Southpaw pitcher John Lannan threw 6.1 lights-out innings, homered into the right field seats, and then watched as Washington’s ace relief corps derailed the Los Angeles Dodgers, 7-2 in the City of Angels on Friday night. The win brought the Nationals to 3-4 on their current road trip, and provided a badly needed win after the team dropped two of three in Houston.
Lannan’s performance on the mound was memorable, but not nearly as memorable as his surprising home run into the right field seats, which came with two outs in the second inning. It was the first home run Lannan has hit since he was 15. “I just got a pitch to hit,” Lannan said. “I wasn’t trying to hit a home run. I was trying to put the bat on the ball and it went out. It’s kind of a blur right now.”
The Trolleys kept the game close, despite Lannan’s pitching and hitting heroics. Dodger righty Hiroki Kuroda struggled in the early frames, but then settled down to hold the Nationals to a single run lead. But his teammates couldn’t solve the Nats’ pitching, registering just three hits in their 56th loss. Kuroda, who is 6-12 (but with a snappy 3.19 ERA) has been mentioned prominently in trade talks.
The Dodgers have struggled to score runs recently, despite having some heavy hitters (including triple crown candidate Matt Kemp) in their line-up. Don Mattingly showed his frustration with his team’s lack of production during a post-game interview. “We’ve gotta put some numbers on the board,” Mattingly said. “We had the one inning there, but we just really didn’t mount a whole lot of charges after that. The main thing we have to do [as a team] is throw some numbers up there.”
The Nationals finished strong: Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen combined to hold the Dodgers’ hitless in relief of Lannan, and uber-sub Jerry Hairston collected a ninth inning grand slam that just cleared the left field fence. Hairston’s dinger put the game out of reach.
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: Kuroda is the Dodgers’ lead candidate to be traded, undoubtedly for a package of prospects. The righty is a steady starter, but he’s 36. He says all the trade talk doesn’t bother him: “I have to really concentrate on the game that I pitch,” Kuroda said following his loss to the Nationals . . .
The former Hiroshima Carp ace signed a three year $35 million deal with the Dodgers back in 2007, and he’s been one of the most consistent pitchers for the Drysdales ever since. He re-upped for $12 million this year. He’s never had an ERA above 3.76 and while he’s never compiled that eye-popping season the Dodgers hoped for, he’s been a workhorse: accounting for 624 innings over four years . . .
The Detroit Tigers have the most interest in Kuroda — who might add just enough to the Bengals already tough starting five to put them over the top in the A.L. Central. The Dodgers seem partial to Japanese players — and particularly pitchers: Hideo Nomo pitched for L.A. in the mid-1990s, along with Kazuhisa Ishii, Takashi Saito and Masao Kida. None of them, with the exception of Kuroda, has worked out particularly well . . .
That said, Kuroda’s numbers last year were among the best ever registered by a former Japanese pitcher: he was 11-13, but threw a team leading 196 innings and registered a 3.39 ERA. This year Kuroda is expendable: the Dodgers are on pace for a 91-loss season. Kuroda would rather not go anywhere, his teammates say. He’s a creature of habit, throwing 36 pitches every bullpen session, and he likes it in L.A . . .