Dodgers Report: Rapid Reaction
August, 29, 2014
SAN DIEGO -- The Los Angeles Dodgers might have a soft schedule between now and the end of the regular season, but Friday night was a strong reminder that they can’t just throw their gloves on the field and expect to win.
The Dodgers squeezed just two runs out of 11 hits and lost 3-2 to the punchless San Diego Padres in 12 innings at Petco Park. Los Angeles tied it in the eighth on Hanley Ramirez’s home run but couldn’t score in the ninth after loading the bases.
The Padres didn’t score after the fourth inning until Yasmani Grandal’s two-out walk-off single off Kevin Correia in the 12th. The Dodgers nearly survived the inning after getting a forceout at the plate while employing a bizarre shift with four infielders -- including outfielder Andre Ethier -- on the right side of the infield.
How it happened: The Dodgers have never fared well against Andrew Cashner, who came into the game with a 1.35 ERA against them (but no wins), and the pattern continued. Cashner struck out six batters in the first three innings and, in his third start back from a DL stint for shoulder soreness, pretty much shut down the Dodgers over six innings. Dan Haren pitched well for L.A., but run support continues to be a problem when he pitches. The Dodgers have scored three runs or fewer when Haren was in the game during his last five starts.
The Padres have a strong bullpen, and the Dodgers matched them to send the game spinning into extra innings.
Hits: This has been a good time for Haren to return to his April form. Three weeks ago, it looked like Haren was in danger of losing his spot in the rotation. Instead, the veteran has turned his season around while the Dodgers are dealing with injuries elsewhere in their staff. Haren allowed two runs, one of which was unearned, in six innings and has a 2.54 ERA in his last five starts. Haren could have helped the team (and himself) a bit more if he could have handled the bat more adeptly in recent starts. He missed a squeeze bunt attempt in his previous start. On Friday, he struck out to leave Justin Turner at third with one out in the fifth; then again, it was a 97 mph Andrew Cashner fastball that got by him.
Misses: Dee Gordon had a rough evening. He made a wildly errant throw to second base that led to the Padres’ first run and went 0-for-6 at the plate. His ninth-inning at-bat was particularly punishing. The Padres’ reliever, Kevin Quackenbush, had apparently lost his command, walking A.J. Ellis and pinch hitter Scott Van Slyke to load the bases before Gordon swung at a 1-0 pitch and grounded feebly to second base. The Dodgers are batting .169 with the bases loaded this season, worst in the majors.
Stat of the game: Turner had his sixth multihit game in his last eight games. Since May 23, Turner leads the majors in hitting at .380 (minimum of 175 plate appearances).
Up next: The series continues Saturday evening at 5:40 p.m. PT. Zack Greinke (13-8, 2.79 ERA) pitches for the Dodgers, while Ian Kennedy (10-11, 3.75) goes for San Diego.
August, 26, 2014
PHOENIX – The Los Angeles Dodgers continued their demolition job on the bottom-feeding teams in the NL West -- a pretty good method for reaching the playoffs -- on Tuesday.
They defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 9-5, which gives Los Angeles 11 wins in 15 games against the Diamondbacks this year. They are 9-4 against both the San Diego Padres and Colorado Rockies, which means they’re playing .707 baseball against the three worst teams in their division.
The San Francisco Giants also won, which means the Dodgers remain five games up in the NL West.
How it happened: Roberto Hernandez wasn’t particularly sharp, judging by the five baserunners he allowed in the first two innings and the constant trouble he dodged, but he trudged through six innings and managed to confine the damage to three runs. Arizona tied it 2-2 in the second inning on Ender Inciarte’s two-run single, but the Dodgers staged a long fourth inning, bunched five straight singles and knocked Trevor Cahill out of the game.
Hits: It might be difficult for Andre Ethier to take, given that he’s the odd man out virtually every game, but the Dodgers seem to have found the right alignment of outfielders. Yasiel Puig has settled in and played strong defense in center field, for the most part, and everybody is hitting to varying extents. Crawford stayed hot with two hits and ignited the Dodgers’ big fourth inning with an RBI single to left. Kemp hit a two-run home run in the first inning to get the team off to a fast start, and Puig walked twice. Scratch one item (at least for now) off manager Don Mattingly’s things-to-stress-about list.
Misses: Hanley Ramirez is a big addition to the Dodgers’ lineup, but only if he hits. He snapped an 0-for-7 skid since his return from the disabled list when he hit a fly ball to left field that landed safely between the third baseman and left fielder, so maybe that will ignite him. He also had a nifty glove flip to nearly start a double play, but it’s well-documented that he’s not the Dodgers’ best defensive option at shortstop. How Ramirez performs these final weeks are crucial to his future and crucial to the Dodgers’ postseason fortunes.
Stat of the game: The most recent time Clayton Kershaw pitched at Chase Field, he -- amazingly -- allowed seven earned runs and was yanked in the second inning. That was back in mid-May and was just Kershaw's third start since coming off the disabled list.
