Dodgers Prepare to Finish off Home Schedule in Style

Did any Dodger fan really think we'd see another lefty like Koufax ever again?

Fresh off of  a 15-to-1 pounding of the Pirates, the Dodgers have the opportunity to play spoiler as they face the Giants in their final 3 home games of this roller coaster 2011 season. Once again Tim Lincecum will square off against Clayton Kershaw and once again the skinny hippie of the “battery chuckers by the bay” will try to better Kershaw, something he has failed to do in their previous 3 match-ups.

As Adam Berry of MLB.com points out:

The fourth and final round of Clayton Kershaw vs. Tim Lincecum will certainly take center stage Tuesday night in Dodger Stadium.

Wow really Adam? No offense but way to go out on a limb with that statement.

The Giants are in the midst of an 8 game winning streak as they cling to their playoff lives, and it has been their offense that has finally awoken from a season long slumber that they have to thank for it.  They have clawed their way back into the NL West hunt but just barely. They are currently 5 and a half games behind the Diamondbacks with just 9 games left.

Ian Kennedy made his strongest statement yet for the NL Cy Young as he struck out 12 Pirates over 8 innings of a 1 hit masterpiece. The 1-to-0 win cut the D’Backs magic number to 4, and the schedule gods have blessed Arizona as they face the struggling Pirates 2 more times, while the Dodgers and Giants do battle.

Kennedy became the first 20 game winner in the NL lowering his ERA to 2.88 and raising his strike out total to a career best 194. However, as solid as those numbers are when you compare them the the NL’s Cy Young favorite, Clayton Kershaw, they look rather pedestrian. Kershaw is in the midst of making a run at the triple crown for pitchers.

He leads the NL in ERA at 2.30 and strike outs with 236, and has a chance to match Kennedy with his 20th win of the season Tuesday. He leads Cliff Lee by 13 KO’s and .08 in ERA. He trails Kennedy by 1 in the win column, with Roy Halladay one behind Kershaw at 18. And if his match-ups this year against the Giants are any indicator then Kershaw should add to his totals Tuesday night.

The Dodgers haven’t had any really meaningful games since early May, as witnessed by the embarrassing Dodgers attendance totals, but I expect Dodger Stadium to be rocking Tuesday night. The rival Giants are in town, the Dodgers Cy Young candidate is on the mound against the aforementioned hippie of the arch rivals from the North, and the Dodgers have the chance to stick a dagger in the Giants playoff hopes.

There are a lot of reasons for Dodgers fans to be filled with anger and stay away from the ballpark, most all of which can be blamed solely on bankrupt owner Frank McCourt, but Tuesday night is probably the most anticipated home game since opening day, and Dodgers fans need to represent.

Back to McCourt for just a moment, and I promise I’ll finish my comments about him as quickly as I can. We all wish he would take the same attitude towards settling his 2+ year long divorce, but that will not be the case. Frank was back in the news recently and for all Dodgers fans who were hoping that the ownership situation would finally be resolved, we found out that will not be the case, and it will more than likely be well into 2012 before there is any resolution.

Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reported recently that the McCourt’s divorce trial will not begin until Spring or Summer of 2012 and will last 30 to 45 days. Seriously? Didn’t they file for divorce like 3 years ago? Until the worlds most public and drawn out divorce is settled, the question of who owns the Dodgers cannot be settled.

To add even more salt to the wound Josh Fisher of Dodger Divorce.com, reported today that the Dodgers cannot be sold until the team gets out of Bankruptcy Court. Meaning:

It appears the Dodgers will head into a third consecutive offseason with the ownership question still hanging over the proud franchise’s head.

Every time I think that this whole mess can’t get any worse and that there will be some sort of resolution, at some time in my life, we get news like this.  That the morally and financially bankrupt Frank and Jamie McCourt won’t settle their ridiculously long divorce until Spring or Summer of 2012. And yes she’s still Jamie McCourt until the divorce is settled. Frank did get one piece of good news, and no he didn’t save 15% on his car insurance by switching to Geico:

 The sides agreed Frank McCourt would pay $225,000 per month in temporary spousal support — eliminating the $412,000 per month he has been paying to maintain the couple’s residential properties — pending a November hearing.

One of the couple’s two Holmby Hills homes was sold last month, and money from that sale will fill the support gap. Two properties in Massachusetts and another in Montana are for sale, according to court documents.

Well done Frank that’s the spirit, you sold a house now sell the team. Enough of the McCourt news, there’s actually some good news for Dodgers fans for a change. In case you haven’t noticed Jerry Sands has taken over permanent residence in the Dodgers outfield, something he should have done when he was originally called up earlier this year.

