Ethier Would Have Hit if Needed Against Cubs

Andre Ethier's hitting streak, at 29 games and holding after he didn't play Wednesday, is the latest illustration of the luck, skill and human interaction that makes hitting streaks so rare. Ethier either jammed or hyper-extended his left elbow sliding into home plate over two weeks ago. It hadn't bothered him much until this week, and was a late scratch in the final game of the Cub series.

He doesn't think it's serious and will see the Dodgers' doctor Friday in New York today the next series begins.

Since the Dodgers lost, 5-1, Ethier wasn't needed as a pinch hitter. But if he was needed to win a game, manager Don Mattingly would have used him, even though it would create a one at-bat, all-or-nothing chance to extend the streak.

Interesting, the rule book states that a hitting streak continues if the only at-bat (or all the at-bats) end with a walk, hit by a pitch, or sacrifice bunt. A sacrifice fly ends the streak.

If Ethier gets a hit in all three games against the Mets, he will break the Dodgers' franchise record for hitting streak, 31 games by Willie Davis in 1969. Davis wasn't given any days off during his streak.

The final game of Willie Davis' streak was filled with drama. In the seventh, Davis was unsuccessful in his bunt attempt. It appeared the streak was over because the Dodgers led by four runs, they were at home and wouldn't bat in the ninth, and pitcher Claude Osteen was on a 25 1/3 consecutive scoreless streak.

In the top of the eighth, however, Tommie Agee and Donn Clendenon hit two-run home runs to tie the game.

In the home half of the eighth, the Dodgers had two runners on base and two out. Willie Crawford had a chance to give the Dodgers the lead and win the game, but then Davis wouldn't get another chance in the ninth.

Dodger Stadium was torn, realizing the possibilities. Alas, Crawford grounded out.

The Mets didn't score in the ninth. Maury Wills started the Dodger ninth with a walk and Manny Mota bunted him to second. But would the Mets walk Davis? They ended up pitching to him, and Davis singled home Wills with the winning run to keep the streak alive.

Dodger manager Don Mattingly recalled this week that twice he had hitting streaks of more than 20 games. Once, it was Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium and he went over to shake Joe DiMaggio's hand.

"Why are you (messing) with my streak?" DiMaggio said to Mattingly. Whether it was good natured or not, Mattingly went 0-for-4 that day.

Another time, DiMaggio was in the ballpark when Mattingly had a hitting streak into the 20s. This time, Mattingly didn't say a word to the Yankee Clipper, but he went hitless again to end it.

Mattingly shared another funny hitting streak story. He'd hit in nine consecutive games going into the famous "Pine Tar Game" involving George Brett, Billy Martin and Goose Gossage. Mattingly went hitless in that game, then hit in 14 straight games afterward.

After the American League ruled the "Pine Tar" game would be continued from the point Brett hit a home run (and then called out for having too much pine tar on his bat), it gave Mattingly another at-bat in the ninth inning.

A hit would have retroactively extended his hitting streak to 24 games. Dan Quisenberry retired Mattingly, however, and there was no retroactive streak.

Pete Rose played 159 games in 1978, but wasn't given any days off during his 44-game hitting streak that summer. He did received some good fortune though. On July 19 in Philadelphia, Rose was hitless going into the eighth inning and walked.

His Big Red Machine teammates erupted for four runs in the inning, and the lineup turned over to give him another at-bat in the ninth. Rose kept the streak alive with a bunt single.

--RHP Hiroki Kuroda, who starts today's series opener in New York, has a 3.10 ERA in six starts. Five months remain in the season, but he's on track for the lowest ERA in his fourth season since coming to the United States. His ERA was 3.73 in his first season, 3.76 in 2009 and 3.39 last year.

--INF Jamey Carroll became the starting Dodgers' shortstop when Rafael Furcal broke his thumb. The Dodgers (and his other teams) have always felt Carroll was at his best as the super utility fill-in, and he might wear down if he played every day. The 37-year-old Carroll might be showing signs of that now, or it could be his 4-for-28 stretch simply is a common slump.

--RHP Matt Guerrier was unavailable Wednesday because he was attending a funeral. The Dodgers effectively had a 21-man roster for the game. Guerrier will rejoin his teammates for Friday's series opener in New York.

--RHP Kenley Jansen, the mostly likely call-up if (or when) Jonathan Broxton (sore right elbow) is placed on the disabled list, gave up a three-run home run in his first outing at Double-A Chattanooga.

--RHP Jon Garland has allowed only 18 baserunners in his last 22 innings, covering his last three starts. His next start is Saturday at Citi Field against the Mets.

-- Number of days since James Loney's last extra-base hit. He doubled on Opening Day, then homered on April 6 at Colorado. The 29th day was Thursday's off day, and the 30th will be Friday's series opener against the Mets. Loney's slash line is .214/.242/.248 for the year.

"It was on a slide against St. Louis at home, a close play, I think it was (James) Loney hit a ball to (Albert) Pujols and I slid around (the catcher) and hyperextended or jammed the elbow reaching for home plate. I've felt it on and off the last couple weeks. If it's nothing serious, just a sore elbow or bone bruise, I'll deal with it. I've got back-to-back days to rest and let it calm down. It's sore to bend and straighten out." -- RF Andre Ethier, on the inflamed elbow that kept him out of Wednesday's game, and kept his hitting streak on hold at 29 games.

--RHP Jonathan Broxton (sore right elbow) was unavailable May 4. He was sent for an MRI, and he is likely to land on the disabled list.

--OF Marcus Thames (strained right quad) went on the 15-day disabled list May 3.

--3B Casey Blake (staph infection in left elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 25. He's expected to be out until June.

--SS Rafael Furcal (broken left thumb) went on the 15-day disabled list April 12. He was close to starting baseball activities in early May, and he might return in late May.

--C Hector Gimenez (sore right knee) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 9. He had arthroscopic surgery April 26, and he is expected to be out until at least mid-May.