Rick Honeycutt must have told Ted Lilly some good stuff this spring.
Ted Lilly pitched four innings of one-hit baseball and James Loney lashed his first home run of the spring as the Los Angeles Dodgers (8-3-2 in the Cactus League) defeated the Texas Rangers 5-2 at Camelback Ranch.
Overall, Dodger pitching allowed only four hits and two walks while striking out seven, with Scott Elbert, Javy Guerra, Wil Ledezma and Scott Rice each hurling one scoreless inning in relief. The only damage Texas did was clubbing two solo home runs while Kenley Jansen was on the mound in the fifth inning.
Loney started the scoring in the second inning, turning on a 2-0 fastball from Texas starter Greg Reynolds and launching a no-doubt shot into the patio umbrellas well beyond the right field wall. Loney's homer came after Andre Ethier led off the inning with a hard double down the left-field line and Juan Rivera earned a walk.
Before today's game, manager Don Mattingly talked about Lilly's issues with baserunners last year, when he allowed 35 stole bases at a 95% success rate:
"He made changes last year. Later on in the year he was a little better. He changed his move a little bit....It bothered him to a point. I was trying to [have him] throw over and hold runners and do different stuff, but I said, 'Teddy I can't help you. You're on your own over there. You're going to have to change tempo, throw over. You're going to control the running game. You can do it better than anybody.
"He showed a fairly quick move home, and he'd do a short move over [to first], and he gave enough looks that he slowed the running game down. Second base is tough for him because he's got that turn, and guys got him pretty good going to third.
"It's a defect that you can't defense. All of a sudden they're stealing a run with two outs. If they get a runner, they're going to second. A little walk or an infield single turns into a run with one hit.
"It's a little tough and something we've addressed and talked about...We had Davey [Lopes] talk to the pitchers about what is the toughest thing for basestealers and what can pitchers do to help themselves."
Today Lilly demonstrated another solution to cutting down on steals. The one hit he allowed was a triple to David Murphy, and the only runner in a position to steal was the slow-footed Mike Napoli, who bounced into a fielder's choice immediately following that triple, with Murphy cut down trying to score. No viable base runners, no stolen bases, QED.
Dee Gordon looked to continue the base running excitement from yesterday when he stole second base without a pitch being thrown, but he was ruled out on a dubious call while attempting a conventional steal after grounding a single up the middle in the first inning. Mattingly commented on the dimension Gordon's speed brings to the game:
"Base stealers are kind of like daredevils....I don't think there's going to be anything that stops Dee. If he's getting thrown out all the time doing something silly, then we'll talk about it. But we're going to be aggressive, we're going to keep running, and we're going to keep going. [Gordon] taking a chance like that, it sets the tone for the game.
"Speed is a pain. When Scioscia had all those rabbit over there, it was a pain in the butt.You know they're going first to third. When they get guys on base, they're running. It's just frustrating with teams like that. We've got some guys like that, and were going to take advantage of it."
This was Loney's first game back after taking a couple days off with calf soreness This caused Mattingly to quip, "he knew he needed a couple of days off. He knew exactly what he needed." But even after losing a couple days of training, Loney was showing timing that his manager liked, "what I do see is good timing from James. In the past you'd see all kind of different triggers. He'd step back one day, then would be wide. He would try to sit [in his stance] one day then he'd be tall. His hands would be up, his hands would be down. You'd see a variety of things. But now he looks the same. He looks like he's found his rhythm."
- Mattingly said today's lineup was essentially his basic starting order for the regular season.
- Ethier's second-inning double was his sixth extra-base hit in eight spring training games.
- Matt Guerrier's back stiffness is improving. He threw yesterday on flat ground and was scheduled to do so today also. Mattingly mentioned that it would be "a few more days" before he throws from a mound, adding, "we don't want to let this thing linger, so we want to try to nip it right now and get him going forward toward the regular season."
- The Dodgers announced that their next two games are Camelback Ranch are sold out. Saturday night features fireworks post-game, and one Sunday is against the Angels who may have added a player of interest.
The Dodgers will have split-squads tomorrow, traveling to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale to face the Colorado Rockies in the 1:05 P.M. game with Nathan Eovaldi making the start, while taking on the San Francisco Giants at Camelback Ranch in the night game at 7:05 P.M facing Aaron Harang.
Also scheduled to pitch for the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon are: Alberto Castillo, Fernando Nieve, Will Savage and Ryan Tucker. The additional pitchers for the night game are Jamey Wright, Ramon Troncoso, Josh Lindblom and Matt Chico.
WP - Ted Lilly (2-1): 4 IP, 1 hit, 2 strikeouts
LP - Greg Reynolds: 3+ IP, 7 hits, 4 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
Sv - Scott Rice: 1 hit