ATLANTA >> Conventional wisdom holds that the Dodgers stood pat at the trade deadline. July 31 saw 12 trades involving 18 teams and 37 players with a combined 13 All-Star Game appearances. None of these trades involved the Dodgers.The unconventional wisdom held that Darwin Barney, Roberto Hernandez, Kevin Correia and Dan Haren could be impact players for the Dodgers in August and September. None of them were acquired at the deadline, but they weren’t playing — or playing well — for the Dodgers a month ago.So far, the unconventional wisdom is winning out.None are stars, but Hernandez, Correia and Haren are more than complimentary players. This week at least, they’re one-half of the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Haren pitched six strong innings against the Atlanta Braves on Tuesday in the Dodgers’ 4-2 win. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error “He said I’d done a good job for the team, I got a bunch of wins, they feel good with me,” Haren said. “That felt good. Going through a rut like I was, I was off the Internet and ESPN. There’s no need to see any negative reinforcement. It was good to feel something positive from him.”Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt affirmed that Haren was struggling emotionally in July, and “when you’re struggling you try to do more and it leads to problems.”Specifically, Honeycutt said, Haren wasn’t pausing at the top and the bottom of his delivery like he used to. The arc of Haren’s lead arm had changed too, which was affecting his balance.“Any time you get your body in better position to where you’re not spinning off, not only do you see a better quality throw, you see better action at the end,” Honeycutt said.Haren allowed six hits, walked one batter and struck out seven. He was particularly fired up after his last pitch, a splitter in the dirt that struck out Chris Johnson with a runner on first base to preserve a 3-2 lead.Brian Wilson, J.P. Howell, Brandon League and Kenley Jansen combined to shut out the Braves over the final three innings. Barney, who was recalled from Triple-A on Sunday, got his first start as a Dodger at second base on a day off for Dee Gordon. He made a good impression.Barney singled to drive in the Dodgers’ first run off Mike Minor (4-8). In the ninth inning, he gave the Dodgers an insurance run by taking second base on an error and came around to score on a wild pitch. In the bottom of the ninth, Barney ranged into shallow right field to catch a sinking fly ball by Evan Gattis.But it was Haren who sparked the victory, both on the mound and at the plate.With the Dodgers trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, Haren singled and went to third base on a double by Carl Crawford. Haren scored the tying run on a groundout by Yasiel Puig, and Matt Kemp’s single drove in Crawford to make it 3-2.Add Barney and Haren to the Dodgers’ growing list of unlikely sparkplugs. Like Haren, Hernandez and Correia pitched six strong innings in their recent debuts. Like Barney, Hernandez and Correia also singled in their first at-bats as a Dodger. It helps to be able to feast on a struggling opponent. Atlanta has lost 11 of its last 13 games — five against the Dodgers. The Dodgers hadn’t beaten the Braves in five straight games since 1988.If you’re Haren, it doesn’t matter who you beat right now.“As my career has gone on, I feel like the losing has hurt more and the winning hasn’t been as sweet as it was,” he said. “I think it’s just the amount of pressure I put on myself. I want to do well for the team so bad, losing just really hurts. These last two, I definitely am enjoying. The team is playing so well, we’ve got a little cushion in the NL West. The clubhouse, the plane, guys are really loose right now.” “I’ve had two good starts,” said Haren (10-9), who snapped a streak of five consecutive losses by beating the Angels in his previous outing. “I’m not going to make a big deal of it. If I have six more good ones to finish the year, I’ll feel really good about the year.”If Haren makes six more starts, and lasts 6 2/3 innings in each, he’ll get to 180 innings for the season. That would automatically trigger a $10 million vesting option for 2015 — a nice incentive.During Haren’s 0-5 stretch, it didn’t seem like he would have the chance to reach 180 innings. Privately, however, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said there was no talk of removing Haren from the rotation.“We look at the full body of work,” Mattingly said, “and knowing that four starts, has he just all of a sudden lost everything? It’s still there. The fact that Danny’s a competitor and you know he’s going to keep fighting, it’s still there.”Haren said that a pep talk from Mattingly during the team flight out of Pittsburgh helped.
