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Down The Line

September 07, 2008|Bill Shaikin | Times Staff Writer

Hitting the wall, or just getting hit?

Dan Haren started the All-Star game for the American League last year, at 26. The Oakland Athletics traded him to the Arizona Diamondbacks last winter, after which one Oakland official said this about Haren: "Did you see what he did in the second half?"

He faded, with a 2.30 earned-run average in the first half and a 4.15 ERA in the second. That pattern has repeated itself this season: 2.72 in the first half, 4.76 in the second.

The Diamondbacks gave up six young players to get him, to win now. With first place in the National League West up for grabs, the Dodgers routed him twice in eight days.

In his last 37 innings, he has given up 53 hits. In his first 37 innings this season, he gave up 32 hits.

There is no obvious cause. His strikeouts are up this season, his walks are down, the Diamondbacks say his velocity is normal and Haren says he has survived "a little dead arm" earlier this season but feels "100% physically" now.

He also said, without anyone asking, that he is not scared.

"When anybody gets hit around, myself included, a certain fear will creep into your mind about getting hit," Haren said. "That's really not the case."

Putting a hurting on that 1-2 punch

If the Dodgers win the NL West, they'll probably draw the Chicago Cubs in the first round.

That could mean opening the playoffs against Carlos Zambrano and Rich Harden, two of baseball's most dominant pitchers.

But the Cubs have removed the dynamic duo from their rotation, at least temporarily, Zambrano because of rotator cuff tendinitis and Harden because of what Manager Lou Piniella called "discomfort" in his arm.

In six starts since throwing 125 and 118 pitches in consecutive outings -- one month after a shoulder strain put him on the disabled list -- Zambrano is 1-1 with a 7.39 ERA.

And Harden, with six trips to the disabled list over the last three seasons, has not pitched this many innings since 2004.

That's 67 years without .400

The Atlanta Braves' Chipper Jones last had a .400 batting average on June 18. He's hitting .286 since then, amid quadriceps, hamstring and knee injuries.

The St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols leads the NL at .360. Pujols last won the NL batting title in 2003, hitting .359 and starting the All-Star game in left field.

With apologies to Harper's Index

Headline on ESPN Magazine story on Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez: "3 Up, 3 Down."

Number of saves for Rodriguez, since June 15: 26

Number of three-up, three-down saves for Rodriguez, since June 15: 5

A foul ball for every fan

Never was the discrepancy between announced attendance and actual attendance more evident than Wednesday, when the Marlins' crowd was so sparse on a sweltering afternoon that the team's relievers counted the spectators for the first pitch.

The total: 584, according to reliever Joe Nelson. The turnstile count: 1,515, also according to Nelson.

But, because baseball lets teams count every ticket sold, even if unused, this was what the Marlins announced as their attendance: 11,211.

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