Sands is in the midst of a modest 7 game hitting streak and all he’s done is get 15 hits in 25 at-bats and driven in 7 runs during the streak. He hit his 1st Dodger Stadium HR, a 3-run shot in the Dodgers blowout of the Pirates, and what do you know, just like when he was playing everyday when he was with the club earlier in the season, the Dodgers are winning.

He is finally gaining the valuable MLB experience he should have been getting all year long. Even though it’s just a month, he’ll be that much better next year because of the experience he is gaining right now. He  should have been  getting this experience all along, but at least he’s in the lineup everyday, which is where he belongs, and where he better be opening day 2012.

Sands isn’t the only youngster making an impression, True Blue LA has a great article  detailing how Sands and the other rookies are rocking in September. Dee Gordon is stealing bases at a record pace and making remarkable defensive plays, to go along with his respectable .290 batting average. Kenley Jansen is striking out batters at a ridiculous pace, over 15 K’s on average per 9 innings pitched, plus he’s struck out 21 of the last 31 hitters he’s faced.

Throw in Nathan Eovaldi, Javy Guerra, Scott Elbert, Josh Lindblom and even FedEx, and one positive of all of the Dodgers injuries this season is the valuable experience the rookies have gotten this year, and how well they have fared. Add some wicked power arms in AA, including minor league pitcher of the year Shawn Tolleson and Stephen Ames, who combined to strike out 174 batters in 117 innings pitched and the Dodgers bullpen looks to be set for years to come. It’s still tragic to think the Dodgers lost promising young starter Rubby De La Rosa for most if not all of 2012, due to Tommy John Surgery, but there definitely is some young talent here to stay.

On the hitting side Scott Van Slyke, the Dodgers minor league hitter of the year, has made a case to join Sands, Gordon, Kemp, Ethier and a rejuvenated James Loney to give the Dodgers hope on the offensive side as well. Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has a great post about the effect new hitting coach Dave Hansen has had on James Loney‘s resurgence.

Loney has made a strong case to be brought back next season, after struggling mightily for over a year. His average back up to a respectable .280, he’s reached double digits in HR, he’s turned back into a doubles hitting machine, basically he’s the James Loney we all knew and loved from 2007 through 2009. Unless the Dodgers sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder in the off-season, which will never happen with the McCourt mess unsettled, Loney has hit his way back into the first-base job in 2012. Which about 6 weeks ago seemed as unlikely as the McCourt’s actually settling their divorce.

And I haven’t even talked about Matt Kemp, who has made a strong case to be the MVP of the National League, and who has been arguably the best all around player in all of MLB in 2011.

But back to Tuesday night and Clayton Kershaw, who will state his case for the NL Cy Young award, while hopefully delivering a crushing blow to the Giants playoff hopes, if he does what he’s done all year against the Giants and Tim Lincecum. Again from Adam Berry at MLB.com:

If there’s anyone who can bring San Francisco’s resurgence to a screeching halt, it’s Kershaw. The lefty is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA in five starts against the Giants this year and 5-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 11 career games against Los Angeles’ division rival.

Kershaw’s miniscule ERA is the lowest all-time against the Giants (minimum 60 innings pitched), and he has been particularly effective when lining up against Lincecum.

In the three games they’ve started opposite each other this season, Kershaw is 3-0 with no earned runs allowed in 23 innings, racking up 30 strikeouts against just three walks.

In a season full of injuries, divorce and bankruptcy madness, free-agent busts and an unpopular trade, for one night a special, talented, 23 year old, Clayton Kershaw has the chance to help all Dodgers fans forget about all of the suffering ownership has caused the franchise. And make it even sweeter by crushing their arch rivals playoff hopes in the process.

Dodger fans I expect you to represent Tuesday night and remember you can follow all of the action live by following Lasorda’s Lair on Twitter by clicking here

Topics: Andre Ethier, Arizona Diamondbacks, Clayton Kershaw, Cy Young Award, Dave Hansen, Dee Gordon, Frank McCourt, Ian Kennedy, James Loney, Jamie McCourt, Javy Guerra, Jerry Sands, Josh Lindblom, Kenley Jansen, Los Angeles Dodgers, Matt Kemp, Nathan Eovaldi, NL MVP, NL West, Pittsburgh Pirates, Rubby De La Rosa, San Francisco Giants, Scott Elbert, Scott Van Slyke, Shawn Tolleson, Stephen Ames, Tim Federowicz, Tim Lincecum

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  • melfelk

    My money is on Timmy tonight, but man, Kershaw has been good this season.

  • melfelk

    My money is on Timmy tonight, but man, Kershaw has been good this season.