Posts Tagged ‘Clayton Kershaw’

The Pride Of Porter Derails Dodgers

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

Adam Dunn — the pride of Porter, Texas — is finally starting to get the attention he deserves. And it’s long overdue. The Nationals’ first baseman’s two home run, six RBI outing against the Trolleys in Los Angeles was the talk of baseball on Friday night. The “cavalcade of stars” on Baseball Tonight and the whoop-happy crew on MLBN’s late night offering (Plesac and Williams) spun up Dunn’s “Moon shots” in Dodger Stadum again and again. We can only hope the former Redleg and D-Back great is enjoying it. Ignored in the first round of the amateur draft, the victim of unfair criticism at the hands of a flap-mouthed former G.M., traded from team-to-team for younger unproven players, passed over for the 2010 All Star game and regularly relegated to second tier attention behind Prince Fielder and Ryan Howard (among others), Dunn is slowly laying claim to being one of the game’s elite players. Certainly Dunn’s skipper, Jim Riggleman thinks so.

In the aftermath of Friday’s derailing of the Dodgers in L.A., Riggleman dissected Dunn’s at-bats, shaking his head in wonder: “What Adam did out there today, that’s really some big stuff because [L.A. starter Clayton] Kershaw has been really tough on everybody, particularly tough on left-handers,” Riggleman said. “For Adam to do that against him a couple of times in that ballgame, you are not going to see that too often against Kershaw.” But it was MASN play-by-play guy Bob Carpenter who said it best. “If Adam Dunn appears hunched over it’s because he’s carrying the Washington Nationals on his back,” he said. “And he can do it.” Dunn, meanwhile, underplayed his accomplishment, focusing instead on Kershaw.”He is not one of my top pitchers to face. I can tell you that,” he said. “He is really good. Look at his numbers. He is really good. He is only going to get better. How old is he? Twelve, 13? He is only going to get better.” Dunn’s night was complemented by a solid outing from John Lannan and a tough defense, which included a diving catch in centerfield from recent call-up Justin Maxwell. The Nationals will face off against the Dodgers again tonight in L.A. before wrapping up the series on Sunday.

Nats Leave 15, Lose In 13

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

The Washington Nationals came within inches of pulling out a victory against the Dodgers on Saturday, but a quick throw to home by L.A. third baseman Casey Blake on a slow roller by Ian Desmond caught Ivan Rodriguez at the plate in the bottom of the 13th inning — and the Trolley’s went on to win a 4-3 13 inning squeaker at Nationals Park. The play-at-the-plate call brought boos from Nats fans, but after the game Rodriguez said he believed the umpire made the right decision: “I went in and saw the replay and I was out probably two or three inches. He made a good call,” Rodriguez said. The Nats had plenty of opportunities to win the game, but left 15 men on base against L.A. starter Clayton Kershaw and a host of Dodger relievers. “I thought we played real good baseball,” Nats’ manager Jim Riggleman said in the clubhouse after the game. “We got some timely hits. Pitching was good. It was a pitching and defense game. I wish we could have gotten the runs in. It just didn’t happen.”

The itchy-close contest included another stellar outing from Washington starter Craig Stammen and a 3 for 7 day from fleet-footed speedster Nyjer Morgan — whose controversial sixth inning decision to try for third on a ball hit over the head of left fielder Xavier Paul was the talk of the post game commentators. After the game, Morgan admitted he had made a base running mistake. “I was being aggressive, but not intelligent,” Morgan said. “But my thought was they were trying to [throw out] Stammen. I should have stopped about halfway, but I was locked in. I had tunnel vision there and didn’t understand the situation a little bit. I have to be smarter in that situation. It was an aggressive play. I was thinking they would throw out the pitcher instead of trying to get me at third. I should have known better not to make the last out at third base.”

Are “Dem Bums” For Real?

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Dodgers

This is the second in a series of guest commentaries by “MH” — our regular guest columnist and erstwhile fan of the Los Angeles Dodgers . . .

Questions continue to surround the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers, but one question in particular seems to haunt “dem bums”: are they really the best team in baseball, or a fluke that’s just waiting to collapse? The Dodgers’ stellar record would certainly seem to suggest they’re the best (if not in all of baseball, then certainly in the NL), but naysayers persist, claiming that the Dodgers are simply fortunate to be in the NL West – an “easy division.” Their suspicions seemed vindicated at the end of July, when the league-leading Dodgers headed east to face central division powerhouse St. Louis – where they won only one game of a four game set. The Trolleys were outscored in the series 22-8 (which included a 10-0 blowout), and their pitching looked simply mortal. The Dodgers were a paper tiger. At least that is what Dodgers skeptics would have you believe.

