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Stretch Run Open Chat: Dodgers-Giants (Friday)
2004-09-24 16:04
by Jon Weisman

Tonight's Game

Introduction: I was going to call this "Showdown for the National League West Open Chat," but I don't think that headline should apply unless the Dodgers and Giants are within a half-game of each other.

Question: Does six innings of two-run ball in Colorado in his last start indicate a comeback for Odalis Perez? He allowed 10 hits, but it was Coors Field, and he had good control, walking one.

Comments: The Dodgers should be hella-careful with Barry Bonds with runners on base, but they should go after him with the bases empty. When he isn't walked, Bonds has an extra-base hit this season in exactly one of every five plate appearances (73/365). That means that by pitching to him, you have an 80 percent chance of holding him to first base anyway. Even accounting for his superiority to his teammates, Bonds still has a better chance of scoring from first base than the batter's box. You just want to use intentional walks to try to limit the runs he can drive in, because he can drive them in in bunches.

Los Angeles should also do all that it can to make San Francisco starting pitcher Kirk Rueter throw a lot of pitches. Admittedly, Rueter likes to keep the ball around the plate, but he can still rack up the pitch counts: he threw 100 despite pitching seven shutout innings on September 19, and threw 112 in 5 1/3 innings at home against Colorado on September 1. Get Rueter out of the game, get into that shaky Giants bullpen, and start wearing that bullpen down, for the game as well as the entire weekend.

Statement: With a single victory this weekend, the Dodgers would come home in first place, with all their games at home and all of the Giants' games on the road. A single victory would be enormous.

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