December 18, 2014

Dodgers Face Winning Astros in New Series Tonight

So the dodgers aren’t the only team in the NL that’s had a string of wins. The Astros, who happen to be coming to Chavez Ravine today, have won five out of their last six after an 8-3 loss to the Nationals at Minute Maid Park. Miguel Tejada, Lance Berkman and Carlos Lee each had a pair of hits for the ‘stros, who had 10 overall but all but one were singles.

Likewise, the Dodgers coughed one up to the Mets at the end of this last series thanks in part to some mediocre pitching from our old friend Brad Penney. Tonight, it’s Derek Lowe’s turn on the mount. Lowe, who is 2-2 with a 3.66 ERA, was credited with the loss on Sunday in Colorado, as he allowed five runs and six hits in five innings. Here’s hoping he can manage a bit better against the Astros.

Houston is starting a fresh face for this season as a starter- right-hander Brian Moehler. This is the first start for Moehler since September of 2006 when he was with Florida. In place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez, Moehler may have his work cut out for him as he has struggled out of the pen this season for the Astros, pitching to a 7.04 ERA without recording a decision.

The Dodgers definitely need to bring their bats tonight – particularly because the Astros have Lance Berkman in their stable and he is on fire as of late. Berkman, who had two hits and an RBI in Thursday’s 8-3 loss to Washington, has reached base 17 times in his last 20 plate appearances. The 10-year veteran is hitting .813 (13-for-16) with two home runs and seven RBI in the last four games.

Kuroda’s Inconsistency Needs Attention

Hiroki Kuroda (THE ASSOCIATED PRESS/Lenny Ignelzi)
One by-product of the Dodgers current win streak is that the pitching crew is finally getting some help in the form of Dodger runs. I’ve said previously that Hiroki Kuroda’s record to-date this year didn’t really reflect his true talent or performance because the Dodger offense was practically non-existent. On top of that, the boys in blue were doing an excellent job sacrifing a small early lead late in the game with mediocre defense.

I was convinced that this latest outing against the Mets would help show what Kuroda could really provide as the Dodgers challenge Arizona for first place in the NL West. My convictions, as it turns out, was misguided as Kuroda’s control was lacking. It’s not an issue of capability, but of consistency. He really impressed me early on and I had chalked most of his peformance up to issues with the rest of the team. Defense lacking late in games, hitting almost nonexistent…you get the idea. This time, however, Kuroda couldn’t get it together from the start and dug as big a hole as I’ve seen from him all season.

In 3.1 innings, Kuroda threw 80 pitches. 8 hits, four runs (two earned), three walks, and only one strikeout. Even Torre commented on the consistency issue in a post-game comment to the L.A. Times: “His stuff is quality. When you look up there, his velocity is good, it’s just that he hasn’t had the command that we saw in the first game he pitched, and that we certainly know he’s capable of.”

In fairness to Hiroki, he didn’t get lots of defensive help in this outing and the bats weren’t delivering early on as they have in some other series (such as Florida), but this performance feels like a pitching issue more than anything else. Before getting yanked, he dug a 4-1 hole for the Dodgers and was lucky that things weren’t worse given that the Mets left 8 players on base during this time.

The big question is – how do the Dodgers get Kuroda’s pitching woes under control and is he a liability down the stretch if the Dodgers are still competing for first in the NL west? Comments welcome…

Matt Kemp Named NL Player of the Week

Matt Kemp
Dodger outfielder Matt Kemp has been named the NL player of the week, according to The Sports Report, for the period ending May 4th. Kemp’s been a hitting machine as of late, contributing a great extent to the Dodgers winning 9 out of their past 10 games.

Kemp beat out San Francisco’s Aaron Rowand, who hit .478 with two home runs; San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez, who batted .385 with 4 HRs; and Pittsburgh’s Xavier Nady, who hit .450 with 7 RBIs. While Matt may not have led the NL with the best batting average, his all-around performance was really remarkable.

Kemp’s average over the past week was a respectable .407 and delivered four doubles during that time. Hed led the National League with 11 RBIs and also stole a league-best six bases and tied an NL-week best with 11 hits. Did I mention that he hit safely in all six games, and recorded four multi-hit games and three multi-RBI games last week?

Glad to see Kemp is getting his due and staying in the Dodgers starting rotation consistently now! Keep it up Matty!

The Bats Are Back in the Dodger Dugout

Well, the Dodgers’ thrashing of the Marlins this evening clearly shows that they can hit. Billingsley looiked solid on the mound by limiting Florida to just one run and three hits while garnering eight Ks. Glad to see he finally picked up a win and helped address the 6.53 ERA he had amassed over his last four starts.

This makes five wins in a row for the boys in blue, and takes them to 14-13 overall. They’ve got a long way to go to challenge the D-backs for first in the NL West, but they are making good strides.

Matt Kemp continues to show why he should be in the starting lineup EVERY NIGHT by getting 3 RBIs and going 3 for 5 on the night.
Top dog for the Dodgers WAS Rafael Furcal who finished 5-of-6 with three runs scored. Kemp and Furcal also combined for three stolen bases.

My boy Kuroda shows up on Thursday night to attempt the sweep – can hardly wait!


A Strange Evening in Chavez Ravine…

OK, so this was one of the strangest games I’ve seen in a LONG time…

1. The Home Plate Umpire loses consciousness after being hit by a pitch.
Dodger pitcher Brad Penny inadvertantly hit home plate umpire Kerwin Danley in the jaw with an errant pitch and Danley slumped down on the ground, losing consciousness for a time. The game was stopped for 18 minutes while Danley was driven off the field in an ambulance to a local hospital. Upon arrival, he was said to be conscious and coherent. The entire staff of hopes the 10-year umpire is OK.

2. Mark Redman gives up 10 runs in the first inning!
Redman earned the honor of being only the 6th pitcher since 1969 to give up 10 runs in an inning. Here’s the breakdown:

Batters: 13
Runs: 10
Hits: 6
Pitches: 45
Runs with 2 outs: 9

Even more surprising,

    Redman stayed in the game at the conclusion of the inning

(apparently the Rockies figured they had nothing to lose) and the guy throws 5 more complete innings without giving up another run! He also only faced another 17 batters after facing 13 in the first inning.

3. Matt Kemp hit a Grand Slam Home Run on his way to delivering 5 (yes FIVE) RBIs for the Blue in the first inning alone!

Nice work Dodgers – not sure if Redman is our good luck charm or not but it seems my 18-month old could have lit him up tonight if he’d been put in the batters box.