Joe Torre made a lineup change for the game today, a surprising one considering the past.
Jeff Kent batted in the three-hole in the lineup today, it marked the first time all season that has batted out of the clean up spot. It appeared to make a difference as the Dodgers scored nine runs, more than they have scored in a game since May third.
Clayton Kouf.. er, Kershaw made the second start of his young major league career and I notice something that in a day of pointless stats, caught my eye. Kershaw is the only 20 year old in history to have different uniform numbers in each of his first two career starts. A pointless ESPN stat that I came up with first.
But on to the more important side of the game, Clayton struggled again with location, leaving many balls high in the strike zone. Luis Castillo took advantage of that in the first connecting on a two-run homerun. “Kershey” couldn’t make it out of the fourth inning as he allowed four runs in three and two-thirds innings before Torre called to Chan Ho Park to bail him out.
And bail him out he did.
While Park struggled with the control of his slider, he pitched three and a third innings allowing one run. Jon Broxton and Takashi Saito pitched the final two innings flawlessly to secure the win.
A win that was possible because of a 4-4 day from Russell Martin who was a triple shy of the cycle. Martin had a homerun (4) and three RBI on the day. Blake DeWitt and James Loney each had two hits and an RBI in the 9-5 win.
It took a total team effort as we are still without the services of Rafael Furcal who was well on his way to an All-Star berth.
Speaking of the All-Star game, there are 41 games until the break and if you heard dodgerman talk on my profile (a new format of dodger man wrap from last season on myspace), you would know that I believe those games will be the biggest indicator of the rest of the season. Luck has kept the Dodgers around three games back of the Diamondbacks for the last few weeks, consistency will put them past Arizona.
Derek Lowe needs to continue the improvement of his last few starts, Brad Penny needs to find the All-Star form of years past, and the bats need to hit in the clutch. While being fourth in the NL with a .268 team batting average, but they are far worse with runners in scoring position and dead last in the NL in homeruns with 35.
To be this close to the top with those numbers against them is not bad and shows what this team can do when things are going right. Russell Martin can’t do it every night. But tonight should also help his cause in All-Star voting, he needs your votes to get him past Giovanni Soto and back to the Mid-Summer Classic. VOTE NOW!
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