Brewers Sweep Dodgers without Braun
The Brewers didn't need reigning National League MVP Ryan Braun to complete a four-game sweep the Dodgers for the first time in their franchise history. The scrubs did a sufficient job backing up former Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke beating the Dodgers 6-2.
The three hour, 19 minute game was Chinese water torture disguised as a baseball game. Each time the Dodgers tried to get a rally going, a double play would snuff things out. 13 hits yielded two runs with 11 runners stranded. But don't expect Manager Don Mattingly to worry too much about it. He saw the double plays as a good sign.
"I know we've hit into a lot of double plays that ended some rallies, but still the fact that we're getting guys out there is good for us," Mattingly said.
Drip, drip, drip the game trudged on. Chad Billingsley did his best to try and keep the Dodgers in the game with one notable exception: that cutter he left out over the plate to Aramis Ramirez in the third inning that gave the Brewers the 4-1 lead.
Billingsley needed 117 pitches to get through six innings but struck out eight batters while giving up the four runs, and didn't let the lack of run support phase him.
"I've just to keep going grinding away," Billingsley said.
Mattingly admitted that with runs being a premium in this series, the mindset of the team had changed.
"The way we've had the lack of scoring runs that past few days, we're down 4-1 it feels like a lot at that point," Mattingly explained. "Ten days ago, we wouldn't have blinked an eye at that score."
Fans have such a visceral reaction to Billingsley always ready to write him off. But Mattingly described him to a tee.
"Chad is kind of like it's been. It's not like it's bad. It's not like he's dominant. He just hangs in there enough."
At least with Braun out due to tightness in his Achilles' tendon, it evened things up a little with the Dodgers' almost-MVP Matt Kemp on the disabled list with two separate left hamstring strains. While Kemp is expected to be out for at least four weeks, Alex Castellanos, who came to Dodgers when they traded Rafael Furcal to the St. Louis Cardinals last season, filled his place in the roster.
Although he didn't start, Castellanos did make his Major League debut coming in a double-switch in the eighth inning to play left field. His first plate appearance against Kameron Loe in the bottom of the eighth was punctuated by getting plunked on the elbow. That didn't diminish Castellano's excitement from being at Dodger Stadium.
"That was fun actually," Castellanos admitted. "It sucked that I got hit."
What happened next sucked more for the Dodgers. As Castellanos attempted to steal second base, Scott Van Slyke swung on a strike inadvertantly hitting the catcher Martin Maldonado. Despite still being in the batter's box, Van Slyke was called out for batter interference and Castellanos was called back to first base. Mattingly argued with home plate umpire Tony Randazzo about the ruling.
"I asked him if my catcher comes up and bumps a guy that's in the batter's box, that guy is going to be out," Mattingly said. "He basically said yes. So I don't know.
"If I'm a right-hand hitter and they're stealing third, I'm entitled to the box. I don't have to move. So I don't know. I guess by the letter of the rule, he's got it correct. But it seems like the interpretation to that is a little shaky."
At least Mattingly didn't get ejected.
And speaking of Mattingly, gross negligence on my part failed to report on Wednesday that he suffered a leg injury. Yes it seems to be spreading in the Dodger clubhouse.
After Mattingly's daily workout before talking with reporters prior to batting practice, Mattingly was in the middle of his cooldown stretches when he pulled his right calf. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt was in charge of pitching changes and bench coach Trey Hillman was in charge of double-switches and getting "clarification" from the umpires. That made Mattingly's argument seem quite strange.
The Dodgers now head off on a 10-game road trip to Colorado, Philadelphia and Seattle. Mattingly isn't feeling any panic.
"This too shall pass. If we keep swinging the bat like this we're going to be fine.
"Let's hit the road and play some baseball."
Three Stars (as selected by me):
1. Aramis Ramirez — 2-for-3, 1 walk, 1 home run, 2 runs batted in, 1 strikeout.
2. Zack Greinke — 6 innings pitched, 9 hits, 1 earned run, 1 walk, 7 strikeouts.
3. Scott Elbert — 1 1/3 innings pitched, 3 strikeouts.
LA Dodgers at Colorado Rockies. 5:40 p.m. Prime Ticket, AM 570 KLAC.
Texas Rangers at LA Angels. 7:05 p.m. FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.