By Jon Weisman
There’s so much going so well with the Dodgers that it’s hard to now where to begin, but I want to focus on a 23-minute stretch about midway through Sunday’s game.
- 2:41 p.m.: With the bases loaded, two out and the Dodgers leading, 2-0, in the bottom of the fifth, the red-hot Adrian Gonzalez fouls out.
- 2:44 p.m.: Brandon McCarthy, who had walked two batters in his first 17 innings of the season, free-passes pinch-hitter Rafael Ynoa on five pitches leading off the top of the sixth.
- 2:47 p.m.: Charlie Blackmon strokes a vintage hit-and-run single to left field, putting runners at the corners with sluggers Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki coming next.
Just give baseball six minutes, and it gives you the whirl. Like a thumb to the nose, we were humbled with how quickly fortunes can turn. Six-game winning streak, sizzling hitters, authoritative pitching can vanish just like that.
So, sit down and prepare yourself for what came next …
- 2:49 p.m.: Gonzalez pops out to short.
- 2:52 p.m.: Tulowitzki hits a comebacker to McCarthy, who turns to start a 1-6-3 inning-ending double play.
- 2:54 p.m.: Rockies reliever Scott Oberg enters and takes his warmup pitches.
- 2:56 p.m.: Howie Kendrick hits a 411-foot homer to dead center.
- 2:59 p.m.: Andre Ethier walks.
- 3:01 p.m.: Justin Morneau reaches up for Scott Van Slyke’s foul pop-up between home and first, and the ball bounces off the back of his glove for an error.
- 3:02 p.m.: Van Slyke hits a 400-foot homer to left.
- 3:04 p.m.: Joc Pederson hits a 416-foot homer to right center.
In less than the time it takes to get through a sitcom, the Dodgers turned a melodrama into a laugher, and ultimately a 7-0 final for their seventh straight victory.
The Dodgers had seven doubles, one shy of the team’s Los Angeles record but plenty to help them take a firm lead among National League teams, to go with their top ranking in adjusted OPS, OPS, slugging percentage and on-base percentage. The three homers also gave them 17 to push them past the Phillies for the top spot in that category.
Gonzalez’s season-long hitting streak came to an end, but the Dodgers racked up 14 hits without him — 10 for extra bases, including three doubles by Turner and a homer and two doubles for Van Slyke.
Meanwhile, Dodger pitching held the NL’s No. 2 offensive team to six runs in three games, with McCarthy separating himself from the homerific woes of his first two starts. Threat in the sixth inning aside, the tall righty cruised through six innings on 92 pitches, striking out six to give him 25 in 18 innings this year. Only Clayton Kershaw has more among MLB pitchers.
Adam Liberatore pitched two perfect innings and Juan Nicasio a shutout ninth to extend the Dodger bullpen’s homestand dominance to 20 1/3 innings with one run allowed (on 14 baserunners) and 28 strikeouts.
Quite a half-hour, quite an afternoon, quite a homestand. The Dodgers next travel to San Francisco to play the Giants, who trail them by six games in the NL West after two weeks.
By Jon Weisman
You’re looking at the performance of the Dodger bullpen at home this week. The offense has carried the Dodgers, scoring at least five runs in every game, but by not making news at the end of the game, the bullpen is worthy of its own headline.
On the current homestand, Dodger relievers have held opposing batters to a .105 batting average, .190 on-base percentage and .123 slugging percentage in 63 plate appearances. In 17 1/3 innings, they have given up one run, on six walks, six singles and a double — while striking out 25.
The bullpen is also well-rested heading into today’s series finale with Colorado. No reliever has worked consecutive days since Wednesday. Only one has thrown more than 20 pitches in a game since Tuesday, and that was Pedro Baez, who has had three days off since throwing 25 pitches. With another off day Monday, all relievers should be primed for the team’s first trip to San Francisco next week.
It hasn’t hurt that they’ve been efficient. Since Wednesday, the bullpen has completed 9 1/3 innings on 134 pitches, or 14.4 pitches per inning.
