Archive for June, 2011

De La Rosa shines, gets no support from bats

June 29, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — His third pitch of the game aside, Rubby De La Rosa was dominant on Wednesday against the Twins. But with no support from the offense, the Dodgers lost, 1-0, at Target Field.

Twins leadoff hitter Ben Revere crushed a 1-1 fastball from De La Rosa into the gap in right, cruising into third base with a standup triple. Revere then scored the game’s only run on a soft grounder back to the pitcher.

De La Rosa tossed a career-high seven innings, giving up just one run on six hits. He struck out four and allowed two walks.

“I was trying to get ahead and have them swing at the first pitch,” De La Rosa said through an interpreter.

De La Rosa fell behind in the count a number of times Wednesday — including the first four batters he faced — but he frequently followed a first-pitch ball with a strike. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said the biggest thing that De La Rosa did right was attacking the strike zone and limiting the number of walks.

Out of 95 pitches — not counting the intentional walk to Revere — De La Rosa threw 80 fastballs, mixing in just seven changeups and eight sliders.

The right-hander threw 69 strikes on the day, inducing eight swings and misses. In doing so, De La Rosa left quite an impression on the Twins.

“He made some of us look pretty bad at times,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “So that says a little bit about how much De La Rosa’s ball was moving.”

Only one Twins hitter — Revere — had more than one hit against De La Rosa. He also retired Minnesota in order the second time through the lineup.

“He’s more of a thrower than a pitcher at this point, but that’s kind of a compliment. He has great stuff, electric stuff,” said Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer, who grounded out three times against De La Rosa.

“He has a great fastball and could probably go out there and throw 95 percent fastballs and get guys out. The ball is moving all over the place, and once he figures out where it’s going on a consistent basis, he’ll be that much better.”

The Dodgers’ offense opened the game with three straight swinging strikeouts, and things did not get much better after that. Los Angeles managed just six hits and had more than one baserunner in an inning only once, with two singles in the second.

It was the eighth time this season the Dodgers were shut out, and their second 1-0 loss. The other came on May 17 against Josh Collmenter and the D-backs.

Entering Wednesday, the Dodgers had a National League-leading .281 team batting average. Even with that, the team has remained inconsistent, finishing with a 10-16 record in June.

“At times, it looks OK; at times, it doesn’t,” Mattingly said of the offense. “I think somebody told me before the game we were the best [hitting] team in baseball in June. I don’t know what that tells you, but [we’re] still not being able to put up enough runs to put wins together.”

Twins right-hander Scott Baker bounced back from a rough outing in Milwaukee over the weekend, striking out nine and walking one over 7 1/3 shutout innings. It was the third outing of seven or more innings by Baker in June.

In his last four trips to the hill, Baker is 3-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 30 strikeouts.

“I know he kind of likes to play with that fastball up in the zone,” Mattingly said. “That’s not necessarily a surprise, but it obviously looks good to hit. He’s able to pitch up there. He kind of changes planes, he’s got a good breaking ball it looks like, and for the most part, [he] throws strikes.”

All but one hit allowed by Baker was a single, with Matt Kemp’s sixth-inning double the only exception.

Kemp could have done more with the two-bagger, as he slowed around first, thinking he was out and even removing his helmet before replacing it and easing into second. He still advanced to third on his 22nd stolen base of the season, but James Loney could not drive him in.

After putting up 25 hits and 15 runs in the opening game of the series, the Dodgers managed just four runs and 13 hits in dropping the last two contests. With the loss Wednesday, they dropped to 10 games under .500 for the second time this season, but nonetheless remained positive after the game.

“We’re not frustrated,” Kemp said. “We have a lot of time left, we’re going to keep playing, keep battling, and we’re going to try our best to turn this thing around. We’ve got faith in ourselves.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers notebook, 6/29

June 29, 2011 Comments off

Lilly struggling to hold runners on

MINNEAPOLIS — Ted Lilly has always had trouble holding runners on, but opponents have been running even more lately on the Dodgers lefty.

