The simple fact that I’m even able to write this post is a good sign, because after Clayton Kershaw appeared to come up lame running to first and A.J. Ellis took a painful pitch off his shin during tonight’s game in Philadelphia, I was about ready to throw my laptop right out the window. Kershaw, it should be said, comes with such high expectations these days that after striking out five without a walk and allowing three runs in seven innings, you almost wonder, “wow, what happened?” Think about that for a second, because that’s the kind of outing most pitchers in baseball would take eleven times out of ten.
Still, part of the reason we look to Kershaw to be so great is because if he’s not, the less-than-intimidating offense can’t usually be counted on to back him up, and that was nearly the case tonight. After a hot start in the first inning, scoring two runs on two walks and two singles, the Dodgers had only two runners even reach second base until the eighth. That eighth inning, by the way, ended in a manner that no inning ever should. After the Dodgers loaded the bases against lefty Antonio Bastardo with two outs in a 3-3 game, Kershaw’s spot in the order was coming up. Yet with Alex Castellanos running for Bobby Abreu at third, Ivan De Jesus on first after hitting for Adam Kennedy, and Tony Gwynn‘s status uncertain due to food poisoning and a tight hamstring, Tim Wallach (in for the ejected Don Mattingly) had no choice: he had to send in James Loney against the lefty. Loney grounded out weakly to first, and the threat was over. James Loney, hitting in a big spot against a lefty – pretty much the worst-case scenario.
Fortunately for Loney and the Dodgers, the ninth saw some much-needed contribution from the top of the order. Dee Gordon led off with a triple to the gap, on a ball which almost no other runner would have even bothered to try for third. Elian Herrera followed with a run scoring single off Jonathan Papelbon, then helped save Kenley Jansen in the bottom of the inning with a diving catch in center on a Freddy Galvis sinking liner. (Jansen, by the way, was dominant, striking out John Mayberry & Hector Luna, providing a stark contrast to the highly-paid Papelbon’s inability to get the job done.)
With the 18th pick in the first round of tonight’s draft, the Dodgers selected North Carolina high school shortstop Cory Seager, who is likely to play third base in the pros. The simple fact that he’s not a pitcher is notable, since as we all know Logan White always likes to draft pitching early. I won’t pretend I know much about him – other than the fact that you probably all know how much I love lefty-swinging third basemen – but initial reactions are positive, since it appears he can hit and the organization is so dreadfully short on offensive potential in the lower levels. For a full recap of Seager, be sure to check out Chad Moriyama’s review.