Chad Billingsley (2-4, 4.54) vs. Chris Sampson (1-3, 7.96).
COMMENTS: Question: What do Speed Racer and the Dodgers have in common? Answer: They both bombed last night! Speed Racer (estimated budget: $100 million) made a measly $5,850,000 Friday, coming in third place behind Iron Man and What Happens in Vegas (Cameron Diaz says: In your face!). The Dodgers (estimated budget: $119 million) lost 7-1 to the Astros Friday, missing an opportunity to gain a game on the Diamondbacks, who lost to the Cubs. There's been talk of Dodgers starters being unable to go the distance this season; today Billingsley tries to give the bullpen a rest after throwing 96 pitches in six innings his last outing, finally overcoming his quinquatemporphobia (fear of the fifth inning). Sampson has been wild recently, putting the expectation on the Dodgers offense to, once again, score early and score often.
Rafael Furcal is due back today, and not a moment too soon as the Dodgers went 7-for-33 at the plate yesterday. Joe Torre continues to insist on starting Andruw Jones (who did hit a double) at the expense of Andre Ethier (.291/.376/.447 in 29 games). Speaking of of deadweight, the Padres recently cut Jim Edmonds, essentially paying $6 million for one home run and six RBIs. It's too early for the Dodgers to junk their 1977 Ford Mustang, but it isn't too early to start their best outfield of Pierre, Kemp and Ethier. (By the way, Jones can't be sent to the minors without his permission.) The Dodgers tend to score runs in batches, something that needs to happen today in order to prevent a series loss.