Dodgers Report: Yonder Alonso

Of Jansen, Coffey, and Howell

April, 13, 2012

LOS ANGELES -- Before the Los Angeles Dodgers pulled out a 9-8 victory over the San Diego Padres on Saturday night, they watched an 8-6, ninth-inning lead turn into an 8-8 tie. This was the result of Kenley Jansen, usually the team's eighth-inning setup man who was pressed into closing duty because Javy Guerra had pitched three days in a row, coming in and issuing a leadoff walk and then a two-out, two-run, game-tying homer to Chase Headley.

That result itself was somewhat less notable than the fact the fireballing Jansen's velocity was noticeably down, even as he was striking out three batters that inning to raise his average for the season to 16.5 strikeouts per nine innings -- slightly better than the all-time, major league record of 16.2 he set last year.

Jansen has been battling a mild case of flu in recent days, which could have accounted for the velocity drop.

"I've been battling the flu, but that's not an excuse at all," Jansen said. "You still have to make good pitches and keep us in the game and try to help the team win. That is what it's all about."

Both manager Don Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt noticed the slight dropoff, but neither seemed alarmed by it. Honeycutt said it might have been due to the cold weather or illness. Mattingly said it might have been the difference in the eighth inning and the ninth, which almost anyone in baseball agrees is fairly huge except for the pitchers who actually pitch in those innings.

"It doesn't feel any different," Jansen said. "You have to treat the eighth inning just like it's the ninth inning, just come in and get the job done."

But catcher A.J. Ellis said Jansen did seem a bit out of sorts at the beginning of the inning, when he walked the first batter, Chris Denorfia.

"He was a little more tentative than I have seen him," Ellis said. "But after that first batter, he was definitely locked back in. He came right back to strike out the next two batters on six straight pitches. Chase Headley is a good hitter, a three-hole hitter in the National League, and that pitch ended up over the middle of the plate.''

Jansen was trying to throw it in on Headley, but said it ran back over the middle. At any rate, the hope is that the velocity drop was a one-time thing -- although he gave up a double to Yonder Alonso after Headley's home run, Jansen still looked pretty unhittable in striking out the three batters he did. If it continues, though, it could become a source of alarm.

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3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 6, Padres 5

April, 7, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- The Dodgers have a chance to sweep their opening series of the season Sunday afternoon against the Padres.

They reached this point by winning a long, ugly game Saturday night.

Dee Gordon drove in the winning run on a two-out single in the 11th inning in the 6-5 victory over the Padres on Saturday at Petco Park.

A.J. Ellis scored after he led off the inning with a single and advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Closer Javy Guerra earned the save, striking out one and walking one in the bottom of the 11th.

The Dodgers had squandered a 5-0 lead, as the Padres tied the score with five runs in the fifth inning. The Padres drew three consecutive walks with the bases loaded in the inning.

Dodgers starting pitcher Chris Capuano threw four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth innings. He was charged with four runs in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out four but walked five.

The Dodgers scored all five of their runs in the first four innings against right-hander Dustin Moseley.

Juan Uribe and Juan Rivera had the day off from the starting lineup but came in off the bench. Manager Don Mattingly said he wanted to rest them and have them in the lineup Sunday in the series finale against left-hander Clayton Richard. Adam Kennedy started at third base in place of Uribe, and Tony Gwynn Jr. started in left field in place of Rivera.

The Good

More from the leadoff spot. After he went 1-for-10 in the first two games, Gordon was 3-for-4 with a double, two walks and three stolen bases Saturday. The three stolen bases tied a career high. He led off with a single and stole his first base of the season in the first inning. He advanced to third on a groundout and scored on Matt Kemp’s sacrifice fly. In the third inning, Gordon drew a walk, stole second and scored on Kemp’s single.

The usual suspects. Kemp extended his hitting streak to 15 games (dating to last season) with an RBI single in the third inning. Gordon and Mark Ellis both drew two-out walks before Kemp singled for a 2-0 lead. Andre Ethier then hit a two-run double for a 4-0 lead.
Kemp also had a double in the seventh.

Some power. A.J. Ellis hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot off Moseley for a 5-0 lead in the fourth inning. It was the third home run of Ellis’ major-league career. He hit two home runs in 31 games with the Dodgers last season.

The Bad

Meltdown in the fifth inning. The Padres scored five runs in the fifth inning to tie the game with five walks, a wild pitch and two hits. Capuano issued a walk with the bases loaded for the first run, and Jamey Wright issued two walks with the bases loaded for two more runs. Then Scott Elbert’s wild pitch allowed a fourth run to score. After hitting Yonder Alonso, Elbert gave up an RBI single to Orlando Hudson that tied the score 5-5 before the inning ended when Nick Hundley was thrown out trying to score.

Another short start. Capuano lasted just 4 2/3 innings. Walks were a big factor -- he issued five. The Dodgers used seven relievers, weighing heavily on the bullpen for the second time this series. Opening Day starter Clayton Kershaw also threw a short outing Thursday, when illness limited him to three innings. On Friday, Chad Billingsley saved the bullpen by throwing 8 1/3 innings.

