<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Triple Threat]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/triple-threat http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:00:57 -0700 Tue, 30 Sep 2014 09:00:57 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Don't Count Out Kobe Bryant]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 08:45:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Kobe-Bryant-Lakers-Media-Day-2014.png

“He looked amazing,” 19-year-old Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle, who recently played a pick-up game of basketball with Kobe Bryant, described the 19-year veteran on Monday’s Media Day. “He’s just Kobe. He looks like he hasn’t lost a step. Can’t guard him. Defending. He’s just looks like Kobe.”

“He just refuses to lose,” Randle continued when asked about Bryant’s competitiveness. “When he’s working out, he doesn’t expect to miss any shots.”

Although the Lakers were not screaming the message from the tallest tower, one would be blind, deaf and dumb not to understand the underlying message of Lakers’ Media Day: Don’t count out no. 24 just yet.

Perhaps, no one understands Bryant’s progress and recovery better than Wesley Johnson. A quiet guy by nature, Johnson is an athletic freak who has been struggling to find his way in the league. After the conclusion of a disappointing 2013-14 season with the Lakers, Johnson’s return to the team was far from a foregone conclusion to those on the outside.

However, behind closed doors, Bryant and Johnson had been hard at work since April.

As Johnson recalled, he was sitting next to Bryant during the team’s final photo. There, Bryant turned to Johnson and said, “We have a lot of work to do this summer.”

Johnson agreed with the superstar without fully understanding what Bryant was talking about.

"Right after Easter, he hit me up, 'Are you ready to work?'" Johnson smiled. "He said, 'I'll be in the gym at 7 (a.m.)."

Johnson made a point to say Bryant did not ask him or tell him to join. He simply stated where he would be and at what time. Johnson turned up, and the two worked out together.

"The whole summer was pretty much repetition," Johnson spoke in his soft Texan accent. "From April to July, it was a big improvement. We ramped it up every month."

"We cleaned up a lot of my offensive game. No wasted motion," Johnson said about how the sessions helped him personally improve. "It slowed the game down a lot for me."

The duo continued to work out together, but Johnson hesitated when speaking too directly about how strong Bryant looked. Johnson didn’t want to ruin the surprise, but he hardly sounded concerned about Bryant’s ability to return to playing at an elite level.

“I expect him to play 82 games and to play well,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said on Monday, adding that Bryant would probably average 23 to 24 points per game. “The biggest thing is for him to stay healthy and keeping his minutes to a minimum where he can play those 82 games.”

“I've had a chance to see him work out,” Scott said confidently. “I've had a chance to see him play five-on-five. He's far from retiring.”

Lakers management, Bryant’s teammates and Coach Scott appeared to believe Bryant would still be an effective player, even at 36 years of age. That now famous five-on-five where Bryant turned heads and converted non-believers consistently found its way into Media Day discussions.

“I really fouled him and he really made it, and I was impressed at that moment,” teammate Nick Young said he texted Bryant after the five-on-five game to let Bryant know that he had tried to foul him so that the Lakers’ all-time great would be unable to hit the game winning shot in the five-on-five scrimmage.

Bryant still made the shot, and the game ended with Young on the losing side.

Hearing the disbelief in Young’s voice, Bryant had seemingly made believers out of everyone in the locker room and on the coaching staff. But would Bryant be a different player?

“My game has sort of been my game since I figured it out in 2003, in terms of the basics of it,” Bryant responded at Media Day when asked about how he'd adjusted his game this season. “I haven’t really had to change too much of it.”

In his 19th season with the Lakers, don’t be surprised if Bryant looks like the same “Kobe.” From the sounds and sly smiles of his teammates, coaches and Lakers’ management, they would be surprised if he is anything less.



Photo Credit: Shahan Ahmed]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Jeremy Lin Tired of "Linsanity"]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:04:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jeremy-Lin-Over-Linsanity.jpg

During the Los Angeles Lakers Media Day, Jeremy Lin drew a healthy crowd of cameras, microphones and audio recorders. As would be expected, the topic of “Linsanity” and the miraculous story of a benchwarmer from Harvard taking over the storied New York Knicks and outplaying Kobe Bryant came up on a couple occasions.

At one point, a reporter even went so far as to ask a ridiculous question: “Would you like to start a ‘Win-sanity?”

“Sure, anything but ‘Linsanity,’” the Lakers’ point guard responded showing his tired attitude to the catch phrase constantly attached to his name. Was this a passing joke or truly how he felt about a period of time when Lin seemingly dominated the NBA and world news?

“I’ve been over ‘Linsanity,’” the Torrance-born California kid said.

After talking about all the jerseys he had donned including D-League jerseys, Lin talked glowingly about wearing the Lakers’ famous purple and gold. However, the subject and memory of ‘Linsanity’ persisted.

“Linsantiy is more like a one-off thing,” Lin explained. “It’s a short duration of time. I’m really looking to build a legacy, a long term thing, in terms of who I am as a person or who I am as a player. It’s kind of irritating to always be referred to as something of the past or some short time of the past.”

Lin dismissed the idea of recreating the “Linsanity” phenomenon with the Lakers because he did not believe it was possible.

“The thing about Linsanity that will never ever happen again is the element of surprise because no one knew who I was.” Lin explained. “And that will never happen again.”

During his time in front of the cameras, Lin insisted on discussing defense far more than he spoke glowingly of “Linsanity.” In his first year with the Lakers and in the last year of his contract, Lin is determined to improve as a player and build a legacy that is beyond the short-lived craze that gripped New York during the tail-end of 2011.

“If at the end of my career, I’m still talking about ‘Linsanity,’ then I didn’t do a good job of my career.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lasorda Wants Dodgers to Win World Series Before He Dies]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 09:41:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/tom+copy.jpg

I learned a very valuable lesson Sunday: When Tommy Lasorda speaks, have your recorder on.

After the Dodgers 10-5 shellacking of the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium to end the season, the organization held an on-field pep rally to give props to the team for a successful season and to rev up the base for the post-season run.

George Lopez was the master of ceremonies. One by one, players came up and saluted the crowd. 

Clayton Kershaw told them to bring white towels to wave during the playoffs. Justin Turner told them to "keep rockin'," and Yasiel Puig gave them a big kiss. 

Then came Lasorda. The former Dodgers manager, who’s never seen a microphone he couldn’t rock, couldn’t let the moment pass without a classic Tommy Lasorda this-will-get-them-going speech that only he can deliver.

Now, I wasn’t smart enough to have my recorder, you know, recording during Lasorda’s final riff, but Michael Lananna from MLB.com, was, and got it word for word:

It sent the crowd into a frenzy. It was incredible:

           "I want to tell you this, I just had a birthday; I was 87 years old. And before I die I want to see that championship flag flying out there in center field. ... I've got a great feeling about this team. I think we're going to do it, I think we're going to get to the Fall Classic, and then the big Dodger in the sky can take me away."

How great is that?!

He, basically, put the team on notice: Hey guys win the World Series, or run the risk of me dying a bitter old man.

If that thought doesn’t fire up the Dodgers, than Lasorda may as well pick out his casket now.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Season Starts With Media Day]]> Mon, 29 Sep 2014 07:59:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-Media-Day-Kobe-Bryant.jpg

For the players, coaches, team staff and media, the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2014-15 season starts on Monday.

Starting Monday, the players will all be on the clock. They will answer questions, pose for photos, dress in team attire and conduct sit-down interviews. Monday is Media Day for the LA Lakers. The regular season may still be 29 days away, but for the players, coaches and media covering the team, Monday serves as the start of the new season. After a day in front of camera and microphones, the Lakers will go to bed not suffering from soreness one last time.

On Tuesday, the team will open training camp.

A single three-hour session is scheduled for the first day of camp, as the players and coaches expect to discuss philosophy and get in a work out. On Tuesday, new Lakers coach Byron Scott will assert his authority for the first time.

Actually, Wednesday likely serves as a better representation of the day Scott will truly make his presence felt. On Day 2 of training camp, Scott has scheduled two sessions, and that is not a rarity on the Lakers' training camp schedule. The Lakers will be doing two-a-days for the majority of the first week at camp, and it appears Scott’s hard-nosed reputation will not take long to impose itself on this Lakers team.

On Thursday, the team will again have a double session. An early afternoon session lasting two hours will set the table. Then, the purple and gold will reconvene for another two-hour session at dinner time.

On Friday, the team will only hold one early session and hope to skip the late afternoon Friday traffic. However, the players won’t be driving too far. On Saturday and Sunday, Scott has the team running two-a-days again.

The next day, on Monday, Oct. 6, the Lakers will be in San Diego to play the Denver Nuggets in their first game of the preseason. Starting in San Diego, the Lakers will play eight preseason games over the next 20 days, including one stretch of three games in four nights, all of which are in different cities.

Monday may only be Media Day, but it is the unofficial start of the 2014-15 LA Lakers season.

NBCLA.com will have daily reports from training camp, have a report on every preseason game and cover the LA Lakers throughout the 2014-15 season. Check back at NBCLA.com/TripleThreat throughout the season.

2014-15 LA Lakers Training Camp Roster: Nick Young, Jordan Clarkson, Jeremy Lin , Keith Appling, Xavier Henry, Ed Davis, Wayne Ellington, Ronnie Price, Kobe Bryant, Jeremy Tyler, Steve Nash, Jordan Hill, Ryan Kelly, Wesley Johnson, Julius Randle, Carlos Boozer, Roscoe Smith, Robert Sacre, Jabari Brown



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Get Cards in NLDS, Have Chance at Revenge]]> Sun, 28 Sep 2014 21:15:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/celeb+copy.jpg

It took until the last game of the season for it to fall in place, but the Dodgers-Cardinals playoff rematch is all set.

They’ll tangle in the National League Division Series, with Game 1 Friday night at Dodger Stadium.

The Pirates helped set it up by losing to the Reds, 4-1, in the last game of the season Sunday, giving the Cardinals the NL Central title before they even took the field.

Last year the Cardinals ended the Dodgers season in the National League Championship Series by rocking Clayton Kershaw, en route to a, 9-0, win in Game 6.

Adrian Gonzalez says this time around his squad will be better.

“We got our whole outfield healthy. Hanley [Ramirez] is healthy. We, basically, got our whole team healthy. It looks like [Hyun-Jin] Ryu will be able to pitch, so I think going into it healthy will be a big factor,” the Dodger first baseman told reporters after Sunday’s game.

A good portion of their prep time will be spent studying video, but Gonzalez says he’s pretty well versed on what to expect from Cardinals pitchers.

“They’re a team that in big situations they don’t like to throw fastballs. That’s one thing that I already know, that they like to go soft in big situations,” he said.

Gonzalez knows a little about what he’s talking about. He hit .300 (6-for-20) with two doubles, two home runs and three RBI’s in last year’s series.

The Dodgers go into the NLDS on a five-game winning streak. The Cardinals finished the season taking two of the three from the Diamondbacks.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Prospects Win Organization’s Top Honors ]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 10:20:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*130/joc.jpg

They could be the Dodgers next big three in a few years.

Julio Urias, 18, Corey Seager, 20, and Joc Pederson, 22, all dominated their respective competition this season and, Friday, Urias was named the Branch Rickey Minor League Pitcher of the Year, and Seager and Pederson were named co-Minor League Players of the Year.

The players were honored before Friday night’s game against the Rockies.

Pederson, who also won player of the year in 2012, has ascended to the big leagues after torching the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Albuquerque. The Palo Alto, California native’s league-leading 33 homers and 30 steals capped off the fourth 30-home run/30-stolen base season in PCL history.

He also led the league in runs scored (106), walks (100), on-base percentage (.435), he tied for first in OPS (1.017), and he was second in total bases (259). Pederson was named the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year.

Seager had a breakout 2014 season. The Dodgers number-two prospect, according to Baseball America, split time between Single-A Rancho Cucamonga and Double-A Chattanooga, and raked in each place.

In 80 games for the Quakes, Seager hit .352 with 18 home runs and 70 RBIs. After his promotion to the Lookouts, he hit .345 in 38 games. His 50 total doubles were the most in the minor leagues, and his 75 extra-base hits ranked second. He was named the California League's Most Valuable Player, and he represented the U.S. at Major League Baseball’s Futures Game during All-Star weekend.

Urias may be the most intriguing of the trio. At 17 years old, he was the youngest player in the California League but his skill set defies his age. He’s only 5-feet-11-inches tall and a 160 pounds, but his fastball has been clocked as high as 95 MPH. The Dodgers have kept a close eye on youngster, limiting his pitch counts and innings over his first two minor league seasons.

