will effectively be the same thing in 2009. If he produces, he’ll declare himself a free-agent again at the end of the year. If he doesn’t, the Dodgers are stuck with him through 2010. I don’t know which scenario to root for. But as long as the Dodgers keep playing the way they have in the first half, it may not matter. --- John Rosenthal.

Deja Vu All Over Again

  • Monday, June 29, 2009 8:03 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

Did Sunday’s game feel almost exactly like Saturday’s? Certainly the appearance of Russell Martin in a day game after a night game (why, oh why must he play so often, Joe?) contributed.  So did the anemic Dodger offense, which put up just two runs on five hits. 

  Hiroki Kuroda looked little different than Eric Milton, allowing runs one at a time on singles, before giving up a big extra-base hit to put the Dodgers in a 4-0 hole.  Like Milton, Kuroda then rebounded to retire the next eight batters in a row.  But the offense couldn’t do anything against Garret Olson (who?) and his career 6.40 ERA.

  It’s as if the whole Manny Ramirez thing has reminded the Dodgers to stop hitting.  Remember the whole “you can’t bench Juan Pierre and his .395 average” controversy?  Since June 1, Pierre is hitting .257, and his OBP is .285. 

  Andre Ethier, the guy who some thought should sit instead of Pierre upon Manny’s return, hasn’t been much better.  He’s hitting all of .272 in June, though his OBP of .340 is somewhat more respectable. Orlando Hudson’s numbers have fallen, though they were so much higher than anyone expected; right now, (.303/.371/.438) they’re still higher than his career averages.

  The Dodgers still own baseball’s best record, but they don’t look like the best team in the league right now.  They may be the best in the NL, but after losing two of three to both the Mariners and the White Sox, they would appear to be whipping boys for whichever American League team makes it all the way.

  Then again, the Dodgers have always been lousy at interleague play. Since it began, the Dodgers have compiled a 99-110 record against the junior circuit.  That’s a slightly worse winning percentage than the NL overall.  In 2009, the Dodgers split their 18 interleague games right down the middle, 9-9, for a .500 average.  The NL overall went 114-137 (.454).  So in a glass half-full sense, perhaps they’ve made progress.

  The Dodgers won’t play another American League foe again this year unless they make the World Series.  That’s both a comfort and a motivator. --- John Rosenthal.    

0 Takes  Submit Your Take   |   View All Takes

MVPs

  • Monday, June 15, 2009 3:17 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

Did I already nominate Juan Pierre for Dodger MVP? Is it too late to add Casey Blake’s name to the mix? The Iowan has been simply everything the Dodgers could have asked for and more this season. With a sacrifice fly, a double and a three-run homer that turned a 2-1 deficit into a 4-2 lead the Dodgers never relinquished, Blake is now second on the team in homers and third in RBIs, and is batting a cool .299.

He has been especially good since Manny Ramirez was suspended. Blake has raised his batting average by 74 points, his OBP by 42 points and his OPS by 140 points. He has had 13 multi-hit games since May 6.

Or maybe we should save some of the love for Matt Kemp. Hitting mostly in the seventh or eighth spot in the lineup (or even the ninth, on Saturday), Kemp has raised his average by 35 points since Manny’s suspension. He’s learned to play a quality center field, and only occasionally, like yesterday, makes base-running gaffes that cause you to scratch your head.

Then again, it would be hard to overlook the accomplishments of Chad Billingsley, whose transition into an ace has almost gone unremarked upon. Billz leads the NL in victories with yesterday’s win, is fifth in ERA, and fifth in strikeouts.

How can I forget the O-Dog? His .310 average has made everyone forget Jeff Kent, thankfully. And James Loney, despite his lack of power, leads the team with 42 RBIs.

It all adds up to what is missing from baseball so often: a team. A different hero every night. I won’t repeat the endless stream of cliches about how a team is better than a group of individuals. I’m just enjoying watching them play together. --- John Rosenthal.

