Monday, April 30, 2007

Game 26 Thread: April 30 vs. D'backs, 7.10p

Dodgers start Randy Wolf, LHP (3-2, 4.20) vs. Brandon Webb, RHP (1-1, 3.60).

Dodgers: 15-10 (1st place NL West, 0.5 GA, W1)
Diamondbacks: 15-11 (2nd place NL West, 0.5 GB, W5)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: His history of challenging Barry Bonds had been pretty good, but Wolf served up a three-run homer to Bonds in the first inning and was also taken deep by Pedro Feliz in Wednesday night's loss to the Giants. He was charged with five runs in six innings, and the two home runs gave him five allowed in 30 innings this year. In eight career starts against the D-backs, Wolf is 4-1 with a 3.50 ERA.

Diamondbacks: Webb was outstanding in his start against the Padres on Wednesday, allowing just two runs over eight innings. The right-hander didn't get a win for his efforts, though, as Jake Peavy struck out 16 while throwing seven shutout innings. The D-backs did manage to win the game on Stephen Drew's two-out, two-run homer in the ninth. In his past two outings, Webb has allowed three earned runs over 16 innings, yet has two no-decisions. He's 5-3 with a 3.62 ERA against the Dodgers in his career.


  • Coming off an emotionally taxing and lineup-draining 17-inning victory over the San Diego Padres, the Dodgers drop in for their shortest "homestand" of the year for a three-game set against the red-hot Diamondbacks, who have won their last five. The last time we saw a team on a winning streak (the Giants), we rolled over and played dead, getting swept ourselves at home.
  • Arizona did lose the five games prior to that, however, and the Diamondbacks' Pythagorean ratio (expected win/loss record) would have them even at 13-13 if you believe the numbers. If you believe those same numbers, the Dodgers would be 15-10...which they are. Hmm.
  • Given seven pitchers went to the mound for the Dodgers yesterday, it would be great if Wolf could go seven innings without getting touched up. Unfortunately, Webb will likely go seven as well, so the Dodgers have to get to him early and often.
  • Tonight is fleece stadium blanket night #1, so if the game goes to extra innings again, at least you'll be warm and cozy.

From Inside the Dodgers, the lineup:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Garciaparra, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzalez, LF
Betemit, 3B
Ethier, RF
Lieberthal, C
Wolf, P

Giants Bloggers' Demonstrate Enthusiasm

Jon Weisman posted an interesting piece on about how Giants bloggers are taking their team's recent ascent in the standings (boosted by a sweep of ours truly), followed by dropping three straight over the weekend:

Many bloggers bridge the fan and analyst universe and are therefore torn when it comes to dealing with unexpected success. Surveying the Giants blogs, you could see the collective internal struggle.

In the midst of the streak, Only Baseball Matters allowed itself to exult: "That was some smokin' hot homestand," John J. Perricone wrote. "I'm talking about a season-changing, critic-swaying, bandwagon-building homestand. Damn!"...

By the time we make it to Orange and Black Baseball, the verdict seems to be in. The Giants are having a great run, but it doesn't change the future.

"It's easy to get caught up in the wins," Daniel Smith wrote, "and easy to think that the starters are indeed this good and Bonds can indeed keep this pace up to an NL West title after that many wins in a row. But more the fools us, if we believe it will keep up like this.

I suppose every team's blogs look something like this as the team careens up and down the standings. But I've gotta think that, as Bonds becomes less of an offensive threat (either because he fades, his knees finally give out, or teams just pitch around him), the pressure on the starters and flimsy bullpen gives way. But hey, I'm not biased.

Brandi Carlile Formula, Revealed

(4 Non Blondes) divided by 4 = Brandi Carlile. (Less the hat, of course.)

AvB Update 4: Abes Bust Out Their Johnsons; Ladies Unimpressed

With Week 4 of Abes vs Babes in the books, let's take a closer look at what is developing into the most intriguing individual match-up of the competition - Andrew Johnson vs Penelope Cruz. Consider the unfolding of events around which their fates have intertwined:

> Before the season began, Andrew scoffed at the mere idea of a rivalry between the two, acting as if he were Kobe Bryant and Penelope were Raja Bell. It's easy to see why: In 2006, Andrew's top two pitchers (the DBacks' Randy Johnson and the Marlins' Josh Johnson) notched 29 wins, while his top hitter (the Nationals' Nick) had 28 HRs. Meanwhile, Penelope's top hitter (Jose Cruz, Jr) was coming off a career-worst 5-HR season, and she had but one pitcher to speak of (Juan Cruz), a middle reliever with all of 5 wins in '06. Advantage: Andrew.

> As the 2007 started started, all three aforementioned Johnsons started the season on the DL. And both aforementioned Cruzes got off to great starts. Advantage: Penelope

> As Week 4 started however, Andrew Johnson's brood started showing some life. Atlanta's Kelly Johnson batted 0.520 with 2 HR's during week 3. And not only was Randy scheduled to start for the first time all season, but Juan Cruz was placed on the DL to make room for him. A double whammy. Finally the Abes were poised to make their move. Advantage: Andrew

> Fast forward to the present and witness fate's cruel and ironic dance: Not only did Randy single-handedly relinquishing the only category the Abes were winning (ERA) by getting shelled in his first start, but Jose Cruz, Jr went wild, batting 0.361 BA with 2 HR's and 6 Runs during the week to earn the Player of the Week award. Advantage: Penelope

When all is said and done, will the Andrew Johnson-Penelope Cruz rivalry be the next Magic Johnson-Larry Bird, or the next Peyton Manning-Ryan Leaf? Beatles-Rolling Stones, or Madonna-Cyndi Lauper? Only time will tell.

In the overall AvB competition, the Babes' dominance continues un-abated despite (or perhaps because of) Randy's return:

The Abes The Babes
Avg 0.242 0.260
Runs 86 86
HRs 11 15
RBIs 64 72
SBs 7 16
ERA 4.89 4.01
Wins 2 9
Saves 0 0
Ks 77 111
Total 0 7

Note: Starting with week 5, the following rule change will be implemented - Instead of accumulating stats in the 9 categories over the course of the entire season, stats from each week will be totaled for each single week only. At the end of each week, a winner for the week will be declared (after 4 weeks, the Babes lead the Abes 4 - 0). At the end of season, the team with the most weeks won is the champion. This may or may not make it easier for the Abes come back if and when their players return from the DL.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Post-Game 25 Thread: Dodgers Win a Marathon (Dodgers 5, Padres 4)

The Dodgers' marathon 5-4 win over the Padres today gave Los Angeles the series victory over a divisional opponent and kept the Dodgers in first place, a half-game ahead of the Diamondbacks and two games ahead of the Padres and Giants. And the 17-inning game, the longest the majors has seen this year, was notable because it boiled down to the Dodgers' strategy going into this season: win with pitching, not with hitting.

Sure, Rafael Furcal and Juan Pierre each went 2-for-7 at the top of the lineup, and Nomar Garciaparra went 3-for-8 and Jeff Kent went 2-for-7 with an RBI to boot (off a solo home run). And Luis Gonzalez even contributed a solo home run of his own with a 1-for-3 day before being lifted for Brady Clark, who went 1-for-6. But oh, that one hit was sweet, knocking home Wilson Valdez from first off a double down the left field line for what would be the game-deciding run.

Say what you will about Valdez (who went 0-for-1 on the day having reached base on an error), he has scored some timely runs for the Dodgers, and his speed on the basepaths is infectious. His slide at home, about a half-second ahead of the tag, catalyzed a chorus of joyous shouts at my house, where many had collected to watch the later innings of the game.

But the real winners of this game were the Dodgers' bullpen pitchers, who filled in admirably when Derek Lowe went out in the seventh to pitch 10 2/3 innings of no-run ball, allowing only one hit (a single) throughout. Joe Beimel, Jonathan Broxton, newly-activated Chin-hui Tsao, Rudy Seanez, Takashi Saito, and Chad Billingsley all did an amazing job down the stretch keeping the Dodgers in the game during game-deciding bottom-halves of innings, during a key away game.

Billingsley was especially amazing in the 17th and final inning, having watched Mike Cameron get on base thanks to a Ramon Martinez error, and subsequently walking Geoff Blum. Billingsley then struck out Rob Bowen and Kevin Kouzmanoff, the latter on a wicked fastball having just been denied a called strike three on a beautiful pitch. The ump missed that call, but Billingsley did not crumble, and reared back to uncork a high fastball that Kouzmanoff could not handle.

Let's hope that this gives Billingsley (who earned the win with two innings pitched) some confidence as he will clearly play an important role for the Dodgers' pitching staff, either starting or relieving. He is young and his 5.93 ERA belies his flashes of brilliance and latent potential. Here's hoping that he gets back on track after a well-deserved victory today.

