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Dodger offensive resurgence fueled by Bellinger / Taylor / Toles

On the day the Dodgers brought up Cody Bellinger on April 25th their record was a floundering 9 – 11. Chris Taylor had been brought up on April 19th.  Toles had an OPS of .678 on April 24th.  It was like Bellinger lit a fire under his arse because one of them was going to go when Joc came off the DL. Luckily for both, it was Adrian.

Since the day of CODY the trio is on fire and has fueled the Dodger offensive explosion in May and propelled the Dodgers to a 9 – 3 mark and 18 – 14 overall.

Player PA H HR BB BA OBP SLG OPS
Andrew Toles 45 14 2 1 0.326 0.356 0.535 0.890
Cody Bellinger 51 15 5 5 0.326 0.392 0.717 1.110
Chris Taylor 34 9 2 9 0.360 0.529 0.600 1.129

Top LA Dodger postseason game scores – Don Drysdale stands above Sandy’s shadow

Several weeks ago we looked at the top postseason pitching game scores against the Cardinals. I had hoped that the Dodgers would make a long run this postseason, and that when I posted the update it would have some new names on the list. Alas, that did not happen. With the 2014 season over we will now look at the best postseason pitching game scores for all LA Dodgers games. Using 79 as the cutoff I have the 11 best games ever pitched using game score as the criteria.

Player                 Date Series Gm# Opp  Rslt  IP H ER BB SO GSc
Don Drysdale     1963-10-05     WS   3 NYY W 1-0 9.0 3  0  1  9  89
Sandy Koufax     1965-10-14     WS   7 MIN W 2-0 9.0 3  0  3 10  88
Sandy Koufax     1965-10-11     WS   5 MIN W 7-0 9.0 4  0  1 10  88
Orel Hershiser   1988-10-16     WS   2 OAK W 6-0 9.0 3  0  2  8  87
Don Sutton       1974-10-05   NLCS   1 PIT W 3-0 9.0 4  0  1  6  84
Tommy John       1978-10-05   NLCS   2 PHI W 4-0 9.0 4  0  2  4  81
Jose Lima        2004-10-09   NLDS   3 STL W 4-0 9.0 5  0  1  4  80
Orel Hershiser   1988-10-12   NLCS   7 NYM W 6-0 9.0 5  0  2  5  80
Burt Hooton      1977-10-12     WS   2 NYY W 6-1 9.0 5  1  1  8  80
Sandy Koufax     1963-10-06     WS   4 NYY W 2-1 9.0 6  1  0  8  79
Sandy Koufax     1963-10-02     WS   1 NYY W 5-2 9.0 6  2  3 15  79

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/14/2014.

Have to admit, this list surprised me just a tad.  I fully expected Sandy Koufax to top the list with either his legendary game seven victory over the Twins, or his very first World Series start against the Yankees in 1963 when he struck out 15.

Yet it is a different HOF who tops the list. Don Drysdale by the skin of his teeth takes the top honors with his 1 – 0 whitewashing of the Yankees in game three of the 1963 Yankees.

Game score tells you who statistically pitched the best game but it does not have any idea of context. When Don Drysdale whitewashed the Yankees in 1963 the Dodgers already had a  2 – 0 World Series lead, and the game was hardly a must win. What was significant, is that the game was the first World Series game ever played at Dodger Stadium, and what a way to break in a stadium that would eventually host a number of World Series games in the latter part of the 2oth century.  Sandy Koufax and Johnny Podres had already dominated the 1962 World Champions, but they had given up a combined three runs in the first two games. Don would take that a step further and win 1 – 0.  Sandy would finish up by beating Whitey Ford a second time 2 – 1 in game four.  The other point of interest in Don’s game was that his opponent was Ball Four author Jim Bouton. Bouton only gave up one run, and that came in the first inning on a single by Tommy Davis, who drove in Jim Gilliam who had reached second on a walk and wild pitch. That would be the last mistake Jim Bouton would make but it would be all Don Drysdale would need.

