Righty sets club record with nine straight K's; Ethier's walk wins it
By Quinn Roberts / MLB.com | 4/14/2012 2:40 AM ET
LOS ANGELES -- In a game full of ups and downs, it was the Dodgers who came out on top Friday night against the Padres.
Yet, it wasn't without a struggle after the bullpen couldn't secure a two-run lead going into the ninth inning.
Kenley Jansen surrendered a game-tying two-run home run to Chase Headley one out from victory, but four straight walks by the San Diego bullpen in the bottom half of the inning gave Los Angeles a 9-8 win in the series opener at Dodger Stadium.
Andrew Cashner got the first two outs in the ninth before walking the bases loaded and giving way to Joe Thatcher, who walked Andre Ethier to score Mark Ellis from third with the game-winning run.
"At the end of the day, it is a win," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "It doesn't matter how you get it. The music is playing and you walk out of here with a win.
"If it is a loss, it would be a little tough to swallow with two outs in the ninth, but it wasn't. You'd rather have a clean game, but it is a win and you start over tomorrow."
The Dodgers won their fourth consecutive game and remained undefeated at home, still owning the best record in the Majors at 7-1.
The blown save for Jansen, who got the win to improve to 2-0, prevented Dodgers starter Aaron Harang from picking up the victory after thrilling the Dodger Stadium crowd with 13 strikeouts.
Harang got off to a dominant start against his former team after giving up a leadoff single to Cameron Maybin, striking out nine straight batters to set a new team record.
After the game, the ball he recorded that ninth strikeout with sat in his locker.
"It is an honor, knowing the history of this organization and all the great pitchers the team has had. It is great to accomplish to get such a feat," Harang said.
The Dodgers' record was previously held by Johnny Podres, who struck out eight straight on July 2, 1962, against the Phillies. The Major League record is held by the Mets' Tom Seaver, who struck out 10 straight hitters on April 22, 1970, against the Padres.
Finding success with his two- and four-seam fastball, Harang also mixed an occasional curveball and slider to keep San Diego off balance.
"It didn't really hit me until the crowd got into it and started cheering. I didn't realize it or figure out what was going on until then," Harang said. "It was a pretty neat experience."
The streak was broken up on a home run by Will Venable to left field leading off the fourth inning.
Giving up two more runs in the inning, the righty surrendered an RBI double to Yonder Alonso, who later scored on a fielder's choice.
Harang finished the night having allowed four runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. He walked one and tied a career high with the 13 punchouts.
"His fastball was crisper, he had a good slider, a good curveball," Padres manager Bud Black said. "The fastball was located well at the top of the strike zone. He pitched very well."
The effort was a far cry from Harang's last performance on Sunday against the Padres, in which he went just 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs on seven hits in a loss.
"He was definitely most effective tonight with his fastball command," catcher A.J. Ellis said. "He was using both sides of the plate, mostly away to the lefties and just got ahead in the count the whole game."
Dodgers pitchers tied a franchise record with 18 combined strikeouts, accomplishing the feat for the sixth time, and first since June 4, 1990, against Atlanta.
After the Padres touched up Harang for three runs in the fourth, the Dodgers answered right back, scoring four runs in the bottom half of the frame off Padres starter Clayton Richard. Justin Sellers and A.J. Ellis belted back-to-back doubles, before an RBI single by Tony Gwynn scored Ellis. Matt Kemp then hammered a first-pitch fastball to right field for his third home run, giving the Dodgers a commanding 8-3 lead.
However, the Padres got three of those runs back in the seventh to cut the Dodgers' lead to 8-6 and set the stage for Headley's tying blast.
The Dodgers opened the scoring with four runs in the third. A walk to Sellers and an error by shortstop Jason Bartlett off the bat of A.J. Ellis put runners on first and second with none out. A two-run single by Mark Ellis and another from Ethier put the Dodgers ahead 4-0.
"A.J. had some great at-bats. Justin also had three tremendous at-bats," Mattingly said. "Two walks, hits a double, and gets on twice. Mark Ellis also had a huge hit for us up the middle."
Federal judge approves Dodgers sale
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com | 04/14/12 12:02 AM ET
The sale of the Dodgers and Dodger Stadium to Guggenheim Baseball Management was confirmed Friday night by Federal Judge Kevin Gross in his Delaware court, over Major League Baseball's objections related to desired time for reasonable review of details.
Nearly 10 months after Frank McCourt put the club in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, when he was about to miss payroll, Gross approved the $2.15 billion sale to controlling partner Mark Walter of Guggenheim Partners and backers that include former Lakers great Magic Johnson, longtime baseball executive Stan Kasten, Los Angeles entertainment executive Peter Guber and investors Bobby Patton and Todd Boehly.
In addition to attorneys, attending the hearing in Wilmington were McCourt, Walter, Kasten and Eric Holman (president of Magic Johnson Enterprises).
