Dodgers Start Fast But Barely Escape Coors With a Win

On June 27 of last year, the Dodgers crushed the Twins 15-0 in Minnesota, with homers from Matt Kemp, Trent Oeltjen, & Casey Blake leading the charge among 25 hits. Coming as it did just hours after Frank McCourt steered the team into bankruptcy, this led to one of the more memorable quotes of the entire debacle:

This was, of course, laughably ludicrous lawyer-talk, and it earned a rightful place on the long list of McCourt-related sins. Yet it was all I could think of early in today’s game as the Dodgers got off to a fast start in Colorado. Hours after the paperwork was official and McCourt no longer had a claim to the club, the much-maligned Dee Gordon stepped to the plate and hit the fourth pitch he saw from Colorado starter Jhoulys Chacin out of the park for his first big-league home run. After singles from Mark Ellis (the first of four for him tonight) and Kemp, Andre Ethier also took Chacin deep, and four batters into the Guggenheim era, the Dodgers were up 4-0. If it wasn’t the official coming-out party that we’ve yet to see, it sure felt like the start of something special.

That wasn’t even the end of it from the offensive side of things. In the third, A.J. Ellis doubled in Tony Gwynn for the 5th run, then added two more by driving in Gwynn again on a two-run blast off Chacin in the fifth. Look, I know it’s Coors Field and magical things happen there, but this was a game where Gordon (7 HR in 1814 minor-league PA, and while I can’t back this up with facts, we all know at least one was inside-the-park) and Ellis (19 HR in 2119 minor-league PA) both homered. Meanwhile, Albert Pujols is still looking for his first. Life is awesome sometimes.

Yet while it sure seemed like this would be a party atmosphere to usher in the new ownership, life in Coors is never, ever that simple. Ted Lilly breezed through 5.2 scoreless, but then things went downhill quickly as soon as he served up a meatball that was crushed by Carlos Gonzalez for a bomb in the sixth. Oddly, the last homer Lilly allowed was also by Gonzalez, last August, and once he completed the inning, he left after just 79 pitchers after being seen talking to trainer Sue Falsone in the dugout. For the first time this season, Josh Lindblom was completely ineffective in allowing four hits and three runs in 2/3 of an inning; Scott Elbert cleaned up his mess, but Kenley Jansen allowed the Rockies to get within one after letting Troy Tulowitzki lead off with a triple. Despite allowing the tying run to get to third, Javy Guerra bounced back from recent troubles to nail down the save.

By the way, I can’t help but touch upon a somewhat bizarre sequence in the top half of the ninth. Ethier led off with a hit. James Loney then bunted… terribly… in a one-run game. It appeared that Don Mattingly made that call, based on his reaction when Loney returned to the dugout, and while that’s an awful call on his part, it also really speaks to how little confidence you must have in your first baseman to actually get a hit when you’re asking him to bunt. Yet even odder was that against lefty Greg Reynolds, the Dodgers sent up four straight lefty hitters – Ethier, Loney, Gwynn, then Adam Kennedy – without once calling on Juan Uribe. I have to imagine he was unavailable for some reason (especially since it was Justin Sellers who came out to play third for the ninth), but we haven’t heard anything to that effect yet, and if he was available but just not called upon, well, that says a whole lot about him as well. (Kennedy struck out to strand Ethier. Of course he did.)

Get some sleep, because tomorrow is going to be a memorable day; the ownership press conference is at 10am PT, and Clayton Kershaw goes in the series finale at 12:10 PT. If you’re not skipping work, you’re doing it wrong.

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