Lilly has been working on keeping runners close, but it has not seemed to be effective. With Lilly on the mound Tuesday night, the Twins stole four bases, one shy of their season high.

“It seems like every time I throw over to first, they’re standing there, and when I go home, they’re standing on second,” Lilly said. “They know something that I don’t.”

While his delivery to plate is slow, Lilly does have an above-average pickoff move to first base. But even that hasn’t helped.

“He’s got one of those moves that is deceptive, but it’s like when we’re picking guys, we’re still not able to get that guy at second base,” manager Don Mattingly said. “We’ve probably had three or four of those, where he’s picked guys off and we’re not able to get that guy at second.”

Mattingly said Lilly needs to use a spin move more with runners at second base, and he notes that Lilly has been mixing up his pickoff moves to try to keep runners off-balance.

One thing that Mattingly does not think will help, though, is Lilly using a slide step to cut down the length of his delivery.

Whatever the issue is with Lilly holding runners close, Mattingly said it has seemed worse than usual lately. It has also coincided with a few poor starts.

When Lilly was asked if one could be affecting the other, he responded, “Usually, that’s how it goes.”

Injuries, uneven play impetus of Dodgers’ woes

MINNEAPOLIS — Through the first half of the season, the Dodgers have dealt with numerous injuries and struggled to a 36-45 record.

As it entered the second half the season on Wednesday, the club sat 10 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West.

So what has first-year manager Don Mattingly learned about his team so far?

“I’ve learned we’re not in a good position at this point,” Mattingly said. “We haven’t really put ourselves in the position we’d like.”

After an impressive, historic victory on Monday, the Dodgers had won back-to-back games while looking like a team ready to put together a winning streak.

Instead, they followed with a 6-4 loss Tuesday night, in which lefty starter Ted Lilly struggled and the offense could not put anything together significant, save for a three-run fifth inning.

Midway through the season, the Dodgers still have not won more than three consecutive games.

“Obviously, at halfway, you’d like to start seeing your club kind of form an identity of who you’re going to be on a day-in, day-out basis,” Mattingly said. “Really to this point, I don’t think we’ve been showing any sign of that.

“We haven’t really put a run together yet, we haven’t gotten on one of those streaks where you’re winning and you get that confidence going as a ballclub, where you start to feel like, ‘We can do this, we can win this thing.'”

Mattingly: ‘Donnie Baseball’ came from Puckett

MINNEAPOLIS — During his 14-year career with the Yankees in the 1980s and ’90s, Don Mattingly earned the nickname “Donnie Baseball.”

Before Wednesday’s series finale in Minnesota, the Dodgers manager talked about how he got that nickname, from one of the Twins’ all-time greats, Kirby Puckett.

“I’m not quite sure why it stuck. … Kirby got it started,” Mattingly said. “The way he gets going and gets talking, he’s talking about ‘Baseball, baseball, Donnie Baseball, baseball.'”

Mattingly said Puckett coined the name at an annual banquet in Rochester, N.Y., held by former Major League umpire Ken Kaiser to benefit an orphanage. The banquet was well-attended by players, and Mattingly recalled seeing Nolan Ryan, George Brett, Mark McGwire, Jim Leyland and Don Zimmer there, among others.

Beyond getting his nickname from the Twins Hall of Famer, Mattingly said he had a good relationship with Puckett.

“You really respect the way Kirby played the game; he played hard,” Mattingly said. “From that standpoint, yeah. Not necessarily going out to dinner and things like that, but [we had] a good relationship from the standpoint of camaraderie amongst players.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers can’t rally after Lilly struggles

June 28, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — After matching a club record with 25 hits on Monday night for their second straight win, the Dodgers looked like they might be on the verge of putting together a winning streak.

