Carl Erskine, 89, honors childhood friend

Section from Carl Erskine's page in the 1957 Dodger Yearbook.

Section from Carl Erskine’s page in the 1957 Dodger Yearbook.

Dodgers at Cubs, 2:05 p.m.
Kershaw CCLIII: Kershawngle Book
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Yasiel Puig, RF
Carl Crawford, LF
Alex Wood, P

By Jon Weisman

Michael Tackett of the New York Times had a fine article over the weekend on 89-year-old Dodger great Carl Erskine, and the close, lifelong relationship he has had with childhood pal Johnny Wilson.

Their hometown of Anderson, Indiana paid tribute to the 88-year-old Wilson with a statue, and Erskine was key to making the honor happen.

… Erskine, the Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher who appeared in 11 World Series games and threw two no-hitters in the 1950s, and Wilson have been friends since meeting as children, in an alley with a basketball hoop attached to a barn, when Erskine offered an innocent invitation: “Do you want to play?”

One white child, one black, they were bound from that point by their love of sports and their meager economic circumstances during the Depression in this north-central Indiana factory town. The friendship with Wilson was Erskine’s bridge to his warm relationship with Jackie Robinson, whom he joined on the Dodgers in Robinson’s second season after breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier.

One day, Robinson went out of his way to thank Erskine for speaking to his wife, Rachel, and children in front of white fans. Erskine said no thanks were necessary, and on Friday he said one name explained why: Johnny Wilson. …

Click here to read the whole story. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Dodgers signing Erskine, after he served in the Navy at the tail end of World War II.

Kershaw hits strikeout milestones in Dodger win

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By Jon Weisman

Clayton Kershaw completed his extraordinary May with a triumphant finish, if you don’t mind a mildly disappointing footnote.

Kershaw raised his strikeout total since May 1 to 65 — a total not exceeded by a Dodger pitcher in a single calendar month since Sandy Koufax in 1965. For the fourth time in six May starts, Kershaw struck out at least 10 and walked none. He averaged 8.3 innings per game. He allowed 24 baserunners in 49 2/3 innings. His ERA for the month: 0.91.

The 28-year-old phenomenon also set an MLB record by striking out his 100th batter before walking his sixth — Cliff Lee had the record with seven walks for his first 100 strikeouts in 2010 — and currently has a 21.0 strikeout-walk ratio.

Kershaw just can’t boast about his second career 6-0 month. Leaving a game mid-inning for the first time this season, Kershaw settled — happily, one can bet– for a 4-2 Dodger victory, but only after Mets tied the game off reliever Adam Liberatore with two out in the bottom of the eighth.

Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run single in the top of the ninth, and Kenley Jansen’s three-up, three-down save in the bottom of the inning, gave the Dodgers and Kershaw the ending they were counting on.

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May and the force that is Clayton Kershaw

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Dodgers at Mets, 5:07 p.m.
Kershaw CCLIII: Kershawngle Book
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Yasiel Puig, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, LF
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Cary Osborne

Clayton Kershaw closes the book on May with his final start of the month today. Make that a history book.

Kershaw goes into tonight’s game at New York with the lowest WHIP by a pitcher in May all time at 0.52. Bruce Sutter (1977) is second on the list at 0.54 and interestingly, the Mets’ Steven Matz is third, sporting a 0.59 mark this month.

The all-time record for WHIP in a month is shared by San Francisco’s Atlee Hammaker (April 1983) and St. Louis’ Woody Williams (September 2001) at 0.50.

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Chase Utley makes a new human achievement — giving 110 percent

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By Cary Osborne

Chase Utley is motivated all the time. I mean all the time.

If you’ve watched him as a Dodger, you have seen the amount of effort he gives on every single play.

But for a guy who gives 100 percent, 100 percent of the time, he may have proved something. There is a such thing as 110 percent.

Ask the Mets after Saturday’s game in New York.

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Julio Urias returning to Triple-A

Los Angeles Dodgers vs New York Mets

Dodgers at Mets, 4:15 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Trayce Thompson, RF
Joc Pederson, CF
Howie Kendrick, LF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Kenta Maeda, P

By Jon Weisman

Julio Urias said he had the best day of his life when he made his Major League debut Friday. His next big-league appearance won’t come right away, however, because the Dodgers have decided to option him back to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Right-handed reliever Casey Fien will take Urias’ spot on the 25-man roster, as well as the 40-man roster spot of minor-league outfielder James Ramsey, who has been designated for assignment.

