09/29/10 1:50 PM ET
Dodgers open final series under Torre
By Bailey Stephens / MLB.com
While the Dodgers have their sights on sending Torre off with a series win, the D-backs will be looking to improve on their 4-11 season record against L.A. this year, which echoes their struggles within the National League West. Those struggles continued with a sweep at San Francisco to start Arizona's season-ending road trip, lowering the D-backs' record vs. the NL West to 26-43.
In some of his last managerial decisions for the Dodgers, Torre has elected to switch things up a bit for Friday's opener. On Wednesday, Torre announced the rotation for the weekend would be shuffled again and Clayton Kershaw would get the start. Then after Wednesday's game, Torre switched gears and tabbed rookie John Ely to start Friday against D-backs rookie Zach Kroenke.
Also, in a Torre tradition, the veteran skipper has appointed a player, catcher Brad Ausmus, to manage the Dodgers on Friday. This normally takes place at the final game of the season, but with his impending retirement, Torre wanted to manage Sunday's game himself. For the change, Torre consulted with and received permission from D-backs interim manager Kirk Gibson and plans to run it by the umpires.
The Dodgers would have to win all three games to finish at .500, which isn't much of a consolation prize in Torre's mind.
"After what our aspirations were and to be in position the first half, .500 is fine, but it's really not enough motivation," he said. "We have more important things in mind. You want to win, but you pay attention to what you want to see and what Donnie [Mattingly, the Dodgers' manager-in-waiting] wants to see. It would be nice to finish with wins, don't get me wrong. The games don't mean anything, but you still get excited in the ninth inning."
The rotation switch means Kershaw indeed will be done for the season and Ely will go on Friday. The right-hander could use a good start to finish off the season, as he's struggled throughout September. Ely has just a 7.47 ERA in the season's final full month.
Torre told reporters that Ely isn't going after hitters on a consistent basis and is falling behind too much, due to a lack of confidence in his stuff. So a final chance at finishing the season strong could go a long way for the 24-year-old next season.
D-backs: Kroenke making first start
After a freak finger injury to Daniel Hudson prevented him from making his final start of the season, the D-backs announced that Friday's start will go to left-hander Kroenke. The rookie has made just two big league appearances and will make his first Major League start. The 26-year-old started nine games this season for Triple-A Reno, but gained most of his work out in relief and went 7-3 with a 3.51 ERA overall. He'll get a chance to make a strong impression on the D-backs' brass on Friday.
Dodgers: Kemp heats up late
Matt Kemp hasn't served as the Dodgers' spark plug this season as much as he did in 2009, but over the past two games, Kemp has shown the ability to make a big impact when his bat gets hot. Kemp homered in each of his last two games, including a grand slam on Wednesday, giving him six RBIs over those two contests. Kemp's down significantly this season in both average and RBIs, although his 25 homers are just one short of last season's total.
The Dodgers' bullpen has turned in a strong month of September and continued its work on Wednesday, with 4 1/3 innings of relief, allowing one run and preserving a 7-6 victory. ... D-backs right-hander Brandon Webb successfully threw in live game action for the first time since 2009 with an inning in an instructional league game. ... The D-backs' 64 homers are the most in the NL since Aug. 1.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.