Perhaps getting away from Los Angeles and the endless questions about the uncertainty of the ownership situation was just what the Dodgers needed. Juan Uribe continued his hot streak homering for the second game in a row and added 4 RBI’s, giving him 9 in the last 3 games, as the Dodgers pounded the Chicago Cubs 12-2.
The victory extended the Dodgers winning streak to 3, and they have won 5 of their last 6 games since snapping their 5 games losing streak last Sunday. The start of the game was delayed for 74 minutes due to rain and despite the chilly 41 degree game-time temperature the Dodgers quickly grabbed control of the game.
Cubs starter Casey Coleman battled control problems and after stranding 2 runners on base in the first inning the Dodgers broke the game open with a 6 run 3rd inning. After Chad Billingsley grounded out to start the inning Jamey Carrol doubled, followed by singles from Casey Blake and Andre Ethier, who scored Carroll and extended his hitting streak to 19 games.
Matt Kemp showed that he is human by striking out, which set the stage for Uribe who singled in Blake to give the Dodgers a 2 run lead. James Loney then drew his first unintentional walk of the season and Jerry Sands followed with a bases loaded walk to score Ethier. AJ Ellis fouled off a tough 2 strike pitch to stay alive and then singled home Uribe and Loney, then Billingsley singled on the harderst hit ball of the inning to score Sands. 6-0 Dodgers, and for Casey Coleman, game over. Coleman set a dubious record by throwing 51 pitches in the inning, the most pitches in a single inning by any pitcher in all of MLB this year, and despite the 51 pitches managed to record only 2 outs.
Uribe homered in the 4th and added another RBI with a sacrifice fly in the 6th. Billingsley showed that he can actually pitch with a lead, contrary to a ESPN Los Angeles columnist who earlier this month went on record and wrote an entire article on the premise that:
the notion that Billingsley can’t pitch with a lead is the most obvious conclusion to draw
Billingsley seemed just fine pitching with the lead as he gave up just 3 hits and 2 walks from the 3rd to the 6th innings with an unearned run scoring on a passed ball. He ran into some trouble in the 7th giving up 4 straight singles and a run and left the game with one out in the 7th and the bases loaded.
Enter rookie Kenley Jansen who got knocked around in his last outing by the Braves allowing 5 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, while only recording 1 out. Even though the Dodgers had a 9-2 lead it was a pressure situation and an opportunity for the Cubs to get back into the game, however Jansen wasn’t fazed. He struck out Tyler Colvin and got Carlos Pena to line out.
He then came out in the bottom of the 8th and struck out the side, striking out 4 of the 5 batters he faced. Again it was a 5 out stretch with the Dodgers having a 7 run cushion but for Jansen this could be the turning point for his season. His fastball had the same kind of life and late movement when it crossed the plate as it did last year when he was nearly unhittable, allowing only 12 hits in 27 innings pitched and piling up 41 strike outs.
Don Mattingly spoke to a couple of us in the Dodgers dugout prior to Wednesday’s game about Jansen. He mention that the biggest difference between the 2011 version of Jansen compared to 2010 was not the loss in velocity, but rather the explosion and late movement of his fastball as it crosses the plate. Today he looked to have regained his 2010 from as his fastball had the late break that it has been missing thus far this season. Jansen returning to his 2010 form is of vital importance to a Dodger bullpen, who aside from Matt Guerrier, has been very hittable thus far.
The Dodgers piled on 3 more runs in the 9th on a long 2 run homer by Marcus Thames and a single from Tony Gwynn. The top 2 hitters in the Dodgers lineup, Jamey Carroll and Casey Blake, reached base 6 times in their 12 plate appearances and scored 4 runs. As of Monday Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp were hitting .412 and .500 respectively with runners in scoring position, the rest of the team was a combined .088.
Since then the team has done a 180 degree turnaround and in the past few days it has been Juan Uribe, Casey Blake, and even AJ Ellis coming through for the Dodgers with RISP. Now if they can just get James Loney going the Dodgers offense could become dangerous.
What is sure is that the starting pitching has been tremendous the last 6 games, the offense is starting to come around and the Dodgers bullpen, aside from Saturday’s meltdown has been solid. The club in now 1 game over .500, 3 games behind Colorado and as Don Mattingly said after Wednesday night’s game:
This is what we’re capable of. I know I’ve said it and I don’t know if anybody believes it, but we’ve got a good club we’ve got a chance to be a good club. Our starting pitching has a chance to go deep into games, we can shorten them with our bullpen after that, and we’re capable of scoring runs. We’ve got a good club we just got to go out and put some wins on the board our guys are getting after it pretty good for us.
With all of the distractions surrounding ownership and Major League Baseball stepping in to run the Dodgers Mattingly said on Wednesday:
We can only control what happens on the field, guys get ready to play every day, the situation doesn’t really effect them, the biggest effect they have to deal with is answering questions about it.
Mattingly’s straight forward and even keeled approach should be exactly the type of leadership this club needs to weather what is sure to be a tumultuous season. The Dodgers look to make it 4 wins in a row as Ted Lilly faces off against his former club and good friend Ryan Dempster tomorrow at 10:05 AM PT.
Topics: AJ Ellis, Andre Ethier, Casey Blake, Chad Billingsley, Don Mattingly, James Loney, Jamey Carroll, Jerry Sands, Juan Uribe, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers, Major League Baseball, Marcus Thames, Matt Guerrier, Matt Kemp, Ted Lilly, Tony Gwynn Jr.