As for the Dodgers' offense, it can't expect to win after it stops scoring after the third inning, taking the next 13 innings off. We're lucky we got to the 17th, but many chances were wasted in between (the Dodgers left 15 men on base, relative to the Padres' 9). We still need that elusive power bat.

But for now, let's savor the series victory over the Padres, and look forward to our short three-day homestand vs. the Diamondbacks. Go Blue.

UPDATE: ESPN channels Elias Sports Bureau Inc. to say Sunday afternoon's Dodger victory was pretty special:

The Dodgers outlasted the Padres for a 5-4 victory in 17 innings at San Diego with the bullpens combining to allow only one run, unearned, in 22 2/3 innings pitched. The last time relievers totaled that many innings pitched in a big-league game without allowing an earned run was on Aug. 15, 1980, when the Astros won a 3-1 decision over the Padres in 20 innings (also at San Diego) with the bullpens combining for 27 2/3 innings and no earned runs.

In franchise history, the Padres have played six home games of at least 17 innings and they've lost all of them. No other team in major league history has lost as many as five straight home games of that length, although both the Cubs (dating back to 1982) and Dodgers (since 1973) have lost each of their last four such games.

Game 25 Thread: April 29 @ Padres, 1.05p

Dodgers start Derek Lowe, RHP (2-3, 4.40) vs. David Wells, LHP (1-1, 6.00).

Dodgers: 14-10 (1st place NL West, 0.5 GA, L1)
Padres: 13-11 (T-3rd place NL West, 1.0 GB, W1)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: Lowe has had two difficult outings following two very good ones. He has yielded nine runs -- seven of them earned -- on 17 hits in 11 2/3 innings in those past two outings, both losses. He has walked 15 batters in 30 2/3 innings this season.

Padres: Wells certainly wasn't fooling anyone in his last start when he allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings. Staked to a 6-3 lead entering the fifth inning against the Diamondbacks, Wells allowed two runs on two triples and two walks in the fifth inning. Still, Wells made enough big pitches to avoid further damage against a good Arizona lineup.


  • It is almost unbelievable that that the Dodgers, losers of five of their last six, are still clinging to a first-place divisional lead. However the logjam in the NL West (AZ 0.5 GB, SF and SD 1.0 GB) will not give the Dodgers much more quarter beyond this. The Dodgers try and salvage a series win against San Diego this afternoon, followed by a three-game series at home against the Snakes which will (unlike the last two-game LA/AZ series) see some quality Arizona starting pitching.
  • Last night, Furcal leads off and goes 0-for-4, the Pierre goes 3-for-4 with 2 runs. Pierre is followed by an 0-for-4 Nomar and then a 2-for-4 Kent (who had 2 RBI). It's almost like we're driving down a street with unsynchronized stoplights, and we have to keep stopping every 100 meters (shout out to our European fan base!). Let's see if we can string some hits together in the series finale.

Introducing Keith Olbermann to Sons of Steve Garvey

From the print edition of Sports Illustrated (4/30/07), Q&A with MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, who is joining NBC's Football Night in America:

SI: The Worst Person in Sports is...

Olbermann: At the moment it has to be Barry Bonds. See if this sounds familiar: He got all of us into ths no-win situation under false pretenses.

SI: How often do you Google yourself?

Olbermann: I will confess that there is a bookmark for that. I probably do it once a day. Thhere is a lot of stuff out there that is completely untrue. You have to know what is out there and whether you should call a lawyer.

I've liked Olbermann since he was on KTLA and KCBS, going through national sports scores while referring to teams with hilarity ("...losing to the Children's Aspirin of St. Joseph's, 59-41"). I know he's supposed to be neurotic and crazy but I have always found his commentary pretty funny (his sports commentary, at least). Now, maybe Olbermann's self-googling will introduce him to SoSG.

Hello, Keith!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Game 24 Thread: April 28 @ Padres, 7.05p

Dodgers start Brett Tomko, RHP (0-1, 2.65) vs. Greg Maddux, RHP (1-2, 4.24).

Dodgers: 14-9 (1st place NL West, 1.0 GA, W1)
Padres: 12-11 (4th place NL West, 2.0 GB, L3)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: Tomko pitched well enough to win in his outing against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium. The Dodgers committed three errors behind him, however, and the Bucs took advantage of the miscues. Tomko went six innings and gave up five runs (three earned) on eight hits while striking out seven. He was 1-0 with 1.06 ERA in two starts against the Padres last season.

Padres: Maddux certainly didn't pitch poorly in a loss to the Rockies on Sunday, yielding four runs on six hits over seven innings. The Padres provided him with only two runs of support, and he was out-pitched by Colorado's Jason Hirsh. Or, as Maddux said, he "pitched just good enough to lose." Maddux struck out four and walked one.

Power Rankings!

The folks at have released their latest Power Rankings. If anyone knows what Power Rankings are good for, please let us know.

6. Dodgers
Closer Takashi Saito (0.93 ERA, .176 BAA) is money, but he hasn't had a save opportunity since April 17.

10. Giants
Since moving to cleanup, Barry Bonds is hitting .429 (15-for-35) with six HRs -- and the Giants look unbeatable.

11. Padres
Adrian Gonzalez carries a big stick. The first baseman is second in the NL in home runs (seven) and RBIs (23).

16. Diamondbacks
Time to start believing? These youthful Diamondbacks have talent and heart.

26. Rockies
Just two NL teams -- the Marlins (5.05) and Nationals (5.00) -- have worse ERAs than the Rockies (4.29).

Maybe someone in the research department doesn't like the Diamondbacks? "Youthful, talent, heart...screw the numbers. That's good enough."

Post-Game 23 Thread: Bud Black Chooses...Poorly (Dodgers 6, Padres 5)

Bud Black is a pitcher's coach, right? So maybe he got caught up in all the pre-game revelry honoring career saves leader Trevor Hoffman. That's the only way one can explain how Black could have intentionally walked struggling Luis Gonzalez, pitting a clearly laboring Trevor Hoffman against streaking Russell Martin in the top of the ninth. That gift gave the Dodgers a 6-5 victory over the Padres last night in San Diego.

With the Dodgers down 4-2, Marlon Anderson led off the ninth inning with a single and Rafael Furcal beat indecisive first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to the first base bag, leaving Juan Pierre to lay down the sac bunt to advance both runners. Nomar Garciaparra then doubled into the left field gap to score both runners and tie the game at 4. Jeff Kent then popped out to shortstop Khalil Greene for the second out.

Up comes Luis Gonzalez, who has gone from ice-cold to decently hot back to tepid this season in its short month. Gonzalez, 0-for-4 in the game and having snuffed the Dodgers' rally in the seventh (men at second and third, and Gonzo grounds out to first), was then intentionally walked by Hoffman to bring up Russell Martin. Said ESPN:

Black didn't want to take a chance by pitching to Luis Gonzalez.

"Let's go with the guy that hasn't seen much of Trev," Black said.

"I take it a little personally," Martin said. "I got psyched up. We kind of ruined his day a little bit. It was a tough day for him, I guess."

Translation: "I'm going to smoke Hoffman's ass." Martin promptly doubled off the glove of Mike Cameron in center to score Nomar and Gonzo and put the Dodgers up 6-4. They would need both runs after Takashi Saito gave up a homerun in the bottom of the ninth, still earning the save and earning the team a much-needed victory to remain in first place.

Black shouldn't have walked Gonzo, who has been wearing his liability hat for the last week after getting his average over .300 (it's now back at .282). But we're going to need him to deliver from the five-hole if we want to stay in first. I don't think Gonzo should expect to be walked should a similar situation arise again.

Congrats to Martin for the game-winning double, to Mark Hendrickson for yet another surprisingly good outing (5 IP, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4K), to Andre Ethier for two awesome catches in right, and to Nomar for an incredible 4-for-4 day.

And thanks, Bud.

Best Wishes, Frank Jobe

From Steve Henson at the L.A. Times:

Frank Jobe, the Dodgers' orthopedic physician since 1968, had surgery last week to correct spinal stenosis — a condition that causes narrowing of the spine — and is resting comfortably. The surgery was performed by his former partner, Robert Watkins, the same physician who operated on Eric Gagne's herniated disk last year.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Game 23 Thread: April 27 @ Padres, 7.05p

Dodgers start Mark Hendrickson, LHP (1-0, 1.62) vs. Clay Hensley, RHP (1-3, 9.45).

Dodgers: 13-9 (T-1st place NL West, 0.0 GA, L4)
Padres: 12-10 (3rd place NL West, 1.0 GB, L2)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: In a spot start on Thursday against the Rockies in Colorado, Hendrickson pitched a gem, going 5 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out two. Hendrickson has primarily been coming out of the bullpen for the Dodgers this season, but with Jason Schmidt injured, Hendrickson will be counted on to eat up innings. He was 1-2 with a 2.20 ERA against the Padres last season.

