Andre Ethier poised to become HBP champ

Andre Ethier tied the Los Angeles Dodger record for career HBPs with this plunking on June 13. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Andre Ethier tied the Los Angeles Dodger record for career HBPs with this June 13 plunking. (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Matt Kemp, RF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Scott Van Slyke, CF
Juan Uribe, 3B
Carl Crawford, LF
Miguel Rojas, SS
Drew Butera, C
Dan Haren, P

By Jon Weisman

This week seems like as good as any to post a list of the Dodgers’ all-time leaders in hit by pitches. One list features the expected — the other, perhaps, a surprise.

The Plunkers
154 Don Drysdale
82 Henry McIntire
79 Jeff Pfeffer
74 Chan Ho Park
73 Nap Rucker
70 Dazzy Vance
65 Orel Hershiser
62 Don Sutton
56 Burleigh Grimes
53 Ramon Martinez
49 Charlie Hough
45 Oscar Jones
43 Chad Billingsley
40 Darren Dreifort
38 Jeff Weaver

Drysdale’s spot on the chart might be the least surprising piece of trivia you’ll see for some time, but even Drysdale would have to tip his hat to McIntire, who hit a better nearly every other game for Brooklyn (179 games in all). And Park amassed his total in even fewer innings than McIntire.

The Plunkees
73 Zack Wheat
72 Jackie Robinson
52 Andre Ethier
52 Alex Cora
47 Carl Furillo
43 Ron Cey
41 Willie Davis
39 Whitey Alperman
37 Lou Johnson
37 Jake Daubert
36 Bill Russell
35 Mark Grudzielanek

Yep, that’s Andre Ethier quietly bruising his way up the list — with his next HBP, he’ll become the franchise’s all-time leader in Los Angeles. Ethier tied Cora when Chase Anderson nailed him on June 13, immediately after a Matt Kemp home run. Ethier earned 25 percent of his total in one season — 2009, while Cora set the Los Angeles single-season record with 18 in 2004.

Wheat got his Dodger-leading total in 18 seasons; Robinson came within one despite playing only 10 years in Brooklyn. Cora, somewhat amazingly, averaged an HBP every 13.1 games, while Sweet Lou was soured every 10.5 games as a Dodger.

* * *

Dodger team historian Mark Langill is a participant in this ESPN 30 for 30 documentary short, “The High Five.” It’s a story that most Dodger fans know very well, but it never hurts to revisit.

Dodgers host Japan Night on July 30

Japan dogJoin the Dodgers as we host our annual Japan Night.

Fans will enjoy a Japanese-themed pregame, including a performance by the Japan Pom Pom Girls, a Taiko performance by LA Matsuri Taiko, an appearance by the 2013 Nisei Week Court and our National Anthem sung by 2011 Nisei Week Queen Erika Olsen.

In addition, stop by the Right Field Plaza before the game to learn how to make origami.

Special food items will be available for Japan night, including the Teriyaki Dog: a beef dog with Japanese mayo, teriyaki sauce, caramelized onions and nori seaweed, located at the Extreme Loaded Dodger Dog stand. Sushi, Sapporo and Kirin Frozen Draft are also available at select areas of the ballpark.

Tickets for the event are still available at www.dodgers.com/japan. Groups of 30 or more that order in advance will receive a Hello Kitty Mini Bobblehead.  If interested in bringing a group, contact (323) 224-1421.

— Afton Kurth

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Happy 100th birthday, Eleanor Wigley

Last year, Dodgers Magazine profiled Eleanor Wigley, who had a special trip to Dodger Stadium shortly before her 99th birthday. Well today, Eleanor is officially 100. Congratulations and all our best birthday wishes!

— Jon Weisman

(Click images below to enlarge.)

Wigley 1 (more…)

Morning thoughts on Beckett, Gonzalez, Perez, League, Puig, Kemp and Uribe

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates

For more Tuesday highlights from Jon SooHoo, visit LA Photog Blog.

By Jon Weisman

Man, the Dodgers have packed a lot of wild baseball into this week, and we’re still two days away from this weekend’s series at San Francisco. Here are some off-the-cuff thoughts about the past three nights.

* * *

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh PiratesJosh Beckett had a rough return from the disabled list in Tuesday’s 12-7 loss at Pittsburgh, allowing four runs in 3 2/3 innings, including three doubles and two home runs. He hasn’t had this rough an outing since … the last time he came off the disabled list, on April 9, when he allowed four earned runs in four innings, including two doubles and one home run.

Beckett then went on to have a 1.99 ERA in his next 99 2/3 innings. So maybe let’s give him a bit longer before we raise the white flag on his season.

I’m not much on treating correlation as causation, and I’m 100 percent against the designated hitter. But in Beckett’s case, he might be getting on base too much for his own good. So far in July, Beckett has come to the plate seven times. He has three doubles, a walk and reached second base on an error, and by his own admission seemed to aggravate his hip condition running to third base in his last game before the All-Star Break.

