Don’t look now, but over Chad Billingsley‘s last 17 2/3 innings, dating back to the third inning against Milwaukee on May 31, he’s given up exactly two earned runs. That streak of quality work continued today in Seattle, where Billingsley went seven fantastic innings, allowing only two hits and being touched only by a Kyle Seager solo homer in the bottom of the first. After all the heat Billingsley has taken, he’s now showing a 3.57 ERA on the back of his baseball card. (Or, he would, if anyone cared about baseball cards anymore.) Now you know as well as I do that ERA isn’t the best indicator of a pitcher’s worth, but it’s one of the main stats the casual fan goes to, and 3.57 is pretty good no matter how you look at it. Though it may be hard to see it from within the moment, this outing along with Clayton Kershaw‘s start yesterday is exactly the kind of combination we’ve been dreaming on for years from the young duo.
Pitching the way Billingsley did, he didn’t really need a lot of support, but his teammates made it easy on him anyway by scoring six times in the second on two walks and four hits, with the big blast being Andre Ethier‘s grand slam to right field. It was Ethier’s only hit in five tries, but considering how badly he’s been slumping lately, it was more than welcome. Elian Herrera, Tony Gwynn, & Bobby Abreu each had two hits, with each of Abreu’s going for doubles.
The Dodgers are now 39-22, five games ahead of the Giants in the NL West and four games ahead of Washington for the best record in baseball. They’ll return home tomorrow night to face Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo and the Angels, a series that suddenly is a lot more interesting than it looked just a few months ago.