The Dodgers had lost four straight games heading into the middle game of their Freeway Series with the Angels. But they had the same man on the mound on Saturday as they did last Sunday, the last time the club won, in Chris Capuano.
Capuano came through again, with seven strong innings, continuing his strong season on the mound. Might that earn Capuano a trip to Kansas City in two weeks for the All-Star Game?
"The numbers don't lie, right? It's not like this has been a mirage that he's been getting all kinds of runs or anything," said manager Don Mattingly. "He's been pitching good every time out, and he should be considered."
Capuano is now 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA, with one more start before rosters are announced next weekend. He is tied for fourth in the National League in wins, 11th in ERA, tied for 10th in ERA+ (147), and tied for 11th in strikeouts (84). He's tied for 26th in FIP (an estimated 3.68), but I'm not sure how many All-Star rosters have been constructed using FIP.
"Individual achievements are nice and it's nice to get recognized," Capuano said. "At this point, after missing a couple of years, it's a lot simpler than that. I enjoy being out here, and I enjoy executing pitches. If the results go your way, that's a bonus for me."
Capuano was an All-Star in 2006 when he went 10-4 with a 3.21 ERA in the first half for the Milwaukee Brewers, but he plummeted to 1-8 with a 5.17 ERA in 15 starts after the break. Capuano, who missed all of 2008 and 2009 after Tommy John surgery, is a different pitcher now.
"From the start of spring training, he had a little more velocity on his fastball," said catcher A.J. Ellis. "Everybody knows Cappy has the amazing changeup to both righties and lefties, and he added the curve ball in spring training that gave him another dimension."
"We all evolve as we go, it's just a natural part of it," Capuano said. "I have experimented a lot over the last few years with grips, a different two-seam fastball, a different breaking ball, and a cutter which I learned last year. Those were all things I didn't have before."
Capuano has evolved both on and off the field.
"My perspective is just different now. I want to do well, I want to get wins, but it really isn't the end result," Capuano said. "Since (2006), so much has changed in my life. I missed two years of baseball, I got married, and the way I look at baseball has changed. I really just enjoy being here every day."
Mattingly said he is rooting for Capuano to make the All-Star team, but has an ulterior motive as well.
"I'd be really happy for him, but I'd be really happy if he pitches like this for the rest of the year, too," Mattingly said with a smile.
The Dodgers go for a rare series win in Anaheim on Sunday afternoon, with Aaron Harang looking to rebound from his eight walks in Oakland on Tuesday. Garrett Richards start on the mound for the Angels.