Up next: If you remove that start from Kershaw’s season, he has a 1.42 ERA -- Bob Gibson-type stuff. He can’t remove it, of course, but he can make everybody forget about it with a good outing Wednesday night. Kershaw (15-3, 1.82 ERA) will be opposed by Arizona’s Wade Miley (7-9, 4.29) in a rematch of Opening Day. The game begins at 6:40 p.m. PT.
August, 24, 2014
By Andrew Kamenetzky | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- The goal at the outset of any series, even against a team now nine games below .500 such as New York Mets, is to simply come out ahead. Obviously, it’s best to get the sweep, and I imagine the Los Angeles Dodgers didn’t arrive at Chavez Ravine collectively content to rest on their laurels. Nobody enjoys being on the business end of a lopsided loss, and the Blue got handed a lulu.
But at the end of the day, they’ve maintained a healthy lead in the division despite a slew of recent injuries, and are getting progressively healthier. All things considered, life could be much worse.
How it happened: After a promising three-up, three-down first inning for starter Kevin Correia, the floodgates opened quickly, and the metaphorical water escaping could have capsized Noah’s Ark. Correia was hit hard and often to the tune of seven hits, which doesn’t sound like much, until you consider he lasted only three innings and three of those seven hits left the yard and Lucas Duda’s homer looked like it was shot from a cannon into right field. Coors Field was impressed by that dinger.
To be fair, some spotty fielding also hurt Correia, and only five of his seven runs allowed were earned. But again, that whole “dude was only on the mound for three innings” thing. For all intents and purposes, the righty threw batting practice for New York, and put his team in a deep hole from Jump Street.
Hits: Despite being 41, Bartolo Colon continues to chug along. He rendered the Dodgers largely helpless, but Adrian Gonzalez clearly didn’t get the memo that Colon was a riddle to solve. Gonzalez notched three hits in as many at-bats against the big righty. Two went for extra bases, and the single sent Dee Gordon across the plate.
Matt Kemp capitalized on Gonzalez’s first-inning double and drove in the first baseman to create an early, if ultimately fleeting, lead.
Carlos Frias can never really anticipate entering a game, much less as early as the fourth inning, to spell the shellacked Correia. The middle reliever was undoubtedly surprised to hear his number called so early, but answered the bell in mostly strong fashion. His tired (and incomplete) fourth inning of work clearly reflected one too many, but on the whole, he did a nice job.
Misses: Hanley Ramirez’s return meant, in theory, two things: more pop for an inconsistent Dodgers offense, and a left side of the field more defensively vulnerable. Take a wild guess which hypothesis came to fruition.
With men on first and second and no outs, Kemp grounded into what should have been a double play. Except it wasn’t. Suddenly, Yasiel Puig opted to round third and try to score. Maybe he forgot how many outs the Dodgers had. Maybe he was aggressively trying to cut a deep deficit. What’s for certain, however, is Puig had virtually no chance of actually being safe. Thus, the Mets’ first triple play since May 19, 2010.
Scott Van Slyke stumbled and landed on his butt while fielding Juan Lagares’ seventh-inning sacrifice fly. Who knows whether he could have otherwise gunned down Daniel Murphy, and in the grand scheme of things, does it really matter if the Dodgers lose by seven or eight? But Van Slyke looked decidedly annoyed by the mishap.
Stat of the game: 1,248 feet, otherwise known as the combined estimated distances Correia’s three allowed home runs traveled. For those doing the math at home, that’s a lotta ball flight. Although if you’re gonna get touched up, might as well go big.
What’s next: A day of rest, followed by a three-game set in Arizona against the Diamondbacks. Roberto Hernandez will open the series for the Dodgers, and he’s slated to match up against Trevor Cahill.
August, 23, 2014
By Brian Kamenetzky | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- It hasn't happened with regularity over the past few weeks, but the Los Angeles Dodgers gave their starting pitcher ample run support Saturday en route to a 7-4 win over the New York Mets. This despite fielding a lineup without third baseman Juan Uribe and shortstop Hanley Ramirez (both on the DL), along with Yasiel Puig and Uribe’s red hot replacement, Justin Turner (scheduled days off).
How it happened: Zack Greinke was given two extra days of rest after his previous start in the hopes of relieving some nagging elbow pain. Saturday's performance wasn't exactly dominant, with nine hits over seven innings against a Mets team entering the game ranked 29th in home runs, but Greinke did well limiting the damage. Overall, he gave up three earned runs (four overall), striking out four and more important showed no outward signs of discomfort over his 105 pitches.
