Found April 24, 2013 on Fox Sports:
I came to watch the Titanic sink. And then I realized, oops, it's barely out of port. The Dodgers indeed could wind up an epic fail. On Tuesday alone, they lost right-hander Chad Billingsley to Tommy John surgery and saw ace left-hander Clayton Kershaw do the unthinkable -- issue a two-out, bases-empty walk to a reliever making his first major league plate appearance, leading to two runs. Weird stuff. But then the Dodgers struck back with some of their own weirdness, improving to 9-10 with a monster offensive performance not from Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez or Andre Ethier, but the one and only Mark Ellis. Never mind the iceberg; there is no iceberg, not with the season less than one-eighth complete. Indeed, the Dodgers' 7-2 victory over the Mets marked the second straight comeback victory for this gutty little $216 million machine. Not only did Ellis go 4-for-5 with two homers and four RBI, but he also knocked out Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese, drilling a liner off the pitcher's lower right leg in the third inning. Niese should be fine; the Mets said that he suffered a contusion and is day-to-day. But Ellis' smash forced the Mets to turn to their sorry bullpen early; try finding that in the formula for WAR. Ellis, who turns 36 on June 6, is earning $5.25 million, which by Dodger standards practically qualifies him for government assistance. He's the kind of player who might not look good on L.A. billboards, but helps win championships. Which, of course, is supposed to be the idea. For all anyone knows, Mets phenom Matt Harvey could shut down the Dodgers again Wednesday night; he will face lefty Ted Lilly, who is coming off shoulder surgery and will make his first start since last May 23. Still, one game means little. Heck, three weeks mean little. As several Dodgers veterans keep saying, "We'll be fine." Kemp is starting to revive after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery -- he's 8-for-18 in his last four games, and even hit an opposite-field double in his final at-bat on Tuesday night. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez is closing in on his return from a broken right thumb. Left-hander Chris Capuano shouldn't be out long with a strained left calf, and right-hander Zack Greinke is expected back from a broken clavicle in mid-June. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the worst was almost over for the Dodgers, even though Billingsley now is officially lost for the season and Kershaw has failed to complete six innings in consecutive starts for the first time since his first two outings in 2010. Kershaw predictably was furious with himself for walking reliever Robert Carson, issuing two more walks in the third inning and lasting only five innings overall. "I was pretty terrible tonight. I was awful," Kershaw said. "Two-out walks to the frickin' pitcher. I just beat myself. The team won in spite of me, not because of me." Well, you know what? That's actually a good sign. On a night when the starting pitcher struggles, the Dodgers' offense and bullpen should be good enough for the team to win, anyway. Left fielder Carl Crawford and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez look reborn. Both Mark Ellis and catcher A.J. Ellis are off to strong starts. The left side of the infield no longer will be a sinkhole once Ramirez returns and manager Don Mattingly figures out which players to use at third base. The Dodgers entered Tuesday averaging just three runs per game, ahead of only the Marlins in the National League. Their .185 batting average with runners in scoring position ranked next-to-last in the NL, their .232 slugging percentage in those situations dead last. Those numbers, though, were somewhat misleading; the Dodgers were third in the league in on-base percentage, an indication that their run production was bound to improve. A 7-2 loss to the Padres on April 17 summed up their early futility -- the Dodgers managed 16 baserunners, but only two runs. "We should have won three or four more games," Mattingly lamented before Tuesday night's game. "Even the games we won, we should have won by even more." Alert the small-sample police. Prepare for an ascension to the mean. We are not talking about the Marlins or the Astros, the Padres or the Cubs here. We are talking about a team that may struggle to meet expectations, but is too talented to outright collapse. "It's been strange," Mark Ellis said. "We pitched really well early, had baserunners all over the place, traffic everywhere, but weren't able to get the big hit. Now we're starting to come around a bit, but guys are down -- Billingsley, Greinke. "It's kind of forced us to look at ourselves a little bit, concentrate more. We realize that we've got to play, got to turn it up a notch. We know it's early, but you can't let these games get away in April. We have to play good baseball." It won't necessarily be easy short-term, not with Lilly and right-hander Stephen Fife in the rotation. But you know what? The Yankees are doing just fine without Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. The Dodgers should be able to manage without Ramirez, Greinke, Billingsley and Capuano. One scout notes that the Dodgers lack youthful energy, and that criticism is not unfair. But even the best teams look flat when they're not scoring runs. And when healthy, Kemp, Crawford and Ramirez are all electric talents. Oh, I'm not convinced that the Dodgers will win the NL West, or even make the playoffs. But the entire sport is waiting for them to capsize, and I don't think that is going to happen, either. I came to see the Titanic, and instead I saw a ship starting to navigate rocky seas. Big ocean. Long season. No iceberg yet.
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Making Moves: Ted Lilly returns to claim his throne + team signs 7, loans 3

Ted Lilly will make his first start of the season on Wednesday, replacing the injured Chris Capuano, who had replaced the injured Zack Greinke. Ted Lilly will start Wednesday night’s game against the Mets, manager Don Mattingly confirmed Friday. Lilly replaces the injured Chris Capuano, who previously replaced the injured Zack Greinke. “That’s our plan,” said Mattingly. “Obviously...