I congratulate Mr. McCourt, who was able to see the big picture, and $2 billion is a very big picture," said Gross. "I hope this will bring a very refreshing air to baseball in Los Angeles, which I have said before is a franchise of mythical proportions. I'd like to have seen in the documents that they can't sign Cole Hamels. I didn't see it, but I may insert it."
Gross' baseball-tinged humor only came at the conclusion of what turned into a day-night hearing that concluded at 9 p.m. ET, only three hours before a deadline needed to assure the club would change hands by April 30.
"We are pleased to have successfully concluded the Chapter 11 reorganization process," the Dodgers said. "All the organization's goals in the reorganization cases have been achieved. We look forward to returning all of our attention to Dodger baseball."
Approval came over objections from MLB that it needed "reasonable time" to review documents from the sale and a right to remedy -- to the point of vacating -- Gross' confirmation of the sale if documents yet to be produced are found to be in violation of MLB rules and regulations or contrary to information provided when owners approved the Guggenheim bidding group.
Gross, however, said all requirements of the bankruptcy process and settlement agreement between the Dodgers and MLB were fully met, and any further disputes would be resolved post-confirmation.
Specifically, MLB expressed concern about the control of the Dodger Stadium parking lots.
"We don't think it's fair to put the league in the position of having documents jammed down it and the ability to perform its job to the 29 other teams be compromised," MLB lawyer Thomas Luria said, asking for a three-day window to review documents it has not yet received. "We may have a problem with this deal closing."
Gross admitted he was was blindsided by the late dispute.
"I had no idea," he said. "I thought this would be a celebratory-type occasion."
MLB attorneys also voiced concern over the continued participation of mediator, and retired judge, Joseph Farnan, who has resolved numerous conflicts throughout the bankruptcy.
Gross again sided with the Dodgers, saying Farnan's jurisdiction would remain intact regarding the settlement agreement, but not baseball business matters outside the agreement.
Although the auction process for the sale was dictated by an agreement between McCourt and MLB, Luria charged that the sale was executed and announced in violation of league rules because MLB did not sign off on the specific deal.
"As exciting as it was to see the price come in," he said, "we still have 29 other owners and we're unable to do what the other owners expect us to do."
The deal includes a joint venture between Guggenheim Baseball Management and McCourt for the Dodger Stadium parking lots and surrounding property. The cost to Guggenheim for 50 percent interest in those properties is $150 million. The lease for the parking lot was extended from 25 to 99 years through the joint venture.
Dodgers attorneys said MLB was trying to circumvent the sale by reaching beyond the scope of the agreement it struck to have the club sold. That agreement required McCourt to sell the team and the stadium, but not the land surrounding the ballpark.
Gross said if the club and MLB could not resolve the parking lot issue, he -- and not the mediator -- would. But he would not delay confirmation because of it.
A document was submitted earlier to the court outlining control of the parking lots, but the Dodgers had requested it be kept under seal. The Los Angeles Times objected to sealing the document, and the Dodgers responded by withdrawing it Friday.
Gross overruled the Times' objection and allowed the document to be withdrawn. Dodgers attorney Bruce Bennett said in court that the 52-page document is still being revised but will become part of the public record when it is completed.
"It's not a document that will be kept secret for very long, but we'd like to keep it secret until it's finalized," Bennett said.
Gross also granted an objection by the Dodgers to an attempt by Jamie McCourt to put in a creditor claim for her $131 million divorce settlement with former husband Frank McCourt.
Only various Dodgers business entities are subject to the bankruptcy proceedings, not Frank McCourt personally. Jamie McCourt has been assured by McCourt's attorneys through court filings that she will be paid by Apr. 30, the date the divorce agreement calls for and the date by which the Dodgers sale must close. Dodgers attorney Sidney Levinson said Friday the sale will close "prior to April 30."
One obstacle to Gross' approval was cleared in a morning hearing when FOX Sports withdrew its objection to the sale because the new owners pledged that Time Warner, a FOX competitor, was not a partner or investor of the purchasing group and had no agreement with the purchaser for a new Dodgers television contract. FOX holds Dodgers cable rights through the 2013 season.
Bennett opened his statement to the judge by alluding to the Dodgers' 6-1 record through Thursday night.
"It is important to note," he said, "a team that was said to be neglected and starved for talent has the best record in baseball.
"The debtors owe thanks to the fans who stuck with the Dodgers, manager Don Mattingly and the players who refused to be distracted."
Harang's nine straight K's a Dodgers record
By Quinn Roberts / MLB.com | 04/13/12 11:05 PM ET
LOS ANGELES -- In the zone for the first three innings, Aaron Harang rattled off nine straight strikeouts in Friday's opener against the Padres at Dodger Stadium to set a new team record.
The streak was broken up on a home run by Will Venable to left field leading off the fourth inning.
Cameron Maybin led off the game with a single to center field, which was the only ball put in play before Harang tallied the nine strikeouts.