In 1963 the Dodgers made four starts, and only one relief pitcher saw any action.  Only four pitchers pitched in the 1963 World Series. Four.  Three of those games are on this list of all time post season games. It would probably be understating the obvious to say the Dodger rotation of Koufax/Podres/Drysdale owned the Yankees.

Eventually I will get to my point, while Don Drysdale is on the top of this list, I don’t think anyone would argue that Sandy Koufax in game seven of 1965 actually pitched the greatest game in LA Dodger history. He not only shutout the vaunted offensive Twins in game seven. He not only shutout them out in Minneapolis . He did it on three days rest, after shutting out the Twins in game five. Sandy pitched three games in eight days, two of them shutouts, and saved his best for last, winning the World Championship game with the second highest game score ever recorded by a LA Dodger in the postseason.

There is a reason Sandy Koufax is a legend. He earned it from April – October.

While very few can say they saw Sandy and Don do their magic, the majority of us can point to 1988 and remember Orel shutting down the bash brother Oakland A’s.  The A’s were still a potent team, when Orel carved out their heart in game two. He would later finish the job in game five, earning World Series MVP honors.

HOF Don Sutton had a reputation as big game pitcher. He started that reputation with his shutout of the Pirates in the 1974 NLCS.  Don would also win the close out game four. Note of interest, future Dodger Jerry Ruess was Don’s opponent in the first and fourth game. In game one Ruess did well only giving up one run while losing 3 -0. Game four was a different story as the Dodgers pounded a multitude of Pirate pitchers for a 12 – 1 victory.

The Jose Lima game has been covered many times.

Leaving Burt Hooten, who always seems to be forgotten when discussing significant Dodger starters. I’ll be honest, I remember Burt being chased by the Phillie fans in game four of NLCS more than I remember this gem he pitched against the Yankees in 1977.  Probably because the Dodgers would eventually lose the 1977 World Series and Hooten would be a big reason why when he was hammered in the game six elimination game. If fans of Burt Hooten would like Burt remembered more fondly, Burt probably should have pitched better in that game six. The Dodgers were able to bail him out in the NLCS game when his nerves abandoned him, but they could not do it a second time.

1958 World Series MVP Larry Sherry and 1974 Cy Young  Mike Marshall deserve some mention but I’ll use that for another column about post season brilliance.

Notable names we don’t see on this list but who came very close.

Zach Grienke, Fernando, Sutton, Ruess, Drysdale –  78

Fernando, Osteen – 77

Kershaw, Orel, Ruess – 76

Grienke, Ramon Martinez, Tommy John – 75

Hell, might was well post the whole list with 75 points or more:

Player                      Date Series Gm# Opp   Rslt  IP H ER BB SO GSc
Zack Greinke          2014-10-04   NLDS   2 STL  W 3-2 7.0 2  0  2  7  78
Jerry Reuss           1981-10-11   NLDS   5 HOU  W 4-0 9.0 5  0  3  4  78
Fernando Valenzuela   1981-10-10   NLDS   4 HOU  W 2-1 9.0 4  1  1  4  78
Jerry Reuss           1981-10-07   NLDS   2 HOU  L 0-1 9.0 5  0  2  3  78
Don Sutton            1974-10-09   NLCS   4 PIT W 12-1 8.0 3  1  1  7  78
Don Drysdale          1965-10-10     WS   4 MIN  W 7-2 9.0 5  2  2 11  78
Fernando Valenzuela   1981-10-19   NLCS   5 MON  W 2-1 8.2 3  1  3  6  77
Claude Osteen         1965-10-09     WS   3 MIN  W 4-0 9.0 5  0  2  2  77
Clayton Kershaw       2013-10-03   NLDS   1 ATL  W 6-1 7.0 3  1  3 12  76
Orel Hershiser        1988-10-20     WS   5 OAK  W 5-2 9.0 4  2  4  9  76
Jerry Reuss           1981-10-25     WS   5 NYY  W 2-1 9.0 5  1  3  6  76
Zack Greinke          2013-10-11   NLCS   1 STL  L 2-3 8.0 4  2  1 10  75
Ramon Martinez        1996-10-02   NLDS   1 ATL  L 1-2 8.0 3  1  3  6  75
Tommy John            1977-10-08   NLCS   4 PHI  W 4-1 9.0 7  1  2  8  75

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 10/14/2014.