Padres: Hensley picked up his first victory of the season on April 21 against the Rockies at Coors Field on Saturday night, though he put a lot of runners on base in his six innings. Hensley allowed 10 hits and walked three, but he got two big double-play grounders. Still, this was the best Hensley has looked this season.


  • After rolling over and playing dead for the Giants, the Dodgers have now dropped four straight and are clinging to the division lead by a thread. Will a change of scenery (Petco Park) help the Dodgers break from their funk? Will Juan Pierre fare any better on defense in a cavernous center field? Will Rich Donnelly cause more outs from the third base coach's box? Will Mark Hendrickson be able to continue pitching like a reasonable starter? Will Grady Little make any major changes to the lineup (we know that answer already, though)?
  • Everybody's been pig-piling on Juan Pierre, and with good reason. He's been a defensive liability this year, his OPS is lacking (though improving), he has not stolen bases in key situations when a stolen base would have come in handy, and he missed a sign at the plate last night which killed a rally. But at least he maintains a positive attitude: "If you dwell on this series and it messes you up for the next series, it's a snowball effect," Dodgers center fielder Juan Pierre said [on]. "Good teams and individual players know how to nip it in the bud." Let's hope he's right. And brings a bigger glove tonight.


The lineup, from Inside the Dodgers:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Garciaparra, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzalez, LF
Martin, C
Ethier, RF
Valdez, 3B
Hendrickson, P

Betemit finally gets benched.

Injury Notes and a Jab

Via Dodger Thoughts, don't expect to see Jason Schmidt in action anytime soon. Seems like we were just saying the same thing about Rafael Furcal.

Tony Jackson tells us Matt Kemp has been activated and optioned down to Las Vegas.

Jackson also has this to say about Wilson Betemit:

Not to make fun, but today's official Dodgers game notes contain the following sentence: "Dodger third baseman Wilson Betemit showed signs of breaking out of a month-long slump, going 1 for 3 with a double and a run scored last night." I also showed signs of becoming a millionaire the other day when I found a penny on the sidewalk.

I think that qualifies as making fun. Welcome to Snarkville, Tony!

Russell Martin Screws Over Talking Heads posted a Fan Forum vote allowing fans to pick Russell Martin's walk-up song:

I don't think Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal have anything to do with "Burning Down the House." Somewhere, David Byrne simmers.

Please Don't Give Ned Colletti Any More Ideas

According to ESPN, Sandy Koufax was just drafted by the Israeli League, as a tribute to the 71-year old.

NEW YORK -- Forty-one years after he retired from baseball, Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was the final player chosen in the draft to stock the six teams for the inaugural season of the Israel Baseball League.

Koufax, 71, was picked by the Modi'in Miracle in the draft conducted by former major league general manager Dan Duquette, who heads baseball operations for the league.

"His selection is a tribute to the esteem with which he is held by everyone associated with this league," said former big leaguer Aret Shamsky, who will manage the Miracle. "It's been 41 years between starts for him. If he's rested and ready to take the mound again, we want him on our team."

In the 1965 World Series, Koufax wouldn't pitch Game 1 for Los Angeles because he wanted to observe the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur. In his career with the Dodgers, he threw four no-hitters, including one perfect game.

Ned Colletti has a penchant for signing veterans. Hopefully he won't go this far.

Everybody Hurts

I didn't see last night's game. I didn't even see a highlight (not that there sounded like there were highlights to watch). I talked to one of our beat reporters who was at the game, and despite obtaining a Nomar Garciaparra bobblehead, this reporter was so miserable that he/she could not talk about it.

So I'm sitting here, trying to piece together how we could have dropped the third of three games to the lowly Giants, bringing them all the way up into a first place tie with us. I'm trying to figure out how we could have let Armando Benitez leave town with three saves. I'm trying to figure out how we could have let Russ Ortiz leave town without a L. I'm trying to figure out what the hell happened.

And so, I'm fumbling around the internet wrap-ups and blogs like a spelunker with a maglight checking out the hieroglyphics. And it looks so bad to date, I almost want to just turn the light out and sit in the dark.

Steve Henson of the LATimes seems to think it comes down to Pierre, who missed a key fly ball in the eighth inning as well as a suicide squeeze sign in the second. Jaunty cap or not, that sounds pretty bad.

Most munificent was Juan Pierre, who dropped a fly ball after a long run in right-center to fuel the Giants' two-run eighth-inning rally that broke a 3-3 tie. Six innings earlier, the new Dodgers center fielder missed the sign for a squeeze bunt, blunting a rally that could have extended an early lead.

But isn't a suicide squeeze failure also the failure of Rich Donnelly, who continues to make horrible decisions at third base? Without more knowledge of the secret signing system, I can only guess that Donnelly is partially culpable for not communicating the sign and/or checking that Pierre caught the sign in the first place. If Donnelly is involved with another mishap, it would not be surprising.

Rob over at 6-4-2 also brings up that Grady Little is also at fault for leaving Joe Beimel in too long in the eighth:

[...F]acing another righty in Ray Durham, you'd think that Grady Little would pull Beimel in favor of someone who can get right-handed batters out. No such luck, so when Durham launched one into the gap, things started looking pretty bleak. Juan Pierre came thisclose to saving the day with an inning-ending catch, but instead of taking a straight line to the ball — and this is according to Vin Scully's stereoscopic account, not my review on the DVR — Pierre broke first to the warning track and turned and ran laterally. The net result was that his glove kissed the ball, pushing it away from him and ensuring the Dodgers would give up at least one run.

Grady continued to let Beimel self-immolate by letting him face Benjie Molina, another righty, who drove Durham in on an RBI single. So sure, Pierre should have caught that ball. He should have taken a better route to it, but he's incapable, possibly because he overestimates his own speed, or because he just doesn't know how. But Little had no reason to leave Beimel in there for one more right handed batter.

Meanwhile, a look at the box score shows that Luis Gonzalez hit into yet another double play, and Wilson Betemit's 1-for-3 night in the 7 hole keeps him languishing with a .136 BA.

How are we still in first place, with this many people underperforming?

So it looks like we've got no shortage of people to blame here. Howard Jones, eat your heart out.

photo: Michael Mariant/AP

Update: 6-4-2 now says Little isn't the bad guy...this time. Rob had misread the play-by-play. No worries; I'm sure Little is to blame for something last night.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Getting Swept by the Giants Sucks, But At Least We're Not the Yankees

Blue Jays drub Hughes as Yankees lose sixth straight (AP/

Luis Gonzalez Is Like Fungus

From Jayson Stark at

Dodgers GM Ned Colletti on Luis Gonzalez: "He's a winning player. He's all about winning and trying to make everyone around him better. He grows on you quick."

Game 22 Thread: April 26 vs. Giants, 7.10p

Dodgers start Brad Penny, RHP (3-0, 1.37) vs. Russ Ortiz, RHP (2-1, 4.35).

Dodgers: 13-8 (1st place NL West, 1.0 GA, L3) Giants: 11-8 (2nd place NL West, 1.0 GB, W7)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: Penny pitched into the seventh inning in his outing against the Pirates on Saturday, but his command in the early going cost him his fourth win of the season. Penny walked three batters in the third inning and struggled to locate his fastball early in the game. Penny is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA against the Giants this season.

Giants: There were some questions surrounding Ortiz in Spring Training, but three weeks into the season he has managed to erase most of the concerns. The veteran picked up his second win of the season against Arizona on Friday, allowing two runs on eight hits in seven innings. Ortiz didn't have the most successful outing in a loss against the Dodgers on April 7, giving up three runs on seven hits in five innings.


  • Can Penny be the stopper? Tonight we'll find out as he matches up against Delino's favorite pitcher, Russ Ortiz. Given that we've dropped games to the #3 and #4 starters in the rotation, guaranteeing our second series loss of the year, it would be a minor victory to salvage a win against the Giants' #5.
  • As Jon Weisman over at Dodger Thoughts pointed out yesterday, we've had the tying runs on base in the ninth in the first two games of our three-game losing streak, and last night Olmedo Saenz left his right-field pavilion to represent the tying run at the plate in the eighth. In all three games, though, we've come up short of the timely hit. A loss tonight would negate our three-game sweep of the Giants in SF earlier this month. Tonight, we've gotta get the win.
  • If you're going to the game tonight, please get there early as it's the fourth sellout of the year, in honor of Nomar Bobblehead Night. And bring comfortable shoes for your walk to the stadium...
UPDATE 4.47p

The lineup, from Inside the Dodgers:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Nomar, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzo, LF
Martin, C
Betemit, 3B
Ethier, RF
Penny, P

Betemit grabs the 7 slot, kicking Ethier down to the 8. Interesting that Grady may be trying to not make the 8-9 slots two automatic outs.

