Dodgers Host The Phillies In Phinale

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The last time the Dodgers had a lead of more than one run was also the last time they were on ESPN, last Sunday against the Cubs.  Yet the Dodgers have somehow, some way, improbably won four of six games this week, including the last two in walk-off fashion.

Andre Ethier, the hero of the last two comeback wins, has been on fire this first week of June.  He has six extra-base hits in six games, and is hitting .391/.417/.913 for the month.  Ethier was able to avoid injury during the two celebrations/pile-ups that ended the last two games "by covering up well," he said.  Speaking of injuries, he said he feels more comfortable on his toe -- he split the nail on his big toe two weeks ago -- now than he did a week ago.

Eric Milton has been placed on the 15-day DL with a strained back, which apparently happened during Friday's game against Philadelphia.  Blake DeWitt was recalled from Albuquerque to take his place on the 25-man roster.

Here's today's lineup:

Pierre LF
Hudson 2B
Ethier RF
Blake 3B
Loney 1B
Kemp CF
Furcal SS
Ausmus C
Wolf P

Russell Martin is getting a day of rest, and Rafael Furcal has been moved down to 7th, at least temporarily.  Joe Torre said moving Furcal down in the order was more to keep Ethier's bat higher in the lineup, and that he did talk with Furcal about it before doing so.  Torre said he was pleased with Furcal's home run swing Saturday, in that he used his hands more and "wasn't swinging out of his shoes."

More Joe Torre notes to follow...

UPDATE (2:39pm):  Here are some notes from Joe Torre's pregame chat:

  • In wanting to keep Andre Ethier's hot bat higher in the order (he's hitting 3rd tonight), this would normally be a game to move Juan Pierre down in the order, but not with the way he has been hitting.
  • In the 10th inning Saturday, with runners on first and second base, nobody out and Russell Martin at the plate, Torre called for the sacrifice bunt, but called it off after Martin missed the bunt for strike one.  Torre didn't want to take two strikes away from Martin in that situation.
  • All these close games can only help the team if it gets to the postseason, since the club will have had more experience in pressure situations throughout the season.  "The playoffs are all about pressure," Torre said.
  • Today is the final game of a stretch of 17 games in 17 straight days, and Torre said the club would welcome the off days, especially Monday's rare off day at home, during a homestand.
  • The club won't need a fifth starter until June 20 against the Angels, and by then Eric Stults is expected to be ready to pitch.  He gets the splint off his left thumb tomorrow
  • Torre likens Phillies' starter Antonio Bastardo to Clayton Kershaw last year, in that Bastardo will try to throw his fastball and the Dodgers will force him to locate that pitch for a strike
  • Earlier this season, Torre said he didn't have to talk to Casey Blake about batting 8th because he was a veteran who knew how to hit there.  Torre thinks the same of Matt Kemp, who batted eighth four times recently.  "Matt Kemp doesn't care where he hits," Torre said, adding that if he sensed it would be a problem he would talk with the player first.  With Kemp, it wasn't a problem at all.
  • When asked if there was any satisfaction in beating teams from outside the NL West, Torre said there was, and not just from the final scores.  For instance, even though the Dodgers were swept in Wrigley Field last regular season, Torre felt it was a positive because the club played in three close, hard-fought games.  It gave the club the confidence they could play with anyone.

I'm in the press box, sitting a few booths over from the ESPN booth, and Dan Shulman's booming voice is recording the promos for tonight's radio broadcast.  Much like in the old days of me recording my outgoing answering machine message, it sure does take a lot of attempts before you get it just right.

UPDATE (3:55pm):

Tonight is just the 10th career start for Rafael Furcal in the 7th spot in the batting order.  He started in the 8th spot right times during his rookie year, and once in 2006, his first season with the Dodgers.

In case there was any confusion (and there was, at least with me), Dodger rookie reliever Travis Schlichting's last name is pronounced with a hard "k" sound, like "Schlick-ting."

Cory Wade's win in relief on Saturday means that all 17 Dodgers that have thrown a pitch in 2009 have recorded a win.  Schlichting has yet to appear in a game.

UPDATE (4:20pm):

Per the amazing daily Dodger game notes, I found this interesting:

Dodger Relievers
Pitcher 1st Batters Faced Retired OBP
Belisario 29 22 .241
Broxton 26 23 .115
Leach 15 11 .267
Mota 22 14 .364
Troncoso 24 17 .292
Wade 20 14 .300
Weaver 6 4 .333
Others 20 13 .350
Totals 162 118 .272

UPDATE (4:58pm):  I have never before heard of teenager Ashley Argota, nor have I seen her Nickelodeon show, but she just belted out a great national anthem.  She has a wonderful voice.

Here's a shot of the new "Bleacher Beach," located in the Reserved level near the left field foul pole:

Bleacher_beach_medium

Here is the field before first pitch:

Before_1st_pitch_medium

It's apparently "Macy's Day" at Dodger Stadium.  Who knew?  Overheard here at the stadium was Agnes Skinner, who told Phillies' manager Charlie Manuel, "You're Gimbals!"

UPDATE (7:55pm):

The people in the press box just got a Webkinz, which was tonight's stadium giveaway.  Before now, I had no idea what one looked like.  Here it is:

Webkinz_medium

**********

The only person to guess today's game in the latest Russell Martin HR contest was mattpeters, who picked a 413-foot shot in the 8th inning.

Get your guesses in for "She Is Gone" here.

Box Score | Baseball Reference Preview | Gameday

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