We look back at the Dodgers’ week starting May 4, with thanks again to Baseball-Reference.com
Dodgers stay in the park in beating Giants
The Dodgers took two of three games from the Giants, outscoring San Francisco 16 to 5 over the three-game series. They hadn’t outscored the Giants by 11 runs in a series since Sept. 18-20, 2009. The Dodgers did not hit a home run in this week’s series but did hit nine doubles and two triples. Dodgers pitching registered 27 strikeouts over the three games.
Inside the Series
Coming through in a pinch
Tony Gwynn Jr.’s pinch-hit, bases loaded triple gave the Dodgers a lead they did not relinquish in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over the Giants. It was the first pinch-hit, bases-clearing triple for the Dodgers since June 12, 1973, when Steve Garvey came off the bench to deliver the hit. Like Gwynn’s triple, Garvey’s gave the Dodgers a lead they would not give up.
Scott Van Slyke made his major league debut in Wednesday’s win, delivering a pinch-hit RBI single in his first career plate appearance. The last Dodger with an RBI pinch hit in his major league debut was Bubba Crosby, who did so on May 29, 2003 in Colorado. No Dodger had done it at home since Carl Warwick on April 11, 1961, also in a game the Dodgers won 6-2.
Gwynn and Van Slyke combined to drive in four runs as pinch hitters Wednesday. The Dodgers entered play that day with two pinch-hit RBI all season. The four pinch-hit RBI matched last year’s season high (June 11 at Colorado). It was the first time the Dodgers had four pinch-hit RBI against the Giants since June 28, 1993, when Dave Hansen came off the bench to hit a walk-off grand slam to give the Dodgers a 4-0 win.
Kemp not a fan of Lincecum
Matt Kemp struck out three times Wednesday night, his first three-strikeout game of the season. All three strikeouts came against Tim Lincecum; it’s the first time one pitcher has struck out Kemp three times in a game since September 5, 2010 against the Giants’ Jonathan Sanchez.
Kemp has struck out 17 times in 42 career plate appearances against Lincecum. No pitcher has struck out Kemp more than 10 times (two pitchers have faced Kemp more than Lincecum has: Barry Zito and Ubaldo Jimenez). Kemp has just one extra-base hit, a double last season, against Lincecum.
All three Dodgers losses on the week were by exactly one run. The Dodgers have played 15 one-run games, tied with the Nationals for the most in the league. Six of the team’s 11 losses are of the one-run variety.
Javy Guerra was demoted from the closer role after his third blown save of the season in Sunday’s loss to the Cubs. Guerra is the first Dodgers pitcher with three blown saves in the ninth inning or later within the team’s first 30 games of the season since Jeff Shaw in 2000. Guerra has not entered a game before the ninth inning in his last 35 appearances, a streak that appears to be coming to an end in the near future.
Rare Kershaw loss
Clayton Kershaw allowed two runs over eight innings Tuesday, taking a 2-1 loss. It was the 19th start of Kershaw’s career in which he went at least eight innings but the first in which he was tagged with a loss. He had been 16-0 with two no-decisions in starts of that length entering Tuesday.
San Francisco’s runs came on a two-run home run from Brett Pill; Kershaw has allowed five home runs in his last three starts, the most in three consecutive starts in his career reports the Elias Sports Bureau. Kershaw’s career ERA against the Giants rose slightly to 1.34; according to the Elias, that's the lowest by any active pitcher with at least 10 starts against any team. The next best is Johan Santana, who has a 1.46 ERA against the Marlins.
Avoiding a losing streak
The Dodgers’ 5-1 win at the Cubs Saturday ended a two-game losing streak, only the Dodgers’ third such streak of the season. They’re the only National League team yet to have a three-game losing streak; the only American League team without one is the Cleveland Indians. The win also improved the Dodgers to 5-0 on Saturdays this season.
A.J. Ellis not one to swing
If it seems like A.J. Ellis hardly ever swings, your eyes are not deceiving you. Ellis has swung at just about 30 percent of all pitches he’s seen; if he carries his rate over a full season, he’ll be the first hitter that selective in the 11 years for which such data exist. He’s starting to take the bat off his shoulder slightly more frequently, as he’s swung at a minimum of 30 percent of pitches in each of the last nine games.
Some of Ellis’ selectivity can be explained by the fact that he hits eighth, but the average number eight hitter in the National League swings at about 45 percent of all pitches. Ellis’ on-base percentage of .454 ranks fourth in the major leagues, and his walk rate of 20.4 percent (walks divided by plate appearances) ranks second behind only Joey Votto.
Change of pace
In that game, Chris Capuano started 21 of 26 hitters (80.8 percent) with a first-pitch strike, the highest percentage by a Dodgers starter this season.
Capuano’s changeup has been a key weapon for him, as opposing hitters have swung and missed 36 times against the pitch. That’s the fifth-highest total for any pitcher in the league, despite the fact that Capuano ranks 21st in total changeups thrown.