Admittedly, Dodger relievers won’t remain quite this dominant — a 0.52 ERA is asking a but much — and the off days will become far less frequent, but they do have a couple of things to look forward to: getting a little more length out of their starting pitchers, and the return in the next few weeks of Kenley Jansen.
For more photos from Friday, visit LA Photog Blog.
By Jon Weisman
A quick stack of news and notes …
- Today is the 65th anniversary of Vin Scully’s first Dodger broadcast.
- Maury Wills is being inducted into the Washington D.C. Sports Hall of Fame on Sunday.
- David Huff is back with Oklahoma City after clearing waivers and accepting an assignment there.
- Adam Liberatore, called up before Friday’s game, pitched a perfect inning in his MLB debut.
- Yasiel Puig is back in the Dodger lineup, but Carl Crawford is battling the flu. Taking Crawford’s place is Andre Ethier, who is 7 for 20 with three walks and three extra-base hits this season, for a 1.091 OPS.
- Zack Greinke takes the hill tonight with a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings, with eight baserunners against 11 strikeouts.
- Kenley Jansen threw off a mound today for the first time since his February foot surgery.
- The year’s first Viva Los Dodgers (presented by State Farm and Time Warner Cable) will take place at 11 a.m. at the historic 76 station behind center field. If it’s warm out there, blame the red-hot Dodger slugger Adrian Gonzalez, who will make a special appearance from 11-11:30 a.m. to officially launch his community program, Adrian Gonzalez’s Viva Los Dodgers Days. Manny Mota will sign autographs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m., and musical entertainment will be provided by Latin Grammy-nominated Trio Ellas and Mexican regional artist Jesus Mendoza.
- In addition, mega-DJ Steve Aoki will be at Dodger Stadium on Sunday for a pregame performance.
By Jon Weisman
On Friday, Mike Bolsinger extended to 11 his streak of scoreless innings to start 2015. He has allowed three hits and three walks while striking out 17.
Zach Lee has given up but one run and eight baserunners in 12 innings, with 13 strikeouts. Scott Baker’s ERA is 1.80.
As a team, the Dodgers’ new Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City has a 2.79 ERA with 104 strikeouts against 90 baserunners in 83 innings.
It’s still the Pacific Coast League, but it’s definitely not the high-flyin’ altitude of Albuquerque, where the Isotopes in 2014 had a team ERA that was more than double (5.83).
The OKC Dodgers played their first eight games of the season at a home ballpark that is far more friendly to pitchers than Albuquerque fans could ever imagine.
That’s not to minimize what the OKC Dodgers are doing at the outset of the season — that their 2.71 ERA leads the Pacific Coast League isn’t entirely the ballpark’s doing. Bolsinger’s five scoreless innings Friday came in the team’s road debut, a 3-2 victory over Iowa in which Oklahoma City allowed seven baserunners and struck out 14. But as time passes this season, we need to remember a different set of standards now applies to evaluating Dodger Triple-A pitchers statistically.
Similarly, the forgiveness typically directed toward Isotope pitchers might now be reapportioned toward the batters of Oklahoma City, who have the fourth-worst OPS in the PCL. Individual results vary wildly, from Buck Britton’s 11-for-28 start with six walks (1.036 OPS) down to Scott Schebler’s .379 OPS.
By Jon Weisman
I guess you could be bothered that Clayton Kershaw allowed two home runs tonight and lasted but six innings.
Or, you can be pleased that Clayton Kershaw allowed one earned run on seven baserunners in six innings and struck out 12.
I can’t really tell you what to do. I can only tell you what I’d recommend.
After leaving for a pinch-hitter with the Dodgers leading 6-3 in the bottom of the sixth, Kershaw has an ERA with the uncharacteristic swell of 4.42, but he held the No. 3 offense in the National League so far this year almost entirely at bay.
Striking out six of the first 10 batters he faced over three innings, while the Dodgers built a 3-0 lead, Kershaw next allowed a home run to top Colorado hitter Troy Tulowitzki. He then sandwiched a wild pitch between two singles, benefiting from Andre Ethier throwing out Corey Dickerson at the plate — giving the Dodgers an assist from each outfield position this week.