We Warned You Not to Violate Rule 21-b

There's been a lot in the news this week about Torii Hunter, who violated rule 21-b by sending champagne bottles to the Royals, after they beat the Tigers last year to give the Twins the AL Central crown (the AL Wild Card Tigers went on to capture the AL pennant, btw). Violating this rule, according to the rulebook, mandates ineligibility for no less than three years.

Though he didn't fully follow through on his gesture, Hunter had four bottles of champagne sent to Mike Sweeney's stall in the Kansas City clubhouse when the Twins were there over the weekend. The commissioner's office informed the team on Monday of the violation, and general manager Terry Ryan straightened the situation out with the Royals. The unopened bottles were to be sent back to Minnesota. "There isn't any harm done. There's nobody that benefited from anything. I think it's a good reminder about the integrity of the game," Ryan said Tuesday.

MLB has yet to take any action or make any comment on this situation, so Hunter's fate was unknown. And then, today, Hunter was hit in the mouth by a Zack Greinke pitch, and needed a towel to wipe up the blood. Eek.

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Twins star Torii Hunter was hit in the mouth by a pitch from Kansas City's Zack Greinke on Thursday and was taken to a hospital for further examination.

Leading off the bottom of the second inning, Hunter took a 2-2 fastball directly to the mouth. After gathering himself, he took a couple of steps toward Greinke.

Hunter then dropped to the turf near home plate as manager Ron Gardenhire and Twins medical staff ran onto the field.

A stunned-looking Hunter needed a towel to clean up the blood, and Greinke and Royals infielders came over to check on him. After a few minutes, Hunter walked off the field on his own power and received a standing ovation.

Hunter began the day with a 12-game hitting streak and was tied for the major league lead with 13 doubles. He was batting .315 and tied for the team leads with four home runs and 16 RBIs.

This just goes to prove the point that Bud Selig has way too much power. What a barbaric punishment.

At-Game Recap: April 25 vs. Giants

Last night's game versus the Giants was a pretty depressing one all around. Not only did the Dodgers lose to the Giants 6-4, but we squandered scoring opportunities late in the game once again, dropping the second in a row to our arch-rivals.

But honestly I spent much of last night enjoying the crowds and the company and booing Barry Bonds (whom I saw strikeout twice, which was great; I got there too late to see him hit his 741st home run, which was okay, as I've seen plenty others, unfortunately.). The weather was perfect, and there is nothing better than a summer night at Dodger Stadium; it's so relaxing (even when screaming boos), it's therapeutic. And when the friends with which you've gone to the game look at you and say, "So if Barry Bonds hits 15 more home runs tonight, we could be watching history, right?" you know it's going to be a fun, mellow evening. Despite the loss.

I will say that there were a decent number of fans wearing Giants shirts/jerseys around, and though they were booed everyone that I saw was very cool to the opponent's fans (despite their obvious lack of intelligence). I'm pretty proud of LA fans' decorum. In fact, Dodgers fans were much cooler to Giants fans than I recall being treated in Big Phone Park when I'm wearing LA colors. But hey, when you've never won a World Series in San Francisco, it's easy to be hypersensitive to one's inferiority, I suppose.

The loss kept the Dodgers in sole possession of first place only because Trevor Hoffman ruined Jake Peavy's incredible pitching outing vs. lowly Arizona. And don't look now, but the Giants' seven game win streak have them only one game behind, just like the Padres. Time for us to buck up.


  • 2 wins the hat shuffle.
  • White wins the dot race.
  • Coca-Cola Trivia Contestant won by correctly picking Rick Monday as the person who saved the flag on the field. Man, are we still talking about that?
  • Dodger Dogs +2. Beers +3 (that bock on draft is not that good, by the way). Hit points +15, roll a 19 or 20 to get a critical hit.
  • Discovered the magic that is pulled pork Camacho's Nachos, available on the loge level. Worth the hike, them's tasty food. UPDATE 10:29a: It just became clear to me what the downside is of said nachos. Not pretty.
  • Parking had further improved from early on, but is still far from great, even screwing preferred parkers who had paid $15 months ago. I entered through the Sunset Gate about a half-hour after first pitch (don't ask). Got through the turnstiles okay but the path to the inner circle was slow (I had preferred parking), and I couldn't help but notice the line of people inching toward Lot 1. Attendance was medium last night (43K) so I can't imagine how it is going to be tonight, sold-out Nomar Bobblehead Night.

    Anyway, once in the inner circle, they had OVERSOLD Preferred Lot G (behind the scoreboards) and were diverting angry motorists to other lots. Given that this was happening only 35 minutes after the game had started, on a mediocre attendance night, this was super-uncool. When airlines oversell seats, they at least offer compensation to those that have been bumped; shouldn't the legions of parking attendants at least usher the oversold preferred lot people to their ancillary destination? Exiting parking was relatively smooth, though I did notice that the parking on the residential area near Scott Avenue was a mess (Scott Gate was open, by the way). Overall, the parking has improved from my last experience (game 3), but is still at a discount to last year. Tonight should be another test of the system's limits; get there early.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Game 21 Thread: April 25 vs. Giants, 7.10p

Dodgers start Randy Wolf, LHP (3-1, 3.38) vs. Noah Lowry, LHP (1-2, 2.70).

Dodgers: 13-7 (1st place NL West, T-best record in the major leagues with the Brewers 1.0 GA, L2)
Giants: 10-8 (3rd place NL West, 2.0 GB, W6)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: Wolf was in complete control in Friday night’ 10-2 win against the Pirates. His fastball was dialed in, and he did good job keeping hitters off balance by mixing in his curveball and changeup. Wolf allowed one run on six hits and struck out 10 in six innings of work. He is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA in one start against the Giants this season.

Giants: Lowry was terrific against the Dodgers in his first start of the season on April 6, allowing two runs (one earned) and six hits in seven innings. But the Giants couldn't score for him while he was in the game and lost, 2-1. In fact, the Giants couldn't score for Lowry until his third start on April 19, when he defeated St. Louis, 6-2. Lowry has overcome the balance problems he endured in his pitching delivery during spring training and has limited opponents to a .211 average.


  • Well don't say we didn't warn you. We're not even going to mention last night's game, in which Matt Morris shut down the Dodgers' lineup and Luis Gonzalez grounded into a rally-ending double play in the eighth (third most in the NL, hat tip to 6-4-2 for the research). And we won't mention Russell Martin's fourth error of the season, leading to a SF run and moving Martin to second most errors in the NL. And when Dave frickin' Roberts hits his 22nd home run of the year, you know this is a nightmare evening. No, we'll just try and forget about last night altogether.
  • If the Dodgers are going to maintain their lead over San Diego, who is beating up on Arizona (losers of five straight), we're going to need a great outing tonight from starter Randy Wolf and some timely hits from the Dodgers lineup. This means you, Rafael Furcal, with your .170 average (and game-ending ground out last night with two on vs. headcase Armando Benitez, who barely limped to his fifth save of the year). This means you, Wilson Betemit, whose 0-for-1 night dropped him to a .122 average. And this means you, Andre Ethier, whose 0-for-4 night and 3 LOB dropped him to a .240 average. Come on, Blue! Knock the cover off the ball!
  • The Dodgers have not lost three in a row all year. Let's not start tonight. SoSG will be at the Ravine tonight, ready to cheer on the Dodgers over the Giants. We'll be the one in the Dodgers' road jersey, drinking beers over on the first base side, field level. Stop by and say hi.

UPDATE 4.01p

Tonight's lineup, from Inside the Dodgers (MLB):

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Nomar, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzalez, LF
Martin, C
Ethier, RF
Martinez, 3B
Wolf, P

Way to shake it up there, Grady.

Alex Cora Can't Even Win This Contest

True Blue LA's current poll is "Who was the worst shortstop in LA Dodger history?

Strangely, Alex Cora is only fourth, behind the runaway lead of Jose Offerman (whom I remember a friend once described as "That's 'Offerman,' with two F's and 47 E's"). How Cora isn't at least placing in the top three is beyond me.

The idiot who voted for Rafael Furcal, by the way, should be shot.

Furcal Honored as Leading Man

Jerry Crasnick of ESPN writes Rafael Furcal is the fifth-best leadoff hitter in baseball this season:

Furcal has been in a funk since returning from a sprained ankle April 13. Not to worry: He started slowly last year before putting up monster numbers (a .339 average and a .963 combined on-base/slugging percentage) after the All-Star break for the NL wild card Dodgers.

