By Jon Weisman
As we close out the second month of the season, it’s common knowledge that Dee Gordon has declined at the plate in May from his hot April start.
At the same time, his defense continues to blossom, as you can see from the video above, where he makes the kind of play you’ve rarely seen any Dodger second baseman make.
And his basestealing, always precocious, has gone supersonic. Gordon has stolen 15 consecutive bases without being caught and 21 out of 23 in 28 games this month to reach 100 for his career. He is on pace to steal 98 bases in 107 attempts this year.
So while Gordon is no slam-dunk National League All-Star, not with a veteran like Philadelphia’s Chase Utley topping the statistical charts thanks in no small part to a .904 OPS and 147 wRC+, are any NL second basemen more dynamic or exciting than Gordon?
The first organized sport my parents signed me up for was Little League softball. I still remember my first game playing for the Reds with a proud No. 7 on my back. At my first at-bat, my coach tossed a rainbow slow-pitch from roughly 10 feet away, and I blasted it down the third base line for a stand-up triple. Instantly, I was hooked.
Later in the season, I went over to a teammate’s house for a playdate. Given we weren’t typical “girly girls,” playing with dolls was not our idea of fun. Instead, she popped in her favorite movie on girls playing baseball, “A League of Their Own.” Instantly, I was hooked.
By Jon Weisman
After you enjoy Vin Scully’s description of “maestro” Yasiel Puig
- Well, if this headline doesn’t make you click, I don’t know what will: “How Sandy Koufax’s Motel Helped Lead to Baseball’s Big-Money Era.” Here’s the first paragraph from Michael Beschloss’ story for the New York Times …
In 1962, the star Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax invested in a West Hollywood motor inn, which was renamed “Sandy Koufax’s Tropicana Motel.” Down Santa Monica Boulevard from the famed Troubadour club, these “74 luxurious air-conditioned rooms” — rented at “popular prices” — came to lodge some of the biggest musical acts of the period: Alice Cooper, Bob Marley, the Mamas and the Papas, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and the Doors. “I don’t know which made me more excited,” said one guest, “to be in Sandy’s motel or to be in a room right beside Sly Stone, from Sly and the Family Stone.”
- Sports on Earth delivered a couple of great Dodger-related pieces this week: Jorge Arangure Jr. on Dee Gordon’s maturation and Howard Megdal bonding with A.J. Ellis over how each of their wives delivered babies in cars on their way to the hospital.
- Here’s another eye-catching headline, found at The Bowery Boys: “The short shelf life of the Tip-Tops, the Brooklyn baseball team situated near the Gowanus River and named for bread.”/li>
By Jon Weisman
In addition to his power, throwing arm and everything else, Yasiel Puig’s growing plate discipline (and the growth, to be clear, began in 2013) has been something else.
In fact, Puig is not only anything but a big hack at the plate, he’s fast becoming the opposite.
At age 23, Puig is on pace to draw 78 walks this year. Only one Dodger has drawn that many walks in a season at age 23 or under: Pee Wee Reese with 82 in 1942. The Los Angeles record is held by Ron Fairly, 75 in 1962.
Puig is walking in 12.0 percent of his plate appearances in 2014. That walk percentage is 12th in the National League this year, and among players 28 and under, it’s third in the Majors behind only Giancarlo Stanton (13.9 percent) and Mike Trout (12.5 percent).
In O-Swing%, or the percentage of pitches outside the strike zone at which a batter swings, Puig is at 26.9 percent for the season. That’s 24th among all qualified NL players, 10th among NL players 28 and under and the best among Dodger regulars.
Puig completes his first year in the Major Leagues on Monday.
By Yvonne Carrasco
Come to Viva Los Dodgers on Sunday and help Yasiel Puig buy baseball equipment for kids in Boyle Heights.
By Mark Langill
Josh Beckett on Friday will attempt to become the first Dodger since Sandy Koufax in 1964 to follow a no-hitter with a victory in his next start. There have been 11 no-hitters in Los Angeles history, four by Koufax. In the four games after his no-hitters, Koufax went 3-1 with a 1.25 ERA. The other six pitchers combined went 0-3 with a 2.30 ERA and three no-decisions.
Here is a review of Brooklyn/Los Angeles pitchers since 1925 in their first start after pitching a no-hitter. Individual pitching lines are not available for the starts after Brooklyn no-hitters by Thomas Lovett (June 22, 1891), Malcolm Eason (July 20, 1906) and Nap Rucker (September 5, 1908).
