Monday, April 29, 2019

Series Thread (Games 31-33): April 29-May 1 @ Giants

Mon 4/29 6.45p: Kenta Maeda (3-2, 5.20, 25K) vs. Jeff Samardzija (2-1. 3.00, 24K)
Tue 4/30 6.45p: Walker Buehler (2-0, 5.25, 18K) vs. Drew Pomeranz (1-2, 3.65, 28K)
Wed 5/1 6.45p: Hyun-Jin Ryu (3-1, 2.96, 33K) vs. Ashley Madison (1-4, 4.30, 35K)

Fresh off a sweep of the Pirates at home, the Dodgers head north into the belly of the beast to face three starting pitchers with a decent amount of strikeouts, but not a lot of wins to show for it. Still, the team is compelling enough to have stolen Farhan Zaidi to join them, despite the fact that the Giants will lose 180 games over the next two years.

The Giants' -20 run differential is second-worst in the NL only to the Marlins; their farm teams are barren; and it took the team 26 games to score a run in their first inning. Oh yeah, and seagulls still shit all over their park. Let's hope the Dodgers can get out of here with some wins, and without any histoplasmosis.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Series Thread (Games 28-30): April 26-28 vs. Pirates

Fri 7p: Ryu vs. Archer
Sat 6p: Kershaw vs. Musgrove
Sun 1p: Rich Hill vs. Williams

Winning only one game in Chicago by the skin of our ass isn't very promising. But as SoSG Nomo reminded me over What's App, it was a winning road trip! Yeah, so there's that.

At least we're back home now, and tonight we face an alcoholic secret agent who is also a starting pitcher. I had tickets to tonight's game, but had other priorities. I hope tonight's game is at least...animated.

And who's that new guy pitching on Sunday?

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Series Thread (Games 25-27): Apr 23-25 @ Cubs

This is Chicago. It's our 25th game. I predict a 6 to 4 victory.

Tue 4/23 5p: Kenta Maeda vs. Jose Quintana
Wed 4/24 5p: Walker Buehler vs. Cole Hamels
Thu 4/25 11.30a: Ross Stripling vs. TBD

Somehow, the Cubs are 10-10, and we have played four more games than they have this year. Some desk research reveals that, unlike the Cubs' cushy schedule so far (with four days off and one postponed game vs. the Angels), the Dodgers have been forced to keep their nose to the grindstone, and they've responded by mashing all the way. Taking three of four in Milwaukee this past weekend (including an incredible Cody Bellinger performance Sunday!), the Dodgers are now six games above .500--and this includes that six-game losing streak when we couldn't get anything right. Imagine if we had just gone .500 over those six games; we'd be 18-6!

I don't recall Wrigley Field being "friendly confines" for the Dodgers (we went 1-2 last year there, including a walk-off, tenth-inning loss). The Cubs have won seven of nine, keeping pace with our winning seven of our last eight. And we haven't fared well against NL Central teams. This series should be a dogfight. So let's get some inspiration, please (note Russell Martin is in the house for this clip!):

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Series Thread (Games 21-24): Apr 18-21 @ Brewers

Thu 4/18 5p: Julio Urias vs. Zach Davies
Fri 4/19 5p: Ross Stripling vs. Jhoulys Chacin
Sat 4/20 4p: Hyun-Jim Ryu vs. TBD
Sun 4/21 11a: Clayton Kershaw vs. Brandon Woodruff

Since we licked our wounds by taking a lickin' to the Reds in a series sweep, we've recovered from the prior series loss against the Milwaukee Brewers. So now we face them again, with their slugger Christian Yelich on a tear, he with his nine HR on the year to lead the National League.

But wait, don't we have a slugger of our own, with nine HR to his name as well? Cody Bellinger returns (actually, he started Wednesday and went 1-for-3 with a single and a walk), after sitting for a game and a half with a bruised knee. Well, we're laughing like it didn't hurt / I'm in the dirt, I'll make it work though. We won Monday (the game where Belli got hit), and then substitute Alex Verdugo had his first three-hit game on Tuesday, and now Bellinger is back.

Yelich. Bellinger. Last year's NLCS opponents. Both teams leading their respective divisions. This looks to be a good one.

I'm going to go stock up on groceries for this weekend.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Post-Game 18 Thread / At-Game Recap: Happy Jackie Robinson Day (April 15, 2019)

The Goodyear blimp above the Stadium last night, in honor of Jackie Robinson.


I haven't done an At-Game Recap for a while now, so forgive me if this is rusty or choppy (and, I'm on a conference call right now to which I should be listening).

I could write about the horrible traffic into the Stadium, which denied me my Jackie Robinson jersey (despite being there in the top of the first). I could write about Yasiel Puig's welcome back and game-leading two-run HR off of Clayton Kershaw. I could write about how I didn't see a video tribute for either former Dodger Puig or for Matt Kemp--possibly because they didn't want to obscure the majesty of Jackie Robinson night, but strange as we recently made a video montage to celebrate Yasmani Grandal's return to Dodger Stadium last series (Yasmani Grandal, for pete's sake!).

