Hi, welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell, wondering what this game with the oblong ball people seemed to be so excited about Sunday is called.
The Dodgers won two of three from Arizona and have a 7 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the NL West, meaning their magic number to win the West is now 13. They start their final long homestand of the season tonight, with the first of three games against the Colorado Rockies. After an off day Thursday, they play three against the Pittsburgh Pirates (playoff preview, anyone?) and four more against Arizona. The idea is to win as many as possible and make the four games at San Francisco from Sept. 28-Oct. 1 as meaningless as possible.
The Dodgers have been playing very well in September, with the offense averaging almost five runs a game and suddenly discovering how to steal bases again. Despite that, only six Dodger position players are hitting over .300 in September, and you will never guess which six. I'll give you a minute to think about it, then come back to this a little later with the answer.
Should Seager sit or start?
Don Mattingly raised some eyebrows Saturday when he said that he will bench Corey Seager and start Jimmy Rollins when Rollins comes back from his jammed knuckle that has sidelined him. Seager has been outstanding in the 10 games he has played this season, hitting .412 with five doubles and a home run, including a four-for-four, three-runs-scored, three-RBI game on Saturday (after Mattingly made his comment). Baseball tradition is that a starter never loses his job because of an injury. However, you could argue that Rollins, hitting only .220, deserved to lose the job well before this. You can make a good case for either side. If I were Mattingly, I would play Seager. What would you do? I set up a poll for readers to vote on who you would start, Rollins or Seager. So what are you waiting for? Go and vote here.
Home sweet home
The Dodgers may seem to have the NL West in their grip, but they have something else very important to play for this month: Home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs. It looks like the Dodgers will play the New York Mets in the first round, and as of Sunday, L.A. has a half-game lead on the Mets in the standings. Considering the Dodgers are a much better home team (47-21) than road team (35-39), home-field advantage is imperative. So while you are checking out the NL West standings the rest of the season, don't forget to check how the Mets are doing too.
Who are they?
Who are the six Dodgers hitting over .300 in September? Alex Guerrero (.500), Justin Ruggiano (.421), Corey Seager (.412), Joc Pederson (.306), Chase Utley (.306) and Carl Crawford (.300). Not the six you would guess, is it? You can see the complete batting stats for September here.
Ask Ross Porter
Former Dodgers announcer Ross Porter will be answering select reader questions for the rest of the season. Email me a question for Ross, and I will pass it on to him. Here’s his latest response:
Ron Wheat asks: Can you think of the last year a scheduled daytime doubleheader was played not counting a rainout or a makeup game?
Ross: Doubleheaders were popular, usually on Sunday afternoons, until the late 1950s when teams no longer needed a hike in attendance. From 1995 to 2002, there were no regularly scheduled doubleheaders played in the big leagues. San Diego played two in Philadelphia one day in 2003. The next was in 2011 when the A's hosted the Angels. One ticket allowed fans to see both games, and over 27,000 showed up, 9,000 more than the previous home game.
One twin bill was scheduled in 2013 and two in 2014. Because of postponements, there were 25 in 2013, 28 last year, and 18 this year.
If baseball decides to shorten the season by eight games, one doubleheader a month for each team could help make it happen. There could be an increase in attendance, sales of food, beverages, and souvenirs, and parking revenue would go up. Players would get more off days. Rosters might expand from 25 to 27 for doubleheaders only to preserve pitchers' arms.
This week in Dodgers history
Sept. 15, 1978: The Dodgers become the first team in major league history to pass 3 million in attendance for a season.
Sept. 16, 1988: Tom Browning of the Cincinnati Reds pitches a perfect game against the Dodgers in a 1-0 victory.
Sept. 17, 1996: Hideo Nomo of the Dodgers pitches a no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies in Denver.
Sept. 17, 2010: Don Mattingly is announced as the new manager of the Dodgers in 2011 after Joe Torre says he will retire at the end of the 2010 season.
Sept. 18, 2006: Trailing 9-5, the Dodgers hit four consecutive homers in the bottom of the ninth inning to send the game to extra innings against San Diego. The homers are by Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, Russell Martin and Marlon Anderson. The Dodgers win the game when Nomar Garicaparra hits a walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th.
Chef Dave Pearson, who worked in the Dodger Stadium press box for more than 40 years, died Saturday of lung cancer. Times Dodgers blogger Steve Dilbeck remembers Pearson here. Everyone involved with Dodgers Dugout sends their thoughts to Pearson's family.