His 2014 campaign showed that Urias may be closer to being big league ready than expected. In 87 ⅔ innings he struck out 109 batters, walked 37 and held opposing hitters to a .194 batting average. The relatively small sample size was enough to convince MLB he’s the real deal, as Urias was named to the World Team for the Futures Game.

Previous winners of the Pitcher and Player over the Year awards currently on the Dodgers Major League club: Chad Billingsley, Dee Gordon and Scott Van Slyke.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kupchak: Bryant, Nash & Lakers Healthy]]> Fri, 26 Sep 2014 14:57:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-2014-Draft-Kupchak.jpg

“Our goal every year is the same: to win a championship,” Los Angeles Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak started out Friday’s press conference dedicated to discussing the Lakers’ offseason moves and expectations for the upcoming season.

“First and foremost, we have to stay healthy, and that begins with Kobe (Bryant) and Steve Nash and our offseason acquisition in Carlos Boozer,” Kupchak said. “I think a big degree of our success will depend on if those three guys can stay healthy.”

Unlike a season ago, Kupchak confirmed that everyone was healthy entering training camp, and he made a point to highlight Nash’s current status. According to the Lakers’ GM, Nash had been playing every day and often working out at the Lakers’ facility twice per day. Kupchak hinted that minutes and/or games restrictions would likely come into play with Nash and Bryant, but the details of those restrictions would be left to the Lakers’ Head Coach, Byron Scott.

With regards to Bryant, Kupchak had high hopes.

“I think he’s going to have an excellent year,” Kupchak said about Bryant. “He’s been working every day. I get reports. I’ve seen him personally. I know he’s speaking with Byron on a daily or semi-daily basis.”

Kupchak said Bryant had evolved into a “seasoned veteran” over the past few seasons, and the GM expected the Lakers’ superstar to resemble the player that carried the Lakers to the playoffs two to three years ago. Kupchak added that the 36-year-old was 10 to 12 pounds lighter than he was a season ago.

“It’s comforting to know that [Bryant] will be here for two more years, and he’s healthy,” Kupchak said. “He gives you a chance no matter the circumstances to be really good.”

The white-haired mouthpiece of the Lakers’ front office also discussed high hopes for Julius Randle but voiced a great deal of uncertainty about how much of an impact the rookie would have. Kupchak called Randle “versatile” and said the 19-year-old could well turn into a forward that can bring the ball up the court. However, the decisions on using the player would be Scott’s to make.

Ultimately, the message from Kupchak was centered on keeping the team healthy.

“A lot of our success this year is going to rely on, of course, Steve and Kobe. I mentioned Carlos also,” the GM re-emphasized the importance of his veterans. “Those three are our most accomplished veterans, and they’re going to have to stay healthy, and they’re going to have to play at their best for us to be the best team we can be.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Shines as Dodgers Repeat in NL West]]> Thu, 25 Sep 2014 20:47:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/09-25-2014+kershaw+dodgers+456062146.jpg

On the strength of another strong performance from Clayton Kershaw, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Francisco Giants, 9-1, Wednesday night to win their second straight National League West Division title.

In his last outing of the year, the lefty showed the sold out crowd of 53,387, and San Francisco, that he's not just a pitcher, he's a player.

He did it with his arm. Kershaw went eight innings, allowing one run on eight hits, and striking out 11. He beat the Giants for the third time this season and improved his record to a Major League best 21-3. Kershaw's already miniscule earned run average dropped to 1.77, which will also give him an unprecedented fourth straight ERA title.

He did it with his bat. With the club down 1-0 in the fifth with a runner on third and two outs, Kershaw laced a grounder up the middle that rolled to the wall in right-center field. Instead of settling for an easy double, the Texas native chugged it into third with a standup triple to tie the game, 1-1.

He also did it with his glove. He saved a run in the third with a backhanded snag of a grounder that would've bounced into center field for a hit by Tim Hudson with runners on second and third. In the sixth, he hopped off the mound to make a nice play on the grounder by Chris Dominguez to end the inning, stranding runners on second and third.

In his last audition for the NL Most Valuable Player Award Wednesday, Kershaw made his case, dropped the mic and walked off stage.

"Whatever we need he gives it to us. It's the big hit, or if it's making a play. It's getting us deep into a game when our bullpen needs a day off. He pretty much gives us whatever we need," a soaked Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said after the game, as champagne and beer shot out from bottles all around the winning team's clubhouse.

Justin Turner, who's been an all-world utility player for the club this season, said the outcome couldn't be any sweeter.

"They're our rivals. They got a great club over there. Everyone talked about the even years as the Giants years. To win the division against them, here at home in front of our awesome fans is unbelievable," Turner said afterward.

The Giants spoiled Kershaw's chance at a shutout. In the third, Joaquin Arias and Gregor Blanco hit back-to-back singles to start the inning. Then things got a little funky. After two failed sacrifice bunt attempts by Tim Hudson, Clayton Kershaw balked to advance Arias and Blanco to second and third. Hudson then grounded out. Hunter Pence followed with a chopper to third that Juan Uribe charged hard to get. With no play at first, Uribe tried to get Arias at home, but the speedster beat the throw to give the Giants a 1-0 lead.

Hudson was going strong into the sixth until Yasiel Puig took a fastball and smacked it over the right field wall for his 16th home run of the season to give the Dodgers a 2-1 lead. Hudson got Adrian Gonzalez to fly out, but his night was done after Matt Kemp followed with a double.

Hudson took the loss and drops to 9-13 on the year. The final pitching line for the 39-year-old may not be pretty - 5 1/3 innings, three runs, five hits, four strikeouts, one hit batter -- but it doesn't tell the full story. For much of the first four five innings he had Dodger hitters flailing at sliders that slithered off the plate outside, and he fooled them with darting fastballs that nibbled the corners.

He also reached a milestone by joining Mark Buehrle as the only active pitchers to reach the 3,000 innings pitched plateau. He now sits at 3,002 1/3 innings.

But, once he was pulled, the flood gates opened up in the sixth.

An intentional walk to Hanley Ramirez, a double by Carl Crawford and a single by Uribe put the Dodgers up 5-1 before A.J. Ellis ended the inning by grounding into a double play.

The Dodgers added four more runs in the eighth to pile on, highlighted by a two-run single by Uribe. Crawford and Uribe powered the Dodgers offense. They combined to go 4-for-6 with three runs scored and five RBIs. Crawford also stole a base and was hit by pitches twice.

The Giants had their chances. With two outs in the sixth, Pablo Sandoval and Andrew Susac both singled and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch by Kershaw. But Dominguez grounded out to end the threat.

Then, with one out in the seventh, Gregor Blanco and Matt Duffy both singled. But that rally was killed when Blanco tried to advance to third on Duffy's hit to center. Puig shut it down when he did a 360-degree spin and fired a one-hop bullet to third to nail Blanco. Hunter Pence followed by striking out to end the inning.

Blanco and Sandoval both collected two hits for the Giants, who, despite the loss, are still in the driver's seat to make the playoffs as the second Wild Card team in the National League.

The division title is the Dodgers' 14th since the NL West divisoin was formed in 1969. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Mattingly Preaches Humility]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 19:22:46 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/dmat.jpg

Should the Dodgers beat the Giants on Wednesday night and clinch their second straight NL West Division title, nobody in Elysian Park will be getting any sleep.

But, one person who you’re not likely to see partying like it’s 2013, when the team came back from the dead to take the crown, is Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly.

Just a few hours before his team hit the field against the Giants, Mattingly talked about the need for the Dodgers to stay humble, especially if they achieve their goal against their rival.

“If we’re able to do this tonight, or at some point, to me you want to stay humble because you’ve got a good chance of playing them again,” Mattingly said. “They’re a championship team. You expect them to move forward. I know we expect them to move forward.”

The Giants are currently in the second Wild Card spot in the National League, 4 1/2 games ahead of the Milwaukee Brewers.

So, while his team will be bathing in Cristal and Coors Light in the locker room, should they win tonight, Mattingly will likely keep his celebration level to somewhere between watching his kid cross the stage at their high school graduation and getting a check from the Publisher’s Clearing House.

But, he did admit he is a fan of the grandiose team celebration.

“I like seeing them, to be honest with you. I like watching other teams. Obviously, being able to do it a number of times it’s a good feeling. I think it’s a culmination of a lot of things that you worked for,” he said.

Just the mere conversation on the matter made Mattingly visibly uncomfortable. Always the consummate professional in uniform, whether on the field during his New York playing past, or running the on-field operation in Los Angeles during his managerial present, the 53-year-old just wants to get the job done and move on to their bigger goal - winning a championship. 

“If we can accomplish something that we’re going to be very proud of...I don’t feel like there’s a real need to make somebody else look bad during the celebration,” he said.  



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Can Wrap Up Division Title Wednesday]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 11:37:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/193*120/agone+camera+.jpg

If you’re a Dodger player you should be down right giddy today.

You’re one win away from wrapping up your second straight NL West Division crown, you can claim it at the hands of the San Francisco Giants, a.k.a. the team you hate about as much as you love putting on a uniform, and you'll send out only the best pitcher on the planet to pull it off.

The Dodgers hold a 4 ½ game lead with four to play. A win Wednesday and the division is theirs. A loss, and the Giants still have a chance, albeit a slim one, to snatch it away by winning their remaining four games and the Dodgers losing their last three. 

To cease that scenario from coming to fruition, Don Mattingly will send his ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound. The left-hander will go for a Major League leading 21st win. Kershaw hasn’t lost a game in over a month, and even in that 3-2 loss to Milwaukee on August 16 he pitched a complete game.

This year he’s 2-0 against the Giants with a 1.88 ERA in 24 innings pitched. He’s also done a number on the Giants big three of Buster Posey, Pedro Sandoval and Hunter Pence. They’re combined career splits against Kershaw: .182/.200/.228 with one home run and 13 RBIs.

In the Giants dugout, Bruce Bochy will tie his life line for a division title to the 39-year-old right arm of Tim Hudson.

Let’s just say he’s struggling. Hudson is 9-12 on the season, having lost his last three starts. His ERA in those games is 10.54.

But, those numbers don't paint a fair picture of his year. Early in the season Hudson looked like his old Oakland A’s self. After beating the Washington Nationals June 12, He was 7-2 with a 1.88 ERA and was the perfect veteran complement to Giants ace Madison Bumgardner.

But, his age has seemed to catch up to his arm. He went seven innings in that June 12 start. In 17 starts since, he’s only managed to reach the seventh four times.

Facing the Dodgers won’t do much to boost his confidence. In Hudson’s seven innings pitched against them this season, Dodger hitters have pounded him with a .457 batting average and eight runs scored. Adrian Gonzalez has feasted off Hudson in his career hitting .417 (10 for 24) with two homers and five RBI’s.

The teams have played each other even to this point with nine wins and nine loses.

A 10th win for the Dodgers will give them their 14th NL West title since the division was created in 1969.

The 10th win for the Giants will keep their title hopes alive at least one more day. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Announce Training Camp Roster]]> Wed, 24 Sep 2014 06:10:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-media-day.jpg

Kobe Bryant is ready to dominate on the court and Steve Nash looks as healthy as he ever has with the LA Lakers, the whispers have been trickling out of El Segundo.

Both Bryant and Nash played 5-on-5 basketball at the Lakers’ South Bay facility recently, and both aging superstars made positive impressions.

As an added insurance policy, exactly one week before players had to report for Media Day, the Lakers signed another guard. Wayne Ellington may not be a marquee name, but he has five years of experience in the NBA and came from a good college program—University of North Carolina. With Jeremy Lin, Jordan Clarkson (rookie), Nick Young, Xavier Henry, Ellington, Bryant and Nash, the Lakers should be all set with regards to back court depth—baring the reemergence of the Black Death, which killed the 2013-14 Lakers.

Along with the aforementioned list of Lakers guards, the team also announced the additions of Jabari Brown and Keith Appling to its training camp roster. Brown was an undrafted rookie who played alongside Clarkson at the University of Missouri. The 6-foot 5-inch guard averaged 19.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in his final year of amateur basketball.

Over the summer, Brown played with the Houston Rockets’ NBA Summer League team but was unable to find his touch from beyond the arc. He shot a dismal 19.2 percent from distance, which was a sharp drop from the 41 percent he shot during his senior year at Missouri.

Appling, who also an undrafted rookie, shot 45 percent from the field and averaged 11.2 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in his final collegiate season at Michigan State University. Even if he impresses at camp, the 6-foot 1-inch point guard has a tall tower to climb before he can earn the final spot on a squad already overflowing with point guards.

At the small forward spot, the Lakers signed Roscoe Smith to their training camp roster. Most recently, Smith played alongside Clarkson and rookie Julius Randle on the Lakers’ Summer League squad. The 6-foot 8-inch Smith impressively averaged a double-double during his final season at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

The Lakers expect to try the likes of Henry, Young and probably even Bryant at small forward, but Wesley Johnson should secure the starting spot after spending the summer serving as Bryant’s student.

