June 4, 2009 – Tony Jackson’s Blog - Chad Billingsley walked four batters, constantly flirted with danger and threw 111 pitches through six innings. He was good — good enough to get the win, anyway — but it is that tendency to nibble that has plagued him since the day he arrived in the major leagues, and it is that tendency that is still keeping him from joining the truly elite pitchers in the National League, guys like Jake Peavy, Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum, etc.
Give him credit for this, though: as much trouble as he got himself into tonight, he always managed to get out of it. During his six innings, the Diamondbacks stranded seven runners, four of them in scoring position. Five if you count the one who was on second and got erased in a third-to-first double play to end the second (officially, you don’t count that guy).
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Billingsley is a lot closer to that elite level mentioned above than he is to the often-scared pitcher he used to be. He appeared tonight to be trying to be too fine, and that might be the result of his having lost his two previous starts, even though he took a hardluck, 2-1 loss on Saturday at the Cubs. But what he didn’t appear to be tonight, at any point, was rattled.
Oh, and he also struck out nine, just the third time in 11 starts this season that he has had at least that many.
Daron Sutton and Mark Grace wondered after James Loney’s leadoff triple in the sixth inning, the one that led to the Dodgers’ only run, whether it might have been the result of Gerardo Parra playing Loney too far over into left-center. Parra did run a long, long way, and he did almost catch the ball, which skipped by him and into the corner after he went into an all-out dive. Doesn’t much matter now, though.
Dodgers go to 37-18, second time this season they have been 19 games above .500, and push their division lead to 9 1/2 over the Giants, who got rained out in D.C. Phillies in for four starting tomorrow night, rematch of last year’s NLCS and a possible preview of this year’s.