Torre gets taste of his old medicine
Dodgers skipper's former club prevails in fiery reunion
LOS ANGELES -- Now Joe Torre knows what it's like.What it's like to lose to the Yankees, which his Dodgers did Friday night, 2-1, in their Interleague series opener. What it's like to have Alex Rodriguez beat you with a home run and double, scoring both runs.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
What it's like to have Mariano Rivera secure the win by striking out the side with pitches that seem to fool umpires as well as hitters."I'm glad it's over with," said Torre, who spent the past week speculating what it would be like to face his old team for the first time, then spent the pregame entertaining the Hollywood crowd and tweaking the emotions while renewing acquaintances with the remaining core of players from his championships. This is only the second regular-season series between these former cross-town franchises. The park was packed, with heroes from the Dodgers' 1981 World Series comeback win in the luxury boxes for support, yet also enough Yankees fans to jeer Manny Ramirez at home and cheer when Rivera struck him out to open the ninth inning. "It was intense, loud -- felt like a playoff game," said James Loney. Now the Dodgers have lost seven of their last eight, 10 of 13 against the American League and are again four games out of first. They were held to just four hits and have scored no more than one run in four of their last eight games. This one included a dust-up between Dodgers starter Vicente Padilla and Yankees starter CC Sabathia, two hit batters and an umpire's warning. And it ended in familiar fashion for the frustrated Dodgers, with one of their players ejected after the game was actually over for the second time in three nights. Wednesday night it was Russell Martin in Anaheim, and this time it was Loney, called out by plate umpire Phil Cuzzi on a low called third strike, after an even lower called second strike, after a high called first strike. Loney flipped his bat and slammed his helmet (earning an automatic fine for throwing equipment) and after making an unwelcome comment, was tossed for the second time this season. "You can't get away with what he said just because the game's over," said Cuzzi. "Just because it's over, it's not a free-for-all on the umpire." Loney said he wasn't arguing the third strike. "The last pitch was a strike, but there were a few questionable calls," said Loney. "Obviously, I think I know the strike zone. You go look at the tape and use your own judgment. I thought it was self-explanatory. And why eject when the game's over. That pretty much makes no sense." The Dodgers' bench was livid, yelling at Cuzzi, who didn't leave the field until he moved closer to the Dodgers dugout. And after the game, Torre was critical enough that he'll likely be hearing from MLB's department of fines. "I'll tell you, Mariano doesn't need any help. I thought Phil Cuzzi called pitches that were terrible," said Torre. "The startled look he gave us was surprising, like, 'How dare you?' He came over to throw a few guys out. I don't complain, but that was close to embarrassing for making those types of calls. I don't think Loney had a shot. I'm not saying Mariano isn't going to get him out. Trust me, I've seen that. But I thought it could have ended better. It was a good game. I'm sorry it had to end like that." The Dodgers were pleased with the outing by Padilla, only two starts off the disabled list. He went seven innings, striking out seven with one walk and utilized his Eephus 52-mph curveball more than in any other game as a Dodger. But he also left the clubhouse quickly without explaining his side of the skirmish with Sabathia. With the game tied at 1, Padilla hit Robinson Cano in the backside with an 0-1 fastball leading off the fourth inning. Padilla came up with one out in the fifth and Sabathia hit him in the leg with a first-pitch fastball, drawing warnings from Cuzzi to both teams as Padilla glared at Sabathia while walking to first with bat in hand. As if to make sure Padilla knew it was intentional, Sabathia then made a pickoff throw to first before getting an inning-ending double-play grounder from Rafael Furcal. "Theirs was on purpose, ours wasn't, but I understood what took place," said Torre. "You've got to protect your own. The umpire wanted to make sure he guarded against anything." After the inning, the two pitchers glared at each other, but there were no further incidents. Padilla, who came to the Dodgers with a reputation as a head-hunter, hit San Francisco's Aaron Rowand in the face with a pitch this April and broke his cheek. "I know that Padilla has hit a bunch of our guys," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "We're just playing a game and we move on." Perhaps getting hit himself rattled Padilla, because the second batter he faced in the top of the sixth was Rodriguez, who jumped on a first-pitch fastball and launched his 593rd career home run for the decisive run. "I wanted a two-seam running in and it really didn't do what it normally does," said Martin. "Alex took a great swing at that pitch." The only Dodgers run scored in the first, Rafael Furcal walking, stealing second and being singled in by Ramirez, who had two hits but also dropped Cano's eighth-inning line drive for an error.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.