Maeda’s hot streak, Dodgers’ home-run streak end

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

By Cary Osborne

During a five-game stretch that began in New York on May 28, Kenta Maeda reminded us of the first impression he gave back in April.

His 1.52 ERA in his last 29 2/3 innings had a lot to do with him not allowing the long ball and limiting damage.

He gave up one homer and didn’t have a multi-run inning against him during that time.

On Saturday, Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen went deep twice — the second being a three-run home run that knocked Maeda out of the game.

And the Dodgers lost 6-1, their second straight loss and first losing streak since June 11-13.

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The incredible invisible Adam Liberatore

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 8.53.40 PM

By Cary Osborne

Adam Liberatore’s locker in the Dodgers clubhouse is in a high traffic area. Right next to his is Julio Urías’.

It’s the closest a swarm of reporters get to him.

After he pitched a scoreless two-thirds of an inning on Wednesday and the question was asked if he had a minute to speak, he gave an, “um.”

Not yes.

Not no.

It was almost like a, “Who? Me?”

Liberatore has been one of baseball’s best relief pitchers thus far in 2016. And he’s been somewhat invisible.

It’s the perfect existence for a middle reliever — one of the most maligned types of baseball players.

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The greatest pre-All-Star rookie shortstop ever?

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 9.45.35 PM

By Cary Osborne

Corey Seager could have the greatest pre-All-Star game run by a rookie shortstop since the Midsummer Classic started in 1933.

And to re-emphasize, he stands in third place in the National League voting.

Seager is in within reach of multiple pre-All-Star Break records by a rookie shortstop.

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Chris Taylor promoted, Nick Tepesch designated

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:15 p.m.
Kiké Hernández, 2B
Justin Turner, 3B
Corey Seager, SS
Trayce Thompson, CF
Adrian González, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

Chris Taylor, the infielder acquired by the Dodgers from the Mariners six days ago for Zach Lee, has been promoted from Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Nick Tepesch, who went four innings in the Dodgers’ 8-6 loss Friday to Pittsburgh, has been designated for assignment.

In three games with Oklahoma City since the trade, Taylor has gone 6 for 12 with three doubles, three RBI and a stolen base, along with four strikeouts.

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Farm fresh: Brock solid — again

By Cary Osborne

Oklahoma City Dodgers pitcher Brock Stewart, who has been arguably the one of the two best starting pitchers in the Dodger chain this year (the other being Julio Urias), had another outstanding outing on Friday night.

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Dodger winning streak ends at six

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

By Jon Weisman

Despite 13 hits — including four by Corey Seager and a single and homer by Yasiel Puig — the Dodgers couldn’t quite complete one of their recent rallies, falling tonight to the Pirates, 8-6. Los Angeles has lost six straight games since July 2014 at Pittsburgh, allowing 50 runs in the process.

Seager is 14 for his past 25 with two walks, five doubles and a homer, for a .560 batting average, .593 on-base percentage and .880 slugging percentage. Puig is 5 for 11 since returning from the disabled list, including the home run, which went 439 feet.

In his Dodger debut, Nick Tepesch gave up five runs on four singles, two doubles and a home run over four innings. The Dodgers’ six-game winning streak came to an end, despite twice coming within a run of the Pirates after trailing 4-0 in the second inning.

Frankie Montas has another rib injury

Frankie Montas signed autographs with Yasiel Puig at FanFest in January. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Frankie Montas signed autographs with Yasiel Puig at FanFest in January. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

Right-handed pitcher Frankie Montas, who seemed to moving fast toward at least a temporary spot in the Dodger starting rotation a week ago, has re-aggravated a stress reaction in his rib, the Dodgers said today.

The team added he will undergo further diagnostic testing, and no timeframe has yet been given for his return.

The 23-year-old Montas, who missed the start of the 2016 season because of surgery to remove a rib in February, has 22 strikeouts in 16 minor-league innings since his return, with a 2.25 ERA. He fanned 20 in 15 innings after making his MLB debut last year with the White Sox, before he came to Los Angeles in the trade that included Trayce Thompson and Micah Johnson.

Side note: Ross Stripling is back in action, throwing three innings in an Arizona League game Thursday.

Farm Fresh: June 23 Dodger minors highlights


By Miranda Perez

Highlights from the Dodger farm system for June 23, including Hyun-Jin Ryu’s latest rehab outing and two walkoff wins  …

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Will Venable designated for assignment

Milwaukee Brewers vs Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian González, 1B
Howie Kendrick, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal,  C
Yasiel Puig, RF
Nick Tepesch, P

By Jon Weisman

To make room for tonight’s starter Nick Tepesch on their 40-man roster, the Dodgers have designated outfielder Will Venable for assignment.

Venable signed with the Dodgers 10 days ago. His main contribution was on June 17, when he doubled to lead off the bottom of the 10th in a tie game against Milwaukee, before scoring on Justin Turner’s walkoff single.

The 33-year-old Venable was also hit by a pitch in his 11 plate appearances.

Also: The Dodgers signed 40-year-old left-hander Randy Choate to a minor-league contract. Choate, who in 2012 with the Dodgers pitched 36 of his 672 career Major League games, is in Arizona on a rehab assignment but expected to move next to Double-A Tulsa.

Postscript: A.J. Ellis and the mythical stolen base

Los Angeles Dodgers vs San Diego Padres

By Jon Weisman

In today’s feature on A.J. Ellis, the Dodger catcher said he had no idea how high he ranked among the franchise leaders in games caught.

But there was one piece of history that Ellis was acutely aware of. That’s when I asked him if he remembered his last stolen base.

“That hasn’t happened in the Major Leagues, I know that,” Ellis said. “I think I’m top five without a stolen base for as many (times on base) as I’ve got.”

Most times on base with no steals, MLB history
1) 835 Russ Nixon (1957-68)
2) 818 Aaron Robinson (1943-51)
3) 801 Chris Snyder (2004-13)
4) 710 Johnny Estrada (2001-08)
5) 632 A.J. Ellis (2008-)
6) 620 Wilson Ramos (2010-)
7) 607 Ryan Garko (2005-10)
8) 541 Al Ferrara (1963-71)
9) 515 Jack Hiatt (1964-62)

He was exactly right. Ellis has reached base 632 times in his career, without a steal. In MLB history, only four steal-heeled players, led by Russ Nixon (835), have been on the bases more — though Wilson Ramos, the opposing catcher in the recently completed series against the Nationals, is coming up, well, fast behind Ellis.

Ellis has a firm grip on the Dodger franchise record, having sped past Al Ferrara.

How badly does Ellis want to get a steal before his career is over? Or does he even want one?

“It’s kind of getting to that point now where it’s a fun fact about me,” Ellis said, “but, no I do. I’m always looking. I want to get one off somebody that it would really tick off. Like I want to get one off (Madison) Bumgarner, I think. That would really tick him off, to see that I stole on him. But he’s tough.”

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