By Jon Weisman
You could say there are some close divisional races in the National League:
.551 54-44 San Francisco
.550 55-45 Los Angeles
.545 54-45 Milwaukee
.545 54-45 St. Louis
.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:
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.
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.
By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers will score again.
I know it doesn’t look like the Dodgers will score again, but the Dodgers will score again. Because teams always score again.
But, it has been a bit of a dry spell for the offense.
Los Angeles has gone seven straight games without scoring more than three runs, one of their longest streaks since the team last won a World Series in 1988.
11 June 26-July 6, 1989 (2-9)
9 July 23-August 1, 2003 (2-7)
8 September 4-13, 2012 (1-7)
8 June 23-30, 2012 (1-7)
8 July 21-29, 2010 (5-3)*
8 August 19-26, 2008 (1-7)
8 May 8-15, 2002 (3-5)
8 June 7-15, 1992 (2-6)
7 July 9-19, 2014 (3-4)
7 August 9-15, 1997 (3-4)
7 July 7-11, 1992 (2-5)
7 April 28-May 10, 1992 (1-6)
7 April 11-17, 1989 (2-5)
*From July 21-27, 2010, the Dodgers scored 11 runs in six games — and went 5-1, thanks to four shutouts plus a 3-2 win.
Behind Clayton Kershaw tonight, the Dodgers could conceivably go 4-4 in eight low-scoring games, though of course they’d welcome an offensive explosion as a change of pace.
By Cary Osborne
So how do the Dodgers win this year? Of course, the simple formula is pitch well, play good defense and out-hit your opponent. But here are some revealing numbers on occurrences that usually lead to Dodger victories. So the Dodgers usually win when …
– They play NL West rivals the Diamondbacks, Rockies and Padres.
The Dodgers are 26-11 against those teams (a .703 winning percentage). They have 20 games left against those three teams.
The second-place Giants are 18-18 against those same teams. They have 20 full games left against those teams. A May 14 game with the Rockies was suspended due to rain. The score is 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning and will be completed during a three-game series in Colorado Sept. 1-3.
– They lead after six innings.
When they have the advantage going into the seventh they are 46-5 (.902). If they trail after six innings they are 1-35 (.027). If they trail after seven they are 0-34. After eight they are 0-36.
- They don’t make an error.
In those games, the Dodgers are 34-21 (.618).
– They score more than three runs.
They are 41-11 (.788) when scoring three runs or more. Score three or less and the Dodgers are 13-33 (.283).
– They outhit their opponent.
They are 36-5 (.878) when they outhit their opponent.
– Hanley Ramirez knocks in a run.
In games that Ramirez knocks in a run, the Dodgers are 23-9 (.719).
– Adrian Gonzalez knocks in a run.
The Dodgers are 28-14 (.667) when Gonzalez has at least one RBI.
– Dee Gordon scores.
The Dodgers are 29-12 (.707) when Gordon scores at least one run.
Photo by Jon SooHoo/©Los Angeles Dodgers, LLC (2014)
By Jon Weisman
One big concern with Paco Rodriguez in 2013 was whether he was burned out by the time September arrived. That was the conclusion almost everyone seemed to draw when his otherwise sterling season fell apart with a 5.68 ERA and 2.211 WHIP in the regular season’s final month, followed by a rough and abbreviated postseason.
Cause or correlation, it made me curious how much more rested Rodriguez will be after this year’s All-Star Break compared to last year. (Note: MLB and minor-league work is combined here.) (more…)
The Dodgers activated Justin Turner from the disabled list before tonight’s game at St. Louis and optioned Carlos Triunfel.
Turner has been out since June 28 with a left hamstring strain. He has a .406 on-base percentage and .513 slugging percentage in 128 plate appearances since May 1.
– Jon Weisman
By Cary Osborne
Paco Rodriguez was recalled on Friday from Triple-A Albuquerque and joins the Dodgers in St. Louis as they resume play after the All-Star Break.
The Cardinals have four regulars in their lineup who bat left-handed: Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, Kolten Wong and Jon Jay.
Rodriguez had a 4.56 ERA (13 ER/25 2/3 innings) in 29 appearances with the Isotopes this year, limiting opponents to a .242 batting average with 34 strikeouts and 14 walks.
He limited left-handers to a .231 batting average in Albuquerque and most recently pitched on July 11 and tossed a scoreless inning. Righties are hitting .255 against him.
The 23-year-old made the Dodgers’ Opening Day roster and allowed five runs in seven innings (6.43 ERA) in 10 appearances during two previous stints with Los Angeles this season. He has a 3-5 career record with two saves and a 2.65 ERA in 97 big league games.