Urias was forthcoming in his postgame comments following his 81-pitch, 2 2/3-inning start in New York, according to Ken Gurnick of MLB.com, including the admission that he was nervous.

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Unlikely comeback meets unhappy ending


By Jon Weisman

In more than 100 years, no reliever had ever entered the ninth inning of a game against the Dodgers with a four-run lead, blown the lead and won the game.

But that’s what happened when the Mets’ Jeurys Familia gave up a bases-loaded walk to Yasmani Grandal and a three-run double to Chase Utley (the latest memorable moment for Utley) – then emerged the winning pitcher on Curtis Granderson’s home run off Pedro Baez, 6-5.

Via Baseball-Reference.com, the closest equivalent was September 27, 2011, when Arizona’s Micah Owings started the 10th inning of a 1-1 game against the Dodgers and allowed five runs before the Diamondbacks scored six in the bottom of the inning off Blake Hawksworth and Javy Guerra, capped by a Ryan Roberts grand slam.

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Julio Urias takes the stage but can’t command it

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By Jon Weisman

Julio Urias is still a precocious teenager and a pitching prodigy. But the mania will have to wait at least a game.

Displaying consistent velocity but inconsistent command at 19 years and 289 days old, Urias lasted 2 2/3 innings in his Major League debut, leaving with the Dodgers trailing the New York Mets, 3-1.

With three strikeouts, Urias tied a Dodger record for a teenager in his first game, but he also allowed five hits and walked four and even in his best inning, couldn’t find the consistency he needed to last longer.

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Yimi Garcia transferred to 60-day disabled list

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Juan Ocampo/Los Angeles Dodgers

Dodgers at Mets, 4:10 p.m.
Chase Utley, 2B
Corey Seager, SS
Justin Turner, 3B
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Howie Kendrick, LF
Joc Pederson, CF
Yasiel Puig, RF
Yasmani Grandal, C
Julio Urias, P

By Jon Weisman

Yimi Garcia, who went on the disabled list five weeks ago with right biceps soreness, has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Julio Urias, whose contract was officially purchased by the Dodgers ahead of his MLB debut tonight.

Garcia had a 2.35 ERA in 7 2/3 innings this season when he entered the eighth inning of a game at Colorado with the 5-5 on April 22. In two-thirds of an inning, the 25-year-old righty gave up a walk, single and two-run triple to Brandon Barnes.

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The Amazing Chase: In his 14th season, Utley shows no signs of stopping

DI cover HS04 (May 23-25)

In the cover story of the most recent Dodger Insider magazine, we explored the resurgent — or maybe he’s just always surgent — Chase Utley.

For the 36th time this season, Utley is the leadoff hitter for the Dodgers. He leads the Dodgers in on-base percentage, but he does so much more.

“I’ve always taken pride in playing hard,” Utley told our Cary Osborne. “That’s something you have to do on a daily basis. It’s not the easiest thing to do, especially over the course of years and years and games and games. But if you’re able to have that mindset every game, you get the most out of yourself and therefore give your team the best chance to win.”

Said Corey Seager: “I watched him when I grew up. I had a buddy I played with forever who’s from Philadelphia and grew up a Phillies fan. … To be able to sit beside (Utley) is still cool. I still talk about it with my friend. I walk in every day, and he’s sitting there and he’s always there before you. He’s that kind of guy.”

Read the entire story by clicking here.

Beginning this year, the Dodgers merged their previously separate Playbill and Dodger Insider magazines into one publication (at least 80 pages per issue) with a new edition available each homestand plus one in October, 13 issues total. It is distributed at auto gates (one per vehicle) and via Fan Services for those who use alternate transportation. Dodger Insider magazine includes news, features, analysis, photos, games, stadium information and more. Fans who still wish to subscribe can do so at dodgers.com/magazine

In his own words: Fernando Valenzuela’s MLB debut

Fernando

For our special section in the 2015 Dodger Yearbook dedicated to him, Fernando Valenzuela described his initial promotion to the Major Leagues in 1980 and the unforgettable start that launched Fernandomania in earnest in 1981. Click the image above to enlarge.

— Jon Weisman

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