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About Jon
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1) using profanity or any euphemisms for profanity
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How Lucky Can One Team Be: They Scored Not One Unearned Run But Three
2004-05-04 21:55
by Jon Weisman

Every year, just for fun, I've always meant to keep track of stolen wins - the games in which the Dodgers snag a W they had no right to grab.

Maybe next year. But you could certainly see an example of what I'm talking about in Tuesday night's 4-3, 11-inning Dodger victory over Florida: three unearned runs out of four, including a tying run scoring on a ninth-inning throwing error by the pitcher and a two-out, two-strike single, and a winning run scoring in the 11th on an inning-ending double-play ball choosing to scurry through an infielder's legs.

It's silly now: the Dodgers have the best record in baseball, seven games over .500 at 16-9, despite outscoring their opponents by a total of 10 runs. The 2003 Kansas City Royals, which started surprisingly strong before fading to an 83-79 season in which opponents outscored them by 31, haunt as the model for false hope.

Can the Dodgers keep it real?

The biggest curiosity is the pitching. Dodger opponents have put the Los Angeles starting pitchers on the ropes for most of 2004, but haven't KOed them. The Dodger starters may only have pitched past the seventh inning two times all season - but only three times have they left before completing five. Solid mediocrity is better than nothing (that is to say, better than the Dodger hitting of 2003) and has kept the Dodgers within shouting distance so that it can thievecize some close ballgames. There isn't much home for improvement in the low-K totals of Hideo Nomo and Jose Lima, but on the other hand, Wilson Alvarez may be riding to the rescue, and we can dream of Edwin Jackson coming later this summer.

Injuries are starting to provide another challenge, however, with outfielder and leadoff hitter Dave Roberts' tender hamstring providing the latest test. We can grit our teeth contemplating more on-the-job training for Jason Grabowski, hoping general manager Paul DePodesta's early acquisition deserves this chance, or wait to see whether manager Jim Tracy will move Shawn Green or Paul Lo Duca to the outfield to make room for Robin Ventura or David Ross.

Even less enticing options remain for replacing Roberts at the top of the lineup. Tracy, who was rigid enough, as it turned out, to drop Adrian Beltre back to No. 7 upon Milton Bradley's return, may well think it's a great idea to put Cesar Izturis or Alex Cora (he of the three hits Tuesday night) on top. Hmm ... don't all get excited at once.

A lot of you might be thinking Paul Lo Duca should get bumped to No. 1, and I'm not agin' it. But if Ventura plays, he's not a bad choice either. No one else on the team is better suited than Ventura for generating a leadoff walk or a single.

Except perhaps Shawn Green - but that'll be the day.

Still, 16-9. Stealing is good for a team's health.

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