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Torre's Poor Planning Ruins Ethier's Birthday Party

Maybe Joe Torre will start putting Broxton in close games rather than blowouts starting Sunday.
Maybe Joe Torre will start putting Broxton in close games rather than blowouts starting Sunday.

Andre Ethier was held out of the lineup on his birthday Saturday night with a sprained left ankle for the third straight game, but he still found a way to deliver, with a two-run pinch single in the eighth inning.  But even though Ethier supplied the cake, the birthday party was ruined by poor planning from Joe Torre.  The Dodgers held a 6-4 lead entering the ninth inning, but with closer Jonathan Broxton unavailable, George Sherrill coughed up the lead, giving the Marlins a 7-6 comeback victory.  How did we get to this point, you ask?  Let's go back in time to Wednesday night in Pittsburgh...

  • Wednesday: Tied 3-3 entering the 10th inning, Torre saves Broxton for a save situation that never comes, rather than use him to help keep the game tied.  Ramon Ortiz gives up a run in the 10th, giving the Pirates the win
  • Thursday:  Now that Broxton hasn't pitched for six days, he "needs work" and is inserted into the finale in Pittsburgh with the Dodgers leading 10-2.
  • FridayRuss Ortiz began the ninth inning in Pittsburgh leading 7-1, but was pulled with one out and the bases loaded.  In comes Jonathan Broxton to get two outs, entering a game in which the Dodger win expectancy was already 98%.
  • Tonight: Now that Broxton has pitched in two straight games, he is unavailable tonight to protect a 6-4 lead

That, my friends, is the vicious cycle of incorrect bullpen usage.  Over the last four games, Broxton was unavailable in the two games he was needed most, both which ended as Dodger losses.  Both losses may have ended differently with a few bounces going the Dodgers' way, but it would be nice if our chances of winning would have been maximized.  With Hong-Chih Kuo on the disabled list, Sherrill struggling, and Ronald Belisario still a couple weeks away from returning, the bullpen is really thin right now.  It would be nice to use out best reliever when he is needed most.

Padilla Better, Still Bad

Vicente Padilla was better tonight than he was on opening day, but still couldn't escape the fifth inning. Padilla lasted just 4 1/3 innings for the second straight start, making him the only opening day starter in Los Angeles Dodger history to fail to pitch five innings in each of his first two starts.  Don Drysdale (3 2/3 and 5 IP in 1958) and Tim Belcher (2 1/3 and 5 IP in 1989) came the closest to joining Padilla in infamy.

Padilla had allowed one run through his first three innings, but then with one out and a man on first base in the fourth inning, the game was delayed for several minutes when the padding on the right field wall came detached.  After the delay, Padilla allowed a single Cody Ross, followed by a three-run home run crushed to left center field by Gaby Sanchez, turning a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 deficit.

Furcal Running Wild

Rafael Furcal scored a run tonight, the fifth straight game he has done so.  Here are the best run-scoring streaks to start the season in LA Dodger history:

Most Consecutive Games w/ Run to Start Season
Player Year Streak
Steve Sax 1988 6
Reggie Smith 1977 5
Bill Russell 1982 5
Raul Mondesi 1995 5
Rafael Furcal 2010 5

Chad Kreuter (6 games) and Kevin Elster (5 games) had longer streaks in 2000, but they involved several days off as well.

Other Notes

  • Manny Ramirez hit a 40-foot dribbler up the third base line in the fifth inning that Josh Johnson fielded in what he thought was foul territory.  However, it was fair, and Manny got his 2,500th career hit, good for 91st place on the all-time list.  It was the 131st infield hit of Manny's career
  • Furcal's first inning double was the 1,500th hit of his career.  Furcal leads the major leagues in both doubles (four) and stolen bases (three).
  • Ramon Ortiz, after a pair of shaky outings to start the season, reverted to the form he showed in spring training, retiring all six batters he faced, including three by strikeout.  Ortiz froze Hanley Ramirez with an 85-mph slider that darted back over the plate for a called strikeout in the seventh inning.
  • Matt Kemp had two more hits and two more runs batted in, giving him a club-leading seven RBI.  The final hit and RBI came on a massive home run to left field in the ninth that gave the Dodgers what was thought at the time to be a much needed insurance run.
  • Russell Martin had two hits and a walk, and now has a .588 on-base percentage on the young season.
  • Charlie Haeger will pitch to A.J. Ellis on Sunday, against Anibal Sanchez of the Marlins, in a 10:10am start on KCAL

WP - Jose Veras (1-0): 1 IP, 1 massive HR, 2 strikeouts

LP - George Sherrill (0-1): 0.1 IP, 1 hit, 2 runs, 2 walks

Box Score