Hits: Adrian Gonzalez entered Saturday's game in a mini-slump, with only one hit in his previous 14 at-bats, and exited it on a mini-hot streak. After striking out swinging off Mets starter Jacob deGrom in his first at-bat, Gonzalez singled home Carl Crawford in the fourth for L.A.'s first run of the night. In the fifth, after Greinke singled and Crawford walked, Gonzalez ripped a high fastball from deGrom deep into the bleachers in right center, putting the Dodgers up 5-3. Two innings later, he added a fifth RBI with a one-out sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Dee Gordon.
Misses: Despite playing a part-time role, Miguel Rojas has provided about half of the team's defensive highlights this season, but Saturday was an uncharacteristically rough evening. With a runner on first and one out in the fourth, Rojas was eaten up by a sinking liner from New York catcher Travis d'Arnaud, leaving Mets on first and second instead of starting a potential inning-ending double play. Juan Lagares followed with a three-run blast putting the visitors up 3-0. Given another shot to start a twin-killing an inning later, Rojas nearly threw the ball into right field, rescued only by a great play from second baseman Gordon (himself rescued on the turn by Gonzalez, who laid out up the first-base line to scoop the throw, still keeping his toe on the bag).
Stat of the game: 51,215. Saturday's attendance, pushing the Dodgers past the 3 million mark for the season and the 28th time in team history.
Up next: The Dodgers wrap up the series versus New York and the homestand Sunday, first pitch 1:10 p.m. PT. Kevin Correia makes his third start with the Dodgers, looking for his third win. Against the Padres on Aug. 19, he gave up three runs in the first before settling down, surrendering only one more through five, striking out six and walking only one. He'll face veteran Bartolo Colon (11-10, 3.85), who has pitched at least seven innings and given up no more than two earned runs in four of his past five starts.
August, 21, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- The bubbles were floating out of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ dugout way before Justin Turner hopped down the steps. When he got there, the party really roared to life, the players bobbing and dancing around Turner.
The Dodgers continued to celebrate their home runs in their own unique style, with their in-dugout bubble machine, and this was probably the most rollicking one yet. Turner’s two-run home run in the eighth inning of the team’s 2-1 win over the San Diego Padres on Thursday evening may have been the biggest hit of the Dodgers season thus far.
It made a winner of ace Clayton Kershaw -– who was certainly deserving in another dominant performance –- and kept the San Francisco Giants from creeping closer in the race for the NL West. The Dodgers, in fact, gained a half-game and now lead by 3 1/2.
How it happened: Kershaw, who entered the game with a 1.86 ERA, locked up in a brilliant pitchers’ duel with Tyson Ross, who came in with a 2.70 ERA. The matchup lived up to its billing, and more. Both lineups were unplugged, though in different fashions. Ross relied on the ground ball, piling up nine outs with them, while Kershaw was his normal dominating self. Neither team scored until fatigue began to creep up on both pitchers by the late innings.
Hits: There wasn’t much more Kershaw could have done to bring this one home. He struck out 10 batters over eight innings and gave up only three hits, the first of which came off Ross’ bat with two outs in the sixth inning. Kershaw breezed through the first five innings, giving the game a lively pace. Kershaw (15-3) had won 10 straight decisions until taking a loss Saturday. He got back on track Thursday to keep his Cy Young and MVP candidacies in good stead.
Misses: Kershaw can’t do it alone. He got tagged with the loss Saturday, even though he gave up only five hits (two home runs) and pitched a complete game. The Dodgers' offense needs to heat up now that the starting rotation is wobbling under the weight of injuries. Instead, it has been in a funk for the most part. The Dodgers have scored three runs or fewer in six of their last eight games. Ross is a very good pitcher, but he hardly had to work Thursday, cruising through his first six innings in only 63 pitches.
Stat of the game: Before Thursday, the Dodgers were 0-46 when trailing after seven innings. They're now 1-46.
Up next: The Dodgers open a three-game series with the New York Mets on Friday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. Dan Haren (10-10, 4.59 ERA) goes for the Dodgers opposite Jonathon Niese (7-8, 3.50).
August, 20, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers had a bad day Wednesday. Even before they lost a game in the standings to the San Francisco Giants by dropping a 4-1 decision to the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium, they found out the Giants won their appeal of Tuesday's rainout.
The Dodgers' lead is now three games, and the Giants have a shot at making up another 1½ games on Thursday when they finish their suspended game and polish off their series at Wrigley Field.
How it happened: Roberto Hernandez, like Kevin Correia the night before, took a small step back after a promising start to his Dodgers tenure. Hernandez was erratic, giving up eight hits over five innings, and the Dodgers fell in an early hole for the third straight game. They were behind 3-0 by the time they batted in the second inning. Scott Van Slyke bobbled a ground ball single, allowing one of those runs to score. The Dodgers made headway against soft-tossing lefty Eric Stults (6-13) but couldn't come up with the key hit and then were faced with the difficult task of rallying against San Diego's solid bullpen.