But after a complete performance in Monday’s victory, with good pitching, hitting and defense, the Dodgers couldn’t keep the Twins off the board on Tuesday and could not string together enough hits of their own as they lost, 6-4, at Target Field.

“It’s kind of really been our story, for the most part. We’ve been able to put a couple games together, [or] three, it looks like we might get something going here and there, and then we just seem to fall back,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “Obviously, we’re going to need to win tomorrow and keep trying to put this thing together.”

It started on the mound, where left-hander Ted Lilly had just one inning in which he did not allow a run, giving up six on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. Lilly allowed at least one hit in every inning, and multiple hits in the first, second and fifth.

Lilly did not strike out a batter for just the third time in 302 career starts. The other two times came on Sept. 23, 2005, at Yankee Stadium and May 18, 2001, at Seattle. In his last three starts, Lilly is 0-3 with a 10.43 ERA, giving up 17 earned runs on 23 hits, including four home runs.

The big hit came in the fifth, when Twins first baseman Luke Hughes knocked Lilly out of the game with a two-run homer that broke a 4-4 tie.

“It was in, but it was up, and it just didn’t come out very good. I think if I finish that ball a little better and the location’s the same, maybe he pops it up, usually,” Lilly said. “Sometimes the balls that are hit like that are leaked back out over the plate. He kept it fair, and it cost us the game.”

One night after former Twins prospect and Australia native Trent Oeltjen had four hits and was a double shy of the cycle, his fellow countryman, Hughes, came through in a big way for the Twins.

“It was great to watch Trent Oeltjen do his thing last night — it was bittersweet watching him get four hits against us — but tonight was a fantastic opportunity, getting a chance to face Lilly for a third time,” Hughes said. “He got me out the first couple at-bats, but I was lucky enough to square one up and get it over there.”

In the top of the fifth, the Dodgers had tied the game with three runs on a home run, two singles and two walks. Second baseman Aaron Miles hit the solo blast, his first of the season, and Andre Ethier delivered two runs with a single that just got through the infield.

But the offense would not score again, as it managed just three more hits on the night.

The Dodgers had a chance in the seventh, with singles by Jamey Carroll and Casey Blake, but a couple of calls went the Twins’ way to keep Los Angeles off the board. Left fielder Tony Gwynn appeared to have beat out a grounder to short, but was called out, and Carroll looked to have scored on Blake’s single before being called out at the plate.

Twins lefty Brian Duensing gave up four runs on four hits and four walks over five-plus innings with three strikeouts. Duensing dominated the first time through the Dodgers’ order, but he was not much better than Lilly in the end.

“To be honest, it was hard to tell yourself to let them put [it] in play after last night, when every single one of them put [it] in play and put [it] in play hard,” Duensing said. “But I thought the chances of that happening were slim, so I went after them, especially early. But then it got away from me a little bit, and I lost that feeling.”

The Twins took an early lead with an RBI single by Joe Mauer in the first. They added a pair of runs in the second inning with two singles, two stolen bases and an Alexi Casilla double. Minnesota added a run in the fourth inning, the second of the night scored by former Dodgers outfielder Jason Repko, and two in the fifth on Hughes’ home run.

At the midway point of the season after Tuesday’s loss, the Dodgers sit 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Giants, and are nine games under .500.

“We know the situation,” Mattingly said. “Tonight, you feel like you get back in the game and you’re hoping to get something going, but as far as putting some wins together … it’s just not being consistent, really.

“We haven’t been able to consistently put it together, where we’re getting that pitching and we’re swinging the bats.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers notebook, 6/28

June 28, 2011 Comments off

Broxton to be shut down for three weeks

MINNEAPOLIS — After having an MRI on his elbow on Monday, Jonathan Broxton will be shut down for three weeks, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said.

Broxton felt pain in his elbow Sunday, and the MRI showed that he is still dealing with the bone bruise that put him on the disabled list in May. In a best-case scenario, he could return to the Dodgers some time in August.

