Dodger Lineup vs. WashingtonGordon 6 Gwynn 7 Kemp 8 Ethier 9 Hairston 4 Loney 3 Uribe 5 Ellis 2 Billingsley 1
Steven Hypesburg-2-0 vs. Chad Billingsley-2-1
Just how lucky were the Dodgers last night? That foul ball off the bat of Espinosa in the ninth inning was just centimeters from hitting the foul pole for a game tying home run. Somehow the ball hit the fan sitting right next to the pole in foul ground. Kenley Jansen retired Espinosa later in the at-bat on a fly ball to center. The Dodgers were able to make three runs stand up, (a two-run Andre Ethier bomb, and RBI infield single from Juan Uribe). Clayton Kershaw’s only blemish on the night as he picked up his second win was a sixth inning walk, and two-run home run allowed to former Dodger and annoyance Adam LaRoche. The Dodgers hung on to win another nail-biter.
The Dodgers figure to play these type of games all season long. Ten of the Dodgers first 20 games this season have been decided by one run, and the Dodgers are 7-3 in those games. I always begin to notice patterns, which emerge after the first few weeks of the season. For instance, the Dodgers typically score very early in games, then rely on their generally solid pitching staff and defense, to carry them the rest of the way. The Dodgers have outscored their opponents 21-5 in the first inning, and lead the league in first inning hitting and runs scored. That same script held true last night as the Dodgers scored two runs in the first inning, added another run in the fourth, and then didn’t score the rest of the night. Of course they did have another runner thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning. The Nationals are the opposite scoring runs very late in games, so we may be seeing push against shove tonight.
The bullpen has been a mixed bag, a source of strength one night, and a weakness the next. The bullpen is very talented, but also very young and inexperienced. The vets in the bullpen are hurt (Guerrier, and Coffey both on DL), but Todd Coffey is supposed to be ready to come off the DL by tomorrow. In the meantime Nathan Eovaldi stands ready to assist, as Javy Guerra continues to rest from being hit in the head by a Brian McCann line drive. He was cleared healthy to pitch yesterday by the Dodger’s medical staff. Expect more moves to strengthen the Bullpen in the coming days.
Tonight the Dodgers square off against the Nationals in game two, as the battle of the National League’s top two teams continue at Dodger Stadium. Both teams come in with identical 14-6 records. Tonight’s middle game is one everyone has been talking about for the last few days. The Dodgers will be going up against pure hype tonight in the form of two youngsters who’s careers have been mostly driven by pure hype alone up to this point. Game two will mark the MLB debut of the most hyped rookie prospect of the season. The number one draft pick of the 2010 amateur draft, Bryce Harper (Hyper), has been called up from triple-A Syracuse, to play the final two games at Dodger Stadium. The Nationals are without third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, and Practice Swing Boy Mike Morse, both on the DL with injuries. In order to get some kind of pop in a punch-less lineup, the Nationals will be playing Harper in left field and batting him seventh. Harper was hitting .250 at Syracuse, with one home run.
Kid hype skipped his last year of High school to get his GED, and play Baseball for Junior College of Southern Nevada, in order to be eligible for the draft. He signed a 9.9 million dollar five year contract with Washington, with a 6.5 million dollar signing bonus, in the summer of 2010.
The Nationals are hoping kid hype can provide some kind of pop, for a stagnant lineup. Meanwhile on the mound, Steven Strasburg (Hypesburg) will make his first start at Dodger Stadium. Hypesburg has been very good this year. Hypesburg is 2-0, with a 1.08 ERA, and 25 whiffs against six walks in four starts this season. If you remember last August, Hypesburg made his first start back coming back from Tommy John surgery against the Dodgers. I still remember him pitching five shutout innings, allowing just two hits, and whiffing a bunch of Dodgers with a 100-MPH fastball, and a nasty slider. Fortunately that first start back meant nothing, as the Dodgers rallied to tie, then took the lead that night, during a 7-3 Dodger Blue comeback win.
Of course Strasburg was 5-3 in his first season back in 2010. He posted a 2.91 ERA, and wowed everyone with his 12.2 whiff per nine rate. That comes out to 92 whiffs and only 17 walks, in his 68 innings of work. Last season he got in five games, posting a 1.50 ERA. This guys has some nasty stuff.
The Dodgers will counter with Chad Billingsley. The big guy has pitched well this season, despite last week’s crapfest in Houston. Other than that one crap start, Bills has done alright for himself thus far. He is 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA. He has 19 whiffs and only five walks. Bills will look to get back on track against a team he has always pitched very well against. Bills is a career 4-1 record, and a 3.21 ERA against Washington. The Nationals are only hitting .236 against Bills but have hit six home runs. LaRoche is batting .286 against Bills, 6 for 21, with two home runs. Werthless is hitting .278 (5 for 18) off of Bills, with a home run. Zimmerman, Nady, and Derosa have all each hit one home run off of Bills.
Also the sale of the team to the GBM and Magic Johnson is being finalized on Monday. Once that is done, the team’s finances will be transferred over and the transition will begin. April 30 is the date that Frank McCourt must pay his ex-wife Jamie 130 million dollars as part of their divorce settlement.
Tonight’s game is at 6:10 PM and will be televised on Prime Ticket. Naturally these two youngsters are beginning what should be the start of long and successful big league careers. Obviously I wish the two nothing but resounding failures for tonight and tomorrow. The Dodgers will be battling hype tonight. Will the great white hype beat the Dodgers? Or will the Dodgers create their own hype instead? Stick around to find out. Don’t forget I will be doing a special podcast with David Krell immediately following the game. Go Blue