Furcal has plenty of sock for a little guy, and the speed and aggressiveness to consistently put pressure on the opposition once he reaches base. Like Ichiro, Furcal is fast and alert enough to advance on balls in the dirt, go from first to third on a single or score from first on anything in the gap.

"He's probably the best baserunner I've ever seen," said Milwaukee manager Ned Yost, who was third-base coach in Atlanta when Furcal played for the Braves. "Not only is he quick, but he has the best instincts I've ever seen."

Number five on the list, despite his awful start to this year, is pretty impressive. I agree with Crasnick that, once Furcal gets going, the offense will be much more exciting to watch. It is pretty painful now, however.

No other NL West leadoff hitter made the top nine, though Dave Roberts (who picked our pocket last night) made an honorable mention.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Game 20 Thread: April 24 vs. Giants, 7.10p

Dodgers start Derek Lowe, RHP (2-2, 4.56) vs. Matt Morris, RHP (2-0, 2.00).

Dodgers: 13-6 (1st place NL West, best record in the major leagues, 2.0 GA, L1)
Giants: 9-8 (3rd place NL West, 3.0 GB, W5)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: Lowe is coming off one of those Coors Field messes, having allowed more runs than innings pitched. As usual, he couldn't get Brad Hawpe out, which won't be a problem in this game against the Giants. Prior to that, Lowe pitched an eight-inning gem against San Diego. He beat the Giants on April 7, allowing one run over seven innings.

Giants: After allowing 22 home runs in 207 2/3 innings last season, Morris has surrendered just one longball in 18 innings so far, and that was to ex-St. Louis teammate Albert Pujols in his last start. Control has been a mild issue for Morris, who has issued 10 walks. But only one of those free passes has come around to score. The Giants are 3-0 in his starts.


  • The Giants are riding a five-game winning streak, including three straight one-run decisions, and Barry Bonds has heated up. Bonds leads the NL with six HR and has hit home runs in three of the last four games. On the other hand, he has never hit one against Derek Lowe (he is 0-for-6 lifetime), and the AP reports Lowe "hasn't allowed a homer in his last six starts and just one in 14 appearances since Aug. 14, 2006. Lowe's average of 0.58 home runs allowed per nine innings was third-lowest in the majors last season among pitchers who threw at least 162 innings.
  • And how about some more about Lowe, who is dominant at Dodger Stadium? The right-hander is 5-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his last six home games.
  • The Dodgers have won 12 of the last 13 games against the Giants, including an eight-game winning streak to date as well as a four-game winning streak at Dodger Stadium. Even the goofy little "Accuscore" thingy on gives the Dodgers a 62% chance of winning tonight.
  • All of this positive talk has me certain that we're going to lose the series. Let's see if we can pick up game 1 tonight.


The lineup, from Inside the Dodgers:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Garciaparra, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzalez, LF
Martin, C
Ethier, RF
Betemit, 3B
Lowe, P

Griffey Sidelined by Punctuation Sign

Ken Griffey Jr. was such an amazing talent even at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, that he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 1987 amateur draft. Though he never went to college, one would think that a basic high school English course would have taught him the primary punctuation signs.

But according to Yahoo News, Griffey is sidelined by a colon problem:

"It's just a condition that I have,..." Griffey said. "It's something that a lot of people have, and it's uncomfortable."

I know English isn't everyone's strong suit, but it shouldn't be that difficult. Alas, we won't be able to invite him to join the SoSG staff, even while sidelined.

SoSG Reports: "Inside The Dodgers" Blue Carpet Event, 4/23/07

SoSG could not make the special "Inside the Dodgers" RSVP-only event on the Fox lot last night, attended by Luis Gonzalez and Rafael Furcal (both "stars" of the evening), as well as Ned Colletti and Manny Mota (I'm surprised MLB allowed Manny Mota to attend this event at all, given their strict regulations on the number of coaches a team can have). Since we couldn't attend, we sent our beat reporter to the event for a full recap:

Knowing it was the Dodgers, I got to the Fox Parking lot early, as attendees were warned in advance to be "patient" as each guest had to be "checked off at the gate." Let me tell you, parking was fast, efficient and orderly...unlike an unnamed stadium on opening day...ha, ha.

Guests were directed to the commissary for the hour-long reception...WOW, it was quite a reception, food and drink flowed--stuffed breaded mushrooms, mini White Castle burgers, a platter of cheese, strawberries, figs and blackberries, platter of assorted vegetables with ranch dressing, foccacia bread, mini hot dogs, sausages wrapped in pastery...then with circulating servers--crab cakes, chicken quesadillas, coconut shrimp, beef wellington....the best part, open bar with beer--Amstel, Heineken, Corona--wine and soft drinks.

Roger Owens dressed in his fancy garb tossing bags of peanuts while chatting up the crowd; Ned Colletti was also working the crowd, meeting and greeting. Owens has been with the Dodgers organization for 50 years; there will be a special thing honoring him next year.

Two big televisions at each end of the room were continuously running "stories" about the Dodgers. They were difficult to hear, but the images were nostalgic. After an hour and a half of heavy gorging, grazing, laughing and gaffing...

At 8pm, guests were led to the Zanuck Theatre, escorted along a BLUE CARPET to the theatre (nice touch!) and were seated.

A SVP (Steve Simpson?) of Fox Promotions greeted the crowd and then turned MC duties over to Patrick O'Neill (?, I think he is the "on camera" guy) who set the evening's tone: "a collision of sports and entertainment, a real "collaboration" between Dodgers and Fox to provide "access to the fans." The fans were excited!

Three pieces were debuted and screened:

  • 1) "Dodgers Insider: Campo Las Palmas" Profile of the famous baseball academy built by the O'Malleys in the Dominican Republic. Nice review of the Dominican Republic (which represents 12% of the players playing), the former sugar cane plantation, which is now a self-sufficient place from food to maintenance, and has two full fields, one half-field, a dormitory, and club house. It looks like quite an operation, a place that provides hope and training to aspiring players.
  • 2) "In My Own Words: Luis Gonzalez" A portrait of a seasoned player making his debut with the Dodgers and having the right attitude and leadership qualities that will contribute to this year's efforts to WIN. Gonzalez said when he plays, he gives it his all, but when he goes home, he "has to take out the trash" just like anyone else. (Hopefully he gives his all taking out the trash too.)
  • 3) "Before the Bigs: Rafael Furcal" A really moving story about a young boy from a Dominican Republic border town to Haiti, who was always told he was "too small and too slow." With perseverance and effort, Furcal overcame many obstacles to achieve his current place with the Dodgers, including his incredible season last year. His "Rookie of the Year" award [2000 with Atlanta] put his little town on the map. Furcal spent his first two years' pay to build his Mom and Dad a home back in his hometown.

Guests were "thanked" for attending, and given gift bags as they departed that included a "Blue Carpet Event" t-shirt, Dodger cap, bag of peanuts, "In My Own Words" Tommy Lasorda cd, a soft squishy mini-baseball and a Dodger blue PRIME FSN Ticket bag. More feature stories are coming, supposedly on Brad Penny and Manny Mota.

All in all, a great fan event, thanks to the Dodgers and FSN. And thanks to Sons of Steve Garvey for the "heads up"!

SoSG is often critical of Dodger management, and make no question that we feel that criticism is often deserved. But it's only fair to give praise where praise is due, and the Dodger management really made the 200 fans who attended this special event feel like part of a special family. In some ways, this event wasn't a big deal (these shows are all going to be aired on television anyway), but it's exactly the kind of nice marketing touch that pays dividends down the line. A job well done.

Thanks to Inside the Dodgers for the invitation, to Dodger management and FSN for organizing it, and for our fearless beat reporter for the recap. Go Blue!

UPDATE 12.55p: also has a recap of the evening.

And by the way, when are we getting FSN Prime in HDTV?

Grady Little Makes Top 12 Managers List

From "Best in the biz: Ranking the top managers in the game" by Jon Heyman at

1. Tony La Russa
He put to rest the notion his players tighten up come October with one of the great managing jobs of our time last year. It's no easy thing to make an 83-win team believe it can win. Now he's made me believe. He's an original thinker who's unsurpassed strategically. "I have tried to guess along with him on what moves he'll make next," David Eckstein told me in spring training, "and it just can't be done."

2. Jim Leyland
Perhaps he isn't the master strategist that La Russa is, but as a salesman and motivator, no one's better. His only blemish is his short time in Colorado, when his heart wasn't in it.

3. Mike Scioscia
Smart and solid, he's extremely even-keeled, and his players have bought into his aggressive, NL style.

4. Joe Torre
Fourth place for the four World Series rings. But can he please take it easy on his favorite relievers? He especially needs to be careful with Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera.