BTW game score is calculated using the following formula –

  1. Start with 50 points.
  2. Add one point for each out recorded, so three points for every complete inning pitched.
  3. Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth.
  4. Add one point for each strikeout.
  5. Subtract two points for each hit allowed.
  6. Subtract four points for each earned run allowed.
  7. Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed.
  8. Subtract one point for each walk.

In Clayton Kershaws first start of the 2014 postseason he entered the 7th inning with a game score of:

50 + 18 + 6 + 8 – 4 – 8= 70

Three more outs in modest fashion and who knows what Oct 2014 would have brought Dodger fans, but as Dodger fans learned the hard way, post season baseball is not six innings.

Arizona Fall League 10-10-14 Update (basically the Corey Seager update)

The AFL opened this week and so far two games have been played.  All eyes are on how the Dodgers use Corey this fall. Will he play all his games at SS? Will he start the transition to 3rd? How the Dodgers perceive Seager probably determines what they do with the major league roster. Seager is going to be part of the Dodgers plans as soon as 2016, and very well could force his way onto the 2015 roster if the need should arise.

Do the Dodgers offer Hanley a qualifying offer for 2015? If they do and he declines is Erisbel Arruebarrena the answer in 2015?  Can the defense of Erisbel offset the lost offense of Hanley? If Erisbel is the answer does that make Corey Seager a 3rd baseman? If Erisbel is not the answer do they find another answer for 2015, or wait for Corey Seager? Had to imagine a team whose only goal is a World Champion using a rookie SS at any point. Yet Corey Seager is not just any prospect.  At this point the 20-year-old Seager could be argued to be the best position prospect the Los Angeles Dodgers have ever had. I’ll start making that argument sometime next week.

For now, back to the AFL.

In the first AFL game, Corey played SS, batted 3rd, and collected two doubles, and two walks. Scott Schebler played LF and went 1 for 4. Darnell Sweeney played 2nd base and also collected two hits, both singles.  Sweeney also made an error.

The second game (rained out on Wednesday) had Scott Schebler as the only Dodger position prospect to play and he went hitless in four at bats. Matt Magill got eight outs in relief, giving up zero earned runs, with one walk and four strikeouts. Blake Smith finished up with one inning.

Ballmer Time


Last night the Clippers hosted a season ticket holder party at Universal Studios from 07:00PM to midnight. It was kind of awesome, the park was closed to everyone but the season ticket holders. All the rides were running, the shows were closed down. I’d guess the typical wait for a ride would be 50 minutes to 90 minutes on a normal day.  Some rides we walked right into, some rides had a little wait. The 3rd time we tried to hit the Simpsons ride the wait had swelled to 20 minutes so we headed down into the lower lot and walked right into the Transformer ride.

We had not been to Universal Studios for over a decade, so every ride there was brand new to us.  Simpsons, Minions, Jurassic Park, Tranformers, Mummy.  We did them all twice in about 2 hours. I’m not even a Transformer fan but that ride was boss.

When you entered the theme park they had Clippers in lights everywhere. We were a tad late for the pep rally which was cool, I’m not much of a pep rally person.

The real point is that the new owner of the Clippers is trying to make his mark in Los Angeles by doing things that no other ownership group has ever done. I’ve had season tickets for the Dodgers / Bruins / Lakers / Clippers and this is the first time someone closed down a theme park for their season ticket holders. It was a class move, one I’m sure of many more to come.

If you have not yet gotten on board the Clipper train, hop on, plenty of seats still available.

