Review and Preview Number 6

Since I didn’t write over the weekend, this R&P will cover the weekend series (although not in the usual depth that the normal R&P would see), and do a look at tonights game against the Astros.

Over the weekend, the Dodgers played an Interleague series against the Chicago White Sox.  They lost 2 out of 3 games, and really, they were one Russ Mitchell Home Run away from being swept.  While Lilly pitched a surprisingly good game against the White Sox (7 IP, 3 ER, 5 Strikouts, 0 walks), the hero was obviously Mitchell, who tied the game in the top of the 9th with 2 outs, and the Dodgers rallied to score 3 more runs during the next inning.  That made for an uplifting 6-4 win, that made most viewers think “Hey, maybe this team can actually do well in an Interleague series for once”.  Among the notable things were Juan Castro actually doing something, Jerry Sands playing Center Field, Matt Kemp dropping a 2-run bomb, and Jamey Caroll collecting 4 hits.  Don Mattingly’s bullpen use was outstanding as well, letting Kenley Jansen pitch 2 innings, and then using Guerrier, Elbert (against a lefty), and then MacDougal all in the 10th to close out the game.  Having each pitcher pitch to their strengths was very smart, so I commend Mattingly for that.

That all came crashing down during the next game, when they got destroyed by a score of 9-2 the next day.  Jon Garland got hammered, by the White Sox offense, giving up 7 Earned Runs in 4 innings (although two were allowed by Ramon Troncoso not being able to get out of the inning, but that doesn’t take away from the overall point), and literally the only positive in this game was Jerry Sands’ first Major League Home Run, a ball hit to Left Field, and a Home Run hit off of a Breaking Ball.  This is big, because the scouting reports going into this game basically said that most of Sands’ power went to Right and Right Center field, and that he could struggle to hit a Major League Breaking Ball.  And that was true for quite a bit of his stay in the Majors so far this year.  He looked like he was having trouble catching up to good Major League fastballs, which is evidenced by the fact that most of his extra base hits were hit to Right Field, and the high-ish strikeout numbers.  So to see him really pull a ball to Left Field is very encouraging that he’s starting to get it together.  Hitting that Home Run off a Breaking Pitch is icing on the cake.

So in the rubber game, Hiroki Kuroda, who had two straight starts of 7 IP and 0 ER going into this game, also got shelled.  Although not quite as bad as Jon Garland, Kuroda was still only able to go 5.2 innings, and gave up 4 ER.  Although the game was fairly close in the 7th inning, with the Dodgers down by 3 and Matt Kemp up with runners on 2nd and 3rd, the White Sox retired Kemp, and then went on to score 2 more runs an inning later to put the game out of reach for the Dodgers.  As with game 2, the big story here was Jerry Sands going 4-4 with three singles (to left field), and a double (to right field).  These last two games should basically take Sands out of the 8th spot in the lineup, and out of the platoon he was temporarily in with Jay Gibbons.  During the month of May, Sands is hitting .289/.396/.467 (Batting Average, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage).  Those are the numbers of a very capable Major League player.  Combine that with his strong defense in Left Field (He picked off at least one White Sox player who tried to take one base too many), and you have a very capable everyday player.

The last big story over the weekend was the rash of injuries that hit the Dodgers (Yes, there are actually more).  I’ll talk about it more in my next post, but I’ll just say this.  It very much mirrors all the injury that the Green Bay Packers sustained over the last NFL year (although this Dodger team doesn’t look like it can make a post-season run like the Packers did.)  If I could laugh at injuries, this would be just plain comical.

Tonight, the Dodgers limp into Houston to play a three game series with the Astros.  The important thing to note about the Astros is that their offense is actually worse than the Dodgers.  So Kershaw, Billingsley and Lilly should have no trouble locking them down (which probably means that they’ll all get shelled.)  Bud Norris of the Astros is actually a very good Major League starter, so he should pitch well against the Dodgers.  I’ll say Kershaw goes 8 innings and allows 1 ER, while Norries goes 7 innings and allows 2 ER.  This should be the toughest game of the series to win, but the Dodgers need to win badly, as they’re sitting  at 6 games below .500.  It’s not even close to the All-Star Break yet, so there’s plenty of time to start winning, but the Dodgers need to start winning soon.

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