OK, so that headline is a tad misleading: Alleged drug-cheat Ryan Braun wasn't booed unmercifully throughout the weekend as predicted here Friday. He was booed mercifully, actually, and there's a difference. It's like what Jerry Lewis once said about the Great Wall of China: “It's not a great wall; it's a good wall.” Split hairs if you want to.
Credit the denizens of Chavez Ravine for going easy on their native son. Braun's Milwaukee Brewers were in town for a three-game series, and with loved ones in attendance (presumably), fans let him hear it in his first at bat of each game, following up with the occasional “Cheat-er, Cheater-er” chant, but otherwise going about the business of watching baseball. Dodger pitching took care of the rest, holding Braun to a quiet 2-12 series, which ended fittingly with the Brewers' left fielder grounding out feebly to short Sunday afternoon.
Braun did manage a solo home run Friday night — and Los Angeles starter Josh Beckett does give up the long ball (Yuniesky Betancourt smacked one too) — but the Dodgers took the opener 7-5, behind Adrian Gonzalez' two doubles and three RBIs.
Saturday marked the major league debut of Matt Magill, who was called up fresh from Albuquerque to replace bursitis-plagued Stephen Fife on the mound. After a shaky first inning, which we can no doubt chalk up to butterflies, Magill pitched beautifully, using a high fastball to strike out seven Brewers batters. He allowed four hits — all singles — walked two and left to a standing ovation, leading 3-2 with two outs in seventh.
Matt Guerrier did not spell relief accurately, however, allowing tape-measure homers to Carlos Gomez and Martin Maldonado, giving up three runs and being responsible for the 6-4 loss. Guerrier sports a pretty curve ball, but man, when he hangs them windshields are damaged in stadium parking lots across America.
A disappointment for Magill and a disappointing defeat to be sure, but the goal is to win series, and win it the Dodgers did, with Clayton Kershaw once again reminding everyone that all comparisons to Sandy Koufax are on the table.
Carl Crawford took Kyle Lohse's first pitch over the wall in center field Sunday, homered again off him in the fifth, accounting for the Los Angeles scoring in a game dominated completely by Kershaw.
The Dodgers' left-hander gave up five hits in eight innings of shutout ball, walking not a single man while striking out 12. Comparisons to Koufax, certainly. Kersh finishes April with a 3-2 record, an 0.91 WHIP, 47 Ks and a 1.73 earned run average.
If the 1.73 seems familiar, look no farther than Sandy's stat line in 1966. Koufax ended his Hall of Fame career leading baseball in eight pitching categories, with a 27-9 record, 317 strikeouts and that oh-so-lovely 1.73 ERA.
Next up, the Colorado Rockies come to L.A. tied for first place. The Dodgers will try to do something about that, throwing Ted Lilly against Tyler Chatwood tonight, Hyun-Jin Ryu versus Jorge De La Rosa Tuesday and Josh Beckett opposite Juan Nicasio Wednesday.
Hanley Ramirez may be back at some point during the series, possibly in time for his bobblehead giveaway tomorrow night, and we might have some news on Mark Ellis' quad injury. Then it's on to San Francisco for the weekend.
Meanwhile, Braun will face the ire of fans around two leagues indefinitely, but won't set foot within the city limits of his hometown Los Angeles again in 2013. Unless, of course, he's suspended.