The Lakers’ roster may not pop out as the best on paper, but it is versatile with numerous players capable of playing multiple positions. For example, Randle was drafted for his size and strength, but he displayed a strong skillset that included ball handling ability during Summer League play. The Lakers’ top pick in the 2014 draft may even fit into a small forward role at some point.

For now, Randle is still considered a power forward because the kid is strong and big. Also in the big man department, the Lakers' front court features Carlos Boozer, Ed Davis, Ryan Kelly, Jordan Hill and Robert Sacre. The team also invited Jeremy Tyler, a 6-foot 10-inch power forward, to training camp. Tyler served as a reserve for the New York Knicks during the 2013-14 season, appearing in 41 games and averaging 3.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 9.7 minutes.

With only one 7-footer, Sacre, the Lakers could use extra size. Of the invitees, circumstances dictate that Tyler’s chances of making the squad bode best.

As it stands, the Lakers’ regular season roster stands at 14 players and the training camp roster stands at 18 players. The Lakers can add one more player to the regular season roster and two more players to the training camp roster. However, they can also opt to add no one to either roster.


Notes: The Lakers will host media day on Monday, Sept. 29 and begin training camp on Tuesday, Sept. 30. NBCLA.com will have regular reports from Lakers’ training camp and preseason.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kershaw Wins Roy Campanella Award]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 20:32:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/kersh.jpg

Clayton Kershaw won a bunch of awards last season and Monday he got the first of what will, likely, be a bunch more he’ll take home this year.

The 26-year-old was honored before Monday night’s game with the organization’s Roy Campanella Award, given to the player that exemplifies the Hall of Fame catcher’s spirit and leadership on and off the field. 

It’s Kershaw’s second straight year winning the award.

He’s also a finalist for both the Roberto Clemente and Marvin Miller Man of the Year awards, both of which recognize a player for his on and off the field contributions.

Kershaw won the Roberto Clemente Award once before, back in 2012. He has yet to win the Marvin Miller Award, but with every other piece of hardware he’s amassed it’s really just a matter of time, right?!

Unless he decides to throw right-handed in his last start Wednesday, Kershaw is a lock to win his second consecutive Cy Young Award and he’s one quality start away from, possibly, being named the NL Most Valuable Player.

Kershaw currently leads the majors in wins (20), WHIP (0.860) and his 1.80 ERA has him in line for his fourth straight ERA title. The next closest competitor is Felix Hernandez of the Mariners who has a 2.07 ERA.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Add Ellington, Roster at 14]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 16:55:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-sign-Wayne-Ellington-9-22-14.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed another player.

Exactly one week shy of media day, the team signed shooting guard Wayne Ellington, who spent the 2013-14 season with the Dallas Mavericks. Ellington entered the NBA in 2009, when the Minnesota Timberwolves selected the Wynnewood, Pennsylvania native with the 28th overall draft selection.

After spending three seasons in Minnesota, Ellington started the 2012-13 season in Cleveland. During the best stretch of his young career, the 6-foot 5-inch guard averaged 10.4 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in 38 games played with the Cavs. Worth noting, Ellington averaged 25.9 minutes per game and started for nearly half of the time he spent in Ohio. Also worth noting, current Lakers' coach Byron Scott was the Cavs' coach during Ellington's time in Cleveland.

However, the Cavaliers and Memphis Grizzlies agreed on a mid-season trade that sent the University of North Carolina Tar Heel to Memphis for the remainder of the season. After playing 44 games for the Grizzlies, Ellington moved to Dallas for the 2013-14 season.

With Dallas, Ellington started one game and took part in 44 contests as a reserve. He averaged 3.2 points, 1.0 rebound and 0.4 assists in only 8.7 minutes per game with the Mavericks.

For the Lakers, the 26-year-old Ellington provides more depth in the backcourt. With Kobe Bryant’s minutes expected to come down and Steve Nash’s level of involvement in constant question, adding another guard would hardly provoke a head scratch.

With Ellington’s signing, the Lakers now have 14 players on the roster, which still provides the Lakers one available roster spot ahead of the 2014-15 season.



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<![CDATA[Dodgers Start Critical Series Against Giants]]> Mon, 22 Sep 2014 11:25:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/168*120/517+copy.jpg

Hump day could be a big one for the Dodgers.

Clayton Kershaw (20-3) will take the mound Wednesday against the second place Giants with a chance to wrap up the club’s second straight NL West title.

But, first they'll have to take care of Monday and Tuesday.

The club is going all out for the series, with the hashtag #DodgerBlueOut already buzzing amongst fans on Twitter.

The Dodgers come into the series having creamed the Cubs. They took three out of four in the series and averaged nearly 10 runs a game in the process.

The Giants, on the other hand, let the San Diego Padres, the seven games under .500 San Diego Padres, sweep them out of town, dropping them 4 ½ games behind the Dodgers in the division.

LA pushed Dan Haren’s start back a day to get their staff set for the series. Haren (13-11) will square off against Dodger killer Jake Peavy (7-13) in the opening act Monday night. Peavy is 14-3 lifetime against the Dodgers. 

Zack Greinke (15-8) and Madison Bumgarner (18-9) will go in game two and Kershaw and Tim Hudson (9-12) will battle in game three.

I would say runs will be at a premium with those names taking the hill but in their last matchup September 12-14, the two teams combined to score 32 runs in three games.

The series will also feature three of the hottest hitters in baseball the second half of the season.

On the Dodgers side, Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez have done what Hanley Ramirez and Yasiel Puig did last year - carry the offense into the playoffs.

Their stats since July 18 (for players with at least 200 at bats):

Gonzalez: .326 AVG, 19 2Bs, 11 HRs, 52 RBIs, .378 OBP, .561 SLG, .939 OPS
Kemp: .311 AVG, 15 2Bs, 15 HRs, 49 RBIs, .370 OBP, .594 SLG, .964 OPS

For perspective, they’re first and second in the NL in RBI’s in the second half and Kemp leads the NL in slugging percentage.

For his part, all Gonzalez has done is quietly put together another 100-RBI season (he currently leads the majors with 112). And, Kemp has made Ned Colletti look like the smartest guy in the world for not trading him before the deadline.

But, the player who may be swinging an even bigger stick right now?

Buster Posey.

His breakdown, using the same criteria as Kemp and Gonzalez:

Posey: .354 AVG, 12 2Bs, 11 HR’s, 40 RBIs, .402 OBP, .574 SLG, .976 OPS

Not only has the 27-year-old led the league in hitting and OPS in the second half but he’s a huge reason why the Giants will, at the very least, make the playoffs as a Wild Card.

Naturally, the two teams have played to an 8-8 draw with three games remaining between them.

They’ve both beaten each other up, been pushed into a corner and been on the verge of throwing in the towel. But, in each case, they’ve managed to fight back.

So, here they stand, toe-to-toe with the title on the line.

Let’s see who can answer the bell one last time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Pin Down Byron Scott's Staff]]> Tue, 16 Sep 2014 17:08:14 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Byron-Scott-Lakers-coaching-staff.jpg

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Lakers and general manager Mitch Kupchak made Byron Scott’s coaching staff official. About two weeks away from the start of training camp, Paul Pressey, Jim Eyen and Mark Madsen were announced as assistant coaches on Scott’s staff.

Of the three men, Madsen is the person closest to the current structure of the team. The former Stanford Cardinal worked under Mike D’Antoni in a player development role during the 2013-14 season. A fan favorite as a player, Madsen is trending in the right direction since taking off his dancing shoes and picking up a clipboard.

Pressey was previously with Scott in Cleveland, so he is a familiar voice for the Lakers’ latest head coach. Pressey spent 11 years in the NBA as a player, eight of which came in Milwaukee.

Eyen, the last of the three amigos, was an assistant with the Lakers from 1989 to 1991. Back then, Scott was still a player. Nearing three decades on the sidelines, the former University of California at Santa Barbara Gaucho is the most experienced assistant on the Lakers’ coaching staff.

Along with the three assistant, the Lakers also announced that Clay Moser, Larry Lewis, Thomas Scott, Tom Bialaszewski and J.J. Outlaw would all be part of the Lakers’ coaching staff. Bialaszewski and Outlaw were previously video coordinators with the team. Bialaszewski tended to also provide input on the clipboard, while Outlaw often acted as a practice player and provided extra support on the court.

Thomas Scott, the head coach’s son, will serve as a player development coach alongside Lewis. Lewis worked alongside Madsen during the 2013-14 season, but Madsen’s move upward has shuffled the Lakers’ coaching deck. The younger Scott is coming off two years as an assistant coach in the NBA Development League. During the 2013-14 season, Scott was on contract as an assistant with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, the Lakers’ D-League affiliate.

Moser, who has been with the Lakers since 2011, will continue on as the head NBA Advanced Scout for the Lakers.

“I’m excited to have completed my staff with a group of individuals who each possess unique skills, but all share my vision for the future of this team,” Scott said in a statement. “I can say with certainty that our staff is dedicated to upholding the winning culture and tradition of the Los Angeles Lakers.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Ethier in 2014 ASU Hall of Fame Class]]> Sat, 13 Sep 2014 11:28:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/aeth.jpg

Arizona State University announced Friday that Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier is one of six athletes to be inducted into its sports Hall of Fame Saturday, October 18.

Ethier balled out his sophomore and junior year in 2002-2003 before being drafted in the second round by the Oakland A’s.

Instead of me wasting time going down the list, below is the bio ASU sent out on what he accomplished his two years in a Sun Devils uniform.

He did all right, though I wouldn't have pegged him for a Justice Studies major. 

Andre Ethier – Baseball / Outfield / 2002-2003

(Justice Studies)

A two-time first-team All-Pac-10 performer, Ethier finished his career hitting .371 with 113 runs, 27 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs, and 118 RBIs. In 2003, Ethier earned All-American honorable mention honors, was named to the Tempe Regional All-Tournament team, and was honored as ASU’s Outstanding Defensive Player. Ethier ended his junior season and ASU career with a 23-game hitting streak, the eighth-longest in ASU history. Ethier was selected in the second round (62nd overall) by the Oakland A’s in the 2003 MLB Amateur Draft. In 2005, Ethier was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ethier set career-highs in 2009 and won the Silver Slugger Award with 160 games played, 162 hits, 31 home runs, 106 RBIs, 92 runs scored, 42 doubles, and 72 walks, while hitting .272 with a .508 slugging percentage and a .361 on-base percentage. In 2009, Ethier had six walk-off hits (including four walk-off home runs), which was the most by any player in the MLB since 1974. Ethier’s four walk-off homers tied the Major League record for most in a season. In 2010, Ethier was selected to start on the National League All-Star Team, and in 2011 he won a Gold Glove Award. He and his wife, Maggie (Germaine) Ethier, became the first married couple to enter the SDA Hall of Fame.

Maybe he can take that to Don Mattingly as his case to get more playing time down the stretch of the Dodgers pennant run, especially given how Yasiel Puig has fallen off the planet.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[MLB Releases Post-Season Schedule]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 10:42:38 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/laplayoffs+.jpg

The playoff seedings have yet to be decided but we now know when the post-season will begin.

Major League Baseball released the playoff schedule Thursday which has the AL Wild Card Game set for Tuesday, Sept. 30 on TBS. The NL Wild Card game will take place the next day on Wednesday, Oct. 1 on ESPN.

The regular season wraps up Sept. 28, and should there be a need for a tie-breaker game - which is possible with the close races in the AL Central, NL Central and NL West divisions - they would be played on Monday, Sept. 29 on ESPN.

On Thursday, Oct. 2, both AL Division Series will start, with all games airing on TBS. The NL Division series openers will take place Friday, Oct. 3. Those games will air on FOX Sports 1 and the MLB Network. The five-game series matchups in both leagues will all be wrapped up by Thursday, Oct. 9.

The next day the American League Championship Series will kick off on TBS. The National League Championship Series will get underway Saturday, October 11. Those matchups will be on FOX Sports and FOX Sports 1.

Should each series go to a Game Seven, the ALCS matchup will take place Saturday, Oct. 18, the NLCS game will be Sunday, Oct. 19.

Since the American League won this year’s All-Star game, the AL team will host Game One of the World Series when it starts on Tuesday, Oct. 21. The Fall Classic will move to the NL city for Game Three on Friday, Oct. 24. If that series goes to a Game Seven, it’ll take place Wednesday, Oct. 29.

