Fresh out of the box: Clayton chewables

So, what’s new with Clayton Kershaw?

  • He pitched his second complete game in a row — a 2-1 victory (the Dodgers’ sixth in a row) over Atlanta that was a shutout for the first 26 outs.
  • In tonight’s game, he struck out nine, walked none and allowed no fly outs to the outfield. None.
  • He has a 1.71 ERA in 2014.
  • He has allowed 12 earned runs in his past 99 innings. Taking out my trusty abacus … that’s a 1.09 ERA.
  • In his past 506 innings, dating back to June 2012, Kershaw’s ERA is 1.99.

– Jon Weisman

Matt Kemp has been building to his moment for a long time

Braves at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Kershaw CXCIX: Kershawr Town
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Matt Kemp, RF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Clayton Kershaw, P

By Jon Weisman

No silver bullet explains why Matt Kemp has started to look more and more like the elite player of his peak.

He’s feeling healthier, but not the way he was in his near-MVP 2011 season. He’s in a good place at the plate, but he still feels he needs to get better.

By now, Kemp knows too well the ups and downs of baseball, so he’s hardly kicking back and saying his comeback is complete.

“Baseball’s not easy,” Kemp said today. “It’s been a rough couple of years. I’m still trying to get all the way back. I’m not done. Still got lots of work to do.” (more…)

Looking at the Dodgers’ success at recent trade deadlines

BOSTON RED SOX AT LOS ANGELES DODGERS

By Cary Osborne

The Dodgers have been active in recent history at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, and despite dealing away prospects — sometimes top-10 prospects — those trades haven’t come back to bite them. No Doyle Alexanders for John Smoltz here. In examining trade deadline deals since 2010, the Dodgers have been pretty dead on in knowing who to trade and when to trade those prospects.

(more…)

Take it to the 10th: Dodgers win in extra-ordinary circumstances

By Jon Weisman

Matt Kemp is having a week.

With a game-winning RBI single in the bottom of the 10th tonight, Kemp drove the Dodgers to their fifth victory in a row, 3-2 over Atlanta, and extended his recent dominance.

Kemp is 6 for 8 with three home runs, four runs and six RBI in his past two games. He now has a .353 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage this season.

Following a best-in-his-Dodger career 13 strikeouts in eight innings from Zack Greinke and two runs from Kemp — one in the second inning on his latest homer, the other by racing from second to home on a Juan Uribe infield single to break a 1-1 tie in the eighth, the Dodgers were within three outs of a tidy 2-1 win.

But then Kenley Jansen allowed his first run in 14 games to start the bottom of the ninth, a home run by Justin Upton. Consequently, the Dodgers found themselves playing their first extra-inning game at Dodger Stadium since May 11.

Atlanta threatened in the 10th, but shot itself in the foot when J.P. Howell picked Jordan Schafer off second base with one out.

And then came Kemp. Again.

Victory march: What comes after four?

Braves at Dodgers, 7:10 p.m.
Dee Gordon, 2B
Yasiel Puig, CF
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B
Hanley Ramirez, SS
Matt Kemp, RF
Scott Van Slyke, LF
Juan Uribe, 3B
A.J. Ellis, C
Zack Greinke, P

By Jon Weisman

So now that the Dodgers have won four games in a row, I’m guessing the next thing you want is five. You fans, you’re so incorrigible.

Well, the last time the Dodgers won five games in a row, they won six. That was from August 28 to September 3, completing the team’s bold 53-13 run from 30-42 (and 9 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West) to 83-55.

This year’s Dodgers — whom, it should be noted, haven’t been below .500 all season — are 28-16 (.636) since falling 9 1/2 games behind San Francisco. Earlier today, the Giants ended their six-game losing streak by rallying to defeat Pittsburgh, 7-5.

Elsewhere …

  • Trivia: Who are the three Dodgers this year with more triples than home runs? Answer below.
  • Don Mattingly told reporters today that after Zack Greinke pitches today and Clayton Kershaw on Thursday, he plans to start Dan Haren on Friday — Haren’s first start since July 23. Hyun-Jin Ryu on Saturday will pitch on five days’ rest.
  • A well-timed article by Daniel Brim of Dodgers Digest before Tuesday’s game: “Matt Kemp’s Offense Is Not the Problem.”
  • Brim also looked at Kenley Jansen’s increased and effective use of the slider.
  • How dominant is Clayton Kershaw? Answer No. 4,123,259: Kershaw has a higher on-base percentage while batting than he has allowed while pitching.
  • Answer No. 4,123,260: “I’ve never been around anyone who is as consistent as Clayton,” A.J. Ellis told John Perrotto of Sports on Earth. “He would be a great character actor, because he would never come out of character.”
  • Here’s a close inspection of Yasiel Puig’s three triples Friday, from Steven Silverman at Beyond the Box Score.
  • Trivia answer: Dee Gordon (10 triples, two homers), Andre Ethier (five triples, four homers), Miguel Olivo (one triple, zero homers).