More than any other factor in the St. Louis series, defense was crucial. Both teams brought tightly wound starters, bullpens and formidable fielders. The Dodgers activated Hong-Chih Kuo from the DL, and he proved his worth on the Dodgers roster — which had recently suffered from the loss of both Corry Wade and Ronald Belisario. The L.A. bullpen seems to have weathered the worst that baseball (and injuries) can offer — and is now set for the final run to the flag. Andre Ethier, Matt Kemp, and the Manny Ramirez-Juan Pierre duo combined to form a formidable defensive perimeter in all but the second game in the four-game series. The Cards saw the Dodgers defense and raised it an impressive batting staff – to the extent that game three of the four-game tilt was a fifteen-inning leviathan. There wasn’t much a hurting Dodgers bullpen could do to combat the Cards’ assault.

Crucial to the success of the Dodgers has been its pitching staff, and with the introduction of George Sherrill (a trading deadline addition from the Orioles), and the activation of Kuo, the pitching is likely to get a lot sharper. The emergence of Clayton Kershaw (who is what everyone wants — an overpowering lefty) has been crucial. And for those critics that saw in the Cards’ series an indication of the Dodgers’ raw skill — or lack of it — there is the Dodgers’ uncanny ability to add fresh blood from a pitching heavy farm system. Then too, while the L.A. nine seemed outclassed by the Redbirds in St. Louis, they have gone 4-4 since (which includes a rough road swing), lead the NL West by nearly seven games and remain the most dangerous team in the west. Are the Dodgers the best team in baseball? Maybe not, but they will bring the heat and the bats against any team they face in the regular and post-season. The emergence of superstar-to-be, Andre Ethier, the addition of Sherrill, the continued outstanding infield defensive play and the genius of Dodger manager Joe Torre will make sure of that.

ethier

now is the time

Report From LA

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

[We often receive guest commentaries from fans outside of Washington. This week “MH” provides Centerfield Gate readers with his view on the Dodgers, from L.A.]

The Pierre Paradox: On July 3 the Dodgers passed another milestone in their effort to capture the World Series. Manny Ramirez returned. That means that despite his efforts on the field, which may have been pivotal in the Dodgers current leading position atop the NL West, Juan Pierre is back on the bench. Never mind the fact that Pierre out-hustles and outshines Manny in the outfield, Manny produces homers, which no other Dodger is able to do. This is perplexing for the Dodgers, as Joe Torre has made the point time and again that his preference is for a team that can consistently get on base, a formula that Juan Pierre helped the Dodgers to fit into nicely.

Pierre

What we’re seeing then is the on-base vs. power debate being played out in the Dodgers franchise. At the end of the day home runs put fans in the bleachers, a fact that Dodgers management cannot overlook. But the Dodgers’ front office should not lose sight of the fact that the other big way to get fans in bleachers is to take the pennant and the World Series. Juan Pierre was on his way to helping them do that. Let’s hope that the re-adopted Manny does not reinforce ‘the bums’ stereotype, and that the Dodgers get their money’s worth for an unfortunate choice.

The Kershaw Complex: Clayton Kershaw must remind Torre of the young Sandy Koufax; he has an amazing 1-7 curveball and mid-90s fastball. It should be no surprise that he was able to strike out thirteen Giants in nine innings, or that just yesterday he was able to blank the Mets in New York. Kershaw is only 21, and his youth may be his greatest drawback. Kershaw has suffered from several bouts of inconsistency, which resulted in several commentators calling on him to be sent down to Albuquerque Triple A.  Admittedly, there have been bumps in Kershaw’s journey as a pitcher, but the only way for him to overcome the stresses that have led to his inconsistencies is for him to stay in the bigs, facing all the pressures that the mound brings. He showed his ability to do this against the Angels in the final game of the Freeway Series with seven no-hit innings. That’s no small feat.

There is greatness in Kershaw’s future, but it can only emerge through the strenuous smelting that the best batters of the MLB provide. To remove him from the big leagues would be a great injustice against not just the Dodgers franchise, but against baseball itself. He may never eclipse or surpass Koufax as a pitcher, but he might be able to show Major League Baseball how pitching can and should be done.