This will be a new world

Go Clippers

Still in disbelief

Among all the failings I imagined the Dodgers having this postseason I never ever imagined that Clayton would not put the team on his shoulders. It was the only way this team had a shot. I’m not upset that the Dodgers lost. I can still feel euphoria when they win, but when they lose I just move on. I am upset that Clayton has to have this on his shoulders all winter long. He’s the greatest Dodger of my lifetime, for him I wanted this postseason legacy. You become a legend because of your actions, at this moment, Clayton is a regular season legend, but his postseason legacy will have to wait another year. Eric Stephen tweeted that this will be the saddest MVP presentation since Dirk in 2007. Sadly this is true. Many will write of everything Clayton did this regular season but it will all feel hollow.

The Dodgers had Clayton Kershaw  to start game one on a ton of rest in a five game series. That meant the best pitcher in baseball was going to make two starts if needed.

That should have been enough.  Many excuses are going to be laid out blaming the Dodger bullpen for Clayton’s collapse in the 7th inning of both games he started.  The bullpen is indeed a problem, but in these games, Clayton Kershaw needs to go seven full innings. Seven. Not 6 2/3 not 6 1/3. Seven. That is why he is the regular season MVP and Cy Young. Because he got a team with a crappy bullpen either to the 9th or 8th or simply shook hands with the catcher.  He did it all year, eighteen of his last twenty starts he went a full seven.  He needed to do that two times. He didn’t.

And that is why the Dodgers are going home. Not because of a suspect bullpen. Not because of an offense that didn’t score enough runs. But because the best player in baseball was not the best player in baseball for the full seven innings that he needed to be.

That is why the Tigers are going home. They acquired David Price for one reason. To be able to out pitch the Bud Norris’s of the world. He did not.

That is why Oakland could not even get into the Division series. He was acquired to win the big game. He could not.

It happens. Dodger fans need to man up and not make excuses for their man not doing what he needed to do. You can bet Clayton is not making excuses, why should his fans?

 

 

Division series mayhem abounds aplenty leaving fans from Washington to Los Angeles in the dust

What a crazy set of major league Division series baseball fans were subjected to in the past week. Heck the play in game was just as crazy.

  • Cy Young award winners Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander, and David Price all lost. Zach Grienke won. The 2007 NL CY Young Jake Peavy won. At his peak Peavy never had a solid postseason game, but seven years later he makes his case.
  • Jon Lester, one of the best postseason pitchers of this decade can’t hold a 6 -2 lead in the play in-game.
  • Clayton Kershaw, the best pitcher in baseball the last four years could not hold a 6 -2 lead nor a 2 – 0 lead
  • Every underdog won – Royals / Orioles / Giants / Cardinals – the favorites only managed to win two games out of fourteen
  • AJ Ellis, Anthony Rendon, and Erik Aybar all had four hits in one game. Their teams lost every game.
  • Randall Grichuk was drafted by the same team as the Angels, one pick before 2014 MVP Mike Trout. Grichuk had more impact in a positive way in the postseason than Mike Trout. I would say that 98% of baseball fans who tuned into the postseason had never heard of Randall Grichuk.
  • Matt Carpenter / Matt Holiday / Matt Adams owned Clayton Kershaw in the 7th inning going a combined 5 for 5 with eight runs batted in
  • While most of the 20 – 25 Million dollar Cy Young pitchers could not manage a win for their teams, the likes of Jason Vargas, Chris Tillman, Bud Norris, Yordano Ventura, Yusmeiro Petit, Ryan Vogelsong all pitched well enough to either garner the victory or make sure their team won later.
  • The Nationals / Giants went eighteen innings, with Yusmeiro Petit pitching six highly leveraged shutout innings from the 12th – 17th inning.
  • If anyone had doubts about the impact of defense in today’s game they did not watch the Royal / Angel Division series. Lorenzo Cain caught everything and he wasn’t even the best Centerfielder on the team. Every game he was moved to right field to make room for Jarrod Dyson to play center for “defensive” purposes late in games.
  • Home field did not mean squat except for one series.
  • The Detroit Tigers started a trio of Cy Young Award winners. They all lost.  Doug Fister won the only game for the Nationals. He was traded by the Tigers for a AA prospect last winter.