Chad Billingsley out for 2013 season, slated to have Tommy John surgery

It’s official, Chad Billingsley will undergo Tommy John surgery tomorrow. Dr. Neal ElAttrache will be performing the surgery at Kerlan-Jobe in Los Angeles. Honestly, I’m pissed. How does this situation even happen? The coaches and even Billingsley himself took no responsibility. I’m sure you remember when Billingsley was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in...

Los Angeles Dodgers, Angels not managing very well

Spring has sprung. Although in the case of the Los Angeles area baseball teams, they haven’t quite found the spring in their steps. So far, no one is pointing to Don Mattingly as the reason the Dodgers have fallen to 8-10. The Dodgers have just one win in their last seven games. Statistically, they aren’t exactly keeping company with the best of the rest. They rank 29th in the...

Billingsley to undergo Tommy John surgery

Dodgers got some bad news on Tuesday when the club revealed that Chad Billinglsey will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and is expected to miss 12 months. After an up-and-down 2012, Billingsley finally started to show signs of the player the Dodgers had signed to a 3-year, 35-million deal the year prior. From July 23 to Aug. 19 of last season Billingsley went on...

Dodgers' Hanley Ramirez nearing rehab assignment

Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez hopes to begin a minor league rehab assignment next week, according to Dylan Hernandez of The Los Angeles Times. Hanley Ramirez hopes to go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment next week. Expects to play 3 games. — Dylan Hernandez (@dylanohernandez) April 24, 2013 Ramirez told reporters that he expects to spend three...

Chad Billingsley To Miss Season

The Los Angeles Dodgers rotation received a big blow today as it was announced that starting pitcher Chad Billingsley will undergo Tommy John Surgery ending his season. Near the end of last season there was a decision to be made whether Billinsgley would have Tommy John Surgery. The other option was getting prp (platelet-rich plasma) injections that could possibly prevent the need...

Okay, so Luis Cruz has been amazingly terrible this year, but why?

Luis Cruz has been … not-so-good in 2013. Okay, he’s been absolutely atrocious. Just terrible. Mike Petriello at Mike Scioscia’s Tragic Illness has gone through all the statistical hoops to show exactly how bad Cruz has been in 2013 (go read it, even I didn’t realize how terrible he’s been). Hint: It’s bad. 2013 lowest wOBA, min 50 PA 5. Dustin Ackley, .174 4. Clint Barmes...

Clayton Kershaw stars in hilarious SportsCenter Ad

The “This Is SportsCenter” advertisements seem to be the only thing that ESPN churns out year after year and they are still fantastic.  Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw didn’t have to work too hard to create this one, but it is still one of the funnier and more creative ads that I have seen them make recently. [YouTube]

Chad Billingsley to undergo Tommy John surgery

Well, that was quick. Dodgers starter Chad Billingsley will undergo Tommy John surgery on Wednesday and will be out for the rest of the season. The team placed Billingsley on the DL on Sunday with pain in his right elbow, and the surgery was definitely a possibility. This just beats home the point that instead of attempting to rehab an elbow injury that may require Tommy John...

Jerry Hairston Jr. saves Brandon League’s bacon with a great catch in foul ground

Lots of bacon getting saved tonight. Holy cow — Eric Stephen (@truebluela) April 25, 2013 Of course, Brandon League latter blew the save, so there’s that.

Ellis homers twice as Dodgers top Mets, 7-2

NEW YORK (AP) -- Mark Ellis lined two home runs and hit a hard grounder that sent Mets starter Jonathon Niese limping off for X-rays, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers over New York 7-2 Tuesday night. Ellis got four hits and drove in four runs. He hit his 100th career homer in the fifth inning, then connected for a tiebreaking, three-run shot with two outs in the seventh. Ellis had...

Are the Dodgers already in trouble?

The Los Angeles Dodgers' $147 million pitcher is out with a broken collarbone, suffered in a silly on-field skirmish.  The team's best position player is hitting .235 with a .564 OPS, no home runs and six RBI.  Worst of all, the Dodgers have an 8-10 record after their first 18 games, putting them fourth in the NL West, five games out of first place. This is...

A Unique Path To A Loss

I hate games like this. When Jon Niese was hit in the ankle in the third inning by Mark Ellis and had to leave the game on Tuesday, with Clayton Kershaw on the other side, I was thinking, "well, this game is shot to hell, so I'll save my angst for what the Rangers do against the Panthers, or better yet I'll save my angst for a double dose of explosion on Thursday...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.