Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles Dodgers’
Thursday, June 13th, 2013
Ross Ohlendorf returned to the major leagues on Wednesday night, and led the Washington Nationals to a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies. Ohlendorf threw six innings of two hit baseball and, after the win, Nats’ manager Davey Johnson said he was going to find a way “to keep him around.”
Signed this past winter by the Nationals as a minor league free agent, Ohlendorf pitched for the Padres in 2012 (he was 4-4), and was anxious to get back to the big leagues. His most successful season was in 2009, when he was 11-10 for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“I knew that I needed to pitch well,” Ohlendorf said. “Their lineup’s really good, too. I knew I was capable of having a good game, I just needed to make sure to do it.”
“He had good movement on [his pitches],” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said after the win. “He used the curveball and slider, used both sides of the plate, and I liked his windup, too. That reminded me of some old-fashioned windups.”
Three of the Nationals five runs were produced by shortstop Ian Desmond, who was 2-3 on the night with three RBIs. Desmond is in the midst of a fourteen game hitting streak, and is 14-34 in June, raising his batting average to .282. Desmond is hitting .421 over the last seven games.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
It probably never occurred to anyone in Milwaukee that lefty Denny Lemaster’s real name was Denver Clayton Lemaster — or that he would become anything other than the rightful successor to Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, the best pitcher in Braves’ history, and one of the two or three best left handed pitchers in history.
A graduate of California’s pitching class of 1958 that included Dick Ellsworth and Jim Maloney, the Braves thought Lemaster would outshine them both. He certainly had the skills: a zippy and moving fastball, a top-to-bottom hook — and an intuitive grasp of the strike zone.
Lemaster’s command was his most potent weapon, a talent he says that he perfected as a boy from Oxnard who spent his pre-school hours throwing rocks at fence posts. “I got so good at throwing rocks, I could knock a bird out of a tree whenever I wanted to,” he told one reporter.
Lemaster signed a $70,000 bonus with the Braves in ’58 (a heady amount in those days — and, come to think of it, it’s not too shabby now), and arrived in the big leagues in 1962. He looked less than impressive in his first two years in Milwaukee, going 3-4 in ’62, then following that up with a 11-14 record in ’63.
It took awhile for Lemaster to learn his trade, but his early numbers are deceptive. In 1963 he was second in the Braves’ rotation behind Spahn who, even at 42, was among the best pitchers in baseball (he was 23-7 in ’63). Lemaster was the overlooked number two starter and a workhorse, throwing 237 innings and striking out 190.
Lemaster’s best year was 1964, when he was 17-11, but his ERA spiked. His style had changed: he threw harder, with fewer strikeouts, but had nearly as many innings. It was in 1964 that his arm first began to hurt (it was shoulder tendinitis), and he led the league in wild pitches.
Sunday, June 9th, 2013
The Ooohs and Ahhhs you hear in the background are coming to you all the way from Los Angeles, where Dodger fans finally have something to cheer about. Or, rather, someone to cheer for. His name is Yasiel Puig (it’s pronounced “pwig”) and he’s the next big thing for the Trolleys, who remain in last place (and adrift) in the National League West.
Puig, a sensation in Cuba, was signed by the Dodgers to a seven year $42 million contract last June; everyone scoffed. He didn’t appear on anyone’s list of top prospects and large numbers of senior scouts were skeptical that he could hit major league pitching. He was great in Cuba? So what.
“The question around baseball is how the Dodgers could justify awarding such a lavish contract to a player who scouts considered more of a solid than a spectacular prospect,” Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote after the signing. Badler then quoted a top scout as calling the Dodger decision “crazy.”
But Puig has silenced the critics since being called up seven days ago. Puig arrived with the team in time for a face-off against the Padres, where his throw from deep right doubled up the Padres’ Chris Denorfia, and helped preserve a 2-1 Los Angeles win. Puig was 2-4 in the game.
The next day he was even better. He led off and went 3-4 with five RBIs. “I’ve played a long time, but I don’t think I’ve seen a guy have a first two games that he’s had,” Dodger veteran Jerry Hairston commented after the 9-7 Dodger victory. “Arm strength, speed, power to all fields. This is fun to watch.”
Thursday, May 16th, 2013
“It was a tough night, tough night,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Johnson said of Washington’s disappointing 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.
Johnson’s words reflected not simply the team’s latest inability to score runs, but a rash of in-game injuries — to lefty starter Ross Detwiler (who left with back tightness after the third inning) and catcher Wilson Ramos, who reinjured his hamstring and left the game in the top of the 4th inning.
Wednesday night’s loss to the Dodgers left the Nationals at just two games over .500, and allowed Los Angeles to take the three game series. The problem for Washington (aside from the two injuries) continued to be the team’s inability to drive in runs: the Nats’ stroked nine hits in Wednesday’s loss, but left 16 runners on base.
For L.A., the big story of the night was the return of Zack Greinke, who took the mound after more than four weeks on the disabled list. Greinke pitched five complete innings in notching his second win on the season. “I thought my stuff was pretty good,” he said after the victory. “My stamina needs to grow a little bit, but that could be next start.”
While there’s no doubt that Greinke pitched well, the Nationals had several opportunities to knock him out of the game — but were unable to capitalize. Before leaving the game, Wilson Ramos got on base in both of his at-bats, but was left stranded his teammates. The only Washington score in the early going (and all night) came in a home run off the bat of Adam LaRoche, his fourth of the season.
The only piece of good news for the Nationals was the continued brilliant relief pitching of Craig Stammen who came in after Detwiler left the game and kept the Dodgers scoreless in three innings of work. Stammen has been the best pitcher in the Washington bullpen and lowered his ERA to 2.25 on the year.
