For the second consecutive game, the Dodger Stadium crowd (announced Monday as 28,292 tickets sold) was energized by a young Dodger outfielder and a great performance from the Dodgers' starting pitcher. Once again, the outfielder and starter, Jerry Sands and Ted Lilly in this case, provided a win for the Dodgers, 4-2 over the Atlanta Braves tonight, and allowed the struggles of closer Jonathan Broxton to be swept under the rug.
Sands made his major league debut tonight, and the crowd was ready for him. Of course, by the time Sands batted in the first inning -- he was slated seventh in tonight's batting order -- the Dodgers already had a 3-0 lead. Sands whacked a double down the right field line to open his career, off Tim Hudson. Sands added a sacrifice fly in the third inning to give the Dodgers a 4-0 lead.
Lilly had is best start of the season tonight, pitching seven scoreless innings. He threw strikes all night -- 66 of his 97 pitches were strikes -- and allowed just six baserunners while striking out six Braves. Lilly and Billingsley are just the fifth pair of Dodgers to throw seven or more scoreless innings on back-to-back days in the last 10 seasons:
|Back-To-Back Dodger Starters With 7+ Scoreless Innings|
|Dates||Pitcher 1||Pitcher 2|
|Sunday/Monday||Chad Billingsley (8 IP)||Ted Lilly (7 IP)|
|July 21-22, 2010||Chad Billingsley (9 IP)||Hiroki Kuroda (8 IP)|
|September 14-15, 2008||Greg Maddux (7 IP)||Hiroki Kuroda (7 IP)|
|September 12-13, 2003||Wilson Alvarez (9 IP)||Kevin Brown (7 IP)|
|August 1-2, 2002||Odalis Perez (7 IP)||Andy Ashby (7 IP)|
Broxton Less Than Sharp
Broxton entered the game in the top of the ninth with a 4-0 lead, and he struggled. He labored, throwing 25 pitches, and allowed two runs on three hits, including two doubles. Broxton was bailed out when Freddie Freeman ended his eight-pitch at-bat by swinging at what looked like ball four. The ensuing groundout brought home a run, but it also netted a precious out. Broxton did strikeout two batters, so it wasn't all bad.
There wasn't much wrong with Broxton's Sunday outing. Matt Holliday doubled, and the RBI single by Freese was just a blooper to right field, but the fact is Broxton would have faced a load of criticism had Matt Kemp not homered in the bottom of the inning. That, coupled with tonight's outing, and the few home runs Broxton has allowed so far this season...let's just say he's been less than sharp so far. In 7 1/3 innings so far this season, Broxton has allowed 10 hits, including three doubles and two home runs, and two unintentional walks while striking out five.
Is it a cause for concern going forward? Yes. Has it cost the Dodgers any games yet? No.
- Andre Ethier blooped a single to left field in the bottom of the seventh inning, extending his hitting streak to 15 games, which is a season high in MLB this season. During his hitting streak, which began in the third game of the season, Ethier is hitting .404/.469/.526
- Sands is one of 18 Dodgers since to have an extra-base hit and an RBI in his MLB debut
- Before tonight, the last Dodger to get a base hit in his first major league plate appearance was Blake DeWitt, who singled in his first PA on March 31, 2008
- Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless eighth inning, pushing his season totals to 8 2/3 scoreless innings (he has allowed one inherited runner, out of five, to score), with five strikeouts and two walks. Guerrier has retired 25 of the 31 batters he has faced this season.
- As pointed out by David Young, tonight was the first game of the season that Juan Uribe and James Loney have had back-to-back hits. They entered the night hitting a combined .152/.200/.214, but they each had two hits in four at-bats on the night.
- The Dodgers have scored four runs or less in 13 of 17 games this season, tied with the Twins, Mariners, and Braves for the most games in MLB. After tonight's game, the Braves are now the lowest scoring team in the NL, with one run fewer than the Dodgers.
- Hiroki Kuroda will face Brandon Beachy Tuesday night in the second game of the series.
WP - Ted Lilly (1-2): 7 IP, 4 hits, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts
LP - Tim Hudson (2-2): 6 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts