I think you can all relax now. These Dodgers are for real.
Yes, they still have their stiffest challenge so far in the week to come. It starts with a three-game date with the New York Mets, who probably are the best team the Dodgers will have faced to this point, and it continues with a three-game series with the Angels, and I don’t have to remind you how the Dodgers generally fare in interleague play.
Still, there is considerable cachet in taking four of six on this week’s trip, including two of three in each stop, one of which was at the world champion Phillies. To me, the defining moment came in the final game of the Philly series, after Jonathan Broxton blew a two-run lead after retiring the first two batters in the ninth.
In years past, the Dodgers would have crumbled after such a development. Their frustration would have gotten the better of them, and if the Phillies hadn’t won right there and then in the ninth, they inevitably would have won it in some subsequent inning after the Dodgers went quietly in the top half.
Not anymore, apparently.This time, Broxton bore down, and with the winning run on second, he struck out Eric Bruntlett to send it to extra innings. This time, the Dodgers came right back, mounting their own two-out, nobody-on rally against Chad Durbin in the top of the 10th to go back in front 5-3. And this time, Ramon Troncoso came in and closed the door again, pitching around a two-out hit batsmen to deliver a scoreless 10th.
Just like that, the Dodgers had taken two of three from the defending champs, and in a ballpark where they went 0-6 last year. From there, they caught the once-sizzling Marlins at the right time, when the Marlins were ice cold, and took two of three there. And it looks like the schedule is going to do them a favor against the Mets, because they will miss Johan Santana in this three-game series.
It’s a little early to start planning any tickertape parades through downtown L.A. But any lingering suspicion that this fast start by the boys was all just an illusion, puffed up by the fact the played 28 of their first 33 games against the rest of the pathetic N.L. West and the other five against the Astros and Nationals, can now be laid to rest.
These Dodgers are pretty good.
In the oh-by-the-way department, it seems a little early in the year to be checking to see which players are starting to hit their bonus clauses. Not so in the case of Orlando Hudson, whose creatively constructed contract, which was meant to safeguard the Dodgers in the event that his history of injuries came back to bite him again, contains two bonuses that Hudson has already hit. He has 183 plate appearances. That means his salary for this season has already jumped from $3 million to $3.3 million because he gets $150,000 each for reaching 150 and 175 PAs. When he gets to 200 PAs, he’ll get another $200,000.
Don’t forget, he is also receiving a $380,000 signing bonus in addition to all that. So if he suffered a season-ending injury tomorrow, he is already guaranteed $3.68 million.
By the way, the tandem of Pierre and Castro is now hitting a combined .426 (40 for 94) this season. That’s not a one-two punch. That’s a two-Juan punch.