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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Home Is Where The "W" Is: Dodgers 10, Nationals 3

If you want an example of a team whose hot April ultimately meant nothing, all you have to do is to look back to the 2008 Diamondbacks, whose 19-8 start was supposed to be the coming-out party for their young talent. Yesterday's Dave Cameron piece in Fangraphs was supposed to tell us how that was going to happen; all the Dodgers have to do is to play .500 ball from here on out, goes the theory, and the team rolls in to an 87-75 record and the division title.

Interestingly enough, the 2008 Snakes' early record bears some resemblance to the 2009 Dodgers'. Playing mostly weak teams (Cincinnati, Colorado, the Dodgers, San Francisco, San Diego, and Houston), the Diamondbacks rolled up wins pretty easily.

They finished exactly one month with a winning record the rest of the year, a 14-11 July.

I'm definitely enjoying this ride while it lasts, don't get me wrong, but there's little reason to think the pitching will hold together, especially the rotation. With Randy Wolf's injury history, the strong possibility of youthful inconsistency from Clayton Kershaw (whose 10.29 road ERA is over ten times his home ERA of 0.29, reminding me of some of Ervin Santana's more forgettable seasons), and a host of question marks back of that (Jeff Weaver? James McDonald? Hiroki Kuroda, whenever he can manage to return?), the Dodgers are going to be looking at a different situation come August.

To this game: the Dodgers whomped on shaky Oriole castoff Daniel Cabrera in the sixth. After getting out of repeated jams while leaking baserunners the whole time, Cabrera finally paid when he left the game with the bags juiced and one out. The hook, coming on a final pinch-hit walk to Mark Loretta, got one of the Nats' arson squad to the mound, Mike Hinckley. Not only did every single inherited runner score, but two more that he allowed to reach — Rafael Furcal and Orlando Hudson — also crossed the plate thanks to his successor, Logan Kensing. The Dodgers left the frame ahead 9-1 on the heels of a seven-run inning, and that, really, was the ballgame.

Guillermo Mota gave up a couple courtesy runs in the eighth, but there was never much threat of the game getting out of hand. Heck, Torre felt so comfortable that he even let Brent Leach take the mound in the ninth, and he posted a zero frame to reward his manager. (Those of us sticking around afterwards got to see his teammates give him a shaving cream pie in the face, which was good considering he decided to use his microphone moment to talk about how all his success was attributable to Jesus Christ his lord and savior, blah blah blah, instead of movement on his fastball.)

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