A roster spot was available after the Dodgers optioned Pedro Baez to Albuquerque on Monday.
Photo: Jon SooHoo, Los Angeles Dodgers
By Cary Osborne
Here’s where we complete the Minor League Report for the week — Great Lakes, Ogden, the Arizona League Dodgers and the Dominican Summer League squad. All four teams didn’t have particularly good weeks overall, but there were bright spots. Really good news is the return of Alex Guerrero, who is rehabbing with the AZL team. We start in Midland, Mich., where the Loons have had a special team within a team — the bullpen.
Great Lakes Loons (Low-A)
Thus far: 45-51 overall; 11-15, six games out of first place in the Midwest League’s Eastern Division second-half standings
We’ve talked about it so many times in the ML Report, just how much the Loons’ bullpen has stood out. But it continues to be a major part of Great Lakes’ story this season.
Matt Campbell is the most recent addition to this story. The former Clemson closer has now pitched in 10 Loons games since being drafted in the ninth round of the June First-Year Player Draft, and he is yet to be scored upon in 13 innings. He has allowed eight baserunners and has struck out 15.
Jacob Rhame is a guy we haven’t mentioned yet, but he has been a consistent arm for the Loons with a 2.95 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and 53 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings. The 21-year-old right-hander was a 2013 sixth-rounder.
The bullpen has four guys with sub-2.30 ERAs who have pitched at least 30 innings — Victor Araujo (1.26 ERA in 50 innings), Mark Pope (1.91 ERA in 37 2/3 innings), Michael Johnson (2.09 ERA in 43 innings) and Jordan Hershiser (2.25 ERA in 32 innings).
The Loons haven’t been hitting much of late. Their hottest bat is outfielder Alex Santana, who is 5 for his last 15 with six RBI in the last seven days. The 2011 second-rounder is slashing at .248/.317/.337 this year overall in 270 at-bats.
Ogden Raptors (Rookie League)
Thus far: 11-19, nine games out of first place in the Pioneer League’s South Division
Over the last 10 days, Devan Ahart has arguably been the top performer in the Dodger system. He is 16-for37 with four doubles. The 21-year-old outfielder was selected in the 16th round of the 2014 Draft out of Akron University. At Akron in 2014, he slashed at .311/.395/.404 with three home runs in 225 at-bats. He also stole 27 bases.
Puerto Rican right-hander Jose De Leon has continued his strong run at Ogden with a combined eight innings in his last two games, allowing no runs, five hits and two walks while striking out 12. He has struck out 43 batters in 30 2/3 innings thus far with a 3.82 ERA.
Joe Broussard, a 2014 15th rounder, has started off strong for the Raptors, with a 2.60 ERA, with 19 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings, while limiting opposing batters to a .227 average.
AZL Dodgers (Rookie League)
Thus far: 11-11, three games out of first place in the Arizona Rookie League’s Central Division standings
Guerrero is now five games into his stint with the AZL Dodgers, after missing nearly two months due to a horrific ear-biting incident in Albuquerque. He homered in his first game back on July 10 and homered again on Thursday. Overall he is 6-for-15 with six RBI. In 33 games in Albuquerque this season, he slashed at .376/.417/.735 with 10 home runs.
Outfielder Billy Bereszniewicz, a 2014 28th-round pick, got the bump to Ogden on Wednesday after going 8-for-26 with the AZL Dodgers.
Cody Bellinger, the Dodgers’ 17th-rated prospect by MLB.com, returned on July 11 to action after separating his shoulder with Ogden in mid-June. He is 3-for-20 thus far in Arizona. Before the injury, he was 3-for-7 in Ogden in two games.
Francisco Martinez, a 22-year-old Dominican right-hander, has been pretty dominant. In 19 innings, he has struck out 22 batters, held opposing hitters to a .141 average while walking just four and has allowed only two earned runs.
DSL Dodgers (Rookie League)
Thus far: 19-22, six games out of first place in the Dominican Summer League’s Northern Division standings
Left-hander Robert Fernandez, 19, has pitched 17 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings. In that span, he has allowed 11 hits, two walks and has struck out 10 batters. Overall, the Venezuelan pitcher has a 1.79 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in 45 1/3 innings.
Catcher Hendrik Clementina has been the team’s best hitter over the last seven days (7-for-18, a double and a triple). He leads the team with a .321 average (35-for-109).
Photo: Great Lakes Loons
By Jon Weisman
With the barnstormin’ Dodgers away from their fair home until July 29, this is a perfect time to take one of the newly improved Dodger Stadium behind-the-scene tours.
Or, if you can hold out, you can sign up for one of the new pregame tours at Chavez Ravine.