December 18, 2014

Braves Chop Dodgers; Skid Continues

Braves Dodgers BaseballIt seems like a lot happened in last night’s 2-1 loss to the Braves in 10 innings.  Sure, Kershaw was brilliant once again, mixing up his pitches and throwing seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while fanning 10 in the process.  Braves starter Kenshin Kawakami matched Kershaw by pitching the game of his life through seven innings.  Pesky rookie reliever Kris Medlen stopped the Dodgers with four strikeousts and no hits over two critical innings.  And the Dodgers offense continued to struggle, leaving nine men on base and going one for nine with runners in scoring position.

And while I love Joe Torre, I was slightly surprised to see him pull Sherrill, after an efficient seven-pitch 8th inning, for Broxton in the 9th.  I know it’s Torre’s style to go with his closer when the game is tied in the 9th at home (giving his team’s bats the chance to win the game), but it just seems that he would have allowed Sherrill to go a little longer, knowing we very well could be headed to extra innings.  At least that would have prolonged the entry of Mota into the game.  Sherrill is a former closer, and isn’t that why we got the guy?  Sherrill did throw 31 pitches the night before in one and 2/3 innings, so I understand the added rationale for pulling him on Saturday , but I still would have rather seen him stick around a little longer given that the big guy did not appear fatigued.

But it was that damn Yunel Escobar who clinched it for the Braves.  The shortstop was one of the heroes of Friday’s night game for the Braves with a huge hit in the 12th inning.  And then last night he did with his defense, diving for a Kemp infield shot, gettng up and making a spectacular throw to first to just nab the Bison.  Pretty spectacular stuff.  Given the Dodgers record at home in one-run games (which I think was 17-3 going into the game) and with 11 walk-off wins this season, you can understand the crowd’s shock at seeing Kemp thrown out at first to end the game.

The Dodgers now try and salvage a series split this afternoon, while ending a recent slide that has them losing three of their last four, five of their last eight and 10 of their last 16.  Ewww…

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Lori Shepler

Dodger Trade Rumor of the Day: Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay

Roy Halladay

Just read on that Roy Halladay is open to waiving his no-trade clause and allowing the Blue Jays to listen to offers from other teams.  According to Buster Olney, Toronto would want either Billingsley or Kershaw in return, which he considers a “deal-breaker.”  I consider this absolutely ludicrous.  Why we would we trade an integral long-term piece of the starting rotation for a more expensive version of the same? Sure, it makes the Dodgers better in the short-term, but it still doesn’t deepen our rotation, which is the reason the move is necessary in the first place.   To even have a chance of making this work the Dodgers would need to move either promising minor leaguers or position players.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese

Joe Torre, Andre Ethier and Clayton Kershaw Post-Game Comments

What a game!  Ethier’s three home-runs are the most since Hee-Seop Choi on June 12, 2005 and his six RBI are a career high.  Looks like the Dodgers got a little extra motivation from having Pau Gasol in the stands!  Mota’s also been “rebounding” (pun intended) pitching two scoreless innings.  That means shutout baseball in 13 of his last 14 games for a 0.52 ERA.  Since May 17, he’s lowered his ERA from 9.00 to 4.50.

Great post-game comments from Torre, Kershaw and Ethier.  Definitely don’t miss Kershaw’s take on his developing pitching style.

First up is Joe Torre:

On Ethier: “That’s the guy we all know is in there.”

On Kershaw:  “As far as Kershaw, he grew a little bit at his last outing on Sunday and tonight was just an add-on.  Any time you can put two or three back to back like that, that means you’re making some progress.”

More on Kershaw: “Early in the game he’s not trying to overthrow the ball.  He’s so agressive, and sometimes it works against him because he goes out there and just tries to throw the ball by people and you can’t do it at this level…not on a consistent basis.  I saw him using his pitches the last time out and he used all his pitches tonight.  I thought his curveball was better and we told him he was done after six and he had these big wide eyes and said, ‘Really? Is that it?’  We’re gonna try and get as much good out of this thing as we can.”

On Never Having a Three-Game Losing Streak This Season: “People told me that, and it’s great.  Streaks are great, but you certainly want the good ones to outnumber the bad ones.  I remember ’96 when I had the Yankees, we never lost more than five in a row and we never won more than five in a row.  There’s no question that if you keep going the rest of the year without losing more than two in a row, we’re in pretty good shape.”

Clayton Kershaw’s Post-Game Comments:

On Andre Ethier: “He’s so tough when he’s hot.  There’s really no right way to pitch him; maybe walk him is the best idea.  He’s just got so much power and he;s got power to all fields.  When he’s seeing the ball well like he was tonight, you saw what happened – there’s no one way to get him out.”

