JC's Dodger Line Drives | May 6: Dodgers' Luck Turns Historic with No. 13
History is a wonderful thing. Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium, the Los Angeles Dodgers won their 13th home game in a row from the start of the season, defeating the Washington Nationals, 10-3.
This eclipsed the modern major league record, previously held by the 1911 Detroit Tigers. Your intrepid reporter was there in person to see the action.
After Bleacher Report offered me the opportunity to be the Dodger Community Leader, I made and continued contact with the Dodgers media relations department. They were kind enough to invite me to visit their new spring training home at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Ariz.
The Dodgers had also selected the 13th home game of the season to invite various leading bloggers to the stadium to meet with GM Ned Colletti and a few other front office members. The fact history was pending was quite the tasty cherry on top.
The Suite Life
About 30 of my fellow electron manipulators were escorted to the club level, where the press box and luxury suites are situated. Our suite was located just past the third base bag, as seen from the photo above, of Dodger starter Clayton Kershaw in the first inning.
After some introductions all around, we had the opportunity to spend a bit of time with Dodger GM Ned Colletti. I have in the past called for Colletti not to have his contract renewed when it expires at the end of this season, but have to state I was very impressed with him. Colletti treated us with a great deal of respect, answering our questions fully with background as to how and why decisions have been made.
What About McDonald?
I asked about James McDonald, the young pitcher who has endured a difficult start of the season. The 24-year old native of nearby Long Beach has been fighting his control, which has resulted in his losing his spot in the starting rotation and been relegated to the bullpen.
My question was why not have him sent to the minors where he can work on his mechanics in a less intensive environment instead of occasional work out of the bullpen. I also asked if the 40-man roster was an factor in the decision.
Colletti acknowledged the 40-man roster was a major element of the decision, as Eric Milton, the leading candidate to replace McDonald, is not on that list. All players on the active roster and 15-day disabled list must be on the 40-man roster. Players on the 60-day list, such as Doug Mientkiewicz, are not counted against the 40.
Milton has an option in his contract to request his release if not recalled by a certain date. Colletti spoke of how that is a factor, but not the only consideration.
If the team cannot accommodate the player at this particular moment but sees an opening a little bit later, it becomes a situation of whether the player is willing to wait a bit to contribute to this team, as opposed to trying his luck somewhere else.
Jim Slaton, the pitching coach for Triple-A Albuquerque, reported a couple of weeks ago how Milton needed about six starts before being ready to contribute to the big team. A former major league pitcher, Slaton has Colletti's confidence in such matters.
Colletti had dispatched a couple of scouts to observe him earlier, and will send a couple of different sets of eyes to see his next start.
He also mentioned the great success McDonald had late last season and in the playoffs. The Dodgers hope he will be able to correct his mechanical issues quickly, work on the mental side of the game, and be able to make a contribution to the team.
Sure enough, McDonald entered the game in the sixth inning, breaking a bat to get a fly ball to center, having the second hitter pop up to second and striking out the third National to finish off a very clean inning of work and earn a hold.
No Splinters Here
Later on, I inquired about Colletti's signings of Brad Ausmus and Mark Loretta to strengthen the bench. Colletti's response was straight forward and fairly blunt. He was very pleased with these two additions, praising them for being "adults." While acknowledging how most players, including other teams, are over 21, there is still the issue of being mature.
Ausmus and Loretta joined the team knowing their roles were to supplement and mentor the young Dodger players. They have done that and more, providing many contributions both on and off the field.
In their 17th and 15th seasons, respectively, Ausmus and Loretta also know they have joined a team with a very good chance to make a run for the World Championship. They appreciate the opportunity the Dodgers offer and have done everything possible to repay the organization, to the delight of Colletti.
One of my colleagues helped me out by asking about Orlando Hudson and the possibility of an extension, a question I also wanted to ask. Colletti spoke of how happy he is with the performance of Hudson so far. He also told of his nervousness every time Hudson dives for a ball, hoping he does not get up holding the previously injured wrist.
Colletti spoke of the current financial situation the nation is now facing, which resonated with the group, as only one of the invited bloggers actually drew a salary for his work. It remains to be seen if agents in general are willing to accept the fiscal realities we all face.
Colletti also made it clear, in general, if the team truly wants a player to return and the player truly wants to return, a deal should be able to be brokered. Over his baseball career, that has usually been the case. If a player places an emphasis on maximizing the most amount of dollars, the likelihood of a deal decreases dramatically.
Where this leaves Hudson is a matter for the future, but it not beyond reason to think a deal could be cut with O-Dog. Later, I discussed with some colleagues how that would affect players like Blake DeWitt, Chin-Lung Hu, Tony Abreu, and Ivan De Jesus. We agreed most would likely be dealt away if second, short, and third would be blocked for multiple seasons.
Forging A Historic Victory
In a battle of 0-2 starters, Clayton Kershaw and Daniel Cabrera made enough good pitches for the score to be 1-1 halfway through the game. Kershaw started a bit shaky, loading the bases in the first while interspersing strikeouts after each baserunner.
A third inning sacrifice fly produced the only run he would surrender in his five innings of work. Kershaw scattered four hits and three walks while striking out five on 99 pitches, 54 of which were strikes.
Through five innings, Cabrera had surrendered two runs, on a first inning bases loaded double play grounder and forcing in the second tally on a bases loaded walk. Coming out for the sixth inning was a mistake though. A single, fly out and two walks saw his manager come out to collect him, but more damage was looming.
Mike Hinckley was summoned then promptly allowed a single to Rafael Furcal and delivered a bases loaded walk of his own, with ball four flying way high and to the backstop screen. Vin Scully's comment was how the pitch almost left the room.
National's manager Manny Acta then called for Logan Kensing to face Manny Ramirez. Manny slammed a double to the right field corner, scoring two. A walk, single and force out followed before the inning would close, and the Dodgers had blown open the contest by scoring a total of seven runs in the frame.
Closing Out History
Though the game was no longer in doubt, the eighth inning saw the return of former Dodger reliever Joe Beimel, fresh off the disabled list. Ex-batterymate Russell Martin doubled into the left field corner, but Beimel was able to retire the other Dodger hitters.
To pitch the top of the ninth, Dodger manager Joe Torre requested the services of Brent Leach, who made his major league debut. Leach retired the first two batters before surrendering his first big league walk.
He followed that up with his first major league strikeout and the Dodgers had salted away their 13th consecutive home victory to start the season and bump Ty Cobb's Tigers to the second position.
Numbers To Note
The 13-game streak is the most consecutive victories at home at any point in the season since the Dodgers won 13 in a row from May 4 to June 5, 1993.
The Dodgers have won 23 of their last 26 regular season home games, beginning Aug. 21, 2008 for a .885 winning percentage. They are also 31-7 (.816) since Aug. 1, 2008, the day Manny Ramirez made his Dodger debut. Going back to last year's All-Star break, the Blue Crew is 36-9 (.800) in regular season home play.
The victory pushes the Dodgers' overall record to 21-8, the best in all the majors. The next best record is 20-10 by the Toronto Blue Jays. The Dodgers 21-8 mark is their best since starting 21-8 in 1983, a year when they claimed the National League Western Division with a 91-71 record.
The Dodgers look to extend their winning streak further on Thursday when they send Randy Wolf (1-1, 3.93 ERA) out to face the Nationals Jordan Zimmerman (2-1, 4.24) in a game that starts at 7:10 PM Pacific. Prime Ticket will carry the game with Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully at the mic.
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