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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Dodgers Win In Extras? On The Road? Who Are You? Dodgers 7, Astros 6 (11 Innings)

Missed most of this one as I was at the Angels game, but I have to admit it was a real treat to hear the Dodgers jump out first in this one, especially against Wandy Rodriguez. The game-ender, though, against former Rule 5 draftee Wesley Wright — well, how has his season since he last saw the Dodgers on May 10 and 11? Well, he ended the final game with a 3.46 ERA thanks to an unearned run; he's been pretty awful since, with a 7.07 ERA in 14 IP, including a big kersplat against the Yankees in interleague play, surrendering a grand slam and a two-run jack besides in a 13-0 blowout on June 15. Was losing him such a problem, as CanuckDodger had earlier posited? Perhaps so, still, but he's having an awful lot of trouble staying on the roster.

Anyway, it appears Jeff Kent had a lot to say about this game, especially in late innings with a two-run jack back in his old stomping grounds after — surprise! — Brian Falkenborg had proven once again very hittable, giving up a three-run homer to make it a 4-3 game. I find Ken Gurnick's postgame interview somehow funny:

"As the game wore on," said Kent, "you could see more intensity. It reminds me of the days when I had that too."

Torre said Kent demonstrated what a professional at-bat is all about, as he sized up the left-handed Wright and rocketed his ninth homer into the short porch in left field. Kent, at age 40, was the only player in the Dodgers starting lineup older than 28. With 16 years of Major League service, he was the only player in the lineup with at least two full years of service when this year started. Four of the starters were rookies. Kent was a rookie in 1992, when Kershaw was 4 years old.

"We talk about the young kids having consistent at-bats," said Torre. "He goes up there looking for a home run. We didn't talk about that, but if you know the situation, he's looking to pull the ball. Earlier in the game, James Loney is 2-0 with a runner on second and needing to pull the ball and he flies to left. It's technique and it comes from experience. Jeff laid it out there tonight. It's hugely important to win this game in light of the five-run lead."

But of course now Jeff Kent is just too old and lazy — wait a minute! I thought that having veterans around was supposed to ensure you did have consistent approaches at the plate, that they always took things seriously, etc. Somebody needs to study this thing called veteranness, and find out what it's really good for.

Yahoo boxMLB.com recap

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Torre is refering to the 5th inning, when Kent is on second, Loney batting with no outs. Torre's preference would be Loney pulls the ball to right, to hit behind the runner, advancing Kent. If Loney makes an out, Kent to third, if Loney gets a hit, Kent goes home. Instead, Kent stayed at 2nd, while both Loney and LaRoche made outs to the left side, followed by a groundout by Either. Ok, that's the situation summary.
I can see why Torre says hitting to right in this situation is preferable. Had Loney flied to right, Kent advances to third. Then LaRoche needs a sac-fly to plate Kent.
Several questions. Did Torre or Bowa explain the hitting situation to Loney prior to the AB? If not, why not? Are the coaches only there to critique in hindsight, or are they being proactive teachers?
Second, do we have a stat that reflects the kind of hitting Torre is looking for in this situ? For example, something like total-bases advanced, for both the hitter and those he advances on base, divided by plate apearances.
Then I'd like to see a comparison of that stat in youth vs. veteran.
At this point, I'm willing to give Torre the benefit of the doubt, but need to see some evidence to make it stick.

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