The Dodgers have not won a series since ah well, when was the last time they won a series against another team? Have they won one in August? If they did, I cant remember it.
It is a baseball verity that one can not win much of anything unless you win more than a few of the individual series against other teams along the way.
To prevent a sweep by Jim Tracy's Pirates, Little tried a different pitching strategy - he did not use Brett Tomko or Aaron Sele. Surprise! It worked. Little used two young talents who are big and who can throw hard, Chad Billingsley (the winner) and Jonathan Broxton. It is no secret they are the Dodgers' hope -- now and in the future.
He also used two guys who have surprised all year, lefty Joe Beimel and Takeitonhome Saito (the save). (An aside, send more scouts to Japan and look for more Saitos. Re-sign Beimel now.
We looked up what Beimel means in the multiple language dictionary of names - it means 'he don't choke'. it apparently also means 'he don't throw balls up in the strike zone with men on base.' We also looked up what Tomko and Sele mean. It told us "see opposite of Beimel.")
Little tried another switch for a change. Instead of shifting Jeff Kent to first to make room for the .220 hitting Julio Lugo, he made half a good move by keeping Kent at second, his home, and wow, started the Venezuelan slugger -- no, not Hugo Chavez -- Orlando Saenz at first. Surprise. Home run from Saenz.
While Hugo Chavez was swinging for the fences and only able to offend every living American (except Barbara Streisand, Danny Glover et. al.), Saenz connected and actually did something good for the nation, the Dodgers nation. (Of course, Little had to keep Lugo in the lineup, moving him over to third.)
Now the Dodgers are down to just a few series. All from their division. Arizona at home and, and the Biblical Gog and Magog from the north, the accursed Giants in San Francisco.
There was nothing the Dodgers needed more than a healthy Chad Billingsley.
And he was healthy.
There was nothing the Dodgers needed more than Jonathan Broxton throwing strikes.
Broxton has this habit of putting a few men on base. Usually at the start of the inning. Maybe he just likes to pitch from the stretch rather than from a full windup.
Clue for Honeycutt - there is no rule against pitching from the stretch right away. You don't HAVE TO pitch from a full windup if you don't like to or can't.
On this night, Billingsley, Beimel, Broxton and Saito were the best of the Dodgers 10 man pitching staff. They, at least, won a game.
It's as if they got together and said, "Hey, we can leave it all on old man Maddux. Ain't nobody perfect. And you never know what we are going to get from 'for two cents plain', i.e., Brad Penny, or if Derek Lowe will ever get any runs, so maybe we better think about doing it ourselves."
Waiting for others to do it for you is not a good way to get fitted for a Division Championship ring.
Billingsley and Broxton are near the major league minimum salaries. Beimel was picked off the scrap heap and ain't making a lot. Saito is a rookie, albeit an old one.
So it stands to reason the quartet thinks the idea of a post season bonus check, chump change to the big guys, would be very handy indeed.
Marlon Anderson is becoming with the bat what Takeitonhome Saito has been to the relief corps - a saviour. This time, a perfectly executed squeeze bunt.
Bunting is a lost art. The squeeze bunt has become almost a forgotten tool. Anderson did it. When it counted. Here we see Little using a guy who is doing it.
The reason the Dodgers moved back into a half game lead for the wild card berth is the Phillies were off. Well, we will take all the help we can get. Notice we did not say into a half game lead for the division lead. That still is in the future. Maybe in the 2007 future.
The Dodgers Old Folks Home trio of Tomko, Sele and Carrara weren't used. I was tempted to say weren't needed. They are in fact needed, but when called
upon, they have been found wanting - in the extreme.
We'd rather see 'ole Fernando come down from the radio booth as this trio.
Heck, we'd rather see 'ole Tommy do a Minnie Minoso and put the uniform back on.
The Dodgers managed to win one out of three to live another day. And these days, it is exactly that, day by day.
Game by game.
Inning by inning.
At bat by at bat.
Managerial decision by managerial decision. There will be nothing easy the rest of the way.
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