Though Broxton felt ready to return before two rehab outings, the bone bruise either never fully healed or returned after he got back on the mound.

“You get out there on the field and you use another gear, and obviously when he got to that, that’s when he felt it again,” Mattingly said. “Or it came from it, at least. He didn’t feel it at the time, but he obviously irritated it to the point where it came back.”

Mattingly said that he is prepared to continue with a closer-by-committee approach for now, choosing who will close out games based on the situations and matchups. He also noted that Javy Guerra has emerged as the best option in the back end of the bullpen.

But with an injury that has already lasted much longer than expected, there’s a chance Broxton could not pitch again for the Dodgers this season.

“We’re at a timetable now that’s getting to be so far out again that — he did that once, he did the three weeks, the slow return and all that, and we got back to here,” Mattingly said. “It’s just hard to say, you know, ‘We’re going to get him in six weeks, or seven weeks, or eight weeks.’

“To me, at this point, if he gets back, great, all the better. But you’ve got to kind of move forward.”

Barajas could play rehab games this weekend

MINNEAPOLIS — Catcher Rod Barajas (right ankle sprain) could play in rehab games this weekend, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said before Tuesday’s game at Target Field.

Barajas, who has been on the disabled list since June 19, has been taking batting practice, throwing and participating in other baseball activities.

“Right now, he seems to be either on track or right there — right on it,” Mattingly said. “It could be a couple of days, to make sure [he’s ready].”

Dodgers shortstop Rafael Furcal (strained left oblique) continues to rehab with Class A Rancho Cucamonga. Furcal had four at-bats Monday night while leading off and playing shortstop. He finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

Mattingly said he believed Furcal was scheduled for nine innings at shortstop Tuesday night, and would DH on Wednesday. Furcal still has no target date for his return.

“He’s doing well,” Mattingly said. “We want him to be ready.”

Gwynn on a tear recently for Dodgers

MINNEAPOLIS — After the game Monday night, someone had put tape over the name on the back of Tony Gwynn’s jersey. On the tape, they had written the name Caleb.

Before discussing his four-hit game as a part of the Dodgers’ 15-0 victory over the Twins at Target Field, Gwynn explained the significance of the name.

“Caleb was one of the people God chose to go look at some land, and when they went to go look at it, all the people who were also chosen to go look saw how strong and powerful the people who were already on the land were, and convinced everybody else not to try and go fight for this land,” Gwynn said.

“And Caleb felt like, with what God provided, they didn’t have to worry, they were going to be alright. … We had that in chapel the other day, so I’ve been trying to use it as my motivation.”

Whatever is motivating Gwynn, it’s been working over the last two days.

In the Dodgers’ victories Sunday and Monday over the Angels and Twins, Gwynn hit .636, collecting seven hits in 11 at-bats, including a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on Sunday. Gwynn also scored two runs with a triple, three RBIs, two stolen bases and an outfield assist over that stretch.

Gwynn sparked the offense Monday, as they matched a club record with 25 hits and set a new season high with 15 runs.

“We were able to just find holes and hit balls hard,” Gwynn said. “When we didn’t hit balls hard, we found holes. I think that was just one of those games you enjoy being part of and getting the ‘W’ out of it.

“We definitely haven’t had enough of those. … Just finding holes and getting calls here and there, we haven’t had enough of that. It’s nice to get a victory like that.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers roll with MLB season-high 25 hits

June 27, 2011 Comments off

MINNEAPOLIS — Even an hour after Monday’s game, the Dodgers kept collecting hits.

With a season-high 25 hits and 15 runs, the Dodgers broke out the bats in a big way on Monday against the Twins, cruising to a 15-0 victory at Target Field. But with the way Chad Billingsley dominated on the mound, one of each would have sufficed.

“It’s just one of those days,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “Everything went right from the beginning and kept going tonight. A lot of times you’ll see it start and kind of stop, but it just kind of kept going tonight.”