Hits: There wasn't a lot to celebrate after another listless start by a Dodgers pitcher, but for a team that's always on the lookout for bullpen pieces, there was a bit of good news. Pedro Baez might be a better solution than any of the pitchers the Dodgers could acquire who passed through waivers. He pitched two more scoreless innings, touching 98 mph, and has now thrown seven scoreless innings since the Dodgers brought him back from Triple-A. It looks as if he might stay put this time.
Misses: People tend to think the Dodgers have more power than they do. The reality is they entered Wednesday's game 12th in the National League in home runs. Granted, most of their middle-of-the-order bats have excellent gap power, but they have only three healthy players with double-digit home run totals. It's fair to say the lack of long balls has been a major disappointment. Only three pitchers in the league had given up more home runs than Stults coming into the game, but the Dodgers' power stayed dormant.
Stat of the game: Tuesday night, Dodgers prospect Jose De Leon struck out 14 batters in a Class-A game for Great Lakes. The total broke the franchise record, which was previously held by some guy named Clayton Kershaw, who had 12 in a 2007 game.
Up next: The Dodgers haven't won a home series since July 29-31, so they'd like to take Thursday's game to win this one. The good news is they'll line up behind Kershaw (14-3, 1.86 ERA) Thursday night at 7:10 p.m. The bad news is they'll be facing San Diego's best starter, Tyson Ross (11-11, 2.70).
August, 19, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- With injuries beginning to tatter the Los Angeles Dodgers' pitching staff, the bats bought them a little breathing room with an 8-6 win over the San Diego Padres on Tuesday night.
How it happened: Normally, when the Dodgers and Padres play, somebody usually wins 1-0 or 2-1. Tuesday looked more like a game played at Wrigley Field or one of the other extreme hitter's parks. The teams kept going back and forth, with few pitchers capable of keeping a lead safe. In his second start for the Dodgers, Kevin Correia looked a lot more like the guy with the 4.94 ERA that he'd been in Minnesota than the guy who pitched six four-hit innings in his Dodgers debut. Correia lasted five innings, giving up four runs and nine hits.
But the Dodgers had little trouble with Ian Kennedy, brushing aside a 3-0 first-inning deficit and continuing to pile on runs throughout the game. It was an encouraging sign that the Dodgers have the offense to weather this steady stream of injuries to their pitchers. Carl Crawford had an RBI single, a two-run home run and scored three runs.
Hits: According to Baseball Reference, Justin Turner (2.7 WAR) is the Dodgers' second-most valuable position player after Yasiel Puig (4.1). That seems a bit extreme, but Turner probably gets nowhere near the credit he deserves this season. He has excelled in virtually every role the Dodgers have asked of him. He has played solid defense at three positions. As a pinch hitter, he is batting .409. With runners in scoring position, he is batting .383. Since May 11, he's hitting .361 with 11 doubles and 22 RBIs. Normally, you would argue that Juan Uribe is a significant loss, but Turner has made it a lot easier to forget about him now that Uribe is on the disabled list again. Turner ripped two RBI doubles off Kennedy.
Misses: In some ways, A.J. Ellis is more valuable than ever. The Dodgers need all the help they can get now that injuries are starting to ravage their pitching depth. Since his major league debut in 2008, Ellis has the lowest catcher's ERA (3.32) in the major leagues. On the other hand, Ellis has become close to an automatic out in the lineup. He had a sacrifice fly but is now 1-for-9 on the homestand. His batting average is .186 and he has only one home run and 12 RBIs.
Stat of the game: The Dodgers are 33-18 against teams in the NL West this season. Last year, they were 37-39.
Up next: The series continues Wednesday, with Roberto Hernandez (7-8, 3.72 ERA) making his third Dodgers start since a trade from the Philadelphia Phillies and the Padres going with lefty Eric Stults (5-13, 4.64). The game starts at 7:10 p.m. PT.
August, 17, 2014
By Brian Kamenetzky | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- What already was set up as a salvage job for the Los Angeles Dodgers quickly devolved into more wreckage, as the visiting Milwaukee Brewers completed a three-game weekend sweep Sunday afternoon at Dodger Stadium.
Milwaukee scored in each of the first four innings, and a Dodgers lineup without Hanley Ramirez and Juan Uribe couldn’t answer.
How it happened: Dodgers starter Dan Haren (10-10) walked Carlos Gomez on five pitches to start the contest, then four pitches later saw Jonathan Lucroy rip an 86 mph cutter deep into the left-field bleachers. Lucroy doubled home three more an inning later.
Hits: While the benefits are mitigated at least somewhat by Monday’s off day, Carlos Frias -- who relieved Haren starting the fourth -- kept Sunday’s loss from destroying the bullpen. Frias lasted four innings and allowed only one hit, a home run by Gomez on the second pitch he threw. Justin Turner and Darwin Barney, filling in for Uribe and Ramirez, respectively, each reached base twice.