The Dodgers are eyeing one of the slots in the Division Series but with a slim two-game lead over the Giants in the NL West, and six more games against their rivals, things will be interesting as they head toward the finish line.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Haren Keeps Hot Streak Going in Dodgers Win ]]> Fri, 12 Sep 2014 09:41:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/175*120/14+copy.jpg

If Dan Haren is pitching for a post-season rotation spot, he made a great case for himself Wednesday night in a 4-0 win over the Padres at Dodger Stadium.

The right-hander pitched seven innings of shutout ball allowing four hits while striking out five to pick up his fifth win in his last seven starts.

“I didn’t have the greatest stuff today,” Haren said afterward, adding, “I was locating good and I was keeping them off balance. They’re a young aggressive team, so sometimes softer stuff is a little better.”

Haren (13-10) has flat out dealt over the past month. In his last 42 1/3 innings the 33-year-old has a 1.71 ERA, he’s held opposing hitters to a .197 AVG and he's posted 29 strikeouts.

“This really has been more of the season [he’s had] than that little stretch during the season where he had three or four games where he struggled,” Mattingly said after the game.

Haren's toughest inning came in the fourth when Justin Turner’s error allowed Seth Smith to reach base to start the inning. Jedd Gyorko followed with a double. But, Haren bared down and got three straight outs. Yasmani Grandal popped out to second, Rene Rivera struck out and Will Venable grounded out to second.

Venable left the game later with a back strain.

Carl Crawford continues to swing the hottest bat in the National League. The left fielder went 4 for 4 with a franchise-tying three doubles, he also had two RBIs and a run scored. Crawford had his third straight multi-hit game, and he now has a league-leading .434 batting average since August 10th.

“You want to get in a groove and stay in it. This is the time of year where you want to have your swing right. It seems to be coming together for me right now,” Crawford said.

Matt Kemp’s single to right in the second extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He finished 1 for 4.

Padres starter Ian Kennedy (10-13) took the loss. He went six innings, allowed three runs on 10 hits, he walked one and struck out five.

The Dodgers finished their nine-game homestand 6-3. The club heads to San Francisco for a three-game series starting Friday. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Byron Scott Reveals Lakers Coaching Staff]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:04:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Byron-Scott-Lakers-Coach.jpg

The Los Angeles Lakers are nearing the conclusion of their coaching search. Finally, Mark Medina of the Los Angeles Daily News met with LA Lakers coach Byron Scott on Tuesday, and Scott provided insight into his developing coaching staff.

Scott had selected five of his six assistants: Jim Eyen, Paul Pressey, Mark Madsen, Larry Lewis and Thomas Scott (his son). One position remained open, and the sixth man was rumored to be Igor Kokoskov.

Plug your ears, Lakers fans.

Kokoskov was an assistant to former Lakers coach Mike Brown in Cleveland. Before that, he spent time on the assistant’s pine with the Phoenix Suns from 2008 to 2013. Widely regarded as a talented offensive mind, Kokoskov’s dozen years of NBA coaching experience included time served under Larry Brown with the Detroit Pistons. Yes, he was on Detroit’s bench when the Lakers lost to the Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals and quickly proceeded to break up the Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant partnership.

Looking beyond the Lakers’ personal relationship, Kokosov was the first European coach to hold a full-time position with an NCAA Division 1-A school back when he took an assistant coaching position with the University of Missouri in 1999. After 15 years of coaching in the United States at the highest levels, Kokosov would be a worthy addition to the staff.

With regards to the other five men already on staff, Madsen is the most familiar and recognizable face and name. One of the fan favorites from his playing days, Madsen held a position as D-Fenders head coach briefly before moving into the player development assistant coach role under Mike D’Antoni’s Lakers. Under Scott, Madsen’s unique high energy and positive persona will wear more suits and less gym shorts.

A season ago, Lewis was Madsen’s partner working players out before games. Famously, the Madsen and Lewis tandem teamed up on rookie Julius Randle when he came to the Lakers’ facility for a pre-draft workout. Also, Lewis and Madsen took turns coaching the Lakers' Summer League team. With Madsen dressing in suits, Lewis will be joined by Thomas Scott--Byron’s son--as a player development coach. The younger Scott spent nine years as an assistant coach and video coordinator on the NBA and NBA D-League. He previously served as a video coordinator and player development coach when his father was in charge with the New Orleans Hornets from 2006 to 2010 and with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2010-11 season.

Following the 2011 season, Scott spent two successful seasons in the Development League with the Canton Charge. In 2013, the younger Scott joined the Lakers’ D-League affiliate as an assistant coach. Everything considered, no one should be surprised to see father and son working together again.

Pressey’s addition to the staff is not unexpected either, but it may serve to be beneficial on several levels. With rookie prospect Randle showing some ball handling and passing abilities in the NBA Summer League, Pressey’s experience as one of the pioneers of the point forward position could prove to be especially positive. After playing in the NBA for over a decade, Pressey served as an assistant with the Cavaliers for three seasons before joining the Lakers.

The final name secured on the roster is that of Eyen. A graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara, Eyen started his NBA coaching career as an assistant coach in 1988 for the Los Angeles Clippers under Don Casey. One season later, he joined Pat Riley’s staff with the Lakers and stayed on for another season under Mike Dunleavy. Both those years, the Lakers’ current head coach was still a Lakers’ player.

Into his third decade as an NBA assistant, Eyen is the veteran voice on the staff.

With training camp around the corner, media day at the end of the month, eight preseason games in October and two regular seasons by Halloween, the 2014-15 Lakers’ season is approaching fast. Save for the possibility of another addition on the roster and another addition on the bench, the Lakers look ready to go.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Defensive Woes Lead to Dodgers Loss to Padres]]> Wed, 10 Sep 2014 05:33:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/189*120/hern+copy.jpg

A costly error by Hanley Ramirez and a two-run home run from Jedd Gyorko paced the San Diego Padres to a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

With two out in the second inning Ramirez didn't get his glove down low enough to corral a routine grounder hit by Rymer Liriano. The ball scooted under him allowing Liriano to reach base. Alexi Amarista followed with a single and the pitcher, Andrew Cashner, followed that with a two-run double to left-center to give the Padres a 2-0 lead.

On that play, Ramirez committed his second miscue of the inning, which got Cashner to third.

A single to left by Cory Spangenberg scored Cashner to put the Padres up, 3-0, before Roberto Hernandez struck out Seth Smith to end the inning.

All three runs were unearned.

The two errors give Ramirez 16 on the year.

After the game, manager Don Mattingly seemed peeved at the suggestion that Ramirez's defense could pose a problem if the Dodgers make the post-season.

"He made an error. It was a costly one tonight, but it's not something that we change what we've done all year long," Mattingly said. "We've been trying to get offense from that spot, he's a guy that can do it. He gets four hits last night, he drives in a couple runs. [His error], it just happens to be a costly one tonight so it looks bad."

The Padres blew the game open in the third.

Yasmani Grandal led off with a walk. Gyorko then hit the first pitch in the center-field seats to give the Padres a 5-0 lead.

Hernandez got out of the inning without any more damage being done but his night was over.

He took the loss and saw his record fall to 8-11 overall and 2-3 as a Dodger. Hernandez has lost his last two starts and says he's struggling with his consistency as of late.

"I really try to do the exact same thing. I've, obviously, tried to stay ahead of the hitters, stay in the count. I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but I've tried the same approach," Hernandez said after the game through SportsNet LA reporter Alanna Rizzo, who translated for him.

His counterpart, Cashner, went seven innings allowing two runs for the win. He's now 3-7 on the season.

It was his first win against the Dodgers in six career starts, but it wasn't from a lack of domination. Cashner's only given up four earned runs in 41 career innings pitched versus LA, while striking out 31 and walking seven.

Matt Kemp went 1 for 4 with a double to extend his hitting streak to 15 games. During the streak the right fielder is hitting .339 with four homers and 13 RBIs.

Carl Crawford went 2 for 4 to continue his hot hitting. Since Aug. 10, the 33-year-old is batting .405, good for second-best in the National League behind the Cardinals Jon Jay, who's hitting at a .414 clip during the same time span.

Dee Gordon and Juan Uribe also had two hits each.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Puig Showing Signs of Progress]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 18:52:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/166*120/yp+pic.jpg

I probably shouldn’t write about Yasiel Puig anymore, considering what happened last time.

On Aug. 5 I had the bright idea of declaring him the frontrunner in the NL MVP race

Maybe I got a little over excited, but the kid was on fire.

He had just won NL Player of the Month for July, he was doing Yasiel Puig things and Mike Trout was coming to town, so that only added to my giddiness.

At the time, Puig was hitting .313 with 13 home runs and 55 RBIs.

He hasn’t been the same since.

In his last 26 games, Puig is hitting .194, he hasn’t hit a single homer and he’s driven in five runs. Five!

I feel a little responsible.

I wouldn’t take it personal if Don Mattingly banned me from the locker room. If I were him, I’d sure consider it.

But, Puig may be turning a corner.

He went 1 for 4 with an RBI in a win Monday night against the Padres and Mattingly says his center fielder is making progress.

"[He] gets on base, [he] drives in a run…you just start to see a different look to a guy when they start to gain confidence from seeing the ball better," Mattingly said. "It’s a start but sometime that’s the start of a little streak, so we’ll see."

Mattingly says Puig’s power shortage has nothing to do with his Home Run Derby appearance during All-Star weekend. Then again, Puig didn’t hit any balls out so it’s not like he had to put away the home-run swing.

He did have a child recently, so we could attribute the downslide to the fact that Puig probably hasn’t had a good night’s sleep in awhile. 

The Dodgers are winning so it’s not a big deal, at least for now. But, with phenom Joc Pederson now on the roster, Mattingly has options should Puig’s slide continue.

But, as the skipper said, "We’ll see."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers 2015 Schedule Released]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 11:35:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/166*120/carl+crosing.jpg

No, the Los Angeles Dodgers won't be starting next season in Australia, Japan, Siberia or any other random country Major League Baseball thinks is a good idea to include in the most important day of "America's Pastime."

Major League Baseball has unveiled the 2015 schedule, and on Opening Day April 6 the club will be where they should be: Dodger Stadium, a.k.a. Lasorda's lair, a.k.a. hardball's historic home on the hill.

As a matter of fact, here's my suggestion to new commissioner Rob Manfred: Institute a new mandate that the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Dodgers open each season at home. They play in the three oldest, most storied stadiums in the game. Baseball loves historic context. It's why rebels like me still think of it as "America's Pastime." The grandfathers of the game, Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium, should get their day of reverence not only so fans can marvel at how they've aged gracefully, but for their stories to be preserved long after they're gone.

But, I digress.

The Dodgers will open and close the 2015 season with a three-game home series against the San Diego Padres. They'll take on the rival San Francisco Giants for the first time AT&T Park on April 21 for a three-game series.

It's all AL West interleague home schedule for the Dodgers. Seattle goes to LA from April 13-15, the Texas Rangers from June 17-18 Oakland from July 28-29.

The, now relevant, Freeway Series with the Angels will have two installments next year. The Angels go to Dodger Stadium from July 31-Aug. 2. The Dodgers then take the ride down I-5 for a three-game set Sept. 7-9 at Angels Stadium.

The regular season wraps up Oct. 4 at Dodger Stadium against the Padres.

Other notes: the 86th All-Star Game will take place July 14th at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. And, baseball will stay with tradition and honor Jackie Robinson Day on Wednesday, April 15th.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nats Beat Dodgers in 14-Inning Thriller ]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:16:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/168*120/cc+deep+.jpg

Fifty players used game-tying home runs, game-changing defensive blunders - the Dodgers-Nationals incredible 14 inning game Wednesday afternoon at Dodger Stadium had it all.

In the end, a Justin Turner error triggered a three-run rally by the Nats in the top of the 14th inning, en route to their 8-5 win.

All three runs against Kevin Correia (7-16) were unearned but he still got the loss for his two innings of work.

In a matchup of the National League’s two winningest teams, the Nats left town having beaten the Dodgers twice in the three-game series and four out of six overall this season.

The Dodgers defense let them down in that decisive 14th. With one out and the score tied, Ian Desmond hit a routine grounder to Turner, who had been moved to shortstop. It’s a play Turner makes 99 out of 100 times, but this time he lollygagged getting to the ball. His throw to first pulled Adrian Gonzalez off the bag allowing Desmond to reach on the error.

"There’s no excuse for that. The ball just sailed on me," Turner said after the game.

Bryce Harper drew a walk. Desmond then took third on a wild pitch. Adam LaRoche then beat out a fielder’s choice to extend the inning and score Desmond. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a two-run home run to right to cap the scoring.

The Dodgers couldn’t mount a rally in the bottom of the inning and after five hours and 34 minutes, the game ended on a Carl Crawford groundout.

But, that doesn’t do the drama packed saga its justice.