The 25 hits were the most by any team in the Majors this season, and matched a club record for the Dodgers, who last reached the mark on May 19, 2006, against the Angels.

Tony Gwynn, one of four Dodgers with three or more hits, got things started, leading off the game with a single and scoring two batters later as Andre Ethier reached on a throwing error by shortstop Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Ethier also scored as Matt Kemp followed with a double to the gap in right.

The Dodgers added a run in the third, two in the fourth, three in the fifth, two in the sixth, two more in the seventh, and three for good measure in the eighth inning. For the first time in Los Angeles Dodgers history, every player in the lineup had at least one hit, one run and one RBI.

“Really?” Gwynn asked when told of that stat. “I told you, it was one of those games that guys swung the bat well, got into good counts. … Matt and Andre do what they always do and they had a good supporting cast today.”

After the game, a fielding error in the fourth by Nishioka was ruled a hit for Ethier, giving the Dodgers their 25th hit. It set a new club record for hits allowed by the Twins in a nine-inning game.

Kemp had four hits in five at-bats, including his National League-leading 22nd home run of the season in the seventh off lefty Phil Dumatrait, a 444-foot blast off the batter’s eye in center field. He also scored twice and drove in a pair.

“You wish you could have more days like that,” Kemp said. “Hopefully that’s the start of something good.”

Former Twins player Casey Blake also homered in the seventh, his fourth of the year, and ex-Minnesota prospect Trent Oeltjen hit his first home run of the season in the fourth. It was the fourth time this season the Dodgers had hit three home runs in a game, and the first since June 11 at Colorado.

Oeltjen also had four hits, including a triple in the eighth, finishing a double shy of the cycle. In his final at-bat, Oeltjen hit a single to right field, giving a long look at going to second before deciding against it.

“All the boys were talking to me before I went up there, ‘Hey, you know you need a double,'” Oeltjen said. “But I hit it right at him.”

Would his manager have been upset if Oeltjen took a shot at stretching it into a double with a 15-0 lead in the top of the ninth?

“Yeah, I would’ve been, because he’d have gotten thrown out by like 20 feet and it would’ve looked really bad,” Mattingly said. “It’s one of those games, you don’t really want to embarrass the other team. You feel good about it, but you’ve been on the other side.”

Billingsley kept the Twins off-balance all night, giving up just four hits in six shutout innings. The right-hander also struck out four batters while walking two in his seventh win of the season.

When the Twins did get hits in the game, the Dodgers’ defense backed up Billingsley with a few strong plays. They turned double plays in the third and the sixth, and Dee Gordon threw out Alexi Casilla at the plate on a strong relay throw after Joe Mauer doubled to left.

Even with all the offense, Gordon and Gwynn seemed most excited about their defense.

“I was pumped on that one — it’s not a lot of times you’re going to be able to get assists off those types of plays,” Gwynn said. “They only had the camera on him, but I was yelling, he was yelling … that’s the kind of stuff we worked on during spring and we’ve been pretty good at it all year.”

Twins starter Nick Blackburn got hit around for eight runs (seven earned) on 13 hits over 4 1/3 innings with one walk and one strikeout.

The Dodgers jumped all over Blackburn early in the count, with 11 of the 13 hits coming on the first or second pitch of the at-bat.

“I don’t think we really need to talk a whole lot about this one. We got murdered,” said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire. “Everything we threw up there, pretty much from the beginning, found holes and were hits. There were a lot of runs across.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dodgers notebook, 6/27

June 27, 2011 Comments off

Broxton takes step back, Furcal progressing

MINNEAPOLIS — Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton underwent an MRI exam on Monday after feeling pain in his elbow while playing catch Sunday at Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

Broxton, who was previously on schedule to return this weekend, also was set to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache after having the MRI.

