Brad Penny had a serious scare Saturday night, the likes of which he had never experienced.
Home plate umpire Kerwin Danley, who was hit on the right side of his jaw by a 96-mph fastball from Penny that sailed past catcher Russell Martin, was on his back and not moving.
“I felt horrible,” Penny said.
The mishap in the fourth inning of the Dodgers’ 11-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium resulted in a delay of more than 10 minutes and camera flashes to go off in every section of the stands as Dodgers trainers attended to the umpire.
Danley lost consciousness for a few seconds, but was coherent and breathing as he was being treated at the scene.
He waved to the crowd as he was lifted onto a stretcher, and he was then taken by an ambulance to Good Samaritan Hospital for precautionary reasons. Crew chief Greg Gibson said Danley was receiving a CT scan at the hospital, but was talking.
After the game, the Dodgers said Danley was expected to be released from the hospital later that night.
“I was just hoping he was still breathing,” Martin said. “I told him I was sorry a couple of times, but I don’t know if he heard me. He got hit like a [Mike] Tyson uppercut, that’s what it sounded like.
“I was expecting a curveball. When 96 jumps on you like that, you really can’t do much.”
The evening started on a much less serious note, as Penny, who improved to 4-2 by limiting the Rockies to three runs over seven innings, set up former manager Tom Lasorda for a pregame prank that caused the clubhouse to erupt with laughter and, perhaps, loosened them up enough to pound Rockies starter Mark Redman for 10 runs in the first inning.
At Penny’s request, Manager Joe Torre asked Lasorda to go to the clubhouse after batting practice to speak with the slumping team.
When Lasorda started speaking, Penny cut him off.
“C’mon, Tommy, it’s the same [stuff] every time,” Penny said. “Shut up.”
Lasorda said he didn’t know what to think or say.
“I was about to throw a left at him,” Lasorda said.
Immediately, the players started laughing. They unbuttoned their jerseys or removed their pullovers, revealing gray shirts with a gnome that had Lasorda’s face printed on them.
Said Penny: “We just wanted to let him know he was part of the team.”
The relief pitchers have taken a garden gnome to the bullpen every game to improve their fortunes, and on the team’s visit to Cincinnati last week, Martin started posting a picture of a gnome sold on the Dodgers’ official website in the team’s dugout.
On Friday night, Martin received an actual Dodgers gnome in the mail and placed it on the bench.
The gnomes certainly didn’t hurt the Dodgers on this night.
They fell behind, 2-0, in the first inning when Garrett Atkins hit a two-run home to left, but they immediately retaliated.
Juan Pierre put the Dodgers on the board, singling to center, moving to second on a wild pitch and stealing third.
He scored on a sacrifice fly by Matt Kemp.
Kemp capped the scoring in the six-hit, 10-run deluge with a grand slam to center field. Pierre scored twice in the inning.
The Rockies took back a run in the sixth when Todd Helton drove in Willy Tavares on a single, but the Dodgers extended the lead back to eight in the seventh when Martin scored on a single by Delwyn Young.
Redman (2-2) lasted six innings to help preserve the bullpen of the Rockies, who conclude their three-game series in Los Angeles today.