Misses: Haren, who followed a bad June with a catastrophic July, had generated some degree of optimism over his past two starts, allowing only three earned runs during 13 1/3 innings in consecutive wins over the Los Angeles Angels and Atlanta Braves. On Sunday, however, the Dodgers hurt Haren with bad defense, with a second-inning error by Adrian Gonzalez leading to three unearned runs. But the Brewers hit Haren hard throughout his three innings of work. Haren also walked three, compounding his problems.
The Dodgers’ offense didn’t exactly come to Haren’s rescue, either, registering only five hits over six innings against Milwaukee starter Wily Peralta (15-7) and no runs until long after the game was decided. Overall, Los Angeles was 2-10 with runners in scoring position.
Stat of the game: .500. That’s L.A.’s record at Chavez Ravine, the worst home record among teams currently occupying playoff spots. The bad news: Fifteen of their next 20 are at home. The good news: Twelve of those 15 are against teams entering Sunday seven games under .500 (New York Mets, San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks). In theory, at least, something’s got to give.
Up next: The Dodgers open a three-game set against San Diego on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. PT at Dodger Stadium. The Padres will send out Ian Kennedy (9-10, 3.54), who on July 12 shut out L.A. over eight innings in a game the Dodgers eventually won 1-0, to face Kevin Correia, making his second start since being acquired from Atlanta on Aug. 9.
August, 16, 2014
By Andy Kamenetzky | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES -- Given consecutive 15-day DL stints announced for Hyun-Jin Ryu and Juan Uribe, on top of the lingering absences of Hanley Ramirez and Josh Beckett -- plus Friday's 6-3 loss still fresh in their heads -- the Los Angeles Dodgers had an opportunity to make a regrouping statement against a quality opponent. Over the course of nine mostly listless innings, that challenge went unanswered in a 3-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. Matt Kemp made matters interesting down the stretch, but in the end, there just weren't enough bullets in the clip. It's not the first time the Dodgers have faced a patch of adverse circumstances, and their track record for rebounding makes them a safe bet to figure things out, but until that moment, a couple bumps might be in the works.
How it happened: On a night when Clayton Kershaw was merely "good" as opposed to "typically superhuman," the Dodger bats went collectively ice cold and failed to pick up the slack -- only seven hits in all and, until Kemp's dramatic bomb into the left-field stands (bubbles for all my friends!), a ball reaching the outfield felt as infrequent as a Yeti sighting. Put it all together, and the Dodgers looked, physically and mentally, like a team feeling the effects of several games played with pieces increasingly missing.
Hits: Every baseball player is a human being, and that even includes soon-to-be back-to-back Cy Young winners such as Kershaw. After carrying a perfect game into the fourth, Kershaw suddenly turned uncharacteristically vulnerable. With a man on and a count working against him, Kershaw put a strike in Ryan Braun's sweet spot, and the result was a two-run homer. He then surrendered a solo shot to Carlos Gomez in the sixth, which marked the Claw's first game with two home runs allowed since Sept. 8, 2013. Still, Kershaw threw a complete game, and though perhaps his lofty standards weren’t met, he was hardly the reason his team lost. He'd likely place himself in the "misses" category if given editorial control of this column, but that's why an objective party is necessary.
Kemp's ninth-inning homer? Holy moly, did he get all of that!
Justin Turner got the Dodgers on the board with a timely fourth-inning knock to score Carl Crawford. He was eventually caught trying to take second, but given the light bats that followed him, superior scoring position was worth the gamble. Turner also stole a base in the second, so perhaps he was just in the mood for some running.
Crawford and Yasiel Puig put their legs to good use, as they both beat throws from Rickie Weeks for singles. Granted, the ability to reach first shouldn't qualify as a highlight, but I can only work with the material provided.
Misses: Miguel Rojas, typically a slick fielder, turned a routine ground ball into an error when the ball slipped out of his hand while he attempted the throw. A blooper-reel classic, to be sure, but not as funny when it's your team. Whether pure coincidence or in reaction to the error, Darwin Barney was soon inserted as a defensive replacement. In the ninth inning, Turner let a playable ball roll past his glove.
Again, it bears mentioning the bats were, for the most part, really quiet.
Stat of the game: The Dodgers were 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position. Talk amongst yourselves to decide which of those numbers is worse.
What's next: The Dodgers look to prevent a series sweep by sending out starter Dan Haren (10-9, 4.50 ERA), who’s been dealing of late, after a stretch rough enough to potentially jeopardize his spot in the rotation. He'll be matched against Wily Peralta (14-7, 3.46).
August, 15, 2014
LOS ANGELES -- On most nights when everyone is available to pitch, the Los Angeles Dodgers' bullpen is capable of holding leads. But when its depth is tested, chaos usually ensues.
