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Friday, July 04, 2008

Mr. E's Ballroom: Dodgers 10, Giants 7

The Dodgers picked up their fourth straight win, so SOSG's crack about the Dodgers being undefeated in June is no longer quite as funny and actually has the sense of being, maybe, a little streak now. In fact, the Dodgers are tied with Tampa Bay for the longest active win streak in the majors; it's that time of the year, or maybe one of those months.

But certainly, playing the Giants should have helped, right? Well, not so fast; I watched yesterday as San Francisco spanked the Cubs bullpen. Sweet Lou Piniella's favorite middle reliever, Carlos Marmol, had been tasked with keeping a one-run deficit intact, but instead he surrendered a solo homer to aging shortstop Rich Aurilia — who'd had six all season before that. It was two days running that Marmol had utterly lost his command, and in that span, he left a couple up that ended up in the seats with game-changing consequences for Sweet Lou's team. (The Giants went on to win Thursday's match 8-3.) That is to say, if the Cubs' bullpen was making mistakes, the Giants were on them. If the Giants are bad, at least it may still be said they're a major league team, and not in the sense that contraction has yet to hit.

So I still had some sense that these were two fairly evenly-matched teams, especially once the expected news hit the wires that Andruw Jones and Nomar Garciaparra had been activated, with Jason Repko and Mike Sweeney respectively optioned back to Las Vegas and disabled with a right hamstring injury. Sweeney, of course, made the fatal mistake of confessing that the injury wasn't hurting his swing:

"It probably looks it but haven't felt it hitting," the 38-year-old Sweeney said. "I'm running on it, but I've got to do some more stuff on it and get some more strength and go from there. It's one of those nagging injuries you have to protect. I've been riding the bike two or three times during the game. ... I'm a person who never wants to go on the DL. If it's the best-case scenario for me to get healthy, I'll do it."
Oh, so now there's no excuse whatsoever for his sucktitude. You hear that Ned? Ah, probably not.

So the game went pretty slowly at first, as I missed the first couple of innings, in and out of the house running errands, but that which I did see of Derek Lowe didn't inspire me with a lot of confidence. San Francisco was hitting balls hard in the air and getting line drives off him, which is usually a sure sign he doesn't have it on any particular day. A third inning double steal of second and home was especially embarrassing, and the way Lowe was pitching, he should have been in the dugout counting his lucky stars that he wasn't further in the hole, considering the long ground rule double he gave up to Aaron Rowand.

But Jonathan Sanchez didn't pitch well almost from the start, getting men into scoring position in the first and second innings, but wriggling out both times. Finally in the third he cracked, walking in two runs. Now, the fact that Andruw Jones struck out swinging with a ferocious cut says as much about Sanchez as it probably does about Jones — and maybe more about Jones, because he fanned four times in all, making for yet another embarrassing day for himself. Fortunately for him, he did that in enemy territory, where he wouldn't have to face the pitchforks of angry fans.

After the Giants returned fire in the bottom of the frame to make it 4-2, the Dodgers meekly went down in order in the fourth, with Fred Lewis — who seemed to be the central focus of this game, as we shall presently see — doubling home Omar Vizquel, another line drive signaling something amiss with Lowe. Finally, Andre Ethier led off the fifth with a solo homer, and the sixth got even better. Lewis badly misplayed a routine Nomar flyball, allowing him to reach and setting the stage for a monster Dodger comeback. The first RBI came on Delwyn Young's pinch-hit single, but that was mere preface to three straight two-out doubles by Andre Ethier, Russell Martin, and Jeff Kent, bringing the tally to 8-5, giving the Dodgers a lead they wouldn't surrender. Lewis also botched another catch that ended up going 7-8 as the ball rolled out of Lewis' glove and into the bare hand of center fielder Aaron Rowand.

Jonathan Broxton had another weak outing, but he and the win survived it. Luis Maza at second technically screwed up a 2-4 caught stealing play that ended up with Russell Martin's throw going to centerfield, but why was Martin throwing with nobody there? Regardless, the Giants managed to get themselves into a bases-loaded, nobody-out scenario, but only cashed in one when Broxton got Rich Aurilia to hit into a double play.

Andy LaRoche had a leadoff homer in the eighth to give Takashi Saito a little more breathing room; Saito retired the side in order for a clean save. And thanks to a 5-1 Padres win over Arizona, the Dodgers are now a half game back of the 43-44 Diamondbacks. Eww.

Yahoo boxMLB.com recap

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Nice write-up. Though you don't mention Hong Chi Kuo, best pitcher of the game and (possibly with Chad Billingsley, but arguably on his own) best pitcher for the Dodgers. You're not the only one who doesn't seem to notice him much. Apparently Torre did this time (see Gurnick), so I wonder why he doesn't use him more.

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