Clemens, Wood…and the Dodgers’ Pitching Staff
Dodgers’ starter Clayton Kershaw struck out 11 batters in yesterday’s 3-2 win against the Cincinnati Reds.
The bullpen came in and struck out nine more batters en route to a 20 strikeout performance, the club’s highest total since Aug. 8, 1972—against the same Reds.
In that contest, the Boys in Blue fanned 22 of the hometown nine in a 19-inning contest at Riverfront Stadium.
Cincinnati manager Dusty Baker said. "I don't know how many strikeouts we had, but we had a bunch."
Belliard Move Solidifies Bench
The Dodgers traded for infielder Ronnie Belliard on Sunday. They exchanged Luis Garcia and a minor league player to be named later in the swap.
Garcia was 5-3 with a 2.92 ERA with class-A Great Lakes.
Belliard, now 34 years old, will provide another solid bat coming off the bench as October approaches.
Mark Loretta normally will fill in around the infield to give James Loney or Casey Blake a day of rest, but now Belliard can fill that role.
This will allow the Dodgers to reserve Loretta strictly as a pinch-hitter, which gives Joe Torre more flexibility.
"He [Belliard] gives us some offense," Torre said. "He can play around the infield, probably all positions but shortstop. It gives me the ability to spell these guys. He gives us a little more depth with experience coming off the bench."
It also complicates the process of finalizing the playoff roster, as Belliard will be eligible for the postseason roster.
They currently have Belliard, Loretta, Juan Castro, Brad Ausmus, and Juan Castro on the bench. Torre will have to make some tough decisions because he certainly will not roster five position players on the bench.
For most of the season, Los Angeles has carried 13 pitchers and 12 position players.
Belliard will most definitely be on the postseason squad, as he played second base for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 when they won the World Series.
The ‘Pen is Mightier
George Sherrill is yet to surrender a run since joining the Dodgers.
He has appeared in 14 games, tossing 14.1 innings of shutout baseball while scattering just 11 hits over that span.
Many fans, and also experts, thought that the Dodgers needed to acquire another starting pitcher at the trading deadline, but the addition of Sherrill is turning out to be a heck of a deal.
He is limiting the opposition to a measly .212 average and .293 on-base percentage.
In fact, the last time the entire bullpen allowed an earned run was on Aug. 15 in a 4-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks—who the Dodgers will face tonight.
Jonathan Broxton allowed an unearned run in Aug. 19, leading to a 3-2 loss against the Cardinals, but besides that the bullpen has been exceptionally good.
In Saturday’s win, Jeff Weaver tossed three-and-one-third scoreless innings en route to six-and-one-third shutout frames from the bullpen.
The Dodgers’ relievers lead the Majors with 31 wins and a 3.21 ERA (162 ER/454 IP).
Four Games in Five Days
Just six days ago, the Dodgers had seen their lead in the NL West dwindle to two games over the Colorado Rockies.
Los Angeles did exactly what they needed to do in Cincinnati by taking two out of three and reassuring the league that they are ready to make a postseason run. It was the third consecutive series win for the Dodgers, and they are now 25-12-5 in 42 tilts this season.
With the win yesterday, they are now 25-17 in series finales.
Today, the Dodgers are six games in front of both Colorado and the San Francisco Giants.
That is because the Giants swept three games from the once-Wild Card leading Rockies at AT&T Park.
The normally potent Rockies offense scored only eight runs over the weekend, and now they are mired in a five-game losing streak with the surging Giants threatening to overtake the Wild Card lead.
The Blue Crew will travel to San Francisco next Friday (Sept. 11) to lockup in a three-game series.
Probables vs. Arizona
Monday: Randy Wolf (9-6, 3.25) vs. Doug Davis (7-11, 3.75)
Tuesday: Vicente Padilla (1-0, 3.60) vs. Yusmeiro Petit (3-8, 5.59)
Wednesday: Chad Billingsley (12-8, 3.83) vs. Max Scherzer (8-8, 4.26)
Thursday: Charlie Haeger (1-1, 3.86) vs. Jon Garland (8-11, 4.29)
PJ Ross is a Featured Columnist for the Los Angeles Dodgers