Chad Billingsley in five starts since returning from the disabled list: 34.2 innings, 6 earned runs, 27 hits allowed, 23/6 K/BB… five Dodger wins. Yes, the strikeouts are a little down, but six walks in five starts? Yes, please. On the season, that’s a 3.62 ERA and a 3.23 FIP; the latter figure puts him in the top 15 of all starting pitchers in baseball. Remember when everyone was claiming he had “no guts” and absolutely had to be cut/DFA’d/rocketed into the sun? Me neither.
So what’s leading this Billingsley revival? It’s the beard, of course! Compare that full growth above to the wispy goatee stubble he was displaying in his final start before being injured, when he allowed four runs in six innings in a loss to Arizona. Well, it’s either that or the fact that he was never as bad as people liked to think he was and his quality peripherals meant that his luck was almost certain to even out sooner or later. But mostly the beard.
Of course, Billingsley was far from alone in tonight’s blowout, much of which came in the ninth when Chad Qualls imploded to allow five additional runs. Luis Cruz – and more on him tomorrow – had the game of his life, driving in three on three hits, while Hanley Ramirez also had three. James Loney (!) & Matt Kemp each had two hits; of the eleven Dodger hits, ten were singles. Juan Uribe, at least, went 0-4 (albeit with a walk) while batting second, sinking his season line to .186/.247/.282, so all remains right in the world. With the win, the Dodgers have won four of the first five on the road trip, briefly putting them a half-game up on the Giants as San Francisco entertains Washington tonight.
Fun game in Rancho Cucamonga tonight, as Ted Lilly resumes his rehab by starting for the Quakes, striking out two in his single inning of work. The far more interesting story there is that Yasiel Puig makes his debut at designated hitter and third in the lineup. Puig grounded out in his first at-bat, which came just after Joc Pederson hit his 14th homer of the season.