5. Lou Piniella
He didn't do his best work in Tampa, and baseball people noticed. Plus, he's been cited by some for mishandling pitchers. He certainly can lose his cool, as well, but that's part of his charm. Wouldn't want to have to match wits against him in the postseason, though that might not be anyone's worry this year.

6. [Bobby] Cox
I'm sure most would rank him higher. But since the goal is to win titles, that has to be seen as a failing.

7. Grady Little
He was knocked hard for sticking with Pedro Martinez in the 2003 ALCS, when his critics apparently would have rather seen him turn the game over to a very iffy bullpen. He's a low-key guy who doesn't get the plaudits he deserves.

8. Willie Randolph
Aggressive and born to manage in New York, he will move up higher on this list with more experience.

9. Ozzie Guillen
It may look like he's managing on emotion, but few know the game better.

10. Terry Francona
The Red Sox skipper keeps his cool in a tough environment. He manages both the clubhouse and game well.

11. Ron Gardenhire
Always has the Twins hustling, just like in the Tom Kelly years.

12. Bruce Bochy
Knows the games and is particularly adept with pitchers. He seems to prefer veterans. Some observers think he could stand to improve his communication with players.

Heyman also offers this Dodger-related nugget:

Nomar Garciaparra is batting .391 with runners in scoring position since coming to the Dodgers, compared to .264 with nobody on base. This year, he's hitting .615 with runners in scoring position.

Nomar Wuvs Gonzo

From "Nomar, Gonzo share on and off the field: Dodgers' veteran duo similar in family, background, talent" by Jesse Sanchez at

[Luis] Gonzalez and [Nomar] Garciaparra sometimes eat lunch and dinner together on the road. They ride to and from the park together on occasion when at home. They talk about their kids and they talk baseball. The words and phrases they use to describe each other are almost identical and can be interchanged.

"I always loved the way he played."

"You admire and respect a person who plays hard every day."

"He's a fun guy, and I enjoy being around him."

The words from Garciaparra and Gonzalez are sincere, but they say them with such a devilish smile and facial expression -- and usually shaking their heads -- they seem more like Little League pals than big-league comrades.

You see? This is the kind of hard-hitting reporting I expect from a website officially sanctioned by Major League Baseball.

For instance, take this scathing quote from Nomar about his parents:

"Gosh darn, let me think," he said. "They are just great people. I will be an amazing parent if I can be half the parents they are. I appreciate what they did for us and all the sacrifices they made. I love my family. I owe them everything."

Did he really say that? No he dint! If that isn't "edgy," I don't know what is.

Oh, correction:

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

More risk-taking by!

Jeff Kent Challenges Journalistic Standards

With apologies to Steve Henson at the L.A. Times, SoSG would like to present an uncensored version of Jeff Kent's recent quotes about the Dodgers-Giants rivalry:

Jeff Kent had made the last out of the game moments earlier with the tying runs on base, ending an 0-for-5 day. So perhaps he could be excused for his flip answer to a question he has been asked so many times that he has lost count.

A radio reporter thrust his microphone near Kent's mouth Sunday, reminded him the Dodgers face the San Francisco Giants in a series beginning today, and said, "Do you appreciate the history of this rivalry and get pumped up?"

Kent, a member of the Giants from 1997 to 2002, broke into his trademark sly grin.

"I was asked the same question for six years with the Giants, and now I've been asked the same question for three years with the Dodgers," he said.

"Big fucking deal. How about that one? Can you quote that one?"

Then, just as he seemed to reconsider and give a more thoughtful answer, he dropped another profanity-laced punch line.

"The only sound bite I can give you is that both teams know the fans come out and have a really good time with the rivalry," he said.

"A lot of players on both teams have changed sides, but that doesn't deflect from the rivalry, it adds to the, what's the word, peace we have as players, to not get so wound up in this 'give us a good quote about the series' shit."

Can we quote that one? Yes we can, Jeff!

Welcome Back, Johnny Garcia

From Steve Henson at the L.A. Times:

Johnny Garcia, the batboy who suffered a fractured cheekbone when a foul ball caromed off the wall in foul territory during the last homestand, is back at work and plans to return to his post along the right-field line tonight.

Monday, April 23, 2007

SI Power Rankings Slot Dodgers at #3

The Dodgers climb two spots to #3 in's weekly power rankings:

Los Angeles Dodgers
I hear catcher Russell Martin, who beat the Pirates with a walkoff grand slam Friday night in L.A., ought to be mentioned with Brian McCann and Joe Mauer in the "best young catcher" conversation. Well, now he has been. Just don't expect me to unfurl his whole name every time he's mentioned. OK. Just this once. Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin.

Russell, as long as you keep hitting walk-off grand slams (or "WOGS," as Orel calls them), we'll overtake the Braves and Red Sox for #1.

P.S., it was Saturday night, but who's counting?

SoSG Makes Women Swoon

SoSG gets letters:

Hi Steve,

Do you remember this picture? I had this on my wall as a kid in my room along with the Smokey the Bear poster. You were my hero. I am soooooo glad that you are back with us. FOREVER BLUE!!!!!


Ah, Vikki. Of course I remember that picture! Admittedly though, I too had the Smokey the Bear poster up on my wall. Thanks for placing me, even crumpled and torn (sorta like Natalie Imbruglia), in your pantheon of childhood heroes (and not associating me with that loser Woodsy Owl). --Steve

13-6 But Still Worried Sick

While watching the blistering pace of the Dodgers' 13-6 start, it's easy to forget the rest of the NL West. The Dodgers are the only team in the majors at 13 wins (as of this writing), and they're enjoying the largest divisional lead over a second-place team (sure, it's only a two-game lead, but still). They have won five of seven series and have lost only one series (the opener, on the road against Milwaukee).

On paper, the Dodgers seem to be beset by so many problems that it seems like a .500 record would be tough to achieve. The outfield defense from Luis Gonzalez and Juan Pierre has been spotty, filled with misplayed balls and limp throws to the infield (Jon Weisman's' article observed "anything past [the infield] has had opposing hitters thinking double right out of the box"). Fielding is definitely our achilles, as we are tied for the third most errors in the league with 15. Offensively, key batting averages from leadoff hitter Rafael Furcal (.163) and automatic-out Wilson Betemit (.125) don't begin to reflect how bad those two players' swings are from the plate. And big acquisition Jason Schmidt had largely ineffective pitching before winding up on the DL, where he joins rightfielder Matt Kemp, the last player to make the 25-man roster.

Yet the Dodgers are almost miraculously still finding ways to win. Their 11 home runs rank 13th in the NL and their team OPS is 8th (.722), yet they have the fourth-highest batting average at .267 and the third most runs scored with 96. Gonzalez, Pierre, and Andre Ethier all had miserable batting averages early, but have caught fire of late and are inching toward respectability (Pierre is still hitting into a ton of outs, but at least he has the right trajectory).

And the Dodgers are dramatic, too, evidenced best by Saturday's incredible game against the Pirates, which included Wilson Valdez taking second, third, and home off of errant pitches and throws, and Russell Martin (who like Jeff Kent has been the offensive glue this year) hitting a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning for the victory. Mark Hendrickson, Brad Penny, and to some extent even Brett Tomko have turned in fine starting pitching performances one would not have expected in late 2006. And the bullpen of course has been lights out, as has the entire pitching staff (the 2.98 ERA is second-lowest in the league).

So is this a "never say die" attitude, in which the Dodgers are ready and willing to overcome any adversities to win? Or are we getting lucky breaks now which will balance out by unlucky breaks later? Do we know what it takes, or are we just taking without knowing? As of now, it's really hard to tell.

The Dodgers have been amazing and it's been very fun to watch, only three weeks into the season. As I watch each game, I can't tell if it's a house of cards ready to collapse or if we're the energizer bunny just going and going and going. Either way, it seems to me that the addition of a power bat would be helpful, and maybe Schmidt's return would make the starters impermeable. At this stage, I am at best happy but guarded.

Let's not forget who is lurking around the corner in the NL West. The Padres, picked by many to win the division, have also lost only one of seven series this year (to the Dodgers), and Marcus Giles is batting .347 with an 11-game hitting streak. Jake Peavy also has a 2.13 ERA with 20 Ks in 25.1 IP.

San Francisco has won five in a row to edge above .500, getting nice pitching performances from youngster Matt Cain and big investment Barry Zito, both of whom now have .500 W-L records. And, they've got that-jerk-that-goes-unnamed currently at six home runs, making his conquest of the home run title all but inevitable (though the press does seem less interested than prior years, for some strange reason). The Giants are only four games behind the Dodgers. I don't think the Dodgers are in the clear by any stretch.

Today is an off-day, followed by three straight series against divisional rivals SF, SD, and AZ over nine days. I'd feel a lot better if we took care of business with these three teams.