* * *

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh PiratesAdrian Gonzalez hit his 250th career homer Tuesday, as Lee Sinins notes at Gammons Daily, and his first since July 1. Gonzalez has been one of the victims of an increased use of defensive shifts by MLB teams in 2014, a trend so dramatic that Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci is proposing rules to ban them. He makes a lengthy case, but I disagree strongly with the idea that teams should be penalized for innovation.

The response, essentially, should be for batters to counter-innovate.We’ve seen Gonzalez do that a bit in recent weeks, by trying to go the other way, though it’s reasonable to wonder whether the challenge of the shift has affected Gonzalez’s power production. That being said, Gonzalez has been strong overall since the All-Star Game, going 8 for 19 with two doubles, the home run, three walks and a sacrifice fly, for a 1.162 OPS.

* * *

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh PiratesThe Gonzalez homer, later followed by a Scott Van Slyke pinch-hit blast, was the Dodgers’ eighth of the month and first since July 9, ending a streak of 317 plate appearances without one.

The Dodgers hadn’t had a two-homer game since Independence Day, and haven’t hit three homers in a game since June 17.

Still, they managed to go 5-3 in their recent eight homerless games.

* * *

So, Chris Perez. No one would deny that was a brutal outing Tuesday, when Perez became the first Dodger reliever since 1988 to walk four consecutive batters, as Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes. It ended — with a thud — a stretch in which Perez had faced 37 batters over eight games and allowed only 10 to reach base, for a .496 opponents’ OPS, while stranding one of six inherited baserunners.

Few probably remember now that Perez began the year even hotter, facing 45 batters in his first 14 games and allowing only nine to reach base, for a .380 opponents’ OPS. Perez has been having some extreme fluctuations in batting average on balls in play this season:

.161 March 22-May 1
.444 May 2-June 15
.179 June 16-July 21

Perez walked more batters in the eighth inning Tuesday than he had in his previous eight games.

* * *

Brandon League has been the best reliever in the National League most of this year in inducing double-play grounders. When he relieved Perez with the bases loaded and the Dodgers down by two, he got two grounders — the difference being, these found holes.

Russell Martin hit a dirt-skipper to the left of an over-shifted Dee Gordon, and Ike Davis followed with a bouncer that also went between Gordon and Gonzalez. Live by the sword metaphor, die by the sword metaphor.

* * *

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh PiratesThough I’m not as breathless as others seem to be about it, I’m curious to see how the Dodgers align their outfield once Yasiel Puig returns from his hit-by-pitch injury.

There was a lot of talk about how Matt Kemp hadn’t played right field in five years, but people were treating the position as if it were as alien to him as left field was, which wasn’t the case.

Kemp had started 131 games in right field before this season. He had started eight games in left before this season. The clamor to move Kemp to center field began largely as a consequence of Andruw Jones’ struggles there in 2008, and the appearance that Kemp, who looked natural in right, could adapt to center. It doesn’t surprise me that Kemp’s appearances in right field have seemingly had a homecoming aspect to them.

Puig’s arm still probably plays best in right field, though it might make sense for the Dodgers in the short term to move him to center and just warn the corner outfielders to stay out of his way.  The answer isn’t obvious.

* * *

Los Angeles Dodgers at Pittsburgh PiratesHave people even noticed that Juan Uribe has hit .295 in the 78 at-bats he’s had since his return from the disabled list four weeks ago? It has been a quiet .295, with two doubles, a home run and four walks, but that’s been alongside his fine fielding, with 50 assists compared with two errors in nearly 180 innings.

For the year, Uribe has what we’ll call a 26.2 assist-to-turnover ratio, topped in the National League by only Atlanta’s Chris Johnson (31.5) and San Francisco’s Pablo Sandoval (30.3).

In terms of advanced measurements of overall defensive performance, with Chase Headley gone from San Diego to the Bronx, Uribe is now the No. 1 defensive third baseman in the National League, according to Fangraphs, and it’s not that close. And thanks to Justin Turner, the Dodgers are the best as a team defensively at third base.

* * *

Slugfest update: Tuesday’s game was the seventh of the year for the Dodgers in which they scored and allowed at least six runs. The Dodgers are 3-4 in those games, and as you can see, seven has not been particularly lucky for them.

6-7 April 9 vs. Detroit
8-6 April 13 at Arizona
8-6 April 19 vs. Arizona
9-7 May 3 at Miami
7-18 May 17 at Arizona
7-8 July 5 at Colorado
7-12 July 22 at Pittsburgh

Dodgers activate Beckett, option Rodriguez

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Justin Turner, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Andre Ethier, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Josh Beckett, P

By Jon Weisman

Josh Beckett has officially come off the disabled list and will start for the Dodgers today, with Paco Rodriguez returning to Triple-A Albuquerque.