Down their last out in the bottom of the 12th inning, Carl Crawford brought the Dodgers back from the dead with a two-run home run to left center to tie the score, 5-5.

It came after Adam LaRoche gave the Nationals a 5-3 lead in the top of the 12th with a two-run single to left with the bases loaded.

The game should've ended in the bottom of the ninth inning, but Jayson Werth lost a fly ball in the sun and dropped it. Andre Ethier came around to score from first base to tie the game, 3-3, and send into extras.

The turn of events in the ninth let Kenley Jansen off the hook.

Less than 24 hours after recording his 39th save, the Dodgers closer couldn’t repeat the feat, blowing his fifth save of the season.

Jansen killed a Nationals rally in the eighth inning but couldn’t hold them off in the ninth. Bryce Harper led off with a single to left. Adam LaRoche then came up to pinch-hit for Tyler Moore and hit a two-run home run to left field to tie the game, 2-2.

Later in the inning with a runner on third, Denard Span ripped a single to right that got past Adrian Gonzalez and put the Nationals up, 3-2.

Jansen was pulled.

Pedro Baez came in got Anthony Rendon to pop out to end the inning.

It was just the fourth time this year that Jansen was asked to go more than an inning to record a save. He was 3 for 3 in this previous attempts.

The Dodgers had their chances. They loaded the bases in the 10th and 11th innings with one out, but Adrian Gonzalez, Juan Uribe, Drew Butera and Dee Gordon all failed to drive in a run. In fact, only Butera put the ball in play. 

The Dodgers 0 for 4 showing with the bases loaded Wednesday dropped their Major League worst team batting average in those situations to .172 (17 for 99).

A failed challenge helped get the Dodges get on the board in the seventh inning. With one out and Crawford on second base, Turner was adamant that he got hit in the left forearm by a 2-2 pitch from Jordan Zimmermann. Home plate umpire Paul Schrieber said no. Don Mattingly challenged the call and lost.

Good thing he did.

Turner took a 3-2 fastball and drove it over the center-field fence for a two-run homer to put the Dodgers up, 2-0.

Turner and Crawford provided the bulk of the Dodgers offense going a combined 6 for 13 with two home runs, three runs scored and four RBIs.

LaRoche drove in five runs and had his imprint was all over the game. He didn’t make an appearance until the ninth inning, but his home run tied the game in the ninth, his 12th inning hit gave the Nats the lead and his fielder’s choice in the 14th scored the game-winning run.

Carlos Frias was impressive in his first Major League start for the Dodgers. The lanky right-hander only surrendered three hits, didn’t allow a run, he walked one and struck out four in six innings. 

Zimmermann was equally solid for the Nationals. He held the Dodger offense in check during most of his 6 ⅓ innings of work only allowing four hits and the two-run homer to Turner.

Blake Treinen (2-3) pitched two scoreless innings to pick up the win.

Just to show how quirky the game was, here as some combined stats: There were 19 pitchers used, eight pinch-hitters (including Doug Fister who started Tuesday night’s game), 476 pitches thrown and 30 strikeouts.

To top if off, the 50 players used by both clubs came just four shy of the Major League record of 54 total players used in a 1992 game between the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, according to ESPN Stats & Info.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Beckett Done for the Season]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 14:32:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/jb+done.jpg

The return of Josh Beckett to the Dodgers rotation this season is not to be.

The right-hander has been on the disabled list since August 8 with left hip impingement, and talking with reporters before Wednesday’s rubber match against the Washington Nationals, manager Don Mattingly said the injury has effectively ended his season.

“I think the timing of him being able to get back is probably not very possible at this point, that we’re going to be able to see him again this year,” Mattingly told the LA Times.

Mattingly also said that it’ll be Beckett’s decision whether or not he has surgery on the hip.

If the 34-year-old is done, he finishes the season with a 6-6 record and a 2.88 ERA in 115 ⅔ innings pitch.

He also leaves a huge void in back end of the Dodgers rotation.

Dan Haren will likely occupy the No. 4 spot, with the fifth spot to be by committee between Roberto Hernandez, Carlos Frias, Kevin Correia, etc.

Beckett is a free agent at the end of the season.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Video: LLWS Star Mo’Ne Davis Throws Perfect Pitch at Dodger Stadium]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 09:50:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/mone.jpg

If you don’t know who Mo’ne Davis is by now you must’ve been living in an al Qaeda cave for the past month.

My mom even knows who the pint-sized, pitching phenom is and she hasn’t seen a baseball game since I was playing Little League.

For those who don’t, Mo’ne pitched for the Taney Dragons team out of Philadelphia during the Little League World Series, and became the first girl to throw a shutout in the tournament.

But, more than that, it was during interviews that she became, in my opinion, the epitome of 13-year-old awesomeness. She’s adorable, she’s affable and she’s more about team, not herself.

Sports Illustrated put her on the cover, for God’s sake. 

If I was Yasiel Puig I would want her autograph, too.

 

 

So, in her latest cross country trek as the unofficial ambassador of girl power, Mo’ne appeared at Dodger Stadium Tuesday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

No need to get squeamish. This is Mo’ne Davis we’re talking about.

She stood just on the grass in front of the mound in her Dodger jersey, Dodger hat and black and pink Nike’s, did a little shoulder shimmy and fired a perfect strike.

First female Major League pitcher, first female NBA player, first female President, whatever she decides to do with her unbelievably bright future, we all should be on Team Mo’ne.

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Steve Nash Not Cut, Returning To Lakers]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:33:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Steve-Nash-Back-Lakers-2014-15.jpg

Well, it’s finally official: Steve Nash will be a member of the 2014-15 Los Angeles Lakers.

The hullabaloo surrounding medical retirement, the stretch provision and the salary cap reached a fever pitch during the 2013-14 season, but the Lakers’ front office ignored the calls and decided that having Nash around for one more year was the best course of action for the team moving forward.

Over the Labor Day weekend, the Lakers needed to file paperwork to stretch the Canadian point guard’s contract over three years and cut him from the roster. But that did not happen. Instead, the Lakers will honor the entirety of Nash’s contract, as was originally planned when the Lakers traded for the point guard in the summer of 2012.

Of course, Nash’s expiring contract may eventually turn into a valuable trade asset come February, but for now, the Lakers are holding onto their aging point guard. The 40-year-old will hope to improve on the 15-game season he produced in his penultimate season as a professional.

Struggling through nerve issues that affect his back, neck and legs, Nash averaged only 20.9 minutes per game, the fewest since he was a rookie. Sadly, the Manhattan Beach resident only managed 6.8 points and 5.7 assists per game.

Despite his struggles on the court and in the training room, though, Nash remained the ultimate professional. When medical retirement was a real possibility, the Canadian did not shy away from the topic and took the time to be clear about why he worked through the setbacks and his motivation to continue playing: his love for the game.

Not one to shy away from controversy, Nash honestly answered critical fans who pleaded with him to retire. In a web documentary series he produced alongside Grantland, Nash admitted that the financial aspect was a huge factor. Despite the loud negative voices on the radio, in the newspapers and in the pundit galleries, the fans at Staples Center applauded every appearance and celebrated every action from the visibly brittle Canadian.

During the 2014-15 season, Nash memorably hit his highest note on his 40th birthday. On that night in Philadelphia, the birthday boy celebrated by scoring 19 points and showing flashes of the greatness that should quickly land him in the Hall of Fame.

With Mike D’Antoni gone and Byron Scott in charge, Nash’s role and level of involvement is yet to be determined. Of course, his health will play a factor, but with Jeremy Lin joining the purple and gold via trade, Nash will likely only be asked to play a backup role. Further, with rookie Jordan Clarkson showing promise, Nash may transition into a mentoring role sooner rather than later.

To be clear, though, Nash has consistently expressed interest in playing until the final day of his contract. His competitiveness and drive shows in his never-ending work ethic. Although he sounded positive when discussing taking on a mentor role, Nash wants to play. His goal is not to sit on the bench and collect a check.

Nash will work every day until the Lakers call time on the season and he calls time on his career. In many ways, the example of a 41-year-old legend refusing to quit on the practice court and fighting to play every second may provide the best mentoring of all.

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<![CDATA[Prospect Pederson Makes Debut in Dodgers Loss]]> Tue, 02 Sep 2014 13:32:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/171*120/jped.jpg

Talk about baptism by fire.

Among the Dodgers September call-ups Monday was one Joc Pederson. The wonder kid joined the club after he torched the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Albuquerque. Pederson won the league’s Most Valuable Player and Rookie of the Year awards. He reached the coveted 30-30 plateau (33 homers, 30 stolen bases). That feat being achieved in the minor leagues is like Swaggy P finding an open teammate - it almost never happens.

So, what did his new manager do to welcome the phenom to the big leagues?

Don Mattingly patted the 22-year-old on the butt, then sent him in to pinch-hit with the Dodgers down, 6-4, in the bottom of the ninth with two runners on, two outs and a guy who sleeps in a hyperbaric chamber on the mound. 

Pederson ended up striking out on a 3-2, back door slider to end the game.

My takeaway from the at bat: 1) What closer, who throws 95 MPH, tries to paint the black on a full count with an off-speed pitch to a 22-year-old making his Major League debut? 2) It was a great pitch. 3) If Pederson had gone 30-30 in the bigs this year and not Triple-A, it’s ball four.

The outcome wasn’t a confidence booster but Pederson looked comfortable at the plate. He’ll be torching Major League pitching in no time. That is, if he can make the ranks of the small army that is the Dodgers outfield.

Yimi Garcia, the Dodgers No. 15 prospect , also made his debut Monday night. He pitched two scoreless innings, allowed one hit and got his first Major League strikeout when Anthony Rendon whiffed on a two-strike slider.

Garcia, a teammate of Pederson’s at Albuquerque, went 4-2 with a 3.10 ERA and five saves in Triple-A.

The Dodgers $28 million shortstop Alex Guerrero is also back with the club for the first time since the opening season series in Australia.


The 27-year-old struck out in his only at bat in that series back in March, and struck out pinch-hitting for Chris Perez Monday.

In Triple-A, Guerrero hit .329 with 15 home runs and 49 RBIs in 65 games.


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers, Nats Battle in Possible Playoff Preview ]]> Mon, 01 Sep 2014 13:11:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/dodg.jpg

It's Sept. 1, which means the college football season has started, Week 1 in the NFL is coming and nobody will care that baseball is entering the most exciting time of the season -- the pennant chase.

But, the three-game series starting Monday between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals is a reason why you should still care. The Dodgers and Nats both lead their divisions, they have the two most talented teams and they're probably going to meet in the National League Championship Series.

The Dodgers, though, didn't do themselves any favors over the weekend in holding on to their slim 2 1/2-game lead over the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. They needed a 7-1 win Sunday against the San Diego Padres to avoid being swept at Petco Park. Not good for team that has the best road record in baseball (43-28) as they return home, where they're one of the worst home teams with their 34-32 record at Dodger Stadium.

The Nats, on the other hand, have won 14 of their last 19 games, including an unbelievable stretch where they had five walk-off wins during a 10-game winning streak. They hold a six-game lead over the Braves in the NL East.

Roberto Hernandez (8-9, 3.81 ERA) will get the start for the Dodgers in the opening game, and he's had the Nats' number this year. In two starts as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff, Hernandez didn't allow an earned run to Washington in 15 1/3 innings.

The Nats will counter left-hander Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 3.86 ERA). He didn't pitch when Washington beat the Dodgers twice in three games in May.

To say Gonzalez is struggling would be putting it lightly. He's 0-5 in his last nine starts, and hasn't won a game since July 5. But, as a team, the Dodgers are only hitting .241 against left-handed pitching this season. So, Gonzalez could do some damage in this series.

The marquee matchup will come Tuesday in game two when Clayton Kershaw (16-3, 1.73 ERA) and Doug Fister (12-5, 2.55 ERA) will go head-to-head. Kershaw will have to contend with a Nationals offense that's getting hot at the right time.

Nats slugger Bryce Harper just finished pounding Seattle Mariners pitching in three-game series, going 6 for 13 with three home runs -- one of which would still be going if not for the glass facade in the second deck at Safeco Field.

The Dodgers-Nats series appears to be a rematch of two of the game's most exciting players. Problem is, Yasiel Puig hasn't looked interested in playing to that level lately.

Since Aug. 16, the Dodgers center-fielder is hitting .136 (6 for 44) with 13 strikeouts, zero home runs and zero RBIs. In fact, the "Wild Horse" has been tamed, having not hit a homer since July 31.

The Dodger's haven't really needed Puig to be Captain Cuba. Adrian Gonzalez has turned in another nobody-recognizes-but-I'm-going-to-have-100-RBIs-again season. And, the move to right field has awakened Matt Kemp. Since June, he's hit .297 with 11 homers, 49 RBIs, 17 doubles.