I know, I should enjoy the first place position (though as Weisman pointed out, 2005 started similarly before careening off the tracks). I'm still on guard.

Mike Lowell, Notable for Equaling Marlon Anderson

Jayson Stark's blog today reminisces on the Red Sox' four-consecutive-homer game last night vs. the Yank-Mes, which had Mike Lowell as one of the cast of characters going yard. Stark's angle in the piece (insider only) is that baseball is an amazing sport, which it is:

You'd think what Lowell did Sunday would make him a once-in-a-lifetime human trivia answer -- as in: Who's the only guy ever to hit two home runs and be part of back-to-back-to-back-to-back homers in the same game? But guess again. Pat Berger dug through the five back-to-back-to-back-to-back games in history and reports that somebody did that in all five games:

  • Marlon Anderson did it for the Dodgers on Sept. 18, 2006.
  • Harmon Killebrew did it for the Twins on May 2, 1964.
  • Pedro Ramos (the pitcher) did it for the Indians on July 31, 1963.
  • And Eddie Mathews did it for the Braves on June 8, 1961.

I give Stark credit for not highlighting the beauty of the Red Sox, instead indicating the beauty that is baseball.

Sure, the Dodgers did exactly the same thing, four consecutive homers, last year. Hmm. So why is this Boston game so noteworthy? I guess it's because the Red Sox are getting tons of press about their similar outburst since they did it against a divisional rival (as did the Dodgers), in front of a rabid crowd (as did the Dodgers), even utilizing JD Drew (as did the Dodgers). Oh wait, maybe this is exactly the same thing as the Dodgers. Except the Dodgers did it in September, not April, in the middle of a pennant race, during the ninth inning. Oh yeah, that's right.

East coast bias, exhibit #5,125,467,342.

AvB Update 3: Our Nation's Floundering Fathers

History has shown that George Washington, John Adams, and the rest of our nation's founding fathers did a pretty good job drafting the Constitution. As Abes vs Babes enters its 4th week however, historians are coming to the difficult realization that they were a one-trick pony. Not only are the Men in Wigs getting smeared by the Hotties, 7 categories to 1, but they have lost all three individual weeks so far. And none of them have been close.

Believe it or not, my pity for the old white guys is starting to outweigh my weakness for the hot airbrushed chicks. I've thus been brainstorming ways to help out The Abes. But before any drastic action is taken, let's see how they fare this week, as at least the Diamondbacks are doing what they can to level the playing field.

As for this week's Player of the Week award, the honor goes to the Marlin's Anibal Sanchez (1 W, 2.70 ERA, 9k's for the week). Let's all thanks Anibal for giving us an excuse to post a photo of former Miss Puerto Rico and Maxim Girl #71 Roselyn Sanchez.

Here's the Week 3 scoreboard in all its one-sidedness:

The Abes The Babes
Avg 0.239 0.268
Runs 61 63
HRs 8 11
RBIs 51 57
SBs 6 12
ERA 4.41 4.42
Wins 2 7
Saves 0 0
Ks 52 92
Total 1 7

Eric Gagne on DL with Non-Arm-Related Injury

From "Rangers place Gagne on 15-day DL" (AP/

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers put closer Eric Gagne on the 15-day disabled list Monday, a day after the oft-injured right-hander left the game in the middle of just his second save situation for his new team....

Gagne, the 2003 National League Cy Young Award winner for Los Angeles, was appearing in consecutive games for the Rangers for the first time Sunday when he started favoring his right leg after his 11th pitch. He was diagnosed with a hip injury.

Just Call Grady Mr. Kevlar

Grady Little is taking bullets for Brad Penny:

Grady Little remains composed even in the most stressful circumstances. So when he was ejected Saturday night, there was method to his meltdown.

Pitcher Brad Penny lost his cool several times last season, and although he seems to have acquired an impressive sense of calm since then, Little wasn't taking any chances when plate umpire Joe West didn't call a close pitch at the knees a strike in the third inning.

Little went to the mound, waited until West ventured out to join the conversation, then basically told him everything Penny wished he could have said. Little was ejected for only the second time in two seasons as Dodgers manager, Penny settled down, and the Dodgers eventually won in 10 innings on Russell Martin's grand slam.

A day later, Penny was appreciative but uncomfortable with the perception that without Little's intervention he might have blown up.

"I don't want people to feel that Grady had to take a bullet for me," Penny said. "I'm not going to get thrown out of another game."

In all seriousness, enough from the press about Brad Penny's short temper, which has been under such control this year that it seems like he's almost complacent. Frankly, Penny's fire is half of what makes him such a gamer when he's out on the mound, and he doesn't need the media psychoanalyzing every time he exhibits a little emotion. Having your overpowering fastball pitchers demonstrate some vigor isn't such a bad thing (see: Gagne, Eric) unless you're certifiably crazy (see: Perez, Carlos). And it's not like the stoic nature formerly demonstrated by Shawn Green ever got us a postseason series victory.

Little was great to come to Penny's defense, but it would be fine if Penny showed some bark, too. His performance so far this year certainly shows he can back it up.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

At-Game Recap: April 22 vs. Pirates

New sponsors, new motifs.

Last night's hero before the game.

Dodger Dog! Teacher, mother, secret lover.

"Remember, Juan, keep your eyes on the ball!"



With three Dodger errors in the first three innings, there was definitely a feeling of a hangover from last night's game. Brett Tomko valiantly tried to shrug off the Pirates' early cheapie runs, but crumbled in the sixth. Chad Billingsley's poor seventh (0.1 IP, 2 ER) sealed the loss.

Juan Pierre: Sometimes he's the man, sometimes he's not. Today he was not.

The Dodgers have homered in three consecutive games (Ethier, Martin, Saenz).


  • Attendance was about 46,000 and parking was a breeze. Late-inning rain helped to thin the crowd somewhat, but the Sunset lot was minimally occupied.
  • Olmedo Saenz's at-bat music: "Panama" by Van Halen.
  • Guess what the between-innings DodgerVision entertainment was after Juan Pierre muffed his catch? That's right, baseball bloopers! Strangely, Pierre's miscue was not included in the segment.
  • Coca-Cola quiz question: How many Hall of Famers have played for both the Dodgers and the Pirates?

      (a) 0
      (b) 5
      (c) 3

photos by: me

Game 19 Thread: April 22 vs Pirates, 1.10p

Dodgers start Brett Tomko, RHP (0-0, 1.64) vs. Tom Gorzelanny, LHP (2-0, 1.33).

Dodgers: 13-5 (1st place NL West, best record in the major leagues, 2.0 GA, W3)
Pirates: 6-10 (6th/last place NL Central, 3.5 GB, L4)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: In his second start of the season, Tomko didn't exactly pitch the gem he threw in his first start of the season, when he shut out the Rockies for six innings. He struggled through five innings, allowing four runs and 12 baserunners. Tomko was 1-0 against Pittsburgh last year.

Pirates: Gorzelanny has been excellent in his first three starts of the season. The lefty shut down the Cardinals twice and also picked up a win in Houston. He was two outs shy of picking up his first career complete game in his last start against the Cards. Gorzelanny has only thrown one inning in his career at Dodger Stadium, and allowed three runs.


  • Not sure how you follow up all of the excitement of last night's Russell Martin walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning. The first grand slam of Martin's career capped an otherwise lackluster game for the Dodgers, who slept through most of the first eight innings before the speedy Wilson Valdez took second, third, and home on Pirates catcher Ronny Paulino, tying the game in the bottom of the ninth. That was just an hors d'ouevre for the 10th, however, when Russell took a Shawn Chacon pitch into the Dodgers bullpen for the win. The Dodgers are so hot right now, they can show up in the equivalent of the final minutes of the fourth quarter, and still pull out a win.
  • But wait a second here, let's not forget it's the Pirates about which we're talking. Pirates starter Ian Snell kept the lineup pretty sedated on Saturday, allowing only five hits over seven innings. That stench you smell while leaving the Stadium was likely Rafael Furcal's .158 average (his 0-for-5 in the leadoff spot narrowly edged out Juan Pierre's 1-for-5 performance from the two hole), with Betemit's 0-for-2 performance in the eight hole contributing to his even stinkier .125 BA. Again, the Dodgers are finding ways to win even while somnambulating through most of the game; against a more formidable opponent, such quarter would not be expected.


From Inside the Dodgers, the lineup:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Saenz, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzalez, LF
Martin, C
Clark, RF
Valdez, 3B
Tomko, P

Saenz with the rare start. Seems like a good time as any to rest Nomar.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Post-Game 18 Thread: Russell Martin Makes Us Act Like Little Girls


Now we know how she feels.