The Dodgers record was previously held by Johnny Podres, who struck out eight batters in a row on July 2, 1962, against the Phillies.
Finding success with his two- and four-seam fastball, the Harang also mixed an occasional curveball and slider to keep San Diego off balance.
Harang fell one short of the Major League record of 10 consecutive strikeouts, set by the Mets' Tom Seaver on April 22, 1970.
LOS ANGELES -- When Lou Johnson walks into Dodger Stadium and sees the banner commemorating the Dodgers 1965 World Series title, it's the enduring payoff of a tough road traveled.
The lead-up to Jackie Robinson Day gives Johnson the chance to reflect upon not only what Robinson did for African American athletes, but what other trailblazers like Buck O'Neil and Don Newcombe did for "Sweet Lou."
Robinson started the momentum when he broke baseball's color barrier 65 years ago, but discrimination in society, as well as baseball, remained. Strangely, while discrimination might have slowed down Johnson's journey to the Major Leagues, it also made it possible.
My dream was to play basketball at the University of Kentucky, where my mother and father worked, but they wouldn't take blacks," Johnson recalled, "so I never was involved with the university, and that haunted me a long time."
Bottom of Form
You'd never know it watching those black-and-white tapes of Johnson applauding himself as he rounded the bases of a Game 7 home run that helped the Dodgers win the World Series against Minnesota. On the field, Johnson played with an outgoing exuberance that won over fans and became his trademark despite playing only three seasons for the Dodgers.
But as Johnson tells it, that effervescent personality wasn't welcomed in those early years that led to the civil rights movement of the 1960s.
"When I got here, people thought I was crazy for clapping my hands when something good happened," said Johnson, now 77 and in his 31st year as a community relations liaison for the Dodgers. "I clapped my hands, because for so many years nobody clapped for me, so I clapped for myself.
"In the last few years I've been able to see and visualize why I spent so much time in the Minor Leagues. It wasn't because of how well I played. It was my way -- the way I talked and acted and sounded. Back then, you weren't supposed to say anything. I was always talking, always vocal, but it was never aimed at anybody. And I talked the way I talked, using the [slang] words I always used. And I guess my mouth got in the way. But I couldn't play any other way. African Americans back then, well, you just weren't allowed to be yourself, and I didn't go along with that and I think that's what held me back, because I do believe I was good enough to be a Major Leaguer long before I was."
And long before Johnson had the chance to play in the Major Leagues, he toiled in the Negro Leagues.
"[Former Major Leaguer] John Shelby's grandfather taught me how to play softball when I was in high school," Johnson said. "So I went to Kentucky State and played baseball and the scouts saw me and singed me and sent me to Olean, N.Y., where the Yankees had a Class D team. It's the same place where Maury Wills played.
"For three straight years, I got cut on the last cutdown day. But in 1954, the Kansas City Monarchs came through there for an exhibition. That club had Buck O'Neil as manager, Satchel Paige, Dave Whitney, George Altman. Buck O'Neil saw me and gave me a contract. He was manager and first baseman.
"That winter, the Negro Leagues were having trouble and the Cubs bought the contracts of O'Neil, Altman, J.C. Hartman and me. That's how I got into organized baseball, because of Buck O'Neil. He was the key for me. But I still spent five more years in the Minor Leagues with the Cubs before I got my first chance."
It took Johnson three years in the Negro Leagues and another six years in organized Minor League ball before his first Major League callup by the Chicago Cubs in 1960. He spent three of the next four years back in the Minor Leagues, and in 1964, he was traded by Detroit to the Dodgers, who sent him back to the Minor Leagues until two-time batting champ Tommy Davis broke his ankle and Johnson got the call.
It was an opportunity Johnson had waited a lifetime for, and he etched his name in Dodgers lore by providing the offense and emotional spark to overtake the Giants for the pennant and edge the Twins for a World Series ring.
That ring represents the obvious highs and not-so-obvious lows of Johnson's life, which include a recovery from substance abuse. At bottom, Johnson offered up that ring as collateral for cocaine. When the ring showed up at auction on the Internet, Dodgers historian Mark Langill alerted then-president Bob Graziano, who bought the ring and gave it back to Johnson.
It was Newcombe, who had survived substance abuse himself, who sent Johnson to a rehab center when he came looking for help. Newcombe, who preceded Johnson in the Negro Leagues by a decade, is a special advisor to the chairman of the Dodgers.
"If not for Don, I wouldn't be here, and I don't mean just sitting here, I mean I wouldn't be here, period," Johnson said. "What he accomplished, turning his life around, he helped me turn my life around. Newk did something I hadn't been willing to do. If Don hadn't been with the Dodgers, I wouldn't have accepted his help. It's only because the Dodgers gave me the opportunity to shine that I came back for help. Now I walk into Dodger Stadium and see that sign up there from '65. That makes me smile."