Dodgers head home with a series split and a 5-2 trip – Oh, and an opposing manager’s stuffed head to hang above the fireplace. The Dodgers swept Clint Hurdle right out of a job. Sorry about the inconsistency of posts the past few days. Figured I would let Mark take center stage while he was in Chicago, and I hope he enjoyed the trip. Tonight was a pretty typical Dodgers win, a whole bunch of singles in the first inning to put them out to a 5-0 lead. Matt Kemp later homered to make it 6-0, just the 36th home run of the season for the boys, who began the day 25th in the majors in that category. So how do they have the runaway best record in baseball, and an 8 1/2-game lead in the division, while hitting so few dingers? It’s all about the OBP. Dodgers entered the day at .370, best in the majors. At the risk of sounding too Moneyball-ish, this might be the single most important offensive statistic in baseball, because every time a batter gets on base, it means he DOESN’T make an out. And as long as you don’t make three outs, you can keep scoring runs all night.
In case you hadn’t heard, Eric Stults went on the DL today with that left thumb thing he has been battling. They called up Travis Schlichting from Double-A Chattanooga, where he was pretty much lights-out, giving up one earned run in 13 2/3 innings over nine relief appearances. This guy is a great story, used to be an infielder in the Rays’ and Angels’ systems, converted to pitching when that didn’t work out and ended up in independent ball two years ago with the Kansas City T-Bones, before the Dodgers signed him two winters ago. He pitched so well at Jacksonville last season that he was added to the 40-man last winter. Spent most of spring training dealing with a back issue and didn’t get much done there, but he’s in the big leagues now, so that’s all that matters. Good guy, too, so root for him.
As for Stults, Torre told the reporters before the game (I get a transcript) that it shouldn’t be longer than 15 days, but he didn’t pitch for 10 days after it first happened, and that clearly wasn’t enough.
I did catch Jon Miller/Joe Morgan/Steve Phillips doling out a small bit of misinformation during tonight’s broadcast. Actually, it was just Miller, and it wasn’t anything major — at least not as major as during last year’s ESPN radio broacast of the World Series, when he was talking about Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and referred to him as “Michael Jack Shi … er, Michael Jack Schmidt.” Anyway, all he said tonight was that two managers had already been fired in the N.L. West this season and that both of them were fired right after the Dodgers left town. Well, unless the Diamondbacks fired Bob Melvin after the first week of the season (they didn’t), that wasn’t true, because the boys haven’t been to PHX since April 10-12.
And if you’ll pardon the rant, ESPN Sunday Night Baseball is great for fans at, but unless you’re lucky enough to get one at home (the Dodgers rarely do), they’re almost always bad for the teams — and the scribes who cover them. Sundays are supposed to be day games, getaway games, so the team can fly home immediately afterward and the writers can have a nice, relaxing dinner somewhere before flying back early the next morning. Not so when you play on Sunday night. If the Dodgers really hustle, they can get off the ground by midnight Chicago time. It’s about a 4 1/2-hour flight back to L.A., so factor in the two-hour time change, and they should land around 2:30 a.m. By the time everybody gets home and gets to bed, it’s around 4. And did I mention there is a game tomorrow night? As for me, this was one of the trips I had booked before I was laid off by that, ummmmm, newspaper. My flight out of Chicago was at 5:50 a.m.