The best chance to win the game for the Nationals came in the 8th inning, when the Nationals had runners on first and third with nobody out but weren’t able to push across a run. “We had the right guys up there,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if we are trying to do too much instead of just hitting the ball and putting it in play. I don’t know, but we’ll figure it out.”
Those Are The Details, Now For The Headlines: It’s amazing but true — after losing two of three in L.A. (and after struggling at the plate), Washington is still only one game behind the Atlanta Braves in the surprisingly uncompetitive N.L East . . .
The reason? The Braves have a deplorable road record, going only 7-13 on their two ten game road trips this year. The losses have been keenly felt in Atlanta, particularly after the early 12-1 start. The Braves have only won ten of their last 27 games, and are 11-15 against teams better than .500 . . .
Tuesday, May 14th, 2013
Ace righty Jordan Zimmermann pitched 7.2 innings and notched his MLB league leading seventh win and third sacker Ryan Zimmerman drove in three Washington runs, as the Nationals topped the Dodgers in L.A., 6-2.
Zimmermann showed why he’s the ace of the staff and, as of now, the leading candidate for the N.L. Cy Young Award. While Zimmermann scattered nine hits, he was able to cut through the tough Los Angeles line-up, registering five strikeouts without walking a hitter.
“He just kept attacking the zone,” Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis said after the D.C. victory “He was getting himself in good counts and it’s a good way to pitch, ahead in the count. He did a great job tonight of that.” As always, the key to Zimmermann’s success was his ability to throw strikes: 67 of them in a 101 pitching outing.
Washington’s league leading 7-1 fireballer was aided by a Washington parade that banged out ten hits, including a Ryan Zimmerman double in the 3rd that drove in two. “I’m starting to get back into the groove now. I’m starting to feel better at the plate,” Zimmerman said in his post-game comments.
The big news of the game was the 5th inning collision that Bryce Harper had with the Dodger Stadium wall in right field. Harper was tracking a ball off the bat of A.J. Ellis and collided with the wall, cutting his chin and slamming his shoulder. Harper walked from the field, but needed eleven stitches to close the gash on his face.
Monday, May 13th, 2013
No one in the stands at Nationals Park on Sunday was fooled by the argument over balls and strikes that Nats’ catcher Kurt Suzuki had with home plate umpire John Tumpane in the bottom of the 9th. The issue wasn’t balls and strikes, the issue was Suzuki’s errant throw to third to stop a double steal in the top of the frame that fueled a disappointing 2-1 Nats’ loss.
“You’re a princess, Suzuki,” a fan shouted along the third base line. “Stop whining and start playing.” Another fan, nearby, was as outspoken — if less vocal. “He wants us to remember that he argued balls and strikes,” he said, “so that we’ll forget his error. Well, good luck with that.”
But Suzuki’s errant throw (the ball actually skipped off the bat of Welingon Castillo) was only one let-down in an otherwise hard fought Nats-Cubs contest. The other was Drew Storen’s inability to keep the Cubbies off the board in the top of the 8th, when he gave up the tying run on a single from Starlin Castro that scored pinch runner Travis Wood.
The Suzuki error and Storen’s blown hold reversed a stellar outing from starter Gio Gonzalez, who threw seven innings of near perfect baseball. The Gonzalez performance promised to be a gem: the lefty was perfect until the top of the 6th, when Cubs backstop Dioner Navarro notched the first Cubs hit.
The Suzuki throw and Storen’s blown hold were, at least in some respects, explicable: Suzuki’s error could be put down to bad luck, Storen’s blown hold could be explained as just one of those things. But Washington fans also wondered why Davey Johnson decided, with Gio cruising along, that he would pinch hit for his near-perfect lefty in the bottom of the 7th. Why not let Gio finish?
“It’s just the way I manage,” Johnson said of his decision. “You can chalk it up to me. You don’t like it, chalk it up to me. It didn’t work out.” Which is to say that, while Gio might have been on his way to a complete game, Johnson felt that the Nationals had to somehow get more runs on the board.
Saturday, May 11th, 2013
If Saturday’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Nationals Park proved anything, it’s that the book on righty ace Stephen Strasburg is fast becoming . . . well, the book on Stephen Strasburg.
Cruising along with two outs in the 5th inning (and pitching better than he had all season), Ryan Zimmerman’s throwing error on a routine grounder seemed to unhinge Strasburg, who proceeded to give up four runs — and the Cubs went on to defeat the Nationals 8-2 at Nationals Park.
It’s hard to know what to worry about most: Ryan Zimmerman’s nagging inability to make an accurate throw to first, or Strasburg’s inability to roll with the punches. Nats’ manager Davey Johnson, it seems, has made up his mind. Anyone can make an error, he said after the Saturday loss, but it’s up to the pitcher to put it behind him and keep throwing strikes.
“It was unfortunate,” a puzzled Johnson said after the loss, “That inning he threw 40 pitches? It’s hard to explain. He’s throwing good. Good stuff. Hitting his spots. And then just seemed to — when we needed him to pick us up, he kind of — the air went out.”
Johnson wasn’t the only one who was befuddled. The stadium was deathly quiet as Strasburg seemed to suddenly struggle against himself: after Wellington Castillo reached on Zimmerman’s error, Strasburg walked Darwin Barney, gave up a double to pitcher Edwin Jackson, walked David DeJesus — then gave up successive singles to Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo.
If it had not been for a poor base running decision by Rizzo, it appeared that Strasburg would be lifted. “Just a bad throw,” Zimmerman said of his error. “It’s frustrating. Stevie’s throwing the ball well and has a heck of a game going and that obviously changed the momentum a little bit.”