DREIFORT'S GOOD STARTS ARE A RELIEF; DODGERS RIGHTY ENDS DEBATE, CEMENTS HIS SPOT IN ROTATION: DODGERS 4, CHICAGO 1.Byline: Matt McHale Staff Writer
It seems so easy now, watching Darren Dreifort
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But in the politics of baseball, there is nothing simple about Dreifort's season, which has become the feel-good story of the Dodgers' second half.
Manager Davey Johnson
General manager Kevin Malone
Kevin Malone is a fictional character from the US television series, The Office. He is played by Brian Baumgartner. acknowledged that if the Dodgers had been competitive this year, Dreifort probably would not have been allowed to remain in the rotation due to control problems.
All the intrigue was magnified by the reality that Dreifort, who had an ERA over six from mid-April to mid-August, had the leverage of free agency looming after next season.
Now, Dreifort (12-13) carries much more than subtle threats. He has the hammer of a dominant pitcher the Dodgers have waited more than six years to see.
``What goes on behind the scenes can be so complicated,'' Eric Karros
Dreifort completed the Dodgers' three-game sweep by limiting the Cubs to five hits and one run in seven innings, walking one and striking out four.
In his final inning, he proved further that he has gone from a thrower with nasty stuff to a pitcher with the makeup to go deep into games.
With one out, he allowed base hits to Jeff Reed Jeff Reed can refer to:
This was the same scenario that repeatedly resulted in big innings for the opponent and more frustration for the Dodgers.
Cole Liniak, a promising third baseman acquired last week from Boston in a deal that sent Rod Beck to the Red Sox, was next.
Dreifort got him to ground into a double play to end the inning.
The Dodgers always had balked balk
v. balked, balk·ing, balks
1. To stop short and refuse to go on: The horse balked at the jump.
2. at sending Dreifort to the bullpen because their medical staff was worried about the everyday strain on his surgically reconstructed right elbow.
``(Today) was a good test of how far he has come,'' Johnson said. ``You want to stay out of the big problems, but you also want to stretch him out a little. You want to send him off with a positive thought, but you also want him to keep building on something.''
Alan Mills came on to pitch the eighth and Jeff Shaw recovered from a ninth-inning leadoff single by Sammy Sosa to record his 31st save.
But this game, and much of the last two months, has been about Dreifort, who also had a two-run RBI RBI
runs batted in
Noun 1. rbi - a run that is the result of the batter's performance; "he had more than 100 rbi last season"
run batted in double against Jon Lieber (8-9) in the Dodgers' four-run fifth.
``I just wish I had made this statement in June,'' Dreifort said, after the Dodgers won for the 12th time in 16 games.
Dreifort's low point was June 13, when he allowed seven runs in just 4-1/3 innings during a sweep by the A's in Oakland.
Johnson decided to move Dreifort to the bullpen and promote Jamie Arnold to the starting rotation. Dreifort was upset. Boras Bo·rås
A city of southwest Sweden east of Göteborg. It was founded in 1632. Population: 60,900. was on the phone.
But several days before Arnold's start he was needed in long relief, too long in fact, to make his next assignment.
Dreifort returned and limited the Phillies to six hits and one run in an 8-1 victory.
It hasn't always been easy since. With Sunday's victory, Dreifort is still only 6-8 since Philadelphia.
He also got rocked three weeks ago in a game against Atlanta. But in the last 99-2/3 innings, he has walked just 26 batters.
``You get the first pitch over and good things happen,'' Dreifort said. ``This has really helped my confidence. It can't help but improve when things are going well.''
It also is easier on the manager, who says the pressure to keep Dreifort in the rotation was overblown o·ver·blown
Past participle of overblow.
a. Done to excess; overdone: overblown decorations.
``(Dreifort) has an agent, Scott Boras, who wants him starting, too,'' Johnson said. ``I understand his position, but I don't care about that. I always want what's best for the team.''
PHOTO Darren Dreifort supported his own solid pitching with some run support, hitting a two-run double in the fifth.
Michael Green/Associated Press
Box: Dodgers vs. Florida