The Nationals have been paced by leadoff hitter Denard Span, who banged out 40 hits in August and is the fire starter for their offense. He received some help from all-around good guy and player Anthony Rendon, who was robbed of an All-Star appearance. When the big money guys, Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman, weren't producing, it was Rendon who kept the Nats from fading into oblivion.

Carlos Frias (0-0, 5.61 ERA) and Jordan Zimmermann (10-5, 2.93 ERA) will start Game 3 for their respective teams on Wednesday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Haren to Start Weekend Series Versus Padres ]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 11:07:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/dharen+.jpg

Dan Haren’s 11-10 record this season epitomizes the Jekyll and Hyde-type pitcher he’s been the last few years.

At times this season he’s been awful. In 23 ⅓ innings pitched from July 5 to August 1 Haren compiled a 10.13 ERA, batters hit .308 against him and he went 0-5.

Most recently, he’s looked like a frontline starter. In his last 23 ⅓ innings pitched, the 33-year-old has a 2.73 ERA, he’s held hitters to a .189 batting average and he’s 3-1.

The Dodgers are hoping the latter Haren shows up Friday night in the first of a three-game series against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park.

“I have to be able to step up,” Haren told MLB.com. “I’ve been one of the five guys all year and however many starts I have left, they need to be as good as they can be.”

With Josh Beckett on the disabled list, Hyun-Jin Ryu working to return from a bum buttocks muscle and Zack Greinke pitching with elbow issues, the Dodgers needs the wily veteran more than ever.

He’s 1-1 with a 4.14 ERA in three starts against the Padres this season, but his ERA at Petco Park is only 2.41.

Haren will square off against Andrew Cashner and his 2-6 record and 2.43 ERA.

In his only start against the Dodgers this season on March 30 Cashner went six innings, he only allowed one run on four hits in a 3-1 Padres win.

Greinke (13-8) and Ian Kennedy (10-11) are the scheduled starters for game two. Eric Stults (6-14) will go for the Padres in game three. It was thrown around that Ryu could make his first start Sunday in his return from the disabled list, but, as of now, Kevin Correia (7-14) is scheduled to start game three of the series for the Dodgers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers: Spotlight Still on Kobe Bryant]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 04:51:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/469794469.jpg

For nearly two decades, Kobe Bryant has created headlines as the star of the Los Angeles Lakers, and even a season on the sidelines has not dulled the spotlight on the five-time NBA champion.

Whether watching the World Cup in Brazil, spending a vacation in France, touring China with Nike or simply working out in Orange County, a global following desperately yearns for news, any news, related to 36-year-old entering his 19th season in the NBA.

Recently, Chris Ballard of Sports Illustrated spent time with Bryant on a trip to China and wrote a detailed piece describing Byrant’s global popularity and reverence. Ballard’s glimpse behind the curtain revealed interesting surprises like Bryant's appreciation for Katy Perry as a businesswoman, Wesley Johnson being a consistent workout partner in Orange County and Bryant’s competitive spirit showing in the form of cheating in a meaningless one-on-one competition with Chinese game show contestants.

Add in an ice bucket challenge that featured Bryant going head deep in an ice bath, and the Lakers’ summer headliner is the same guy who has demanded the spotlight since 1996--way back when Bryant entered the NBA.

Following his lengthy account, Ballard took a moment to share further notes he gathered hanging around the global sports icon. Particularly of note, Bryant was learning to adjust his game in order to be more effective. Inglewood-native and long-time Boston Celtic Paul Pierce, in particular, had become a point of focus for the shooting guard. Seeing as Bryant seemed to have perfected Michael Jordan’s style of play early in his career, the Lakers’ legend had now moved on to studying the “efficient” movements of the similarly aged Pierce, who was never known as a high-fly act or a particularly speedy player.

On the topic of efficiency, Bryant again offered high praise for fellow teammate Steve Nash, calling Nash's play “cunning” and referring to Nash’s play in Phoenix as “outrageous.”

With only two years remaining on his contract and, conceivably, in his career, Bryant still managed to qualify his plans for retirement from the NBA.

“If something inside of me changes and I want to play some more, and go after it some more…,” Bryant trailed off when responding to a question asking if two years would mark the end of his historic career. “Yeah. But where I sit right now, I don’t know if I want to do that.”

Whether analyzing his ice bucket challenge or his personal challenge against a kid in China, Bryant’s actions and quotes point to the famous flame of fight and competition burning bright. Whether his body can match his will, however, remains to be seen.

Considering the subject, every move, minute and matchup of Bryant's final two seasons with the Lakers will be magnified and studied to no end. After nearly 18 years in the spotlight, though, what's another two years?



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Beat D'Backs Behind Kershaw Performance]]> Fri, 29 Aug 2014 09:42:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/176*120/kenley+milestone.jpg

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: “Clayton Kershaw dominates in a Dodger win.”

Well, it happened again Wednesday night against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Kershaw went eight innings, allowing six hits, one unearned run, he struck out 10 hitters and walked two, in a 3-1 victory at Chase Field.

He picked up his Major League-leading 16th win. The left-hander also lowered his Major League-leading ERA to 1.73 and, for the third straight start, he struck out at least 10 batters.

It wasn’t as smooth sailing as his pitching line suggests, which Kershaw even admitted.

"It was a bad start really. I felt like guys were on base the whole night," Kershaw said afterward.

"But, I was fortunate to get some outs when I needed them, and after about the fourth or fifth inning I settled in a little bit and I was able to make it through eight, which is good."

He was mostly right about the guys on base part. 

Arizona had runners in scoring position in the third, fourth and fifth innings, and they made the lefty face a bases-loaded situation for the first time all season.

Wait.

Let’s pause...

Did you get that?

In his previous 153 ⅓ innings pitched this season going into Wednesday, no team had loaded the bases against Kershaw…not one.

That’s insane.

"I didn’t know that," a stunned Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said when he heard the stat from SportsNet LA reporter Alanna Rizzo.

"Does it surprise me? Yeah, that he never had the bases loaded all year but nothing too much surprises me with him anymore."

Arizona had the bases juiced in the third inning with one out, but Aaron Hill popped out to second and Mark Trumbo flied out to left to end the inning before a run crossed the plate.

The Diamondbacks got their only run in the fourth.

Alfredo Marte led off with a double to left. Jordan Pacheco followed with a single to center that kicked away from Yasiel Puig who failed in his dive attempt to try and catch it. Scott Van Slyke backed up the play, but twisted his ankle going for the ball and went down like a ton of bricks. His throw back to the infield allowed Marte to score making it, 3-1, Dodgers.

Van Slyke was charged with an error, thus the run was unearned.

The Diamondbacks only mustered two hits the rest of the game.

Van Slyke’s right ankle did a nasty roll, but Mattingly said the X-rays came back negative.

 

 

Before the injury, Van Slyke got the Dodgers an insurance run in the third with a home run to left off Arizona starter Wayne Smiley.

Four of Van Slyke’s 10 homers this season have come off Smiley, who took the loss to fall to 7-10.

For the second night in a row Matt Kemp was the offensive hero. He doubled home Dee Gordon and Yasiel Puig to get the Dodgers on the board, 2-0, in the third. Although, Kemp was thrown out at third on the play trying to stretch the hit into a triple.

Ender Inciarte went 2 for 3 with a triple and a stolen base for the Diamondbacks.

Kenley Jansen closed it out in the ninth to pick up his 100th career save, and after the game he got some hefty praise from his catcher A.J. Ellis.

“It’s another guy we take for granted, because when you see those bullpen gates open and you got a lead in the ninth you start packing things up because you feel like the game’s over,” Ellis told SportsNet LA.

The win gave the Dodgers their ninth consecutive road series win against teams in the National League West.

 

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Ryu Could Return This Weekend ]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 10:49:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/ryu+healed.jpg

The strained right gluteus muscle that has kept left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu on the disabled list is healing well enough that he could be back on the mound for the Dodgers on Sunday against the San Diego Padres.

He’s eligible to come off the DL on Friday, but Mattingly already has Dan Haren slated to start that day and Zack Greinke on Saturday. Roberto Hernandez will get the start Sunday if Ryu is pushed back another day.

He was placed on the retroactive disabled list August 14th after injuring himself against the Atlanta Braves

Multiple reports say Ryu’s throwing session Tuesday went well in Arizona and he’s expected to throw a simulated game Wednesday.

Ryu talked with reporters following his bullpen.

“Mostly the rehab is just a lot of resting. The muscle just needed to heal. So, I kept doing upper body workouts and I just tried to do as much as I can in the lower body without giving the hip too much strain,” Ryu said through his interpreter.

As part of the Dodgers big three in the starting rotation along with Greinke and Clayton Kershaw, Ryu is 13-6 on the season with a 3.28 ERA and 1.19 WHIP.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Timely Reviews Help Dodgers beat D'Backs]]> Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:29:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/176*120/cc+scores+.jpg

Don Mattingly made the replay staff in New York earn their money Tuesday night.

The Dodger manager's decision to challenge two plays in the fourth inning, that were overturned in his favor, allowed his team to blow the game open en route to a 9-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

The first came when A.J. Ellis singled to center with two runners on and one out. Carl Crawford ran through a stop sign at third on the hit and was called out at home on catcher Miguel Montero's tag. But, on replay, it was clear that although Montero tagged Crawford with his glove the ball was in his hand, which didn't touch Crawford until he touched the plate.

Mattingly shrewdly called for a challenge to Montero blocking the plate. The umpire review crew in New York overturned the play based on the missed tag. Either way, Crawford was ruled safe and the Dodgers took a 5-2 lead.

"He wasn't 100 percent if the guy was set up properly. So, to me, if I can get him to look at the play at the plate than they end up looking at everything and that's what ended up happening there," Mattingly told reporters after the game.

The second pivotal challenge came the very next batter. Robert Hernandez's sacrifice bunt ended up as a bang-bang play at first. Hernandez was called out. Mattingly quickly came out of the dugout to challenge that call. After a short review, Hernandez was ruled safe. The reversal also meant that Justin Turner's run counted, which put the Dodgers up, 6-2.

If those two plays stand as outs, at best the Dodgers only score two runs and the Diamondbacks escape the inning down a manageable margin at, 4-2.

Instead, the Dodgers ended up sending 11 men to the plate and scored six runs on five hits.

Hernandez (8-9) went six innings to pick up the win.

Diamondbacks starter Trevor Cahill (3-9) only lasted 3 1/3 innings and took the loss. He allowed six earned runs on six hits, including Matt Kemp's two-run home run in the first inning.

The Dodgers improved their road record to a Major League best 41-26.

 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[VIDEO: Mets Turn Triple Play Against Dodgers]]> Mon, 25 Aug 2014 09:04:51 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*201/mets+copy.jpg

In the sixth inning of Sunday’s game against the Mets, Matt Kemp hit a routine double-play grounder to the shortstop with runners on first and second and no outs.

The play should’ve ended once Kemp was thrown out at first, with the Dodgers having a runner on third with two out. 

That’s the outcome 99.9 percent of the time.

However, the 0.1 percent variable in this scenario is Yasiel Puig.

He was the runner on second base when Kemp hit the grounder and because he’s not normal, Puig thought he could score from second base.

He didn’t. He wasn’t even close.

So, a benign 5-4-3 double-play turned into a 5-4-3-2 triple-play, and another "what-in-the-world-was-Puig-thinking" moment. 

Lorenzo Bundy’s only in the video for a couple of seconds but the reaction from the Dodgers third-base coach is classic. It's the type a dad gives when his kid misspells a word during their fifth-grade spelling bee.

Next time instead of giving the stop sign to Puig, Bundy might just put up a brick wall to stop him. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Puig to Play on MLB All-Star Team in Japan]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:30:23 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/173*120/yp+face.jpg

Yasiel Puig might be brushing up on how to use chopsticks.

The Dodgers outfielder is among the first group of Major League all-stars named to the team that will travel to Japan for a five-game series against Japan’s National Team - "Samurai Japan" - in November.

He’ll be joined by Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners, Adam Jones from the Baltimore Orioles, and Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Others will be named later, and I suspect a certain shaggy-haired, Cy-Young winning, Dodgers left-hander will be added to the squad. But, we'll have to wait and see. 

The team will be led by Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington.

The series started in 1908, and this year will mark the 36th time that big leaguers have traveled to Japan for exhibition games.

The last time MLB sent a team of all-stars was in 2006, which was also the first time the five-game format was used. The U.S. went 5-0. Shocker.

