Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Dodgers' bats come alive
By Tony Jackson ESPNLosAngeles.com
PHILADELPHIA -- In the timing-is-everything department, perhaps we should ponder this question: What would the Los Angeles Dodgers have done at the trading deadline if their offense hadn't been in the deep freeze at the time? Would they have felt the need to go after Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot, two top-of-the-order speed guys, in hopes of giving themselves the flexibility to be creative and try to manufacture runs the scrappy way instead of slugging their way to runs the sexy way?
The answer to that question will never be known, of course. But after the Dodgers ran their mini-winning streak to three games with a 15-9 pounding of the vaunted Philadelphia Phillies before a sellout crowd of 44,881 on Tuesday night at Citizens Bank Park, the answer to a couple of other questions became ever clearer.
The Dodgers' acquisitions of Scott Podsednik and Ryan Theriot have paid off in normalizing what could have been a disastrous offensive slump.
Yes, the Dodgers did the right thing by making those additions. And yes, those additions should loom even larger now that the Dodgers' other table setter, shortstop Rafael Furcal, is headed to the 15-day disabled list with back discomfort.
In their first 23 games of the second half, the Dodgers scored zero, one or two runs 14 times. And of the three additional games in which they scored exactly three runs, they needed extra innings to get there in two of them.
So how is it that the Dodgers have suddenly scored 23 runs and pounded out 28 hits in their past two games? Well, it has a lot to do with the fact that in those two games, Podsednik and Theriot, who have been batting leadoff and second, have gotten on base a total of 10 times in 20 plate appearances, stolen three bases and scored seven runs. In the opener of this monumental series with the Phillies, the three guys hitting behind Podsednik and Theriot -- right fielder Andre Ethier, first baseman James Loney and third baseman Casey Blake -- combined to drive in nine runs.
It would appear that the Dodgers' days of flailing are behind them.
"You hope, but it runs in cycles," said Ethier, who went 4-for-4, scored four times, drove in three runs and reached base in all six of his plate appearances. "Hopefully, this is something we can keep rolling for the rest of the season. Hopefully, that will give our pitching staff a little more confidence knowing that the offense is starting to come through. At the same time, it gives us a feeling of confidence starting this East Coast trip this way, because we haven't fared too well in our first couple of those this year."
Given that Furcal isn't expected to be gone long-term -- the DL move was made retroactive to Aug. 3, making him eligible to return on Aug. 18 -- the Dodgers (59-54) can only look forward to, and perhaps salivate over the thought of adding Furcal to the mix of Podsednik and Theriot. It is enough to give new hope to a Dodgers season that was beginning to seem lost as recently as a few days ago.
Dodgers catcher Russell Martin, who probably is done for the season after tearing a labrum in his right hip on Aug. 3 against the San Diego Padres, won't need surgery for now. He will remain on crutches for three to four weeks -- he already has been on them for one week -- and will be re-evaluated the first week of September, at which time he will undergo another MRI exam and another CT scan on the hip.
Surgery hasn't been ruled out, but the fact Martin isn't having surgery now is an indication he has a good chance of avoiding it altogether.
Dodgers reliever Ronald Belisario, who spent the past month on the restricted list for reasons that have never been made public, was activated just before the game and came in to start the sixth inning after Vicente Padilla (6-3) failed to get past the fifth for the second time in his past three starts. Belisario looked strong, giving up a solo homer to Domonic Brown with one out but retiring the other three batters in the inning on ground balls.
Belisario threw a total of 14 pitches, 12 of them for strikes, and reported after the game that he felt fine. He also had made a pair of minor league rehabilitation appearances for high Single-A Inland Empire against Rancho Cucamonga on Saturday and Sunday, starting both games and pitching one inning each time.
By the Numbers
1 -- Career plate appearance for reliever George Sherrill, who came to the plate in the top of the ninth with the Dodgers leading 15-7 and promptly drew a six-pitch walk from veteran reliever J.C. Romero. Sherrill had come in to record the final out in the eighth inning, and with manager Joe Torre wanting to leave him in for the ninth, Sherrill was allowed to hit when the pitcher's spot came up. Not surprisingly, Romero, who had just given up a two-run homer to Blake after hitting Ethier to start the inning, was immediately yanked by Phillies manager Charlie Manuel after walking Sherrill.
Outfielder Nick Akins, the Dodgers' 19th-round pick in the 2009 draft out of Vanguard University who is playing at advanced Rookie-level Ogden, was named the Pioneer League Player of the Week after hitting a league-best .550 (11 for 20) with three home runs and a 1.050 slugging percentage for the week. Akins, 22, drove in seven runs in five games, including three in an Aug. 6 game at Casper in which he hit two home runs.
More on the Dodgers
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Quote of the Day
"I don't remember. I was in a fog. I knew it felt good off the bat because I barely felt it. It was a good win for us and a good night for me." -- Jay Gibbons, whose contract the Dodgers purchased from Triple-A Albuquerque, on how he felt after hitting his 122nd major league home run but his first since July 17, 2007. Gibbons, who hasn't played in the majors since undergoing shoulder surgery later in that 2007 season, went 3 for 4 with the home run and now is 4-for-5 (.800) with four RBIs in two games with the Dodgers.
Dodgers right-hander Chad Billingsley (9-6, 3.82) will take the mound at Citizens Bank Park, where he has a 2.25 ERA in three career starts while limiting the Phillies to a .215 batting average (14 for 65) with 19 strikeouts. He will be opposed by recently acquired Phillies left-hander Roy Oswalt (6-13, 3.50), who in his previous nine major league seasons, all with the Houston Astros, is 6-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 10 career appearances, including nine starts, against the Dodgers. Oswalt didn't pitch in a two-game series between the Astros and Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 17-18.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.