But instead I want to write about how fun it is to be at a baseball game alongside an Australian who is trying to understand this crazy sport.

I had had the benefit of learning Australian Rules Football (AFL) from this same individual when spending time in Australia. AFL is an awesome game, with rapid gameplay that seems a little like what full contact ultimate frisbee would be, if run on a gargantuan field (a cricket pitch). The scoring is at NBA levels (100+ per team on a game, counted in six-point goals and one-point "behinds"). And the constant movement is very fun to follow, with momentum shifts like volleyball matches; and full-contact hits between huge people without pads (which is terrifying, and somehow also more safe than NFL).

Trying to understand AFL is difficult and takes time. So I can appreciate what it must be like for an Australian, at his second MLB game ever, trying to understand how this game is played.

I got a lot of questions about why players weren't running on fly balls (they have to tag up); at how a pinch runner must be the ultimate job (Chris Taylor entered for David Freese after Freese walked to start the ninth); and how crazy it was to stop the game to sing Take Me Out To The Ballgame (my favorite baseball tradition, probably ahead of even drinking beer). It was great to see Clayton Kershaw back to form (despite that first inning).

I also was delighted to get appreciation for the tension of each pitch during the high-leverage situations of the game (he had heard about this tension in his first game, but in this game he really understood it). And we both were delighted for full-strength beer (which is not available @ most of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, btw).

The Australian was also adamant that if you strike out to end the inning, as Max Muncy did twice during the game, he should have to go back to the dugout and grab his own defensive gear, rather than have a teammate bring that out for him. Frankly, watching Muncy flail at the plate last night (A.J. Pollock was also no better), I would agree.

And the best part, of course, was the game's finish.

My Australian friend was aghast at the people who left the game after Kemp's bloopy single off of Kenley Jansen in the top of the ninth. "Why are these people leaving?", he asked. I explained that there was probably an ~80% chance at that point that the Dodgers would lose (my math was pretty close); and with the crowds for this game (did I mention I didn't get my Jackie Robinson SGA jersey?), these early departers probably wanted to beat the traffic.

But we stayed. David Freese walked to lead off the bottom of the ninth. And then...Joc!

Gotta love how the walkoff HR lands right in front of the only guy wearing a Reds jersey in that section.

What a way to end this game, on Jackie Robinson Night, on a night when the opposition's RBI came from former Dodgers, and yet the new Dodger squad prevailed. The Australian loved the game, and we stayed late to buy a lot of merchandise. And we drove home very happy.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Series Thread (Games 18-20): Apr 15-17 vs. Reds

With Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp back in town, will the Dodgers step up and bury a friend?

Mon 7p: Clayton Kershaw vs. Luis Castillo (1-1. 0.92)
Tue 7p: Kenta Maeda (2-1, 4.76) vs. Tyler Mahle (0-0, 0.82)
Wed 12n: TBD vs. Sonny Gray (0-2, 2.03)

I guess I should have used last week's series thread photo for this series, given we're seeing the Reds and everything. But I suppose I'm just too surprised that we actually won a game Sunday, our first win in seven games against NL Central teams, who seem to be more formidable opponents than the cushy NL West teams we've played. Amazingly, the Dodgers' plummet to Earth still has us only 2.0 GB the league-leading Padres (I can't believe I just typed those last three words in succession), so it's not inconceivable that we could find ourselves back in first before the end of this homestand Wednesday. (The Padres host the 4-12 Rockies for a quick two-game two-step.)

This series also gives us the opportunity to see an inevitable video montage of Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp on Monday night; after all, the Dodgers gave passed-ball king Yasmani Grandal a video tribute on Friday. Both Puig and Kemp were so instrumental to the Dodgers' 2018 run, not to mention the Dodgers' teams over the past years, that it's inevitable to be a little nostalgic. Let's hope A.J. Pollock, whose batting average has slipped from .324 to .242 over the past 8 games (excluding Sunday's game, in which he went 2-for-5), continues to get back on track and make us forget about these two outfielders.

Oh, and we've got some new guy making his first start of the year on Monday night, Jackie Robinson Day. Good luck to him!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Series Thread (Games 15-17): April 12-14 vs. Brewers

Oh, that series sweep by St Louis makes me mad.

Fri 7p: Julio Urias vs. Corbin Burnes
Sat 6p: TBD vs. Zach Davies
Sun 1p: TBD vs. Jhoulys Chacin

What a shitshow. Meeting our first non-NL West opponent of the year, the Dodgers got absolutely spanked in St. Louis, both on the field (outscored 26-12 across four straight losses) as well as off the field (Russell Martin, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and Corey Seager all felled by injuries). Our starting rotation is now up in question for this series--as I post the starting matchups, two of the three are filled by the infamous "TBD" (whom I don't think can start on consecutive days!)--and we look discombobulated coming back to Los Angeles against the division-leading Brewers, our formidable 2018 NLCS opponent.

Speaking of which, remember that Game 7 of the 2018 NLCS in Milwaukee? Cody Bellinger's two-run HR; Chris Taylor's amazing catch in centerfield; Yasiel Puig's mammoth three-run shot to break the game open; and Clayton Kershaw's relief appearance in the ninth?