It appeared that at least one of the Dodgers' primary relievers was unavailable to manager Don Mattingly on Friday night, given that he allowed Jamey Wright to start the eighth inning with a two-run lead. It didn't go well. Wright and Brandon League combined to allow five Milwaukee runs in the eighth inning, and the Dodgers lost 6-3.
The Dodgers also are dealing with mounting injury concerns. The team put Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list before the game because of a strained gluteus, and Juan Uribe left the game because of tightness in his right hamstring, the same one that caused him to miss five weeks earlier this season.
How it happened: Zack Greinke has some of the best control in baseball, but he was oddly erratic and walked five batters. It didn't result in runs, but it drove up his pitch count. Greinke needed 99 pitches to get through five innings, in which he struck out six batters and gave up only two hits, both first-inning singles. It was not a good night for a short outing, with closer Kenley Jansen likely unavailable after getting four stressful outs in Thursday's game in Atlanta.
Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig have been the Dodgers' offense the past two games. Gordon manufactured a run in the first inning, when he hit a little dribbler by pitcher Jimmy Nelson for an infield hit, stole second and went to third on the catcher's throwing error (stop me if you've heard this one before), then scored on Puig's single past the diving shortstop. After that, the Dodgers were fairly baffled by Nelson, but Gordon eventually did it again. He reached on a fielder's choice in the fifth, then stole and scored on a Puig single.
Hits: Gordon was having a rough trip until Wednesday, but he has sparked almost everything the Dodgers' offense has done lately. In his past three games, he's 7-for-13, and he scored six of the Dodgers' eight runs over the past two games. He also has four stolen bases in those two games and 56 for the season, which leads the majors. The next-closest player is Jose Altuve, with 46. Gordon is on pace for 73 this season, which would be the highest total in the majors since Jose Reyes had 78 in 2007. No Dodger has led the league in stolen bases since Davey Lopes in 1976.
Misses: A.J. Ellis is in one of those ruts where even his hard-hit balls result in outs -- sometimes two. He smacked a ball just to Jean Segura's right. The shortstop went to his knees, skittered his way to a throwing position and got it to second, and the Brewers turned a double play to erase a threat in the fourth inning. Ellis is in a deep, deep slump. He has only five hits this month and is batting .132. Drew Butera homered Thursday in Atlanta, and the Dodgers might start giving him more frequent playing time if Ellis doesn't start producing a bit more at the plate. They know how effective he is behind the plate.
Stat of the game: Greinke walked three straight batters in the fourth inning but got out of it by striking out Nelson. Greinke had walked fewer than three batters in 22 of his 24 starts before Friday.
Up next: The series continues Saturday with Clayton Kershaw (14-2, 1.78 ERA) going for the Dodgers against Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo (7-6, 3.44). The game begins at 6:10 p.m. PT.
August, 11, 2014
ATLANTA – The Dodgers continued to pad what has become the biggest division lead in the National League by beating a team they've come to master.
They beat the Atlanta Braves 6-2 Monday night at Turner Field to extend their lead over the San Francisco Giants to five games. The Dodgers struggled against the Braves last season, going 2-5, but starting with October's National League Division Series, they are 8-2 against Atlanta.
How it happened: Kevin Correia joined the Dodgers here Monday after a trade from the Minnesota Twins, who were playing in Oakland at the time. He said hello to a former teammate, Brian Wilson, and then went out and ingratiated himself with his new teammates by pitching six strong innings. The Braves could manage only one run against Correia, on Justin Upton's RBI single in the fourth inning. Correia allowed four hits and a walk while striking out five Braves. A career .115 hitter coming straight from the American League, he also had two hits.
The Dodgers were facing one of the better pitchers in the National League, Julio Teheran, and they didn't make any headway until the sixth, when they bunched four consecutive singles to score a run. Carl Crawford had an infield single to bring in another, and Ramiro Pena bobbled a perfect double-play ball to allow the third run to score.
Hits: Someone asked manager Don Mattingly before the game why he starts Crawford over Andre Ethier in left field. Crawford, after all, entered Monday batting .239. That brought out the former hitting coach in Mattingly, who said Crawford was swinging the bat as well as any Dodgers hitter before he missed six weeks with a sprained ankle and that he has hit balls harder than his recent numbers suggest. Crawford also brings more speed to the table. Mattingly’s explanation made more sense five hours later. Crawford went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Ethier probably wouldn't have beaten out the infield hit that led to another run.
Misses: The Braves' middle infield is getting a bit stretched. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons was out with an ankle injury and Tommy La Stella left the game in the second inning with a cramp in his right hamstring. The replacements, Emilio Bonifacio and Pena, did not have good nights. Bonifacio threw the ball away on a double-play ball, disrupted by a Justin Turner slide, and Pena dropped Turner's easy double-play ball in the sixth.
Stat of the game: Including last October's playoffs, Yasiel Puig is batting .510 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and eight RBIs in 49 career at-bats against the Braves.
