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Giant Killers

Posted By Dave Leonardis On Jul 1 2010 @ 6:52 pm In Los Angeles Dodgers | No Comments

The Los Angeles Dodgers bounced back from their heart-breaking loss on Sunday to the Yankees by breaking out the brooms and sweeping the San Francisco Giants. The three straight W’s puts the Dodgers three games behind San Diego for first place and sends the Giants cascading to fourth after starting the series in second.

That’s the good news.

Here’s the bad news. Slugger Manny Ramirez injured his hamstring in the second game of the Giants series and is expected to have an MRI today to figure out the extent of the injury. Given Manny’s — how do I say this diplomatically — reluctance to play through pain, don’t be shocked if he sits out a few games and/or tries to parlay this latest boo-boo into a stint on the DL. As for the Giants series, a couple of observations of note. For one, Monday marked the return of Chad Billingsley, who had spent the last week or so on the shelf with a groin injury. Billingsley went six innings, walking two, giving up two and striking out three but inevitably the W went to Jeff Weaver.

Another occurrence that may only be peculiar to me was the fact that manager Joe Torre did not opt for closer Jonathan Broxton during save situations in the first two games. Broxton, as you may remember, blew a four-run lead in a non-save situation Sunday in L.A.’s 10-inning loss to the Yankees. Was Torre just giving his closer some rest? Or did Sunday’s meltdown cause Torre to lose confidence in his young door-shutter? Broxton didn’t even get to shake some rust off in the 8-2 series finale. George Sherrill, meanwhile, saw action in two games of the San Francisco series despite coming off an equally traumatic appearance on Sunday inwhich he gave up the go-ahead home run to Robinson Cano.

It’s all speculation at this point and, more than likely, Torre was just giving Broxton some rest after a strenous performance on Sunday(48 pitches in an inning of work). Still, closers rely heavily on their confidence in close game situations and, if Broxton starts to get an inkling that Torre’s lost faith in him, this may be a situation work keeping an eye. Also worth monitoring will be Manny’s hammy. With Andre Ethier struggling at the plate since returning from the DL with a broken finger and Matt Kemp having his issues prior to going yard off of Jonathan Sanchez last night, the Dodgers can ill-afford an extended absence from their $19 million man. So far this season, the Dodgers are 13-15 without Manny in the lineup.

Lucky for L.A., they get a three-game series against lowly Arizona(whom they swept at Chase Field back in May and are also 8-1 against this season), who are 31-48 on the season including 18-18 at home. In his first start since no-hitting the Rays last Friday, Edwin Jackson will be taking the mound against the team that drafted him. Jackson threw 149 pitches(most ever for a no-hitter) and walked eight on his career night and, even with the no-no to his name, he’s 5-6 with a 4.63 ERA. He’ll be opposed by Hiroki Kuroda(7-5, 3.27 ERA). After tonight, Los Angeles starts over in the rotation with their big guns: Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley. Billingsley’s start will be particularly interesting to watch because, not only is it his second start this week, but he’ll be up against the D’Backs top hurler Dan Haren.

If the Giants series and their past history against Arizona is any indication, this should be a walk in the park for the boys in blue. However, keep an eye on if or when Broxton makes his return to mound as well as Ramirez’s tender hammy. This series may be a mismatch, but those two factors make it quite interesting.

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