Triple play helps Dodgers edge Padres

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Triple play helps Dodgers edge Padres

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Matt Kemp called it "very weird." Chase Headley described it as a "crazy occurrence." Nearly everyone was shaking their heads after the Los Angeles Dodgers turned a bizarre triple play in the top of the ninth inning before Dee Gordon singled home the winning run in the bottom half of a 5-4 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday. It was 4-all when the Dodgers turned their first triple play since June 13, 1998, against Colorado. Chris Denorfia led off with a single against Javy Guerra (1-0) and Headley walked. Jesus Guzman squared to bunt, but the pitch came high and tight and hit his bat as he backed away. The ball landed in front of the plate and catcher A.J. Ellis alertly picked it up and threw to third. "I was very confident I heard it hit the bat. I didn't hear anything from the umpire behind me," he said. Guzman, startled by what happened, didn't run to first base, which made it easy for third baseman Juan Uribe to relay to shortstop Gordon at second base. In turn, he threw to James Loney to complete the triple play. "As soon as I got the ball to Juan and nobody was running I said, This is going to be a triple play,'" Ellis said. "They were sure it was a foul ball and we were sure it was a bunted ball." Padres manager Bud Black came out to argue with plate umpire and crew chief Dale Scott, who ejected him. "It happened so fast," said Black, who thought he heard two sounds when the ball hit the bat. "It sounded funny." He came into the clubhouse and watched a replay. "There's not many times where a ball headed for the face turns into a triple play," Black said. "I looked at the take, and it was a fair ball." Headley saw Scott's hands go up and believed the umpire was signaling that the ball hit the bat, then hit him in the batter's box, making it a foul ball. "When he throws his hands up like that, it's supposed to be a foul ball. I told him that five times. He said that he was just trying to get out of the way," Headley said. "He wasn't just sticking his hands up. He waved them, and to me, that means foul ball, regardless of whether it hit him or didn't hit him. That's irrelevant." Scott told a pool reporter that the umpiring crew didn't see the ball hit the batter. "It was off the bat and then straight down," he said. "We saw several angles, including the replay here and we also called in and asked for the replay from New York and looked at that. The ball went straight down and I thought it hit the bat. I heard bat. "I moved out of the way of the catcher, and now all of sudden, I have two bodies in front of me. I didn't see where the ball was. I saw it trickle in front of the plate. Without having seen it hit, I have to assume that's a fair ball." First base umpire Bill Miller confirmed that the ball was momentarily foul before it rolled fair again. Scott said as long as the ball isn't touched it's fair. "There was nothing verbal (from the umpire), so I just picked it up and started throwing," Ellis said. "You keep playing and don't assume anything." The Dodgers improved to 9-1, the best mark in the major leagues and equaling their best start since opening the 1981 season with the same record. Kemp hit his fourth homer in three games as the Dodgers sent San Diego to its fourth loss in a row. The Dodgers won the series opener Friday night when the winning run was forced in on a bases-loaded walk. "I'm proud of my guys," he said. "We're finding ways to win. Whatever it is, we're getting it done." The Dodgers had the same situation in the bottom of the ninth with runners on first and second and nobody out, with Juan Uribe in a sacrifice situation against Brad Brach (0-1). Uribe successfully got the bunt down and Ellis was intentionally walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Jerry Hairston Jr. fouled out before Gordon slapped an 0-2 pitch to left field, setting off a wild celebration between first and second base. Gordon had struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh and earlier committed an error. "I shouldn't have put (Clayton) Kershaw in the spot. That's on me," Gordon said. "I was glad I could come through for him." A joyous Kemp tackled Gordon, leading to a dog pile of players. "I had to get my licks in," Kemp said. The Dodgers gave Kershaw to a 4-1 lead. But Josh Lindblom gave up a tying two-run single to pinch-hitter Jeremy Hermida in the sixth, leaving last year's NL Cy Young winner with his third no-decision in as many starts. The Dodgers improved to 6-0 at home with their ninth straight win against San Diego at Dodger Stadium. San Diego tied it at 4 with three runs in the sixth. Orlando Hudson had a bases-loaded RBI single through the hole past Gordon to finish Kershaw, and Hermida hit a bases-loaded single. Kershaw allowed four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out three and walked three. The left-hander's three earned runs were the most he's allowed since last Aug. 7, a span of 11 starts. "We were just a little bit off the rhythm and timing," Ellis said. "He'll bounce back and be ready to go." Padres starter Edinson Volquez gave up four runs and six hits in five innings. He struck out two and walked five. NOTES: The Dodgers swept a six-game homestand for the first time since the opening homestand of the 2009 season, when they swept the Giants and Rockies in six games. ... Volquez hasn't reached the sixth inning in either of his two starts against the Dodgers this season. .. Padres C Nick Hundley snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a single in the third. His drought was the longest to start a season by a Padres non-pitcher since Ozzie Smith's club record 0-for-32 stretch in 1979. ... Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully returned to the booth after missing five days with a bad cold. "I'm just going to give thanks that I'm here," the 84-year-old said. ... Los Angeles Clippers star Chris Paul took his 2-year-old son to the youngster's first major league game.

Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

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Quotes, notes and stars: Swihart flashes power and speed

BOSTON - Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 10-3 win over the Colorado Rockies:

 

QUOTES

"I felt a little cramp. I'm fine. I appreciate John and everybody looking out (for me). We obviously don't want anything to happen like last year, but I'm good.'' - Dustin Pedroia, who left the game in the fifth after experiencing some tightness in his right hamstring.

"It's nice to be able to get deep into the game. That's my goal every time. My goal is nine innings, so if I don't get nine innings, I'm a little disappointed because I want to be able to go out there and pitch as many innings as I can.'' - Steven Wright.

"I think my release point was just a little off. That definitely makes it hard, especially when it's moving, because it's not a consistent release point.'' - Wright on the early-inning unpredictability of his signature pitch.

"Even when I was catching, I pride myself on running. I want to be an athlete back there. I want to run the bases, steal bases, things most catchers aren't known to do.'' - Blake Swihart, who hit two triples.

 

NOTES

* Jackie Bradley Jr. extended his hitting streak to 29 games.

* Xander Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 18 games.

* David Ortiz tied Paul Molitor for 12th on the all-time doubles list with 605.

* Ortiz has driven in multiple runs in three straight games

* Dustin Pedroia has a career batting average of .340 in interleague play, the highest ever for someone with 500 or more at-bats.

* Travis Shaw drove in three runs and now has 68 RBI in his first 111 games since Fred Lynn and Jim Rice in 1974-75.

* Blake Swihart became the third Red Sox hitter this season to post two triples in the same game.

* The Red Sox clinched their fifth straight home series win.

* The Sox are 21-8 since April 24 and are 13-2 in their last 15 home games.

 

STARS

1) Steven Wright

Backed by some rare run support, Wright evened his record at 4-4 with seven-plus innings and his eighth quality start this season.

2) Travis Shaw

Shaw produced two hits and knocked in three runs, making him the fourth Red Sox player this season to reach 30 RBI.

3) Blake Swihart

Swihart got to flash both his power and his speed by hitting two triples to the triangle, motoring around the bases.

 

Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

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Some questions and answers when it comes to Miller contract

A day after the Bruins announced a much-maligned four-year contract extension for defenseman Kevan Miller, B’s general manager Don Sweeney held court with the media to equal parts explain/defend the $10 million deal. Sweeney pointed to the very high character of a hardnosed player in Miller, and the relatively low mileage given that he’s played only 159 games at the NHL level.

There was also mention made of the room to grow in Miller’s game, though it’s difficult to imagine a much higher ceiling for a 28-year-old player than what the former UVM produced showed in 71 games last season.

“Kevan brings incredible character. His signing provides us with the necessary depth on our defense that all teams need. His relative low-mileage, having just played 160 games, we identified that we think Kevan has room for continued growth and development,” said Sweeney. “We certainly saw that in his play this year when he had an expanded role. Relative to the free market place, very, very comfortable with where Kevan fits into our group, and this provides us with the opportunity to explore the marketplace in every way, shape, or form, in having Kevan signed.”

Here’s the reality: Miller is a 5-6, bottom pairing defenseman on a good team, and a top-4 defenseman on a team like last year’s Bruins that finished a weak 19th in the league in goals allowed. The five goals and 18 points last season were solid career-high numbers for a player in the middle of his hockey prime, but he barely averaged 19 minutes of ice time per game as a front top-4 defenseman. Miller struggles with some of the fundamental needs in today’s NHL if you’re going to be a top-4 D-man: the tape-to-tape passes aren’t always accurate, there’s intermittent difficulty cleanly breaking the puck out of the defensive zone and Miller was exploited by the other team’s best players when paired with Zdeno Chara at points last season.

Certainly Miller has done some good things racking up a plus-55 rating during his three years in Boston, but executives and officials around the league were a bit surprised by the 4-year, $10 million contract extension. It’s viewed as a slight overpay in terms of both salary and term, but it’s more the redundancy of the contract that’s befuddling to some.

“Miller is certainly a rugged guy, but you already had one of those at roughly the same value in Adam McQuaid. I believe that you can’t win if you have both McQuaid and Miller in your top 6 because they are both No. 6 D’s in my mind,” said a rival NHL front office executive polled about the Miller contract. “You look at the playoffs and the direction that the league is headed in, and you need to have big, mobile defenseman that can quickly move the puck up the ice. You have too much of the same thing with Miller and McQuaid, and I think you can’t win with that in this day and age.”

The one facet of the four year Miller contract that might make it okay for some Bruins fans: the tacit connection to the Jimmy Vesey sweepstakes. According to several sources around the league, the Bruins taking care of Miller now will very likely have a positive impact on their chances of landing Vesey when he becomes a free agent on Aug. 15, and makes them the front-runner for the Harvard standout’s services. Both Miller and Vesey are represented by the same agent in Peter Fish, and those are the kinds of behind-the-scenes connections that many times factor into free agent signings and trades around the NHL.

So many, this humble hockey writer included, may owe Sweeney a slight apology if paying a $10 million premium for a bottom-pairing defenseman in Miller now pays dividends in landing a stud forward like Vesey that’s drawing interest all around the league.