Up next: The series continues Tuesday, with Dan Haren (9-9, 4.57 ERA) going for the Dodgers and lefty Mike Minor (4-7, 5.42) pitching for the Braves. The game starts at 4:10 p.m. PT.
August, 10, 2014
MILWAUKEE -- After losing the first two games of their trip, the Los Angeles Dodgers rebounded Sunday with a 5-1 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
How it happened: Clayton Kershaw was there for the Dodgers again, giving up one run and six hits over eight innings to end the team's two-game skid. Kershaw gave up his run in the first inning on a Ryan Braun single but recovered nicely to improve to 14-2. Adrian Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly in the third inning to get the Dodgers even and Matt Kemp added an RBI single to give the Dodgers the lead in the fifth. Gonzalez added an RBI double in the seventh and the Dodgers scored twice in the eighth, the first on an A.J. Ellis home run and again on a Kershaw single.
What it means: There is no better option than Kershaw to help the Dodgers avoid their first three-game sweep of the season. The only time the Dodgers went winless in a series this season was a two-game set at Detroit July 8-9. The series pitted the teams with the two best records in the National League, with another three-game version scheduled to start Friday at Dodger Stadium.
Outside the box: Kershaw wasn't content to deliver his work from the pitcher's mound. On a bunt attempt in the third inning, Kershaw was grazed on the lower left leg by a Jimmy Nelson pitch. He worked his way around the bases and scored on Gonzalez's sacrifice fly. In the fifth inning, he pitched in with his glove. Kershaw charged a bunt attempt by Jean Segura and made a diving catch on the ball in front of the home-plate dirt. He got to his feet and threw to third base to complete the double play on Rickie Weeks, who was trying to score on the squeeze. He capped the day with his eighth-inning RBI single, the second run he has driven in this season.
Off beat: Gonzalez came close to hitting four home runs in the series. As it was, he hit two: One each Friday and Saturday night. But Gonzalez also hit the top of the left-field wall with a drive Friday in his first at-bat of the series. Then in the seventh inning Sunday he hit another drive off the top of the wall in left-center to score Carl Crawford and pad the Dodgers' lead. Both hits off the top of the wall went for doubles.
Up next: While manager Don Mattingly hinted that newly-acquired right-hander Kevin Correia could start for the Dodgers on Monday at Atlanta, as of now, the listed starter is Dan Haren (9-9, 4.57 ERA) for the opener of a four-game series. The Braves are expected to counter with right-hander Julio Teheran (10-8, 2.92) in the 4:10 PT start from Turner Field.
August, 9, 2014
MILWAUKEE -- The Los Angeles Dodgers are now one game away from being swept in the series as they fell 4-1 on Saturday to the Milwaukee Brewers.
How it happened: Adrian Gonzalez hit a home run for the second consecutive night, and for the second consecutive night the Dodgers were defeated. Dodgers starter Zack Greinke gave up four runs and eight hits over six innings against his former team. He walked one with six strikeouts. Brewers starter Mike Fiers gave up only one run and three hits over eight innings. Fiers didn't allow a ball out of the infield over the first three hitless innings. In three appearances (two starts) against the Dodgers in his career, Fiers is 3-0 with a 1.08 ERA.
What it means: A lack of success at Miller Park isn't something Greinke is used to. The right-hander entered Saturday's start with a 15-1 record and a 3.10 ERA at the Brewers' home park in 25 games (24 starts). His .938 winning percentage at the time was the highest in the history of the retractable-roof stadium, among pitchers with 10 or more decisions there.
Outside the box: Since joining the Dodgers in 2013, Greinke has now made 25 starts following a defeat and took the loss for only the sixth time in those outings. While Greinke has a 15-6 record in those games with a 2.31 ERA, the Dodgers are 18-7 overall in the 25 contests.
Off beat: They claim that the second day after an all-nighter can be the toughest and that's certainly how it looked for a punchless Dodgers team Saturday. After playing in Orange County against the Angels on Thursday night, the Dodgers didn't arrive in their Milwaukee hotel until 7:30 a.m. Friday morning. In fact, the Dodgers lacked punch both Friday and Saturday, doing little against Fiers, who was making his first start for the Brewers this season.
Up next: The Dodgers will send left-hander Clayton Kershaw (13-2, 1.82 ERA) to the mound Sunday in the finale of the three-game series. The Brewers will counter with right-hander Jimmy Nelson (2-2, 4.20) in the 1:10 p.m. start from Miller Park.
TV time: The Dodgers-Brewers game Sunday will be televised by TBS with no blackout restrictions in Los Angeles. The Dodgers game at Atlanta on Monday will also be televised on ESPN.
August, 8, 2014
MILWAUKEE -- Working on little to no sleep after arriving at their Milwaukee hotel at 7:30 a.m., the Los Angeles Dodgers fell 9-3 to the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday.
