Dodgers Report: Gary Sheffield
With the help of Baseball-Reference.com and other resources, here is the first in a weekly installment looking back at the week that was in Dodgers baseball.
Kemp hits his 10th
Wednesday night, Matt Kemp hit his 10th home run of the season, tying Gary Sheffield in 2000 for the most by a Dodger in April. According to ESPN Home Run Tracker, Kemp’s homer was measured at 454 feet, his longest home run of the season and second longest of his career at Dodger Stadium. His longest at Dodger Stadium was a 455-foot home run in 2009 off Wednesday’s starter for the Dodgers, Ted Lilly.
The home run Wednesday was the first Kemp has pulled all season. Nine of his home runs have been to center or the opposite field; no other player in baseball has more than four such home runs this season. Since 2009, Kemp has hit 67 home runs that he didn’t pull, 26 more than any other right-handed hitter.
Kemp and Andre Ethier have both reached the 20-RBI mark by the end of April, the first time a pair of Dodgers has done that since 1994, when Tim Wallach had 23 RBI and Mike Piazza had 20. No two Dodgers teammates had had more than 20 RBI each in April since 1977, when Ron Cey had 29 RBI and Steve Garvey had 21.
Each had reached the 20-RBI mark Saturday, after the Dodgers had played 15 games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other pair of teammates to have 20 or more RBI in their team's first 15 games of a season was Ted Williams (21) and Vern Stephens (21) for the 1949 Red Sox.
Lilly among the best
With his next start scheduled for May 1, Ted Lilly’s April is almost certainly in the books. If so, he’ll finish the month with a 0.90 ERA, currently tops in baseball. The last Dodgers pitcher (minimum three starts) with a sub-1 ERA in March/April was Tim Belcher in 1991. Belcher had a 0.91 ERA over four starts. Lilly’s April ERA is the lowest by a Dodgers starter since 1987, when Rick Honeycutt had a 0.69 ERA heading into May.
Since August 1 of last season, Lilly’s ERA stands at 1.82, third lowest among all pitchers (minimum 80 innings) but not the lowest on the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw, who pitches Friday night, has a 1.48 ERA over that time, second only to Cliff Lee’s 1.16. Opponents are hitting .163 against Lilly since August 1, best among all pitchers with 35 innings over that time.
Javy Guerra was tagged with a blown save Wednesday night as he allowed hits to five consecutive hitters in the ninth inning. Since the save statistic was introduced in 1969, no Dodger had ever allowed five straight hits in a save situation in the ninth inning or later.
Guerra picked up the loss on both Tuesday and Wednesday nights, becoming the first Dodgers pitcher to lose consecutive team games since Yhency Brazoban did so in 2005 on July 17 and 19.
Gordon gets Dodgers going
Dee Gordon is hitting .303 (10 for 33) when leading off an inning and .179 (7 for 39) when he isn’t the first batter in the inning. He’s hitting .375 (6 for 16) leading off the game.
As a team, the Dodgers are hitting .385 with 19 runs in the first inning, both ranking second or tied for second in baseball. They’ve scored exactly half of their runs (40 of 80) in the first three innings.
Dodgers finally fall at home
Tuesday’s loss to the Braves was the Dodgers’ first home loss of the season, snapping a seven-game home winning streak to start the season. The only longer such streak for the Dodgers since moving to Los Angeles came in 2009, when the Dodgers won their first 13 home games to set a modern major league record for consecutive home wins to start a season.
A kind schedule so far
The Dodgers have played 16 of their 19 games against teams currently under .500, the most such games by any team in baseball. Los Angeles is 12-4 in those games.
One of the four losses to a sub-.500 team was the Dodgers’ 12-0 loss at the Astros Sunday. It was the team’s worst shutout loss since a 13-0 loss to the Angels on June 25, 2004.
Not close to a no-no
Philip Humber’s perfect game was the fourth in baseball in less than three years, dating back to Mark Buehrle’s on July 23, 2009. Since then, no Dodger starter has been perfect through even five innings. Chad Billingsley has the longest perfect game bid for the Dodgers over that time, twice retiring the first 13 hitters he faced. Both starts came against the Diamondbacks, one on Sept. 2, 2009, and the other on October 2, 2010.
No Dodgers pitcher has carried even a no-hit bid through three innings so far this season, making the Dodgers one of nine teams without a bid of that length. A season ago, the Dodgers were one of five teams not to have a pitcher have a no-hit bid longer than five innings.