Manny Ramirez changes things up
He gets on base four times and knocks in the winning run to beat the Brewers
MILWAUKEE -- On the occasion of what might have been his final game with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Manny Ramirez changed his routine a bit. For one thing, for the first time since he came back from the disabled list, he actually got on base, four times in fact, with two doubles and two walks, before being lifted after seven innings. For another thing, he didn't shower, dress and leave the clubhouse before reporters were allowed in after the game.
Not that Ramirez had anything to say to them when they got there.
"No," he said, when approached after the Dodgers' 5-4 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers before 30,545 on Wednesday night at Miller Park.
For whatever reason, Ramirez stuck around for several minutes, spent some time in the players' lounge, came back out to the locker area, sat down at a table, ate some yogurt and finally departed almost half an hour after the game ended. Amid widespread reports the Dodgers have placed him on waivers -- a move that would mean virtually nothing with any other player but probably signifies the end of Ramirez's time with the Dodgers -- the only thing Ramirez knows for sure is that he will be back in a Dodgers uniform for one more day.
There is no guarantee, though, that he will get another at-bat before being traded, presumably to the Chicago White Sox. With a day game Thursday, Ramirez won't be in the starting lineup and might not play at all.
"Manny had a really good night," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "He ran out of gas a little bit and got a little tired. We won't play him tomorrow, but Friday, he'll be back in."
The only question is, back in for whom? Ramirez's time on waivers will end late Friday, and if he clears, the Dodgers can trade him at that time. A source with knowledge of the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Wednesday that the Dodgers and White Sox already are discussing the parameters of a possible trade in anticipation of Ramirez clearing waivers, which would seem to suggest a deal could be completed before the Dodgers' game at Colorado on Friday night.
Still, following a game in which Ramirez had as many extra-base hits as he had in the previous two months combined and the Dodgers (65-62) came away with their first two-game winning streak in more than two weeks, it no longer seemed like such a no-brainer that the Dodgers should trade their quirky left fielder. But by that time, the momentum might have built to the point it couldn't be stopped -- and besides, Scott Podsednik, the guy who was forced to the bench by Ramirez's latest return from the disabled list, is 0-for-7 since Ramirez was activated Saturday, resulting in a 21-point drop in his average.
At a time when they have to be creative with their offense, the Dodgers need Podsednik's speed in the order. Ramirez, as evidenced by the fact that he was easily thrown out at the plate as he tried to score from second on Casey Blake's two-out single in the third inning, doesn't have much in the way of speed.
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Given he has hit one home run every 24 at-bats this season, he doesn't have much in the way of power anymore, either. His first double was a well-placed poke up the right-field line that ended up in the corner.
"When he gets his timing, that is where he starts, hitting it the other way," Torre said. "That was a big base hit, and so was his RBI base hit [in the sixth, giving the Dodgers a 5-3 lead]. That was huge for us and for him, too. It's all about timing with him. I'm not concerned with home-run production, but just production, period."
It might not be long before Torre isn't concerned with either of those things, at least not when it comes to Ramirez.
In the wake of a solid outing by Hiroki Kuroda (9-11), the Dodgers' bullpen came up big to make the 5-4 lead stand up.
First, deposed closer Jonathan Broxton came in to pitch the eighth, and while it initially looked like more of the same -- he started leadoff hitter Chris Dickerson off with three balls -- Broxton came back to get Dickerson to ground to second and wound up setting the Brewers down in order, punctuating it with a strikeout of Corey Hart.
It was a closer-like performance by the former closer.
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"That was the Broxton you send out there in the ninth inning," said Torre, who added that while he isn't afraid to use Broxton in the ninth inning, he still isn't ready to give the closer job back to him full time. "This certainly was a good one for him."
Then, with right-handed-hitting Ryan Braun and Casey McGehee due up in the ninth and lefty-hitting behemoth Prince Fielder wedged between them, Torre took a creative approach to the final inning. He used right-hander Ronald Belisario, who got Braun to ground to third. Torre then brought in lefty George Sherrill, who came back from a 3-0 count on Fielder to get him to ground out to shortstop Jamey Carroll, who was playing to the right of the bag in an exaggerated shift. He had to run back almost to his regular position to snare a bouncing ball, planted and just got Fielder at first.
Finally, Torre brought in right-hander Octavio Dotel to pitch to McGehee, who hit a fly ball that Matt Kemp ran down in left-center to end the game and give Dotel his 22nd save of the season -- his first since being traded to the Dodgers by the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 31.
By the numbers
5 1/2 -- The games deficit the Dodgers face in the National League wild-card standings, giving them a faint glimmer of hope with 35 games remaining. The Dodgers are 1 1/2 games behind fourth-place Colorado, with a three-game, head-to-head series with the Rockies awaiting this weekend at Coors Field. The Dodgers were eight games out in the wild card as recently as Sunday.
Dodgers right-hander Carlos Monasterios (3-4, 3.63) will make his second start since returning to the rotation when Vicente Padilla went on the disabled list. Monasterios turned in a decent performance Friday night against Cincinnati, giving up only one earned run, but he lasted just 4 1/3 innings and took the loss. Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo (11-5, 3.28), a 2010 All-Star and the clear ace of the staff, has been struggling since returning from the left-oblique strain that kept him out of the All-Star Game, giving up 20 earned runs in 31 innings in six starts.
Tony Jackson covers the Dodgers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.