It’s time for the rest of the country to notice Russell Martin. If this guy isn’t the NL’s starting catcher in the All-Star Game, I’ll be stunned. He’s on national TV today and he’ll bat cleanup for the first time in his career (and will be wearing a mic, which is a great way to help raise his profile and show his personality). He leads all big league catchers with 32 RBI, 31 runs scored, 21 walks and eight stolen bases and leads all NL backstops in hits (51), average (.331), on-base percentage (.409). Don’t forget to do your part to get him there and vote for Russell.
Today’s lineup, followed by some notes.
ISLANDER INFIELD – Three quarters of the Dodger infield today hails from the Dominican Republic, as Wilson Betemit, Rafael Furcal and Tony Abreu each call the Caribbean island home. Abreu, who notched his first two big league hits last night, is a product of Campo Las Palmas, the Dodgers’ Dominican Baseball Academy. Former Dodger shortstop and current first base coach Mariano Duncan was also born in the D.R. For more information about Campo Las Palmas, see pg. 464 of the 2007 Information Guide.
SLAMMING SAMMY – Takashi Saito has converted 39 of his first 41 career save chances, tying him with Eric Gagné for the best percentage (.951) in the Major Leagues in their first 41 opportunities since the save became an official statistic in 1969 (Source: STATS, LLC). Saito pitched a scoreless ninth last night to lower his ERA to 1.64, the fifth-best mark in the NL among pitchers with 20 or more innings pitched. Saito has converted his last 25 save opportunities dating back to 2006, the third-longest active streak in the Majors, behind Mike Gonzalez and Billy Wagner, who each have 29 straight saves.
CHIP OFF THE OL’ BLOCK – Cubs’ special assistant coach Ivan DeJesus played for the Dodgers from 1974-76 and his son is now one of the top prospects in the Dodger organization. Ivan DeJesus Jr. entered the season rated as the sixth-best prospect and the best defensive infielder in the organization, according to Baseball America. DeJesus is currently playing for Single-A Inland Empire of the California League and went 4-for-5 last night.
WHERE THERE’S A WILLS – On this date in 1971, Dodger great Maury Wills collected his 2,000th career hit with a single against the San Francisco Giants. Wills currently serves as a base running and bunting instructor for the Dodgers. (For what it’s worth, I’m currently reading Maury’s autobiography and it’s an absolutely fascinating book. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the life story of a truly fine human being who has learned some of life’s most valuable lessons the hard way).
GOING GONZO ON THE MICK – Luis Gonzalez collected his 2,415th career hit last night, tying him with Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle for 100th place on the all-time hit list. Gonzalez also has 553 career doubles and ranks 21st on the all-time list, seven behind Dodger Hitting Coach Eddie Murray.
SAY CHEESE – Tomorrow is the annual Photo Day at Dodger Stadium, presented by Universal Studios Hollywood. Fans have the chance to come out and take pictures of their favorite Dodgers on the field from 11:15 – 12 p.m. Parking lots open at 10:40 a.m. and the center field gates open at 11:10 a.m.