MLB also announced the schedule:

Tuesday, Nov. 11:       Exhibition Game vs. Hanshin Tigers/Yomiuri Giants at Koshien
Wednesday, Nov. 12:  Game #1 at Kyocera Dome, Osaka
Thursday, Nov. 13:      Travel Day
Friday, Nov. 14:          Game #2 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Saturday, Nov. 15:      Game #3 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Sunday, Nov. 16:        Game #4 at Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
Monday, Nov. 17:        Travel Day
Tuesday, Nov. 18:       Game #5 at Sapporo Dome, Sapporo
Wednesday, Nov. 19:  Travel Day
Thursday, Nov. 20:      Exhibition Game vs Team Japan, Okinawa
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nationals' Harper Uses Puig's Bat During Game]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 19:29:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/WEB_STEINER_DODGER_CALL_1200x675_318356035603.jpg

It doesn't get much better than when two of the best athletes in any sport come together.

Bryce Harper brought us such a moment in Thursday's game against the Diamondbacks.

The Nationals slugger would agree that he's had a pretty rough year. Injuries, swirling rumors he may be shipped out to Triple-A and and horrid hitting slumps.

So, where did he turn to to help get himself in gear? Yasiel Puig's bat.

MASN's cameras used the extra zoom to get a great shot of Harper using one of Puig's sticks Thursday.

 

 

How many times he used the "Pro Maple YP 66" model? We don't know, but Harper surely doesn't have it for safe keeping while his season spins out of control.

It seemed to work. Harper went 2 for 4 in the game and the Nats won their 10th game in row, in a 1-0 walk-off.

I'm just sayin'.

We'll check to see if Puig returns the favor tonight and breaks out a Harper special against the Padres.

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<![CDATA[Dodgers' Greinke Pushed Back with Sore Elbow]]> Thu, 21 Aug 2014 10:09:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/zgreinke+toss.jpg

The Dodgers have elected to hold Zack Greinke out of his scheduled start Thursday to allow the ailing elbow on his throwing arm to rest.

Clayton Kershaw will take the mound against the San Diego Padres in Greinke’s place. The day off Monday means Kershaw will throw on his normal rest schedule.

Greinke’s dealt with the elbow issue for the last few weeks, but has optioned to pitch through it.

“It’s nothing wrong with the ligament. It’s just something that comes and goes,” he told reporters following a bullpen session Wednesday.

The team doesn’t expect the injury to land Greinke on the disabled list. He has compared his discomfort to that of a runner racing with a sore foot - it’s pain he can manage.

“I can pitch at 100 percent level but I don’t expect to feel 100 percent while doing it,” Greinke says.

The right-hander wouldn’t blame the injury on his recent struggles, where he’s lost four of his last seven starts. And, while he hasn’t pitched as well in the second half of the season as he did in the first, Greinke still have a very good 2.75 ERA and 170 strikeouts in 157 ⅓ innings.

He expects to start Saturday, and says he won’t treat it any differently than his previous starts this season.

“I can’t guarantee it’ll be good for here on out, but I don’t plan on having an issue with it,” says Greinke.


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Recall Arruebarrena, Option Triunfel]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:38:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*240/arru.jpg

The Dodgers' injuries have forced them to push prospects to the big leagues faster than they'd like.

With Juan Uribe on the disabled list, the Dodgers recalled infield prospect Erisbel Arruebarrena from Triple-A Albuquerque to not only add another solid defensive glove, but strong bat off the bench.

Infielder Carlos Triunfel was sent back down to Albuquerque to make room on the roster.

Arruebarrena joins the big league club from the Rookie-level Arizona League Dodgers where he was rehabbing a sore right shoulder.

In two previous stints with the Dodgers, the 24-year-old is hitting .313 (5 for 16) in eight games with two RBIs.

Arruebarrena made the most noise this season as the key cog in a bench-clearing brawl while playing with Albuquerque earlier in the season. 

The Dodgers signed him to a five-year, $25 million contract in February.

 



 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers’ Mattingly, Colletti Accept ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge ]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:33:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/matt+ned+talk.jpg

Everybody and their mom is taking on the Ice-Bucket Challenge.

But, ALS is a disease I wouldn’t put on my worst enemy, so if taking buckets of water to the head leads to a cure, how can you say no? 

Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly and General Manager Ned Colletti joined Adrian Gonzalez, Yasiel Puig and Dee Gordon as the latest members of the Blue Crew to take an ice waterfall for the cause.

Maybe, it’s to shed the embarrassment of being swept by the Brewers over the weekend. Either way, they’re doing their part.

Colletti went first and dropped the challenge on radio personalities Petros and Money, Dodgers legend Orel Hershiser and Mattingly, who must not have seen it coming, given the “What?!” he shouted off camera when Colletti called him out.

But, payback is sweet. Just watch Mattingly as he’s about to drop the bucket. His look says, “This is for not getting my a number-four starter before the trade deadline.”

Then it was the skipper’s turn. He called out Dodgers Video Coordinator John Pratt, Dodgers radio reporter David Vassegh and UCLA basketball coach Steve Alford.

What’s great in the video is how Mattingly braced himself to be doused, but gave the most disgusted look when the vertically-challenged Colletti only reached his shoulders.

“My shoulders are freezing,” Mattingly says.

I probably shouldn’t be getting such a kick at how awful that pour was, but it’s LA. They should know that in this town you’ve got to have some style with the substance.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers’ Ellis Blogs on Pitching Staff, Strategy]]> Fri, 15 Aug 2014 15:51:50 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/aj+kersh.jpg

All week ESPN’s Buster Olney has let guest writers take over his blog.

Thursday was Dodger catcher A.J. Ellis’s turn

It’s pretty great.

It’s widely known that he and Clayton Kershaw are best friends. They’ve even developed an Orel Hershiser, Mike Scioscia-type working relationship. So, Ellis used his post (a.k.a. his audition for a big league manager job when his career ends) to wax poetic on the behind-the-scenes prep work he and Kershaw go through before each start.

And, what he basically let everyone know is that Kershaw has a team beat when he gets to the clubhouse that day.

Ellis says before a start the lefty does the requisite study of film and scouting reports. Then the lefty, Ellis and pitching coach Rich Honeycutt will meet two hours before the first pitch and create a game plan for the night.

Those pre-game meetings are not democratic filibusters. Kershaw flat out runs them. Ellis says he’s serious, keeps his answers short and expects the catcher to remember his orders like they’re nuclear missile codes.

Oh, and don’t dare question the boss.

           “In the three years I have been humbled to catch Kersh, I‘ve learned to keep my mouth shut and not offer up information that goes against his typical arsenal of pitches. Even though the stats may lead me in a different direction, we are both keenly aware that his strengths are what separate him from the rest.”

I can see how that conversation would go.

Ellis: “Hey, 22, why don’t we back-door the slider on McCutchen when the count…”
(Kershaw gives the death stare)
(Ellis drops his eyes)
Ellis: “I know what to do. You’re right. We’re good.”

I guess, when you have two Cy Young Awards (and will likely add a third this season) you’re not called a dictator but, rather, Sergeant of Arms.

Kershaw’s known to ooze intensity on the mound. So, it’s fascinating to hear that at 26 years old he approaches his craft with that same Hall of Fame-type fire.

If I was a National League hitter knowing the game’s best pitcher goes that hard and has me figured out, I might call in sick the next time he’s in town.

Ellis on Zack Greinke:

          "He, especially, wants to know, and avoid, the specific areas where each hitter’s power is located. Zack is the most inquisitive student of the game I’ve ever met, and he breaks downs video as well as anyone I’ve caught."

On catching Dodger relievers:

           “Most relievers don’t offer up a bid variety of options in their repertoire but they do make up for it with the velocity and movement of the pitches that they throw. These last few crucial innings of a game usually turn into a battle of my best against your best. We don’t over think it. Even if the best fastball hitter in the game is in the box with the game on the line.”

So, there you have it from A.J. Ellis. Catcher. Blogger. Cultural Anthropologist.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers’ Ryu Removed from Start with Injury]]> Thu, 14 Aug 2014 08:43:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*223/hyu.jpg

You knew something was wrong when a pitcher as accurate as Hyun-Jin Ryu walked strikeout maven B.J. Upton.

After missing with a slider to Upton during Wednesday’s start against the Braves, Ryu called out the training staff, grabbed his right leg and knelt down in pain.

But, Don Mattingly can put the panic button away. Ryu didn’t snap a hamstring, instead the team says the lefty pulled a muscle in his backside. 

 

 

To add insult to injury, he took the loss in a 3-2 Dodgers defeat.

The good news for the club is the injury is not disabled list worthy, because they can’t afford to lose Ryu. Other than ace Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers rotation has become a bit of a mess lately.

Zack Greinke has lost four of his last six decisions, Dan Haren’s ERA has ballooned to 4.50, Josh Beckett is out with a bum hip.

With another Dodger pitcher nursing an injury, the move by General Manager Ned Colletti to pick up two band-aids in the form of Kevin Correa and Roberto Hernandez seems like a smart move right about now.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers 2014-15 NBA Schedule]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 15:42:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Lakers-2014-15-NBA-Schedule.jpg

For the 2014-15 NBA season, the Los Angeles Lakers schedule calls on the purple and gold to feature on the NBA’s opening night, Halloween, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Christmas.

To say that Kobe Bryant’s return is not meaningful is to utterly ignore the marketing impact of having no. 24 back on the court wearing purple and gold. He’s back, and as long as the Black Mamba is bouncing a ball for the Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA will continue to spotlight the team on the biggest basketball days of the season. In all, the Lakers are nationally televised on 28 occasions.

Opening night pits Bryant against former teammate Dwight Howard. The game will take place in Los Angeles, and that should make for a frenzied fan atmosphere. Howard’s every action will predictably draw jeers, and every Bryant jump shot will warrant loud applause. Although Howard’s time in Los Angeles is long gone, fans will never forget the disappointment of Howard’s wholly worthless season wearing purple and gold.

Howard provided the perfect example of a polar opposite of Bryant. Bryant’s time in Los Angeles is nearing two full decades. Howard barely made it one season. Bryant is the personification of the Lakers’ brand--a jersey in the rafters and a statue out in front of Staples Center. Howard bailed after one season and left anyone who compared the center to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Wilt Chamberlain shivering at the thought of uttering those words. Ultimately, Los Angeles hates Howard as much as it loves Bryant, and that sentiment should be clear on Oct. 28.

Opening night cannot come soon enough.

After playing the Suns on Oct. 29, the Lakers will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Halloween. That budding local rivalry will repeat on three different occasions. The Lakers will again play hosts on Apr. 5, and the Clippers will paint the floor red and blue for the LA-only affair on Jan. 7 and Apr. 7.

Other dates to circle on the calendar are Nov. 14, when the world champion San Antonio Spurs come to visit Los Angeles, and Jan. 15, when LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers march into Staples for their only visit to Lakerland.

Of course, the Lakers and Celtics rivalry is worth noting, as well. The Lakers will play hosts to the green leprechauns on Feb. 22. Meanwhile, the trip to Boston will come about the usual time: Dec. 5.

The Lakers’ longest road trip of the 2014-15 season comes in March when the Lakers take off on a five-game trip through Oklahoma City, Minnesota, Toronto, Brooklyn and Philadelphia. The Lakers are not plagued by a marathon Grammy road trip like seasons past. In the two previous seasons, the Grammy trip was seven straight games away from home in February. The longest road trip in February of 2015 will be four games.

However, the Lakers do play 16 back-to-backs, so this schedule is hardly a walk in the park. Scrutinizing 82 games, though, every NBA schedule contains obstacles.

To wrap up the season, the Lakers will play a home and away set with the Sacramento Kings. The Lakers’ 2014-15 regular season will conclude on Apr. 15, 2014 at Staples Center (Click For Lakers' Full Schedule).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Schedule: Rockets, Clippers, Bulls]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 11:42:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Lakers-Schedule-2014-15.jpg

The NBA is not good at keeping secrets.

Ahead of announcing the NBA schedule at 3 p.m. PT on Wednesday, reports emerged regarding key aspects of the Los Angeles Lakers' 2014-15 regular season schedule.

First reported by ESPN Los Angeles, the Lakers will start the season against the Houston Rockets. Yes, that is Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets. New Lakers' point guard Jeremy Lin will immediately face his former teammates. If all goes according to plan, Kobe Bryant will be in the lineup to face Howard for the first time since the center shunned LA for Houston. The game will also serve as Head Coach Byron Scott's regular season debut with the Lakers.

As an encore, the Lakers will host the Los Angeles Clippers on Halloween. The "battle for LA" will have its first round early in the season, and with new owner Steve Ballmer having taken official control, the Clippers will look to begin the process of dethroning the Lakers in the hearts and minds of Angelinos.