By Jon Weisman
From the Dodgers’ public relations department:
Chris Withrow underwent an examination by Dr. ElAttrache on May 23rd to evaluate pain in his right elbow. Dr. Elattrache diagnosed his problem as a tear of the Ulnar Collateral Ligament and recommended Tommy John surgery. He was subsequently placed on the Major League disabled list. Withrow is seeking a second opinion next week and will proceed with further treatment.
By Jon Weisman
Clayton Kershaw struck out nine for the fourth time in six Major League starts this season tonight and would have left tied, 2-2, if not for a sixth-inning wild pitch that could have been ruled a passed ball on Drew Butera.
But Kershaw has allowed extra-base hits at an unusual rate in May. Put it this way: Cincinnati had five extra-base hits this evening (four doubles and Brandon Phillips’ two-run, first-inning home run), a total that matches the number of extra-base hits Kershaw allowed in all of April 2013.
With the Reds racking up 14 total bases in 28 at-bats against Kershaw tonight, opponents have slugged .464 (52 for 112) against the lefty this month, compared with a career opponents’ slugging of .314 and .277 last season. Of course, this month’s figure was influenced by the highly unusual second inning at Arizona on May, when he allowed three triples and a double in a stretch of six batters.
Overall, Kershaw was a strong pitcher in May, throwing four quality starts with a 2.00 ERA in non-Arizona games and striking out 39 in 28 2/3 innings (12.2 K/9). His strikeout-walk ratio of 6.6 to date is the best of his career. It’s that remarkable when opponents can touch him at all.
As for the Dodgers themselves, they scratched across a run in the fifth and got a Yasiel Puig homer in the sixth, but twice stranded Dee Gordon at third base with one out, in the first and eighth innings. Aroldis Chapman, throwing his fastball in the triple digits, put out the Dodgers in the ninth.
By Cary Osborne
Carl Crawford’s ankle injury Tuesday set a series of events in motion.
The Dodgers placed Crawford on the 15-day disabled list today and brought up career minor leaguer Jamie Romak. Matt Kemp is in the starting lineup for the first time since last Thursday, when he played his customary center field in Philadelphia.
Kemp has spent the last week trying to get acclimated to playing in left field and gets his first start at the position today since June 21, 2006.
“(Kemp) getting comfortable and feeling like he was ready to go,” said Don Mattingly on determining when Kemp was ready to go in left field. “We checked with Davey (Lopes) today to make sure he was good to go, and he thought he was good so here we are.”
By Cary Osborne
We’ve put a lot of focus so far in 2014, and justifiably so, on some top Dodger prospects who have continued to blossom. This week we mention a lot of them again. But at the same time, we have to mention some guys who are quietly having big seasons as well.
Albuquerque Isotopes (AAA)
Thus far: 23-28, 9 1/2 games out of first place in the Pacific Coast League’s Pacific Southern Division.
Before we get going on who’s made waves in Albuquerque recently, we want to update you on how the pitchers with Dodger experience have done thus far in 2014.
- Red Patterson: 4.81 ERA, 48 2/3 IP, 1.44 WHIP, .311 opponents’ batting average, 36 Ks/10 BB
- Matt Magill: 5.04 ERA, 44 2/3 IP, 1.48 WHIP, .236 opponents’ batting average, 38 Ks, 27 BB (His last three outings have been out of the bullpen.)
- Stephen Fife: 6.94 ERA, 23 1/3 IP, 1.97 WHIP, .363 opponents’ batting average, 13 Ks, 9 BB (Currently on the 7-day disabled list retroactive to May 23 with right forearm tightness)
- Paco Rodriguez: 5.00 ERA, 9 IP, 1.89 WHIP, .282 opponents’ batting average, 13 Ks, 6 BB
- Jose Dominguez: 6.57 ERA, 12 1/3 IP, 1.87 WHIP, .265 opponents’ batting average, 18 Ks, 10 BB
Now to the news. Converted pitcher Pedro Baez was promoted from Chattanooga on May 25 after Fife went on the DL. Baez made 17 relief appearances for the Double-A Lookouts and in 19 1/3 innings, he had a 2.79 ERA, struck out 18 batters and had a 1.24 WHIP.
Third baseman Jamie Romak, a 28-year-old career minor leaguer, has had a huge May. In the month, he is batting .303 with 10 home runs, 18 RBI, a .730 slugging percentage and 1.107 OPS. His 13 home runs on the season only trail Joc Pederson’s 15 for the team lead.