Making his first start since July 6 after spending the minimum 15 days on the DL because of a left hip impingement, Beckett is fourth among National League pitchers in ERA (2.26) and opponents’ batting average (.203). He has pitched shutout ball in four of his past six starts, though his last before the DL totaled only five innings in Colorado.

In 12 starts since May 8, Beckett has a 1.92 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 75 innings against 80 baserunners, averaging 6 1/3 innings per start.

Rodriguez pitched back-to-back games July 18-19 on his recent callup, retiring the four batters he faced with 16 pitches, on three fly balls and a strikeout.

LGBT Night Out at Dodger Stadium set for August 22

lgbt275x117By Jon Weisman

The second annual LGBT Night Out at Dodger Stadium will take place at the August 22 game against the Mets, the Dodgers announced.

mary_lambert275x344LGBT Night Out at Dodger Stadium will feature a special performance of the national anthem by Mary Lambert (pictured), as well as a celebrity first pitch and more. The evening will conclude Friday Night Fireworks, with music by DJ Manny Lehman.

“Baseball recently showed the importance of inclusion at the All-Star Game with the hiring of former Dodger Billy Bean as its ambassador,” said Dodger executive vice president and chief marketing officer Lon Rosen.  “We look forward to once again welcoming and recognizing the LGBT community of Los Angeles to Dodger Stadium.  They are an integral part of this great city of ours and the Dodger community.”

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Dee Gordon wins Heart and Hustle Award

By Jon Weisman

Dee Gordon was named the Dodgers’ 2014 Heart and Hustle Award winner by the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association.

The award is designed to honor active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and tradition of the game. It’s the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players.

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Ties go to the NL

Dodgers at Pirates, 4:05 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Justin Turner, SS
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Matt Kemp, RF
Andre Ethier, CF
Carl Crawford, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Hyun-Jin Ryu, P
Note: Josh Beckett is expected to be activated from the disabled list to start Tuesday.

By Jon Weisman

You could say there are some close divisional races in the National League:

West
.551 54-44 San Francisco
.550 55-45 Los Angeles

Central
.545 54-45 Milwaukee
.545 54-45 St. Louis

East
.552 53-43 Washington
.551 54-44 Atlanta

Pittsburgh (52-46) and Cincinnati (51-47) are within 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 games of the NL Central lead, meaning that eight teams can call themselves top contenders for the five playoff spots in the NL.

* * *

Here’s the updated list of all-time pitcher leaders in stolen bases for the Dodgers in Los Angeles, courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com:

Pitcher SB

Dodgers don’t believe HBPs were intentional, but they’re still fed up


By Jon Weisman

Intentional? No. Irresponsible? That’s another story.

That was the sentiment from the Dodgers after Sunday’s roller-coaster 4-3 victory.

Adrian Gonzalez, who had the game-winning hit Sunday for the Dodgers, starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw and manager Don Mattingly talked about the key events.

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Emotional rescue: Dodger victory a big relief but could be costly

HanleyBy Jon Weisman

In their most emotional game of 2014, the Dodgers prevailed over St. Louis on Sunday, 4-3.

It was a game in which 2013 National League Championship Series hit-by-pitch victim Hanley Ramirez was drilled two more times by Cardinal pitchers, a day after Yasiel Puig was knocked out of action by an HBP. The latest one, which came in the ninth inning that saw the Dodgers deliver the tiebreaking run, looked serious enough to sideline Ramirez himself, but we’re awaiting reports as this was being published.

Ramirez was hit by an 0-2 pitch, which is a count that I’ve always found exonerated the pitcher (in this case, Trevor Rosenthal) from intent. You’re just too close to an out, especially in a tie game in the ninth, to give up a base voluntarily. It’s the same reason that I never felt Zack Greinke was trying to hit Carlos Quentin with his 1-2 pitch in early 2013.

Many Dodger fans online might not agree. In any case, the damage the Cardinal pitchers have been inflicting in the past nine months has been fairly ridiculous, which is why you can imagine Matt Holliday couldn’t have been too surprised by Clayton Kershaw’s first HBP of the year to start the bottom of the fourth.

Kershaw, whose efforts included his first career stolen base, eliminated Holliday from the basepaths on his very next pitch, thanks to a 4-6-3 double play, and seemed thoroughly in control, taking a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth. But Matt Carpenter, a thorn in his side with an 11-pitch at-bat in NLCS Game 6 last October, worked a 10-pitch walk, and the next batter, Peter Bourjos, hit a game-tying homer.

That evened the game and left Kershaw (seven innings, six hits, one walk, eight strikeouts) with a no-decision after winning eight consecutive starts. The tie was broken in the ninth by Adrian Gonzalez, who stranded two runners with two out in the seventh but this time delivered an RBI single that scored Miguel Rojas, pinch-running after A.J. Ellis led off the inning with a double.

Kenley Jansen retired the side in order on 12 pitches to close out the game.

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