Apart from those two games, the schedule has been kept relatively quiet save for one other game: Christmas Day. The Lakers have played on the December holiday 15 straight years. More often than not, Los Angeles provides a visitor sunshine and warm temperatures during the frigid winter holiday.

This year, however, the Lakers will take a trip to the frozen tundra that is Chicago to face longtime Laker Pau Gasol as he lines up in his new colors. Presumably, Bryant will shower Gasol with warm embraces that hold longer than most NBA Christmas Day embraces. Although those embraces may highlight the poignancy of the relationship Gasol and Bryant shared, they also probably help provide that added body heat that is required during Christmas time in Chicago.

The remainder of the Lakers' schedule will be unveiled at 3pm Pacific Time on NBATV.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Place Beckett on Disabled List]]> Sat, 09 Aug 2014 06:11:26 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/jb+hurt.jpg

You can only pitch on one good leg for so long.

Josh Beckett did it for a couple of weeks with a torn labrum in his left hip. But, the Dodgers thought it best to shut him down, rather than pump him full of Cortisone so the right-hander can stay in the rotation.

The team placed Beckett on the 15-day disabled list.

(Side note: In his first start for the Dodgers on Friday against the Brewers, Hernandez tossed six innings, allowed two earned runs on three hits. He struck out five and got a no decision. The Dodgers lost, 9-3.)

OK, Back to Beckett.

He just didn’t look right once he hurt the hip. His mechanics were off. He didn’t pitch with the same level of confidence, and it showed.

In his first 17 starts the 34-year-old went an average of six innings. He made four starts after his return from the DL and didn’t go more than 4 ⅓ innings in any of them.

His pre-DL ERA: 2.26. His post-DL ERA: 7.88.

Dodger manager Don Mattingly told MLB Network Radio there’s a chance Beckett could return this season.

We’ll have to wait and see.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Ethier Accepts Diminished Role]]> Thu, 07 Aug 2014 09:36:07 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/ethier+swing+.jpg

In 2010, Andre Ethier was selected by fans to start in the National League All-Star Game.

These days he shows up for work just hoping to get selected by his manager to start a game, period.

Ethier started in right field Wednesday against the Angels, which was his first, anywhere, since July 22.

The two-time All-Star really hasn’t been an everyday player all season and, recently, has been relegated to pinch-hitter or defensive replacement status.

“It’s tough,” Ethier said after hitting a walk-off fielder’s choice Tuesday against the Angels. “You come to the field every day and just check the lineup card and see if you’re in there, and as of late it hasn’t been. So, it’s one where you kind of have to scale back and figure out what you’re going to do that day to get on the field and help the team win where you’re needed.”

He’s, essentially, been phased out of the mega-millions outfield that general manager Ned Colletti has assembled. Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp have played themselves into starting roles, and if Carl Crawford can stay healthy, it seems, he’ll be the everyday left fielder.

Understandably, Ethier hates the setup. He’s an elite athlete. He’s uber prideful. Make no mistake about it, though, he believes he’s one of the three best outfielders on the team, and he should. That mindset not only got the 32-year-old to the big leagues, it got him a five-year, $85 million contract.

Dodger manager Don Mattingly, is a former All-Star himself. He’s not ignorant to the mindset. Mattingly likes Ethier. He’s talked openly about the compassion he has for what Ethier’s going through.

“We’ve also talked about with Andre that he’s a really good teammate and handled this very well. I know I appreciate that, the way he’s handled it, professionally,” Mattingly said.

But, the skipper’s not being paid to play Dr. Feelgood. He’s paid to win, by any means necessary.

“We’re at the point where we’ve kind of thrown all the egos out the door, and just try and win games. We’re in a pennant race.”

As an eight-year veteran, Ethier gets it. He may not like it, but he gets it.

“We’ve got a team that could possible do something special at the end of the year and that personal stuff definitely goes away when you realize you got the opportunity to do that.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ethier Provides Walk-Off Win for Dodgers ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 23:57:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/dap.jpg

The headline to this story tells you what happened.

The Dodgers beat the Angels, 4-3, Tuesday, with a walk-off win in the bottom of the ninth at Dodger Stadium.

As far as the how...let's just say it won't be in the team capsule. 

With the game tied, 3-3, in the bottom of the ninth, pinch-hitter Andre Ethier came to bat with runners on first and third, and a chance to be a hero.

On a 3-2 pitch, against the Angels drawn in infield, Ethier hit a chopper to third baseman David Freese.

His first thought: “I cursed in my head. I said, ‘Oh, s--t’,” Ethier said in the locker room after the game.

Juan Uribe was three-quarters of the way home when Angels third baseman David Freese bare-handed the ball and fired a missile to the plate. The throw beat Uribe, but his thick thighs knocked it out of catcher Chris Iannetta’s mit. Uribe scores. Game over. The crowd goes wild.

“I waited for the crowd to react and they did,” Ethier said, with an embarassed chuckle. “It’s not the prettiest out of all of them, but it feels just as good.”

Ethier hasn’t seen much of the field lately and seemed reserved in relishing the moment.

Dodger starter Clayton Kershaw avoided a loss with the last inning theatrics. The lefty didn’t factor in the decision, and hasn’t lost since May 28, spanning 12 outings.

He went seven innings but actually looked human at the start.

The Angels jumped on Kershaw early, scoring three runs on seven hits the first three innings. He settled down after that. In his last four innings, Kershaw didn’t allow a hit, though he walked two batters.

“He didn’t seem to be in the kind of rhythm he’s normally in the first two or three innings. Then, all of a sudden, something must’ve fell in place for him because it got more smoother and easier,” Dodger manager Don Mattingly said afterward.

In his much publicized matchup with all-world Mike Trout, you’d have to say Trout won on the scorecards.

Trout got the first jabs in, hitting a single and double off Kershaw his first two at bats. But, the lefty hit back in Trout’s third at bat, throwing three straight fastballs. Trout watched them all and just as fast as he was announced as the hitter, he walked back to the dugout with a strikeout.

Matt Kemp manufactured a run in the sixth to put the Dodgers up, 4-3. He reached on an error, stole second, went to third on a throwing error and scored on Scott Van Slyke’s sacrifice fly.

But, that was wiped out by one swing of the bat by Albert Pujols. He launched a Brian Wilson fastball into the Dodgers bullpen in left field for a home run that tied the game, 4-4.

Angels started Hector Santiago looked just as shaky as Kershaw the first few innings. His biggest mistake was the fastball that Uribe hit out to left for a three-run homer in the third. But, they would be the only runs the 26-year-old surrendered in his 5 ⅓ innings of work.

Kenley Jansen (2-3) hurled a scoreless ninth for the Dodgers to pick up the loss.

Kevin Jepson (0-1) suffered the loss for the Angels.

The two teams will wrap up the Freeway Series with two games at Angels Stadium.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers Bullpen Injuries Pile Up ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 18:53:44 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/bullpen+copy.jpg

The Dodgers have lost yet another reliever.

This time it’s left-hander Paco Rodriguez, who the team placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a Teres Major strain.

Carlos Baez has been called up from Triple-A Albuquerque to take Rodriguez’s spot on the roster.

Rodriguez was most recently called up to replace another lefty reliever, Paul Maholm, who the Dodgers transferred to the 60-day DL with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Basically, Maholm's season is over.

The last 72 hours have been rough for the Dodgers who've placed Rodriguez, Maholm and righty reliever Chris Perez (right ankle bone spurs) on the DL the past three days.

As far as Maholm and Perez, it's not like they were setting the world on fire (combined 4.91 ERA in 110 innings), but it still doesn’t bode well for the Dodgers who decided to pass on adding bullpen help, especially a much needed southpaw, before the trade deadline.

Granted, they can still make a move through waivers but it’ll need to happen before manager Don Mattingly waves the white flag.

“I’m sure Ned [Colletti] is scouring, he’s talking to people all the time to make sure we’re in the best position,” Mattingly says.

J.P. Howell is the only lefty Mattingly has at his disposal at this point in the pen. Thankfully, for the Dodgers, he’s been the most reliable reliever this season. Howell’s only surrendered five earned runs in 38 2/3 innings, and batters are hitting a measly .156 off of him. His workload is about to get real heavy.

Jamey Wright’s not a left-hander but he’s given Mattingly another stopper against left-handed hitters. The 18-year veteran has held lefty’s to a .167 avg and one extra-base hit.

Mattingly says he’s keeping the faith that the Dodgers can work with the arms they have, though he’s not the best at showing it.

“On the field level it’s about winning games, being ready to play, taking the team we have now and being ready to play,” he says.

Spoken like a man who would like some bullpen help.

 


 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Kemp Named NL Player of the Week]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 11:36:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/mkepm.jpg

The move to right field seems to have straightened Matt Kemp out.

He’s raked since Dodger manager Don Mattingly put him there, and his resurgence is recognized with the NL Player of the Week Award for the period ending August 3.

In six games, the 29-year-old hit .409 with five homers, nine RBIs, a 1.091 slugging percentage and a .458 on-base percentage.

Kemp's not only playing well, he's playing like he's got a point to prove. 

In 2011 when he came one home run short of a 40-40 season, Kemp was considered the best player in the game. But, boy has it been a downward spiral the last two-plus years. I guess the pressures of a mega contract, major injuries and dating Rihanna will do that to you.

But, Kemp’s finally healthy, he’s at the age when baseball players hit their prime and, thanks to Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw, he no longer has the pressure of being the guy.

So, really, we may have yet to see the best of Matt Kemp. I sure hope so, because like he’s shown the last few weeks, when he’s on, he shines bright like a diamond.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Kershaw Wins Second Consecutive NL Honor ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 09:27:36 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/left+throw.jpg

Clayton Kershaw is hoarding NL Pitcher of the Month Awards in case the world comes to an end.

He picked up his second straight award for July, in further showing he owns the league. He’s also the first Dodger pitcher to do that since April-May 1975 when Hall of Famer Don Sutton did it.

Kershaw now has four. He won the honor in 2011, 2013 and in June. Looks like he decided to win this latest one to make up for the gap in 2012.

The stats, of course, are impressive: 4-0 record, NL best 1.07 ERA, three complete games, opposing hitters had a .165 AVG, he struck out 43 batters in 42 innings and walk only four. And, his last three starts came against the St. Louis Cardinals, San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves, three teams they could face in the playoffs.

I hope Kershaw has mantle space left, because we’ve still got two months left in the season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Puig, Trout on Center Stage in Freeway Series ]]> Tue, 05 Aug 2014 09:29:04 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/slide+ypp.jpg

We’ve got the best baseball player in the world, Mike Trout, and the most exciting player on the planet, Yasiel Puig, within 30 miles of one another and it could be that way for the next decade.

Let that sink in for a minute.

By themselves Trout and Puig have made the Freeway Series, the next installment of  which starts today at Chavez Ravine, worth watching. Sure, their respective teams the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (I still can’t believe that name is allowed to exist) and the Los Angeles Dodgers are doing well but, let’s be real, without them, a Josh Hamilton-Hanley Ramirez showdown is not selling out any stadiums.

Trout and Puig are pay-per-view worthy.

Puig has killed it all season. He’s second in the National League in batting average (.323), second in triples (nine), second in slugging percentage (.551), second in OPS (.959) third in on-base percentage (.407) and just to show he’s actually human, Puig’s been caught stealing seven times, sixth most in the league.


With Troy Tulowitzki hurt, Puig has quietly taken over front-runner status in the NL MVP race, but when does the Wild Horse do anything quietly. I mean, he had Dodger Stadium buzzing Friday when he scored from second base on a fielder’s choice, and with a slide that left Chicago Cubs catcher Wellington Castillo grabbing for air.

I'm still trying to figure out how in the world Puig pulled it off.

Puig's counterpart, and equal, in the ridiculously-fast-and-absurdly-strong category, Mike Trout, is making a run at an MVP Award, which we've become accustomed to in his short big league career.

Three years in the majors, Trout's been MVP runner-up twice. He could, in all likelihood, win it this season. Stop and think about that for a minute. Who does that? Really?

But, he's had to work to get on track this year.

On May 18, Trout went 1-for-4 with two strikeouts. His batting average dropped to .263, he was striking out a ton and it seemed as though pitchers had found his kryptonite -- high fastballs. It didn't help that he dealt with Tiger Woods-like back issues.

I don't know what happened, but something clicked. Trout got hits in 24 of his next 25 games and, voila, Superman was back tearing up the American League. Now, he's second in runs scored (76), second in on-base percentage (.394), second in OPS (.979) third in slugging percentage (.585), fourth in RBIs (80) and fifth in homers (25).

Not bad.

Puig is only 23 years old and Trout turns 23 on Thursday.

I chuckle with sympathy for pitchers in both leagues because they won't have a chance when these guys turn 25.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>