Dodgers Take on Best in West, Without Furcal (For Now)

Ramon Ortiz will make his first start in almost three years tonight

For most of the season, the Dodgers have been playing uphill.  Manager Joe Torre has been subdued in his goals, saying on numerous occasions the team can't think about any seasonal goals without first getting to .500.  Well, now their record is even, and they head into San Diego with a chance to cut into their five-game lead by playing the Padres five times in the next seven days.

Rafael Furcal was expected to be activated for tonight's game, but he is not in the lineup.  Jill Painter of the LA Daily News reported that Furcal said he was "about 85 percent." 

It has been 1,084 days since Ramon Ortiz last started a major league baseball game.  On May 26, 2007, Ortiz gave up six runs and 10 hits in six innings as his Twins lost to the Blue Jays.  Ortiz vaulted himself above Carlos Monasterios on the strength of his five innings of emergency fill-in relief of Charlie Haeger last Saturday, although who knows what to expect from Ortiz tonight?  He can't be expected to go deep into the game, so Monasterios could likely follow him on the mound, in a reversal of True Blue LA night.  The Dodgers have a reasonably well rested bullpen behind Ortiz, given yesterday's day off and deep starts in three of the last four games, all Dodger wins.

The Padre bullpen is also well rested, after Clayton Richard's seven-inning performance Wednesday and Mat Latos' shutout yesterday.  The Dodgers miss those two pitchers this weekend, but face old friend Jon Garland tonight.  Garland has a large gap in his ERA (1.71) and FIP (4.32), but so far, as expected, he has done Jon Garland-y things.  He has pitched six innings in five of his seven starts, and has allowed no runs in 14 total innings in his last two starts.  Garland has won four straight games, and in his last five starts he has allowed two earned runs (and three unearned runs) in 32 innings.

Iron Man Martin

Russell Martin has started the last 14 games at catcher, tied for the second longest streak of his career.  The last game he did not start was the second game of the doubleheader in New York on April 27.   Martin started 21 straight games from September 8-30, 2006, one of just 15 streaks of 20 consecutive starts since the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles:

Most Consecutive Starts, LA Dodger Catchers
Catcher Year Starts
Steve Yeager 1975 58
Mike Piazza 1995 31
Joe Ferguson 1973 30
Jack Fimple 1983 24
John Roseboro     1963 24
Mike Piazza 1995 23
Steve Yeager 1975 23
Steve Yeager 1974 22
Tom Haller 1969 22
Russell Martin 2006 21
Joe Ferguson 1973 21
Tom Haller 1968 21
Mike Piazza 1996 20
Mike Piazza 1994 20
John Roseboro 1961 20

Mike Scioscia also technically started 23 straight games at catcher in 1981, but the final seven games came after the two-month player strike.  But, my goodness, look at Steve Yeager!  Not only did he blow away the field by starting the final 58 games of the 1975 season, but he also started 23 straight games immediately before that.  Yeager had the right stuff to catch 81 of the final 82 games that season.

Notes

  • Martin has an eight-game hitting streak, during which he has hit two home runs, and his hitting .303/.378/.485
  • The Dodgers are 24-30 all-time at Petco Park, which opened in 2004.  Garland started for the Dodgers in their last game in San Diego, last September
  • Manny Ramirez has 14 hits in 27 at-bats in his career against Garland, including four doubles and three home runs.  He is hitting .519/.649/1.000 in 37 plate appearances
  • Per the Dodger game notes, Andre Ethier is leading the majors in May in batting average (.478), on-base percentage (.510), slugging percentage (.978), RBI (18), and is tied for the MLB lead with five home runs.
  • If you are looking for someone to start in place of Ortiz next Wednesday at home, James McDonald starts for Albuquerque today at 5:05pm in Colorado Springs.  You can listen here

Xeifrank's simulation of today's game is here.

Game Time: 7:05pm

TV: Prime Ticket

Baseball Reference Preview | Box Score | Gameday

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