Schmidt Passes First Test in Dodgers Victory

July 21, 2009

Los Angeles, California -- After 2 years of surgeries, rehabilitation, and minor league action, Jason Schmidt made a triumphant return to the bigs by pitching five solid innings Monday night in the Los Angeles Dodgers' 7-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds at Dodger Stadium.

Schmidt initially appeared woefully overmatched, as the first three Reds batters smashed his servings off the outfield wall for a triple, double, and a single. When Schmidt finally recorded the third out of his 35-pitch, first inning nightmare, the Dodgers found themselves down 3-0.

Fortunately for Schmidt, the Dodgers powerful lineup immediately got The Azul right back in the game in the bottom of the first.

Leadoff man Rafael Furcal doubled, and then advanced to third on a single from catcher Russell Martin. Following a Manny Ramirez strike out, Andre Ethier doubled in Furcal to cut the lead to 3-1.

Casey Blake doubled in two more to even the game, and James Loney then singled home Blake to give LA a 4-3 lead at the end of one.

In the second inning, it appeared that Schmidt would continue to struggle, as he promptly hit Ryan Hanigan with a pitch.

However, Schmidt eventually settled down and emerged from the inning unscatched, thanks in part to an outstanding diving catch in shallow center by center fielder Matt Kemp.

In the bottom of the second inning, the Dodgers once again pummeled Reds' starter Micah Owings, as Manny Ramirez ripped a two-run blast to give LA a 6-3 cushion. The home run was Ramirez's 10th of the year and 537th of his career, moving him past the legendary Mickey Mantle on the all-time list. It was also Ramirez's first homer at Dodger Stadium since returning from his 50-game suspension.

Outfielder Andre Ethier would later add an insurance solo blast in the 5th for a 7-3 Dodgers' lead. The home run was Ethier's 19th this year.

After Cincinnati scored two unearned runs in the eighth, closer Jonathan Broxton shut down the Reds in the ninth to record his 23rd save. And he did it in typical Broxton fashion by reaching 100 mph on the gun and striking out one batter.

With the win, the Dodgers' record improved to 59-34, the best in baseball. The Reds dropped to 44-48 with the loss.

What We Learned About Schmidt

Despite a mediocre, low-velocity fastball that hovered in the mid-80s, Schmidt demonstrated that he can still finesse his way through a lineup. After a shaky first inning, Schmidt's location steadily improved over the course of the game, as 56 of his 91 pitches were strikes. More importantly, the fact that he was able to reach a pitch count of 91 spoke volumes about the improved stability of his shoulder.

Although Schmidt will never reach his prior form, and will never meet the expectations created by his albatross 3-year, $47 million contract, he at least gave the Dodgers some hope that he might fill the club's fifth starter role during the last two months of the season.

Post Game Notes

1. Among the 48,110 in attendance was ex-Laker Sam Perkins.

2. In addition to Manny's historical home run, fans saw the first use of instant replay in the history of Dodger Stadium when Reds' manager Dusty Baker argued that Willie Taveras' leadoff triple in the first inning should have been a home run. The original call was upheld.

3. Ramirez, Ethier, and Blake all went 2 for 4 on the day with 2 RBI's. Russell Martin went 3 for 3.

By Mike Elliott
Staff Editor for TheDailySportsHerald

No comments:

Post a Comment

We encourage all intelligent, passionate comments. Please refrain from any ignorant, racist, or offensive rants.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...