On His Developing Pitching Style: “I think that’s the key for me – trying to incorporate all my pitches.  Sometimes when I get into trouble I just want to go hard, hard, hard and get people out.  Sometimes the best way to do that is just by backing off.  When you’re in certain situations, like whether it was the Angels and the bases loaded or tonight with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, you’re really just trying to make quality pitches.  Sometimes soft is the way to go.  Brad and Russell have both been great.  They’ve both started calling the pitches that I need to throw.  Instead of shaking off like I have done in the past, I trust them and trust myself a little bit more.”

Andre Ethier speaks:

On Having ‘Quick Hands’ Tonight: “I just went in there and worked with Donnie and worked on some stuff and got back to where I need to be. So I guess not to expect that that’s what happen after you work with Donnie, but I’m relaxed, more comfortable up there and ready to go.”

On Hitting Seventh in the Lineup: “We have a good lineup.  You should be honored just to be in the lineup.  We’re now in a situation coming in a couple weeks where we’ve got a guy that will definitely be in the lineup and everyone’s got to fit in where they can and have their opportunities.  It just shows you that you should be happy to be in this lineup because it;s so good and deep from our bench to our starting eight.”

On Attending Wakamatsu’s Baseball Camp as a Youth: “I remember going to Don’s hitting and fielding camps in the winter there in Phoenix.  I’m surprised he remembers me.  I was probably 11…12 years old at that time.  I don’t know if he knew at that time that I’d be his opponent on the major league level.”

On His Home Run Power: “I was never a home run hitter.  I didn’t hit my first home run until I was 13 years old.  Not even Little League.  I didn’t hit one until I was a seventh grader in junior high. So I can say, never three in a game.”

Post-Game Thoughts From Torre, Kershaw and Martin

Tough loss for the Dodgers.  Here are the post-game comments.  Needless to say, it was a pretty short session.  Plus, it was Fireworks Night, so the guys either wanted to catch the show or beat the crowds out, depending on who you were listening to.

On the Game as a Whole (Joe Torre): “It was a good baseball game, but a very frustrating baseball game.”

On Missed Opportunities (Joe Torre): “That’s frustrating, but you have to give their pitching a little credit for that.  They missed opportunities too.  They had a man at 3rd base, nobody out.  We were able to get them on a good play.  There were missed opportunities on both sides.  Unfortunately they broke through and we didn’t.”

On Clayton Kershaw (Joe Torre): “You know what, he bends, but he doesn’t break.  He still was able to right the ship.  He’s paying a heavy price here, running that pitch count early.  But this kid doesn’t melt away and that’s certainly a step in the right direction.”

On the Offense (Joe Torre): “Yeah, we’ve been scuffling.  The longer it goes, the worse it gets because everyone puts pressure on themselves, saying, ‘I have to do it here.  I have to do it here.’  I don’t think the pressure of the game is getting to anybody.  I think it’s just the pressure that we’ve been scuffling and each guy is probably trying to do a little bit more than they’re capable of doing.”

On the Offense (Russell Martin): “You get guys on third base, less than two outs, you’re supposed to put the ball in play and get the run in.  Some days it works, some days it doesn’t.  Today is obviously a day when it didn’t work, especially for me.  Maybe tomorrow.”

On Clayton Kershaw (Russel Martin): “He was kind of inconsistent with his location, his command, today, but he battled through it.  Kept them to one run.  You’re going to have days where you don’t have your best stuff and you just gotta compete and that’s what he did today.”

On His Pitching (Clayton Kershaw): “I just didn’t find a rhythm in the first inning.  Really in the second inning I just got fortunate and went deep in the counts.  Just one of those things that you have, probably over 30 pitches…it’s going to be tough to stay in a game past five innings when you do something like that.  So, just gotta figure out a way to minimize my pitches early in the game.”

On Throwing 97 Pitches Today After 112 His Previous Start (Clayton Kershaw): “I don’t think it has any affect at all.  I had four days to recover from it.  I don’t think it matters to be honest with you.  Pitch count is pitch count, but as a starter you get four days off so you can recover.”

Game Update: Kershaw Pitching a Gem

In case you don’t have the game turned on right now, you might want to head for the radio or TV.  Right now we’re through 6, the Dodgers lead 6-0 and Kershaw is looking strong with no hits, 6 strikeouts (and four walks).

                                                                      R   H   E

Dodgers   2   2   2   0   0   0   –   –   –    6   0   0

Florida    0   0   0   0   0   0   –   –   –   0   0   2

Juan Pierre continues to lead the team with the bat, going 2 for 4 so far with a double and 2 RBI.

UPDATE: Well, it was a fantastic effort by Kershaw. Clearly Torre was getting a bit nervous with the pitch count, and he didn’t waste any time in going out to get the kid after he gave up his only hit to Cody Ross.  Nice to see the smattering of fans in attendance at Land Shark Stadium recognize his performance.