Wright not right. Wright replaced Capuano in the fifth inning and threw eight pitches -- and none of them were for strikes. He issued two walks with the bases loaded, allowing two runs to score before Elbert replaced him. Saturday was Wright’s second appearance of the season after he pitched a scoreless 2/3 of an inning Friday.

3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 6, Padres 0

April, 6, 2012
SAN DIEGO -- After using five relievers on Opening Day, the Dodgers needed a strong outing from starter Chad Billingsley against the Padres on Friday night.

The right-hander delivered in dominant fashion, helping the Dodgers spare their taxed bullpen. Billingsley struck out 11 in 8 1/3 innings in the Dodgers’ 6-0 victory over the Padres at Petco Park. He allowed three hits and a walk.

Billingsley exited after allowing a one-out single to Cameron Maybin in the ninth. He threw 108 pitches, 70 for strikes. Jamey Wright got the final two outs.

On offense, the Dodgers chased left-hander Cory Luebke from the game in the fifth inning. Luebke allowed six runs (five earned) and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Andre Ethier smacked a two-run double and a two-run triple.

The good

Starting pitching. Illness limited ace Clayton Kershaw to just three innings Thursday. Friday, Billingsley was dominant from the beginning. He started strong by striking out all three batters he faced in the first inning. He also struck out the side in the third inning. He gave up leadoff doubles in both the second and fourth innings but escaped trouble. Friday was the ninth game Billingsley has struck out at least 10 in his career.

Attack early. The Dodgers jumped on Luebke early, scoring two runs and three hits in the first inning. After Mark Ellis and Juan Rivera each singled, Ethier drove a two-run double to right center for a 2-0 lead. Earlier, Matt Kemp narrowly missed his second home run in as many days. Right fielder Will Venable caught his deep fly ball against the scoreboard.

Capitalizing. The Dodgers took advantage of the Padres’ miscues, scoring two runs when the Padres committed two errors in the third inning. Ellis started things with a one-out double. Kemp reached on an infield single, and Ellis scored after first baseman Yonder Alonso threw wildly to the plate for the first error. Kemp then took third on Luebke’s errant throw to second base on a pickoff attempt and scored on Rivera’s single over shortstop Jason Bartlett. In the fifth inning, Ethier smashed a two-run triple after Luebke allowed a single and walk.

The bad

Ks. It’s nitpicking on a good offensive day, but the Dodgers struck out quite a bit, nine times total. They fanned six times against Luebke.

Against the bullpen. After scoring six runs off Luebke, the Dodgers were shutout by the Padres bullpen. Reliever Micah Owings allowed a single and a walk in 3 1/3 shutout innings. Andrew Cashner allowed a walk in the ninth.

Bottom third of the lineup. The Dodgers’ 7-8-9 hitters -- Juan Uribe, A.J. Ellis and Billingsley -- were 0-for-10 with four strikeouts and a walk.

3 up, 3 down: Dodgers 5, Padres 3

April, 5, 2012

SAN DIEGO -- Despite losing Clayton Kershaw to a stomach flu after the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner gamely battled through three shutout innings, the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen was just good enough hold the San Diego Padres at bay in a 5-3, season-opening victory for the Dodgers before a sellout crowd of 42,941 at Petco Park.

The Dodgers went ahead to stay on a pair of bases-loaded walks in the fourth inning by James Loney and A.J. Ellis, then put the game to bed on Matt Kemp's two-run homer in the top of the eighth. Javy Guerra, who as a rookie saved 21 games for the Dodgers last season, notched his first one of 2012 by pitching the ninth inning.

Kershaw's early departure forced the Dodgers to go deep into their bullpen in their first game of the season, as he was followed by a parade of five relievers. But manager Don Mattingly didn't call on long reliever Jamey Wright, meaning the Dodgers probably are OK for Friday night's game without calling up additional bullpen help from the minors.

The good

Beast mode. Any concerns about Kemp's high strikeout rate in spring training quickly dissipated as the Dodgers center fielder went 2-for-4 with two runs scored, three RBIs and his first home run of the season, a two-run shot off Padres reliever Brad Brach in the eighth inning that landed atop the out-of-town scoreboard in right-center.

Glove Swag. Dee Gordon might have been robbed of his first triple of the year by a tough official scorer, who ruled three-base error on a ball that ticked off the glove of Padres center fielder Cameron Maybin. But nothing could take away the defensive play Gordon made to end the fourth inning, a diving stop behind the bag and on the edge of the outfield grass. Gordon got to his feet quickly and fired a bullet to first, taking what would have been a clean single to center away from Yonder Alonso.

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Yasiel Puig
.296 16 69 92
HRA. Gonzalez 27
RBIA. Gonzalez 116
RY. Puig 92
OPSY. Puig .863
WC. Kershaw 21
ERAC. Kershaw 1.77
SOC. Kershaw 239