In one of the more extreme shifts you'll ever see, the Dodger stacked four infielders on the right side of the infield against Seth Smith of the Padres in the 12th inning of last nights game. Check out their defensive alignment in the photo above, tweeted out by JP Hoornstra. Smith, a proven groundball pull hitter, came up with the bases loaded, and did just as they expected (watch it here). He grounded the ball to Dee Gordon. Unfortunately, the relay throw to home was a little too off the mark to allow for a doubleplay, so the Padres would get another at-bat. That very next batter slapped a single to the right side to record a walkoff win.
The Dodger fell to the Padres, 3 to 2, and lost a game in the standings to the suddenly surging Giants. Disappointing, eh? They coulda, shoulda, won this one. Haren, although not entirely on the mark last night, pitched six effective innings (watch highlights here). He sprayed five hits, struck out three, walked one and gave up just two runs (one unearned). The followup relief crew also held their own until long-man Kevin Correia walked the bases loaded to set up the shift explained above.
The Dodgers offense was helped along by an resurgent Haley Ramirez, who homered for the first time since coming back from the disabled list (watch it here). Justin Turner continued his hot hitting ways, but that was not enough. They could only muster two runs on eleven hits.
The Dodgers are now sitting on a 3.5 game lead over the Giants. Now, below are some links to check out:
- Via Bill Plunkett at the OC Register, "Puig's bat missing some of its sizzle."
“Where has it gone?” McGwire repeated with a laugh when asked about Puig’s power. “You know what — he got off to a fast start with home runs. Once you do that, people think you're a home run hitter. But really it’s all about pitch selection and patience. He’s shown some great stretches with patience and he’s shown some stretches where he’s not patient at all.
“You have to hit strikes. When you simplify the game and stay within your zone, you can get pitches to drive like that. Sometimes he just gets out of that mode and tries too hard. We can’t forget that he's a very young hitter. And young hitters that aren’t really home run hitters that come out hitting home runs — then people try to put things in their mind that they are home run hitters and they try to do too much.”
- Via J.P. Hoornstra at Inside the Dodgers, "Greg Maddux offers some high praise for Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw."
“His consistency is off the charts good,” Maddux said. “Everybody who wears a major-league uniform is good in their own way. There’s guys who can do it every time they put on the uniform. … Every time you see a player whose bad games are good, it’s special.”
- Via Jeffrey Long at Beyond the Boxscore, "How to get a hit against Clayton Kershaw." Check out this advanced scouting report.
- Chris Olds at Beckett shares some preview pics from Topps 2015 Sticker Baseball set, here. Check out the Clayton Kershaw sticker on the right. It is slated to come out on March 4, 2015.
- The new September edition of Dodger Insider Magazine features Clayton Kershaw on the cover and includes a stories on his Ping Pong 4 Purpose charity event, his MVP candidacy and his unprecedented domination of the strike zone in 2014. There is also a 15-page special section offering the history behind every Dodger uniform number from 00 to 99. Go here for ordering information or get a copy at souvenir stands at Dodger Stadium when the next homestand opens on Monday against the Nationals. Check out the cover on the left.
- Via David Brown at Big League Stew, "Family of Jackie Robinson Little Leaguer is homeless."
His mother, Devona Benton, says she and Benton's father, a radiator tech who works part-time, could no longer afford their apartment after her hours were cut as a home-care provider for Catholic Charities. She's worked there for six years and sometimes it's been a struggle, but she says this is the first time her family had to split up to survive. She also is responsible for looking after her 16-year-old son, and for helping with the three grandchildren of her grown daughter. She's hoping and praying for more clients, but until that happens, the family will be fractured.
- OK, fine. I'm gonna link to a Plaschke article, but only because it's a good one about LA Kings coach Darryl Sutter. Via Bill Plaschke of the LA Times, "Kings Coach Darryl Sutter is never down on the farm."
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