All this means is that the regulars season means even less today to me than it did yesterday.  No rhyme or reason to this postseason so far. No one can tell me the better team won in any of these series.

 

 

How many Matt’s can Dodger fans hate in a lifetime?

Sadly, we are updating the NLDS Matt carnage show. Strangely enough when I created this post this morning, I had totally forgotten the lore of 2008/2009 Matt Stairs, and it is a tad freaky how similar Matt Adams is to Matt Stairs.

Game One:

  • With two out in the 6th inning, Clayton Kershaw had given up one hit, a home run. Matt Carpenter hit what appeared at the time to be an innocuous home run to change the score from 6 – 1 to 6 – 2 and nobody really cared. It would be the beginning of an hour of onslaught by the Cardinal Matt’s.
  • The Dodgers entered the 7th with a 6 – 2 lead but a trio of Matt’s would prove the Dodger undoing. Matt Adams started the Matt carnage by collecting the fourth straight single off of Clayton, driving in the 3rd run of the game for the Cardinals and making Dodger fans nervous.
  • By the time Matt Carpenter came up in the same innings, the score was now 6-4 the sacks were loaded, and Don Mattingly had visited the mound. Whatever transpired, Don left the best pitcher in baseball in to face his nemeses Matt Carpenter. It did not go well. Matt Carpenter delivered a three run double that many Dodger fans will never recover from. It might have been the most important at bat of the series, possibly of Clayton’s career and it shockingly ended with Clayton on the Matt.
  • Far from done, the next Matt came up, and in typical Cardinal Matt fashion Matt Holiday planted a Pedro Baez pitch into the left field pavilion putting the game out of reach.
  • Matt Kemp did his best, collecting three hits of his own but one Matt on this day could not offset a trio of Cardinal Matt’s

Game Two:

  • With the Dodgers leading 1 – 0 in the top of the eight inning, Dodger killer Matt Carpenter slugs a two run home run off of JP Howell. Not only does this put the Cardinals up 2 – 1, it increases the debate from Friday when many fans felt JP Howell should have faced Matt Carpenter instead of letting the best pitcher in baseball try to work his way out of a nasty situation. I’m not sure even Sandy Koufax could get Matt Carpenter out at this point.
  • This time the Dodgers had the right Matt at the right time. Answering the home run by Matt Carpenter, Matt Kemp takes Neshek deep for a two run blast, giving the Dodgers a 3 – 2 lead that they would hold to even the series at a game a piece.

Game Three:

  • In the 3rd inning of a scoreless game, that guy hits another home run. Matt Carpenter in three games has now homered against Clayton Kershaw, JP Howell, and Ryu. This from a man who hit all of eight home runs during the regular season. Only two from the left side. In three three games he has three home runs against three of the toughest left hand pitchers in baseball. It has been a mind boggling run by Matt Carpenter.
  • With three games in the book Matt Carpenter has three home runs, a bases loaded double, and for some reason the key to Kershaws lock.

Game Four:

  • Clayton Kershaw took a one hitter this time into the 7th inning. Two straight singles that just evaded infielder gloves brought up Matt Adams who promptly deposited a three run home run thus finishing the Dodgers. The final Matt carnage was ridiculous.

Clayton Kershaw final line in the 7th inning for the NLDS

NLDS 7th inning for Kershaw final line looks like

2/3 inning
7 singles
1 double
1 home run
9 earned runs

The Matt trio did the following in the 7th inning against Clayton
Five at bats
2 Singles
1 Double
2 Home runs
8 RBI – Four by Adams, Three by Carpenter, One by Holliday (Carpenter was his man)

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