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Dodgers Visit Phoenix In Midst Of Diamondbacks Upheaval

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The face of pure intensity
The face of pure intensity

It is Old Friend night in Phoenix as the Dodgers begin a series with the Diamondbacks. Kirk Gibson has been named interim manager after Arizona cleaned house yesterday, the second consecutive ex-Dodger to take such a post this season, joining Juan Samuel in Baltimore. Another ex-Dodger, Edwin Jackson, gets the start tonight for the Diamondbacks, one week after firing a no-hitter.

I was fully prepared to denigrate Jackson's no-hitter because he did walk eight guys, a total that Hiroki Kuroda has only reached in a pair of three-start stretches in his career. But, the fact remains that a no-hitter is still quite an accomplishment. The fact that Jackson threw a complete game is noteworthy, as no Dodger has thrown a complete game in over a year. Jackson's game score of 85 is higher than anything produced by a Dodger this season.

Jackson threw an eye-popping 149 pitches last Friday in his no-hitter, a total not reached since Livan Hernandez, naturally, threw 150 pitches on June 3, 2005. The next two highest pitch totals by Jackson this season came in starts against the Dodgers, both games that embody the complete lack of bullpen success by Arizona this season. In both games, Jackson was allowed to stay in simply because a tired Jackson was a better option than anyone available in the bullpen.

Arizona starters have pitched well in their nine games against the Dodgers this season, averaging 6.74 innings per start, but the Dodgers have won eight of nine meetings by absolutely destroying the Diamondbacks bullpen:

2010 Diamondbacks Pitching vs Dodgers
Split IP H R ER BB K ERA WHIP
Starters 60.2 63 31 28 20 49 4.15 1.368
Relievers    
26.1 39 24 22 18 18 7.52 2.165

Kuroda starting in Arizona immediately brings to mind the line drive he took off his head last August. As Dylan Hernandez reported in the LA Times, Kuroda is still affected by it:

Since being hit by Ryal's line drive, loud sounds frighten him. The same is true of sights he used to consider routine, like that of a foul ball heading for the dugout. Or playing catch.

"Playing catch has become scary, especially when I'm thrown a ball that's headed for my face," he said. That he plays catch with Kershaw doesn't help. "I don't know if I'm scared because he throws so hard or because of the trauma," Kuroda said, laughing. But these daily reminders of his mortality have made him grateful for his health, he said.

Kuroda has been healthy this season, not missing a start . He will likely have two starts before the All-Star break, and is currently at 93 2/3 innings pitched on the season. He made 17 starts and pitched 105 innings before the break in 2008, his first season with the Dodgers.

Notes

  • James Loney is hitting .414/.454/.667 in his career at Chase Field, with seven home runs in 119 plate appearances, one every 17 PA. In his career at Dodger Stadium, Loney has 15 home runs in 1,045 plate appearances, or one every 70 PA. He has a hit in 25 of 26 career starts in Arizona
  • Manny Ramirez also owns Chase Field, hitting .471/.620/.804. He has been on base at least twice in all 17 games he has played in Arizona.
  • Matt Kemp has a hit in 21 of 22 career starts in Arizona
  • Coolguy_88888888, being the cool guy that he is, has compiled the Dodgers minor league organizational leaders for June in both hitting and pitching.
  • Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall said the team will likely conduct its search for a general manager in the offseason, per Hernandez, so we have some time to worry about Logan White or Kim Ng possibly leaving the Dodgers

Get your guesses in for Xeifrank's game simulation here.

Game Time: 6:40 p.m.

TV:  Prime Ticket

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