“It definitely wasn’t a good thing,” said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. “The fact that he took a lot of time off, slowly came back, [pitched] two outings, and then have maybe a day and a half, two days later he’s having elbow [issues] and it’s doing the same thing. …

“That’s not a good thing and it kind of shifts the rehab to a point where we’ve got to find out what’s going on again.”

Mattingly also gave a quick update on shortstop Rafael Furcal, who also is on a rehab stint with Class A Rancho Cucamonga.

Furcal (strained left oblique) went 2-for-3 on Sunday with three runs scored in the Quakes’ 13-1 victory over the Lancaster JetHawks.

“[He] was good,” Mattingly said. “He DH’d yesterday, he’s going to play short today. No real reports on his swing or anything like that, just the fact that we know he did well.”

Guerrier makes first return trip to Twins country

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Twins right-hander Matt Guerrier made his return to Target Field on Monday for the first time since signing a three-year, $12 million deal with the Dodgers in the offseason.

Guerrier, who posted a combined 3.38 ERA in seven seasons with the Twins and led the American League in appearances in 2008-09, was happy to return to Minnesota, saying there were no hard feelings about leaving.

“It’s good to be back,” Guerrier told reporters. “It’s exciting to see everybody and to come back and see a couple of the changes that’s been done here. It’s different, but exciting.”

Guerrier, who has a 4.50 ERA in 38 innings this year, talked to several of his former teammates during early batting practice, including right-hander Joe Nathan. Nathan said he’s scheduled to meet up with Guerrier after the game, and had nothing but positives to say about his former bullpen mate.

“We miss him on both ends,” Nathan said. “He’s obviously a great guy in the clubhouse and kept guys loose by smiling. Obviously, there’s what he does on the field. He was leading the league in appearances and all that, so guys like that are very hard to replace.”

Mattingly, Kershaw address bankruptcy filing

MINNEAPOLIS — Prior to Monday’s game at Target Field, manager Don Mattingly answered questions about the Dodgers filing for bankruptcy for five minutes before getting to any queries related to their play on the field.

The Dodgers filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court earlier Monday — which sets in motion the beginning of legal proceedings that will decide the future of Frank McCourt’s ownership — was the main topic of discussion in the visitors’ dugout.

But even as the club’s off-the-field issues have overshadowed what the Dodgers have done on the field, Mattingly insists it’s still business as usual at the ballpark, and the team’s struggles through 79 games are not related to the ownership situation.

“I honestly believe that,” Mattingly said. “I know there’s a lot going on and a lot of talk about it. And again, I think it’s an area that, to really say that that’s not getting a hit with runners in scoring position or making a pitch with a guy in scoring position or any of that … I think it’s just not true.”

The Dodgers entered their Interleague series against the Twins with a 35-44 record, sitting 9 1/2 games behind the first-place San Francisco Giants.

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw, like his manager, sees no correlation between the off-field issues and the on-field play.

“I really don’t think so,” Kershaw said. “You see the guys in this room, you see guys like Matt [Kemp] and Andre [Ethier] and James [Loney] is hitting really well right now … we’ve got all the pieces. And that’s almost the frustrating part is that we’re not just stringing the wins together like we should.

“But I definitely don’t think what’s going on out there is resulting in a poor team on the field. I think we’ve got good players. We should be playing better than we are, and the good news is we’re not quite halfway there yet, so we’ve still got a shot.”

Mattingly and Kershaw both noted that an e-mail from Peter Wilhelm, the Dodgers’ chief financial officer, was forwarded to everyone on the team, letting them know the club would continue to operate as usual within the organization.

Kershaw said that as a team, they “definitely like to focus on baseball,” and that he hopes the whole situation will be figured out soon.

“I think that’s what everybody wants, whether it’s Mr. McCourt or baseball or us. Everybody wants it just to be settled,” Kershaw said. “That’s kind of what everybody’s going for, it’s just everybody has differences of opinion on how to get there.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for reporter Rhett Bollinger contributed to this report. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.