As inspiration for this series, let me remind you:

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Eugenio Velez - Still Number One In Our Hearts!

Which score on an exam is more impressive: 100 or 0?

DiMaggio had his streak. The Undertaker too. But I'd argue that Eugenio Velez's was even more impressive: 0 for 46, including 37 in Dodger Blue. Getting zero hits is not the impressive part. His being allowed to go up for his 46th futile at bat and still have a job - that's a f'ing miracle.

Then along came Chris Davis and his $23 Million plus contract. Thus far, his season has been the most consistent we've ever witnessed.

At least Journeyman Eugenio's "0 for" came at a discount: back then, he got paid in Blimpie coupons.

When you tack on the last few games from Chris Davis's equally lackluster 2018, he's reached a LEGEN (wait for it) DARY O for 50! (as of SOSG's press-time)

As you can see, he's more than ready for his closeup.

Rest assured, Eugenio Velez - Dodgers nation will always remember you as the People's Champion of Futility.

Monday, April 08, 2019

Series Thread (Games 11-14): April 8-11 @ Cardinals

A sweep of the Rox; but are the Cards stacked?

Monday 4/8 4.45p: Hyun-Jin Ryu (2-0, 2.08) vs. Miles "I'm not Spider-Man" Mikolas (0-1, 7.20)
Tuesday 4/9 4.45p: Ross Stripling (0-0, 2.31) vs. Dakota Hudson (0-1, 5.40)
Wednesday 4/10 4.45p: Kenta Maeda (2-0, 3.09) vs. Jack Flaherty (0-0, 3.86)
Thursday 4/11 10:15a: Walker Buehler (1-0, 6.75) vs. Michael Wacha (0-0, 1.54)

These are honestly the most bizarre game times I have seen in years. What the hell is going on here?!

I mean, besides the Dodgers going 8-2 on the season, and now 2-2 in games in which Joe Kelly appears (Kelly actually picked up the win Sunday in Colorado, with his ERA lowering to 14.40 on the year). The Dodgers have mashed at least one HR in all 10 games, all of which have been against the super-cush NL West. Now we head to St. Louis for four against our first non-NL West opponent of the season, the 4-5 Cardinals. Let's keep on mashing, Dodgers!

Friday, April 05, 2019

Series Thread (Games 8-10): Apr 5-7 @ Rox

Does "chocolatey" have an "e"? Wegman's doesn't think so, but then again they're ending sentences in prepositions, so screw them.

Fri 4.5 1p: Kenta Maeda (1-0, 4.05) vs. Tyler Anderson (0-1, 9.00)
Sat 4.6 5p: Walker Buehler (0-0, 15.00) vs. Jon Gray (0-1, 4.05)
Sun 4.7 5.30p: Julio Urias (0-0, 0.00) vs. Chad "Jerome" Bettis (0-1, 9.53)

The NL West-leading, 5-2 Dodgers would be 7-0 if not for Joe Kelly's missteps--and maybe it's the googly-eyed glasses, but I'm pretty convinced that he's going to recover from these issues, boos understandable. So we move into Colorado with a decent amount of steam, coming off of two series wins in our first homestand of the year. Will it be a rocky road there? With the mile-high ERAs of those opposing starters, I doubt it.

Monday, April 01, 2019

Series Thread (Games 5-7): Apr 1-3 vs. Giants

Monday 4/1 7p: Julio Urias vs. Drew Pomeranz
Tuesday 4/2 7p: Hyun-Jin Ryu (1-0, 1.50) vs. Madison Bumgarner (0-1, 2.57)
Wednesday 4/3 7p: Ross Stripling (0-0, 0.00) vs. Derek Holland (0-1, 6.75)

Happy April Fools Day!

And at this early part of the season, it's like the Dodgers and Giants are Superman and Bizarro Superman, just like the Ed McGuinness cover above.

The Dodgers are 3-1, leading the majors in OBP (.439), SLG (.647), and then obviously OPS (1.086). The Dodgers only trail the Seattle Mariners (who have played two more games than the Dodgers) with 14 HR on the season. Cody Bellinger is tied for first with three others in HR (4), and Joc Pederson is tied for fifth in the majors with 3 HR. The Dodgers have scored an amazing 42 runs this season in only four games. This opening series had a disappointing loss, but it also had two beatdowns of the Snakes, capped by a Sunday comeback victory after Walker Buehler went awry in the fourth.

Meanwhile, the 1-3 Giants are indeed the ugly and less articulate reflection in this metaphor. San Francisco ranks 26th in the majors for average (.177) and OPS (.516). And in losing three of four against the San Diego Manny Machados, the Giants also demonstrated how they're the oldest team in the major leagues, creaking their way to a total of five runs over the four games, tied for last in the major leagues.

So while the Dodgers are having an Opening Week, the Giants are Opening Weak.

Dodgers: Good! Giants: Bad! Let's keep this theme going to finish out the homestand, okay? This series kicks off with Julio Urias getting his first start since 2017.