0 Takes  Submit Your Take   |   View All Takes

Enjoying a six-pack

  • Saturday, April 18, 2009 7:00 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

The Dodgers beat the Rockies on Friday for their sixth consecutive win, the longest streak in MLB this year. Marvelous pitching and timely hitting has the Dodgers thinking that this season could become something special.

A guy some had dubbed as a bust, Clayton Kershaw, just struck out 13 in a win over the division rival Giants. Chad Billingsley is on a tear. Big Bill has two wins with 13 innings pitched and 15 strikeouts. The man is insanely good and we don’t have to worry about his being a lucky streak. Last season, he had a 3.14 ERA coupled with 201 K’s, so you know the guy can hurl. This season he has an 2.08 ERA and opponents are batting a crazy-low .163 against him. Watch for Chad to emerge as one of the top starters in all of baseball this season. You look at what Broxton has done, and the sky is the limit for Torre's pitching staff.

Where in the world has Manny Ramirez been? Actually he's been on base, the slugger who lifted the Dodgers to the playoffs a year ago has not hit a home run yet but he has drawn 13 walks in 37 play appearances. Andre Ethier has had a good start with nine RBI, while O Dog, Orlando Hudson, hit for the cycle early in the week. The Dodger bats are coming alive and if you take a look at the everyday lineup, you’ll notice that there are no easy outs. Hitters 1-8 can really swing the bat and the formerly offensively challenged Dodgers will put up plenty of runs this year.

The lights are on, and the Dodgers are ready for the big show and if Manny and company can recapture some of the magic from the 2008 season, 2009 should be even sweeter. --- Nick Barone.

0 Takes  Submit Your Take   |   View All Takes

Covering All the Bases

  • Tuesday, April 14, 2009 5:44 AM
  • Written By: Dodgers Diaries

Share:

Forget once a decade. How about once every 39 years!? That’s what Orlando Hudson did yesterday, turning Opening Day into his own personal Westminster. The O-Dog became the first Dodger to hit for the cycle since Wes Parker on May 7, 1970, at Shea Stadium. Parker, beloved by Dodger fans under the age of 50



for his guest appearance on the Brady Bunch earlier that year, required 10 innings to complete the feat, however, whereas Hudson did it in his first four at bats.

Hudson was best in show on a day where so many Dodgers shone. On any other Opening Day, Chad Billingsley would have taken top honors for his 7-inning, 11-strikeout, 0-walk performance. The Dodgers’ ace was ahead of hitters all day, and needed just 106 pitches to complete seven innings. (Are you paying attention, Clayton Kershaw?) Meanwhile, Andre Ethier showed all doubters that he can indeed hit lefties, launching a bomb off San Francisco starter Randy Johnson to open the Dodgers’ six-run fourth inning, and adding a three-run blast off lefty reliever Alex Hinshaw in the 8th. Every Dodger in the starting lineup had at least one hit.

Who knew Vin Scully was a lefty. The velvet-throated voice of the Dodgers threw out the first pitch. The only drawback was that because Vin was on the field, he wasn’t on the p.a. to call it. Instead, we had to hear Charley Steiner describe the goings-on.

Sad news from elsewhere around the league: Phillies announcer Harry Kalas passed away right before the team’s game against the Nationals. Even if you don’t know Kalas’ name, you know his baritone from those Sports Illustrated commercials reliving the final out of the 2008 World Series. Or from countless NFL Films, which he narrated after the death of John Facenda, the so-called "Voice of God" who made "the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field" as familiar as "Play it Again, Sam."

And Mark "The Bird" Fidrych was killed in an accident involving a dump truck near his Northborough, Mass., home.

The Dodgers and Giants resume their series on Wednesday with Clayton "The Claw" Kershaw taking on Matt Cain. They have an off day today because schedule makers like to keep an open date in case the opener is rained out. It doesn’t make much sense for the Dodgers, however, who haven’t had a rainout since April 17, 2000. Then again, with all the once-a-decade events going on in baseball this week, who knows what might happen next. --- John Rosenthal.

0 Takes  Submit Your Take   |   View All Takes