…and one bizarre ending, as Chase Headley ran down Casey Blake in the nightcap, getting called out for interference. Can’t say I’ve seen that before. The Dodgers, improbably, are just a half game out of first, despite being the only club in the NL West with a negative run differential (-5) – not that either standings or run totals matter all that much just a week into the season.
Still, tonight was a night full of positives, so let’s focus on the heroes. Guys like…
Matt Kemp. Three hits in the first game, three hits in the second game, four steals on the day. Four! You know as well as I do that we’re not going to get too giddy about stats this early in the season, but he’s 4th in MLB in OPS among guys with at least 25 PA. While we obviously remember that he got off to a good start in 2010 and wasn’t able to sustain it, his getting off to a good start was more important than anyone else, possibly excluding Broxton. Almost as importantly, he hasn’t been thrown out once, and the extra work he’s put in looks to have paid off in every facet of his game. Love it.
Hiroki Kuroda. Is there a more underrated pitcher in baseball than Kuroda? I’m serious, because when he’s been healthy, he’s been nothing short of outstanding in his Dodger career, and he never seems to get the credit he deserves. In some circles, he’s referred to as the Dodgers #4 starter, and while that speaks somewhat to the depth of the rotation, that just never seems to adequately credit what Kuroda’s brought to this team. He left one out shy of what would have been his third career shutout, but the fact that he got 26 outs rather than 27 doesn’t take anything away from his performance. (For the record, I’d have let him stay in to finish the job, with a four-run lead, though he was up to 117 pitches.) By Game Score, this tied for the 8th best start of his career.
Tony Gwynn. Two hits, two stolen bases, and two runs scored in the nightcap, after two hits and the game-winning RBI in the first game. Today alone shot his batting average up over 150 points, so keep that in mind. Somewhat troubling? His .353 BA exactly matches his .353 OBP.
Andre Ethier. Ethier’s been a bit overshadowed by Kemp, understandably, though he did hit his first homer of the season and is off to a very nice start of his own. That said – and I saw this on Twitter and can’t remember who said it, so apologies for stealing this – he’s 8-for-16 with 3 walks against righties, and 0-for-9 with a walk against lefties. I’m fully aware of the small sample sizes there, but I’ve been saying that he’s unplayable against southpaws for basically two years now. When are they going to get him a platoon partner and stop giving away outs?
Jonathan Broxton. No, it hasn’t always been smooth. Yes, the fact that he gets a “save” for getting one out with a four-run lead seems silly. He’s also successfully converted all five of his save opportunities this year, which I think we’d all have taken 11 times out of 11 if we were offered that over the winter. I do, however, plan on looking into whether the results or the way they’ve come about are more important, sometime this week.
Jamey Carroll. Stepping in for the continually injured Rafael Furcal (who’s now dealing with a wrist issue), Carroll continues to make me eat my words about his signing, pitching in with three hits today and more than one big double play at shortstop.
Let’s not, however, talk about James Loney, who’s now hitting .147/.179/.265, and as Jon Weisman noted at Dodger Thoughts, was actually asked to bunt against a righty with a man on 2nd in an 11th inning tie game. (To be fair, Loney made several excellent defensive plays at first base.) Let’s also not talk about Juan Uribe, who’s hitting .388. Unfortunately, as I noted on Twitter, that’s not his batting average.. that’s what you get if you combine his BA, OBP, and SLG. Though it may seem odd to be more concerned about the offensive production of a middle infielder than a first baseman, Uribe’s struggles are infinitely more troubling; while I had zero expectations for Loney, the hope was that Uribe could at least add some power, and he’s signed for three seasons.
The Dodgers go for the series sweep tomorrow before heading to San Francisco for what should be a barrel of laughs.