How it happened: A first-inning injury to Hanley Ramirez haunted the Dodgers in the later innings as defense at shortstop proved costly. Justin Turner, the third Dodgers shortstop of the night, had three misplays in the seventh inning, two for errors, as the Brewers scored four times to take control of the game. The Dodgers had just rallied for the lead on RBIs from Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier. After a shaky start, new Dodgers starter Roberto Hernandez delivered a solid debut, giving up two runs and three hits over six innings, while throwing only 65 pitches. Ramirez is day-to-day because of a side injury.
What it means: Before the game, manager Don Mattingly raved about the defense from Miguel Rojas in Thursday's victory over the Los Angeles Angels. In need of offense, though, he pinch hit Ethier for Rojas in the seventh inning and the move looked good when Ethier's infield single gave the Dodgers the lead. But Turner, in only his ninth appearance at shortstop this season, made two fielding miscues and a throwing blunder to open the door for the Brewers. If Ramirez is hurt for an extended period, expect Mattingly to put more faith in Rojas, at the plate and on defense, next time.
Outside the box: In search of offense, Mattingly pinch hit for Hernandez to lead off the seventh inning and Turner singled. It ended Hernandez's efficient night, though, as his 65 pitches were his fewest in any of his 21 starts this season. His previous low was 73 in his season debut April 4. The outing was still long enough to show that Hernandez still is pitching well. He entered with a 2.85 ERA over his last seven starts with the Phillies, going back to June 23.
Off beat: Talk about a show of strength. While trying to stop his bat on a check swing in the seventh inning, Yasiel Puig broke it. Puig didn't make contact with the ball, he just stopped the swing so abruptly that the bat broke apart near his hands. Because the bat went through the hitting zone, landing on the infield grass toward third base, he was charged with a swinging strike. He ended the at-bat with a walk.
Up next: The Dodgers will send right-hander Zack Greinke (12-7, 2.71 ERA) to the mound Saturday in the middle game of the three-game series. The Brewers will counter with right-hander Mike Fiers (0-1, 2.57) in the 4:10 PT start from Miller Park.
August, 7, 2014
By Dan Arritt | Special to ESPNLosAngeles.com
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Dodgers received another gem from a starting pitcher Thursday night, this time from left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who kept the Los Angeles Angels off-balance through seven shutout innings, leading the way in the 7-0 victory in front of the emotionally divided crowd at Angel Stadium.
The Dodgers also benefited from exceptional defensive support and a few clutch at-bats to win their second straight game in Anaheim and third straight overall against the Angels in the finale of the four-game home-and-home series. The win moved them 3½ games up on the San Francisco Giants for the NL West lead.
How it happened: With no room for error the way Ryu was throwing, Angels starter C.J. Wilson seemed overmatched from the start. He tossed three straight balls to start the third inning, bounced back to get Miguel Rojas on a comebacker, but then walked two of the next three batters, sandwiched around an infield single by Yasiel Puig. Hanley Ramirez then stepped up and lined a 1-0 pitch up the middle to score the game's first two runs, and Matt Kemp followed with a run-scoring sacrifice fly after Wilson again fell behind 3-0. The three-run cushion proved more than enough for Ryu, who gave up two hits over seven innings to improve to 13-5 and lower his ERA to 3.21.
Hits: Ramirez was given the night off at shortstop and second baseman Dee Gordon didn't play at all, but the Dodgers didn't skip a beat up the middle. In fact, some might conclude Rojas and Justin Turner were an improvement at those positions -- at least for a night. Rojas had a pair of singles and made several dazzling plays at shortstop, including a tough backhand in the hole to get the speedy Collin Cowgill for the first out in the sixth inning, a play in which Cowgill was originally ruled safe. That proved big after Erick Aybar followed with a walk and Albert Pujols delivered a two-out double down the left-field line. Puig ended the inning with a fine running catch at the wall on a deep drive to left-center field by Josh Hamilton. Turner played second base and also stepped into the leadoff spot for Gordon, reaching base in three of five plate appearances.
Misses: Wilson didn't make it out of the fifth inning for the sixth straight start and his ERA has swelled from 3.34 to 4.82 in that span. He walked four batters and hit one while pitching from behind to several others. Wilson won nine of his last 10 decisions to cap last season, but the Angels were basically looking ahead to this year by then. They need Wilson to regain his form in a hurry if they expect to make any noise in the postseason. That's if they get there at all. The New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays remain in position to make a run at the Angels and Kansas City Royals for the two wild-card spots.
Stat of the game: The Angels didn't get anything from the meat of their batting order the past two games and combined for one run as a result. Mike Trout, Pujols and Hamilton combined to go 1-for-23 in the past two games.
Up next: The Dodgers continue their nine-game road trip Friday in Milwaukee, with Roberto Hernandez (6-8, 3.87 ERA) making his Dodgers debut a day after he was acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies in a trade. He'll face off against Kyle Lohse (11-6, 3.40) in the series opener.