YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Dodgers: Highs and lows on the way to a division title

Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension showed the Dodgers they could win without him and even gave the L.A. a grand slam to remember.

October 04, 2009|Dylan Hernandez

With any baseball team, winning a division is a matter of highs and lows. For the Dodgers, these 10 moments got them to where they are now, National League West champions.

5 shining moments

1. Ramirez is suspended.

Look to the right and you'll see that Manny Ramirez's 50-game suspension, announced May 7 for violating baseball's drug policy, is also ranked the worst moment of the season. Yet his absence showed the Dodgers that they could win without him.

2. Walk-off stardom.

On June 5, the Dodgers hosted the Phillies, the team that knocked them out of the postseason last year. The game ended with Andre Ethier's walk-off double. The next night, Ethier had a walk-off home run -- one of four this season -- in the 12th inning.

3. A great home opener.

They crushed the Giants, 11-1. Chad Billingsley pitched seven innings of one-run ball. Orlando Hudson hit for the cycle. The Dodgers would go on to win their first 13 home games, a modern-day major league record.

4. Ramirez's grand slam.

Ramirez still had magical moments, none greater than the one on July 22, the night the Dodgers handed out Manny bobbleheads. With the game tied in the sixth, Ramirez came in to pinch hit, drawing a standing ovation. He drove the first pitch for a grand slam.

5. A pitching gem.

Jason Schmidt was limited by shoulder problems to one win in the first two years of his three-year, $47-million contract. Yet he made it back July 20 to beat the Reds. Of his four starts this season, none was as memorable as the one July 31 when he held the Braves to one hit in six shutout innings.

5 low moments

1. Ramirez is suspended.

The Dodgers agreed to pay Ramirez $45 million over two years. Then he was busted and hasn't been the same, batting .280 with 13 home runs and 42 runs batted in. Not bad, but not worth his $25-million salary.

2. Billingsley implodes.

By mid-June, he had lost the form that made him a first-time All-Star selection this year. He initially looked to be back on track July 28, throwing a shutout through five innings against the Cardinals, but unraveled in a six-run, sixth inning.

3. Kuroda is hit in the head.

Pitching against the Diamondbacks on Aug. 15, Hiroki Kuroda took a line drive off his head. "I always thought I wouldn't mind dying on a baseball field," he said. "But as I was being carried away, I thought, 'I don't want to die.' I thought that there would be nothing sadder than for me to die in my uniform, without my family."

4. Ramirez said to be on list of players who tested positive for banned substances in 2003.

Almost a month into his return, Ramirez was reported to be among the 104 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in baseball's survey testing six years ago, when he was with the Boston Red Sox. He has refused to talk about drugs.

5. Broxton blows a big save.

The Dodgers had no trouble beating division rivals. Beating weaker teams was another matter. The worst came Sunday when they could have clinched the NL West, only to see Jonathan Broxton blow a three-run lead to lose to the lowly Pirates. They then lost the next four games.

Los Angeles Times Articles