Dodger Thoughts poster "Chiron Brown" puts it best:

Mr. Russell Nathan Coltrane Jeanson Martin Jr.

I love you.

And a great recap by the Daily News' Tony Jackson on what it's like to work on deadline.

both photos: Getty Images

Game 18 Thread: April 21 vs Pirates, 7.10p

Dodgers start Brad Penny, RHP (3-0, 0.89) vs. Ian Snell, RHP (1-1, 1.80).

Dodgers: 12-5 (1st place NL West, best record in the major leagues, 2.0 GA, W2)
Pirates: 6-9 (5th place NL Central, 3.0 GB, L3)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: Penny, off to another fast start after a rocky Spring Training, pitches Saturday against the Pirates and former manager Jim Tracy. Penny went 10-2 in the first half last year to earn the start in the All-Star Game. He is 3-2 lifetime against the Pirates.

Pirates: After two solid starts, Snell was finally able to pick up a win in his third start of the season. He was dominant in his last start against the Cardinals, throwing seven innings and allowing just one run on three hits and striking out six. In four career games against the Dodgers, Snell is 1-1 with a 7.50 ERA.


  • Snell is a decent young pitcher (14-11 last year, 4.74 ERA with 169 Ks) and could be formidable tonight give his performance this season, allowing 2, 1, and 1 ER in his first three appearances (6, 7, and 7 IP respectively). Penny is also pitching up a storm in 2007, allowing only two earned runs in his 20 1/3 innings pitched this year. Penny's 0.89 ERA is the third-lowest among major-league qualifiers. All I know is, it's going to be a cold 56-degree game tonight, so I'm watching this one on television.
  • The Pirates are staying at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City. (310) 277-2000 is the main phone number. Tell Jim Tracy the Sons of Steve Garvey say hi. (And guess which Dodgers blog just got a 2007 Dodgers Media Guide! Good times.)


From Inside the Dodgers:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Garciaparra, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzalez, LF
Martin, C
Ethier, RF
Betemit, 3B
Penny, P

And Dodger Fans Get Crap Just for Arriving Late

From "Mets fan charged with trying to distract Braves" (AP/

A 40-year-old man was arrested at Shea Stadium on Friday night after he tried to distract an Atlanta Braves pitcher and shortstop with a high-powered flashlight.

Frank Martinez was charged with interference with a professional sporting event and second-degree reckless endangerment, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Saturday.

Martinez was accused of flashing the powerful light in the eighth inning. Martinez was sitting near the Mets dugout behind home plate and ejected from the game.

"The defendant's alleged actions recklessly endangered the lives of players and spectators and caused a temporary delay to the game," Brown said.

Any Excuse to Reference Jar Jar Binks Is Fine with Us

From a recent Deadspin post on Minor League Baseball:

Mascot Of The Week. And speaking of things you want to shoot, we give you Cosmo (above, right), the mascot for the Las Vegas 51s (Triple-A Pacific Coast League). Meesa think someone gonna get sued!

Nice to see our own 51s get some press.

Post-Game 17 Thread: LA Times Buries the Lead (Dodgers 10, Pirates 2)

We wanted to take a second to celebrate Jim Tracy's return to Dodger Stadium last night, which saw the Dodgers pound the Pittsburgh Pirates 10-2 on a chilly night at the Stadium. LA Times writer Ben Bolch, on the other hand, would rather talk about other stuff:

With the threat of their first home rainout in seven years looming Friday, the Dodgers' groundskeepers used a squeegee-like contraption to disperse puddles along the right-field line and a blower to dry troublesome spots in the outfield.

Then, once the skies cleared, the Dodgers effectively took a blowtorch to Pittsburgh starter Tony Armas in the third inning of a 10-2 victory at Dodger Stadium that sent a chilled crowd of 43,845 home with a coupon for free chicken wings by virtue of the double-digit output.

The Dodgers sent 10 men to the plate and scored six runs during the decisive third inning, with pitcher Randy Wolf's two-run double into the right-field corner being the biggest blow. Wolf also doubled down the left-field line in the fifth inning, giving him as many doubles in one game as he had in all of 2006.

"It was a fun day for us," said Wolf, who has won 12 of his last 13 decisions dating to May 9, 2005.

Wolf proved to be double trouble for Pittsburgh, confounding the Pirates on the mound as well as at the plate. Mixing his fastball and curveball, he gave up one run in six innings and struck out 10, the most by a Dodgers pitcher this season.

So let's recap the first five graphs off Ben Bolch's word processor:

  • Graph 1, describe rain and cold conditions.
  • Graph 2, add smooth segueway into game vitals, recapping the score, the game attendance, and the free chicken-wing giveaway.
  • Graph 3, discuss the third inning outburst, giving props to pitcher Wolf for his bat.
  • Graph 4, quote Wolf and contextualize his win.
  • Graph 5, mention the fact that Wolf struck out 10 batters, the most by a Dodgers pitcher this season.

I'm no journalist (at least, not anymore). But it seems to me that on a staff with Derek Lowe, Jason Schmidt, and Brad Penny, the fact that new pickup Randy Wolf struck out 10 batters seems to be pretty frickin' relevant here, and at least a heck of a lot more relevant than the chicken wing giveaway. To be fair, the 10Ks are mentioned in the headline of the print edition (or the subhead for the online edition). But come on, Bolch! Give Wolf some props for lighting up the CPKKKKKKKKKK meter!

Jayson Addcox of leads with the 10Ks. Vincent Bonsignore of the Daily News focused his story on the pitcher and his mighty strikeouts. And the Associated Press led with the strikeouts. No mention of chicken wings anyplace else except in the pages of the crown jewel of Los Angeles journalism.

They feeding you in the press box, Bolch? Are you yearning for the Olmedo Saenz Pavilion from afar?

And to Randy Wolf, congratulations on a great outing, we love it. You are more than exceeding expectations for a fourth starter. It's not often that you're going to get 10 runs from an offense that has Rafael Furcal batting .182 (0-for-4 last night, including two of the three outs in the Dodgers' third inning) and Wilson Betemit at .132 (1-for-4 with a RBI). Andre Ethier has upped his batting average to .286 (1-for-3 last night with 2 RBI and 1 HR) and Juan Pierre's 3-for-4 night (3 R scored) ups him to .278 BA (still a miserable .636 OPS, but at least we've got positive trajectory). Glad that Wolf (2-for-3, 2 RBI) brought his bat along as well, just for insurance.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Game 17 Thread: April 20 vs. Pirates, 7.10p

Dodgers start Randy Wolf, LHP (2-1, 4.00) vs. Tony Armas, RHP (0-1, 13.50)

Dodgers: 11-5 (1st place NL West, 1.5 GA, W1)
Pirates: 6-8 (T-4th place NL Central, 2.5 GB, L2)

From, the scouting report on the starters:

Dodgers: Wolf overcame the long pregame ceremonies on Jackie Robinson Day to strike out seven in six innings against the Padres. Wolf's curveball was especially effective. Although he allowed three runs, one on a Jose Cruz Jr. homer, he walked only one. He is 3-1 lifetime against the Pirates.

Pirates: Pittsburgh can only hope that Armas' next outing after a 13-day layoff because of weather postponements doesn't resemble his first outing of the season. Pitching in a February-like chill on April 6 at Cincinnati, he never could command the strikezone. In four innings, he walked five and gave up eight hits and six runs on 89 pitches. Only 48 of those were strikes. Armas, the only veteran in the Pirates rotation, can't pitch like that and win in the big leagues.


  • The Dodgers return from "squeeze week", the only week of the season in which they are forced to play two separate two-game midweek series, with a very impressive 3-1 record against divisional opponents, no less (Dodgers are now 7-3 on the road; last year they were the only team to make the playoffs with a losing road record). Throw in the fact that we basically phoned it in on Wednesday's game vs. the Rockies (three substitutes started in a weak batting order), and the Dodgers aren't looking too bad. The good news is, all the veterans except Nomar Garciaparra and recently returned Rafael Furcal have taken a day of rest. Let's see how the team fares back in the friendly confines of Chavez Ravine (4-2 home record this year), with a rainy weekend series vs. Pittsburgh, a day of rest Monday, and then a three-game showdown with the hated Giants.
  • Tonight is Jason Schmidt T-Shirt night. I hope these aren't shirts that, based on news they're probably not telling us from his MRI (Schmidt is currently on the 15-day disabled list), would otherwise end up on the clearance rack at T J Maxx.

UPDATE, 5.32p

Rain? What rain? Game's still on, according to Inside the Dodgers. The lineup:

Furcal, SS
Pierre, CF
Garciaparra, 1B
Kent, 2B
Gonzalez, LF
Martin, C
Ethier, RF
Betemit, 3B
Wolf, P