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Laundry Day
2003-08-15 08:08
by Jon Weisman

You know that shirt, hanging in the back of your closet, that you never thought you'd wear?

The one that you don't even remember why you bought it? The one you wouldn't even consider, except that you're out of clean laundry? The one that makes you dig into your dirty clothes to see if one of your wrinkled regulars can make another go of it?

Until finally you say ...

"Hmm ... Masao Kida? I guess I could wear that."

And why not? After all, you were dressed in Scott Mullen just a couple of weeks ago.

It really isn't like the Dodgers, true stylists when it comes to pitching, to have to go the Goodwill route so often. But today - when everyone in Chicago will be wearing Mark Prior - Los Angeles will be sporting Kida, a hit in Japan but a fashion that hasn't caught on in the States.

With Darren Dreifort, Kazuhisa Ishii and Andy Ashby all unavailable, Kida will be making his first major league start after 51 career relief appearances (all with Detroit) that have left him with a 6.42 career ERA. That makes Kida the least likely starter to take the mound for the Dodgers this season - which is saying something, considering Mullen was also making his first career start when he toiled against Atlanta on August 3.

Last year, in similarly dire pitching straits, the Dodgers had to use Kevin Bierne for three games in September while still clinging to slim playoff hopes. This is a function of the contracts the Dodgers gave to the fragile Kevin Brown and Dreifort.

The Dodgers pulled Brown out of their laundry basket to pitch on three days rest Thursday, perhaps because they thought Ashby could make Friday's start. On the other hand, they might have decided that Kida would have to make a start at some point, and concluded that it was better to sneak him in a game the Dodgers were least likely to win - today's matchup against Prior, who posted a complete-game victory over the Dodgers on Sunday.

It would be overstating to say the Dodgers have conceded today's game - after all, they won the game that Mullen started. And the Cub offense, unlike Atlanta's, is only middle of the road.

But the Dodgers' best hope is that Prior, who has allowed one earned run in 15 innings since coming off the disabled list this month, is not the pitcher at Wrigley Field that he was at Dodger Stadium. This season, Prior has an ERA of 3.61 at home, compared to 2.10 on the road.

Otherwise, it will be the Cubs who are dressed for success today.

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