Dodger minor league report 16.5 — Better than O’K and Rancho risers

O'Koyea Dickson

O’Koyea Dickson

By Cary Osborne

Alex Guerrero finally returned to Albuquerque after a two-month absence, and Dodger GM Ned Colletti said this week the Dodgers should expect his arrival “by September.” Guys not quite as ready — Chattanooga’s O’Koyea Dickson and a pair of Rancho risers — have picked things up recently and deserve some notice. We give it to them in the following:

Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)

Thus far: 53-58, 8 1/2 games out of first place in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division

Broken record, but we have to start with Joc Pederson, who has homered four times in the last week to raise his total to 23 on the season. Against Fresno on July 24, he hit a grand slam.

Pederson has done well against right-handers and left-handers this season. Against righties, he has a slash line of .333/.477/.607 with 13 homers, and against lefties he’s at .299/.405/.567 with 10 homers.

Guerrero returned to his first action in Albuquerque in two months when he played at Reno on July 26. In his four games since returning, he is 4-for-15 with all singles.

This past weekend, the staff at MLB Pipeline revealed its revised Top Prospects list for each organization. After not appearing on the preseason Top 20 list, 24-year-old Isotopes pitcher Carlos Frias cracked it this time around at No. 18.

Here’s their report: (more…)

In case you missed it: Dodgers designate Scott Elbert for assignment

LOS ANGELES DODGERS VS MILWAUKEE BREWERSBy Jon Weisman

Scott Elbert will be 29 next month, and he has spent the past 10 years in the Dodger organization since being drafted in the first round in 2004. On Tuesday, the Dodgers designated Elbert for assignment, temporarily halting his bid to come back from multiple surgeries since his last Major League appearance in August 2012.

Elbert’s rehab this summer has taken him to Ogden, Rancho Cucamonga and Albuquerque, together adding up to 12 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts while allowing nine hits and seven walks. In his final two Major League seasons with the Dodgers, Elbert had a 2.32 ERA from 2011-12 with 63 strikeouts in 66 innings against 54 hits and 27 walks.

Elbert could return to the Dodger organization if he isn’t traded, clears waivers and accepts a minor-league assignment.

LIVE VIDEO: Vin Scully talks about his 2015 return to the Dodgers

Live online today, you can watch Vin Scully’s media availability to discuss his return to the Dodgers for the 2015 season. The presser is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m.

— Jon Weisman

Dodgers option Darwin Barney to Albuquerque, send Jonathan Martinez to Chicago

The Dodgers have optioned newly acquired Darwin Barney to Triple-A Albuquerque and completed their trade for the infielder by sending Single-A Great Lakes right-hander Jonathan Martinez to the Cubs.

The 20-year-old Martinez has a 3.47 ERA in 19 starts this year, with 91 strikeouts in 106 1/3 innings against 129 baserunners.

— Jon Weisman

Vin Scully on taking Route 66: ‘I wanted to wear Yasiel Puig’s jersey’

Vin and Sandi Scully, 2012 (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

Sandi and Vin Scully, 2012 (Jon SooHoo/Los Angeles Dodgers)

By Jon Weisman

So why did Vin Scully choose to come back to the Dodgers in 2015 for his record-setting 66th season?

“I wanted to wear Yasiel Puig’s jersey,” Scully joked to SportsNet LA’s Alanna Rizzo.

“No, the big reason I think is that I’ve had such a long, enduring love affair with the game, but more than that, I just could not say goodbye. I talked to so many people, most of whom — the majority — have said, ‘Whatever you do, don’t retire.’

“And so … I talked to (my wife) Sandi, being the sweetheart that she is. She said, ‘If that’s what you want, go to it. And so as I said at the outset, ‘I’m gonna be back, please God, and we’ll see about the fun and joy of next year.’

Scully added that he didn’t want to overemphasize the role that his wife played in the decision. It’s a partnership.

“The one thing I know Sandi is very sensitive about, if I talk about it, is that she doesn’t want to let people think that she’s making a decision as to whether (I come back). But we try to do everything together that we possibly can. And I’ve been enriched by the fact that she’s been coming to more games — sitting in the booth — and I’ve loved that.

“We sat and we thought, ‘OK, let’s try it one more time at least,’ and so, here we go again.

Scully said the Dodgers’ winning or losing did not affect his decision, making clear that “it’s the people” who mean the most to him.

“It’s really my home away from home,” he said. “And that’s one of the things I’ve tried to do — is to have Sandi come and share some of the experiences, meet some of the really nice people.

“I don’t get involved with the players anymore, like I used to. One big reason is that they insist on calling me ‘Mr.’ When they do that, it’s like putting a wall up,” he joked. “It’s just such a lovely, wonderful place for me to be, and we’ll try it again, God willing.”

As for his listeners, Scully noted that he never uses the word “fans,” deliberately choosing to say “friends.”

“They’ve been so good to me,” he said. “They’ve been so generous with their understanding. I have had some pain in my life, and they have stood right by me. Everything about them, absolutely idyllic — they have made this a marvelous, marvelous place to be.”

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