Young Pitchers Sparkle; Dodgers Lose Again

The Dodgers dropped their third game in succession, a 3-1 decision to Cincinnati in the first night game of the spring and saw their record dip to 2-5. A pair of young pitchers, Kenley Jansen and Rubby De La Rosa closed out the game with three scoreless innings and four strikeouts to take game honors.

The new Goodyear Ball Park is a thing of beauty, but the Dodgers are not sorry they will not have to play another game here this spring. In two appearances they lost 2-1 to Cleveland and 3-1 to Cincinnati, collecting a total of nine hits in the process. Hiroki Kuroda attempted to work a third inning and was tagged for a pair of runs in the third and took the loss.

Hiroki Kuroda started his second spring game as the Dodgers traveled to Goodyear to face the Reds. Young lefty Travis Woods started for Cincinnati. The Dodges lineup for the game:

Rafael Furcal SS
Casey Blake 3B
Juan Uribe 2B
Jay Gibbons DH
Rod Barajas C
Russ Mitchell 1B
Xavier Paul RF
Jerry Sands LF
Tony Gwynn CF
The Game
Woods only allowed one hit in his two innings, a rousing single to right-center by Rod Barajas. Francisco Cordero worked out of a jam in the third when Jerry Sands singled off his glove to lead off the inning but was forced by Tony Gwynn. Gwynn stole second and third, Casey Blake walked but Juan Uribe fanned for the second time.

Kuroda pitched around a pair of one-out singles in the first and worked a scoreless second but he gave up two hits to lead off the third, the first of which was actually an error on Casey Blake's wide throw to first, but it was called a hit by a benevolent scorer. Kuroda bounced a breaking ball off Barajas shin guards and a bouncer to first broke the scoreless tie. A sharp single past Kuroda up the middle made it 2-0.

Obviously, three was an inning too far for Kuroda and Blake Hawksworth got the call out of the bullpen. Hawksworth came to the Dodgers in exchange for Ryan Theriot, a great trade since they were not going to offer him arbitration.

Ryan was the Cardinal top prospect in 2004, rated ahead of Adam Wainwright and Yadier Molina. He had a 90s fastball and a classic changeup. Then bone spurs in his right ankle and a partially torn right labrum cut his playing time in 2004-05.

Although his health returned in 2006-08 but his fastball didn't come along. He finally made The Show in 2008 in relief -- then miraculously his fastball came back and he began hitting 95-96. He pitched well in 2009 but was nonetheless hammered last year and then was hit in the face by a line drive in Wrigley Field on September 25, ending his season a bit early. He's an interesting prospect, and he is still only 28 years old.

The Hawk retired the side with no further damage and also pitched the fourth and promptly gave up back-to-back singles. He almost escaped after a 5-3 double play but a ground-rule double (the Reds ninth hit of the game) made it 3-0 before a strikeout ended the inning.

Xavier Paul, fighting for the fourth (perhaps the third?) outfield slot quite ineffectively so far this spring, crushed a long double off the right field wall and scored on Sands single up the middle.

Having finally cracked the scoring column, it looked as if they might put a crooked number up on the scoreboard after Gwynn lined a single to right and the Dodgers suddenly had the tying run at first and third base with none out. But Furcal popped to first, Blake struck out on a high fastball and Uribe finally hit the ball after striking out twice but it was all up and down with the Reds first baseman making an easy catch.

Mike McDonald, 34, took over in the fifth. The 34-year-old is a 10 year minor league veteran, having recorded a 32-32, 4.49 record over 209 games, 89 of them starts (most of them in his first five seasons) in the Kansas City, Washington, Chicago White Sox and St. Louis organizations. He worked a scoreless inning and after five, the Dodgers trailed 3-1.

Kenley Jansen came in to work the sixth. Jansen, a converted catcher, was lights-out in 2010. The 6-6, 220 pound youngster (23), after only 45 minor league games was 3-0 with an 0.67 earned run average and allowed only 33 hits over 73 innings while walking 41 and striking out 112 (13.7 per nine innings) in Los Angeles.

The kid is young and raw but has limitless potential. Many consider him the Dodgers closer in waiting. Despite a walk, a bloop hit, a wild pitch and a passed ball he worked a scoreless inning.

It was a night for showing off your young flame-throwers. The Reds put in Aroldis Chapman, who throws in the 100s at times. His first pitch must have seen even faster to Trent Oeltjen, who was buzzed up and in on a pitch that hit the backstop with a loud bang. He fouled one off, missed the third pitch and was probably glad to get out of there. Jamie Hoffman lasted four pitches but fanned and Trayvon Robinson banged a hard grounder to first to end the Dodgers seventh.

The Dodgers countered with Rubby De La Rosa in the seventh, working the night before his 22nd birthday. Rubby has been known to throw 103, the same blistering speed as Chapman. He pitched for Class-A Great Lakes and Double-A Chattanooga last year he combined for a 2.37 earned run average and 94 strikeouts in 110 innings. He used six pitches to retire the Reds in order in the seventh and gave up a leadoff double in the eighth, picked the runner off, then collected a pair of strikeout.

Ivan De Jesus singled to right with one out in the eighth inning, breaking a string of 10 straight Dodgers retired since the fifth inning. Justin Sellers bounced into a double play to kill that mild threat. A double play ended the game after A.J. Ellis legged out an infield hit, the Dodgers seventh, and final, hit of the night.

Pitchers on display in "B" game<
Ted Lilly recovered from the flu to pitch two perfect innings for the Dodgers in a "B" game against the White Sox on Thursday morning and three of their first-round selections, Ethan Martin Aaron Miller and Zach Lee also saw action.

Lilly, who missed his first scheduled start Wednesday, made 27 pitches, had a single strikeout over his two innings of work. He threw mostly fastballs and changeups, with a few sinkers to left-handed hitters.

"I felt good. I was definitely excited to be pitching in a game again," said Lilly, who was making his first start since signing a three-year, $33 million contract. "Some adrenaline kicked in and helped me forget the flu. I enjoyed being out there and being part of a team. I missed that in the offseason."

"My command wasn't especially great, buy my velocity was OK. I don't expect it to be where I'd like it to be just yet but I hope to get there pretty soon. It's not as much my velocity as delivering without effort and strain on my arm."

Lilly said by pitching two innings, he will be able to come back in four days and get back on the five-man rotation cycle.

Following Lilly 2010 first-rounder Zach Lee worked two-thirds of an inning with a strikeout while allowing a run before his pitch count kicked in. Lee was drafted and then signed just before the deadline for a club record $5.25 million. He had a scholarship to play quarterback for LSU and many considered him the most un-signable player in the Draft.

Martin and Andrew, who each added a scoreless inning, were the club's top picks in 2008 and 2009. Martin signed for $1.73 million and Miller, a supplemental pick, received $889,200.

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