The defense had the opposite effect on Kershaw in the next inning (which began with the Dodgers ahead, 4-1), when Adrian Gonzalez’s error allowed Drew Stubbs to reach first leading off the fifth. Kershaw then struck out the next two batters, but on the ninth pitch of the next at-bat, Charlie Blackmon homered to right.
Two more Rockies reached base in the sixth inning before Kershaw put a stop to their mischief, striking out Dickerson and Stubbs.
So it was a peccable evening, but not alarming. He allowed two homers, but that’s happened eight previous times during his run of Cy Youngs since 2011. Meanwhile, Kershaw has 26 strikeouts in his first 18 1/3 innings this year.
He has allowed 22 hits this year, but that’s with opponents batting .413 on balls in play against him. Something tells me he’s not going to remain that unlucky.
So I say be pleased.
By Jon Weisman
As Clayton Kershaw takes the mound for the start that will either launch or evaporate the “What’s wrong with Clayton Kershaw?” questions, it’s worth taking a moment to note how much the offense has keyed the Dodgers’ 6-3 start.
A dozen days into the National League season, Los Angeles leads the NL in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS, home runs and weighted on-base average (wOBA).
It’s not only Adrian Gonzalez, though he has definitively led the way. Joc Pederson, Howie Kendrick, Yasiel Puig and Jimmy Rollins are off to above-average starts, along with Alex Guerrero, Andre Ethier and Scott Van Slyke off the bench. (Puig is missing his third straight start, by the way, with a tender hamstring.)
The Dodgers have scored at least five runs in six of nine games in 2014 (winning all six) and at least three runs in all but one. They’re averaging 4.6 runs per game.
By Jon Weisman
It isn’t really like this, but you might imagine the Dodger front office setting up a game of musical chairs where, instead of taking a chair away each time a player sits down, they simply keep the chairs where they are, remove the excess player and replace him with another — each one in theory slightly more valuable than the last.
The latest exchange happened today with the Dodgers designating for assignment pitcher Ryan Dennick, whom they claimed only 48 hours ago, to make room on the 40-man roster for another erstwhile member of the Reds organization, Daniel Corcino.
Corcino, 24, had a 4.13 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 113 strikeouts against 209 baserunners in 143 2/3 innings for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos in 2014. That included 74 walks and 16 batters hit by pitches. Corcino also had a 4.34 ERA in 18 2/3 innings for the Reds in his first big-league action late in the season, striking out 15, walking 10 and pitch-hitting one.
Thursday’s inaugural Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation Blue Diamond Gala was quite an event, combining the spectacle of players as Ted Baker fashion models with the sincere commitment to raising funds to benefit the wide-ranging efforts of the LADF.
— Jon Weisman
By Cary Osborne
One week into the minor league season, we bring back our weekly minor league report. At the bottom, you’ll see how the Dodgers’ top 10 prospects have done so far.
There have been many happy returns from names we expect to hear from — Seager, Urias, Anderson, De Leon — and from others who are looking to brand themselves as prospects in 2015.
So, right to the report …
By Jon Weisman
The Dodgers made a triangle of roster moves today, designating Tuesday starter David Huff for assignment, recalling Carlos Frias from Triple-A Oklahoma City and claiming lefty reliever Ryan Dennick from the Reds for Double-A Tulsa.
Huff had no options, so he couldn’t be sent back to the minor leagues. If he clears waivers, he could potentially rejoin the organization.
Knowing that Juan Nicasio would be needed for extended work behind Huff on Tuesday, the Dodgers planned the addition of Frias, who pitched 5 1/3 innings for Oklahoma City on April 8, as a long reliever. Frias could start for the Dodgers on April 25, the next time they’re scheduled to need a fifth starter, but the team hasn’t committed to that.
Dennick, who turned 28 in January, had a 2.36 ERA for Triple-A Louisville last season with 39 strikeouts against 61 baserunners in 49 2/3 innings. He also surrendered six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings while making his MLB debut for the Reds in September.