“We’re not going to look at them like they’re the eighth seed because we understand what this team is capable of,” DeRozan said.Still, the Wizards lost five of their final six games, including defeats to Chicago, Atlanta and Orlando, the three worst teams in the East.Some other things to watch in the series:GAME 1 BLUESThe Raptors have lost 10 straight opening games in playoff series, six at home. Toronto has played 13 series in franchise history and won one Game 1, beating Philadelphia in the second round in 2001. “We’ve lost a lot of Game 1s,” said Lowry, who has been part of the past seven defeats. “We have to play it like a Game 7.”WHERE’S WALL?Toronto and Washington split their four games this season, but Wall missed them all because of injuries. Facing the Wizards with Wall is “a whole new dynamic,” DeRozan said. Wall returned March 31 after being sidelined for more than two months because of left-knee surgery and was held out on the second night of back-to-backs down the stretch. Wall will have plenty of time to rest in this series, with two days off between Games 1 and 2, two more before Game 3 and, if necessary, two days off between Games 4 and 5.BENCH MOBToronto’s bench averaged 42 points a game this season, tied with San Antonio for fourth most in the NBA. Led by guards Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet, forwards C.J. Miles and Pascal Siakam, and center Jakob Poeltl, Toronto’s bench posted an NBA-best plus-minus of 3.6, easily outpacing second-place Houston (2.3). Casey said he doesn’t want to be bound by traditional basketball thinking in which starters play more and reserves less in the postseason. “They’re a huge part of who we are,” Casey said. “We’re going in making sure we try to keep our second unit intact.” VanVleet, however, is questionable for Game 1 because of a bruised right shoulder.ROSTER REPORT Judy Ann’s 1st project for 2020 is giving her a ‘stomachache’ Nadine Lustre’s phone stolen in Brazil LATEST STORIES P16.5-M worth of aid provided for Taal Volcano eruption victims — NDRRMC After Cleveland swept the Raptors in the second round last spring, team president Masai Ujiri promised to change the culture surrounding the club.That meant greater emphasis on ball movement and 3-point shooting, something the Raptors were able to execute immediately. Toronto had 67 games with at least 20 assists, up from 34 the previous year, and averaged 33 shots a game from beyond the arc, third most in the NBA.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSGinebra beats Meralco again to capture PBA Governors’ Cup titleSPORTSAfter winning title, time for LA Tenorio to give back to Batangas folkSPORTSTim Cone, Ginebra set their sights on elusive All-Filipino crown“We won 59 games,” All-Star guard DeMar DeRozan said. “I think that speaks for itself. We know what works for us, what got us here, and what’s going to take us even further.”Thanks to the offensive overhaul, this Raptors team is far removed from the one swept in the first round in 2015, a series in which the Wizards won by an average of 14 points. Green group flags ‘overkill’ use of plastic banderitas in Manila Sto. Niño feast Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. “That’s old news, it’s years ago,” All-Star guard Kyle Lowry said. “We’re a different team, different style of play, different people, different egos.”Raptors coach Dwane Casey said the humiliating sweep helped sow the seeds for Ujiri’s reset.“That’s one reason why we did change things,” Casey said. “To give us some other options in the playoffs when teams do try to take away DeMar and Kyle.”Toronto may have retooled its way to the top of the East, but the Raptors still face a tough first-round test against Washington’s tandem of All-Star guards, John Wall and Bradley Beal.The speedy Wall averaged 19.4 points and 9.6 assists this season. He would have ranked second in the NBA in assists but was limited to 41 games because of injuries, too few to qualify.ADVERTISEMENT Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry (7) celebrates after their 180-105 win over the Houston Rockets in an NBA basketball game in Toronto, Friday, March 9, 2018. (Christopher Katsarov/The Canadian Press via AP)TORONTO — A “culture reset” carried the Toronto Raptors to the top of the Eastern Conference for the first time this season.Next, the Raptors will try to hit reset on their playoff history with the Washington Wizards.ADVERTISEMENT Scientists seek rare species survivors amid Australia flames Jo Koy draws ire for cutting through Cebu City traffic with ‘wang-wang’ Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard PLAY LIST 02:14Carpio hits red carpet treatment for China Coast Guard02:56NCRPO pledges to donate P3.5 million to victims of Taal eruption00:56Heavy rain brings some relief in Australia02:37Calm moments allow Taal folks some respite03:23Negosyo sa Tagaytay City, bagsak sa pag-aalboroto ng Bulkang Taal01:13Christian Standhardinger wins PBA Best Player award Truck driver killed in Davao del Sur road accident MOST READ Lights inside SMX hall flicker as Duterte rants vs Ayala, Pangilinan anew Jiro Manio arrested for stabbing man in Marikina Toronto F Serge Ibaka left Wednesday’s season finale after being elbowed in the mouth but is expected to start Saturday. … Washington F Otto Porter is questionable for Game 1 because of a strained right calf. He sat out Wednesday. … Wizards F Mike Scott (concussion protocol) could miss Game 1 after being hit in the head Wednesday. … Washington G Jodie Meeks will miss the series after being suspended 25 games Friday for a drug violation. … The Wizards added depth Thursday by signing G Ty Lawson. The 30-year-old Lawson played most recently in the Chinese Basketball Association.LEBRON LOOMSThe series winner will face Cleveland or Indiana. That likely means a matchup with LeBron, whose team has represented the East in seven straight NBA Finals. James and the Cavs have eliminated Toronto from the playoffs two straight years, including a conference finals defeat in 2016. Toronto is seeded first and had hoped it could steer clear of James & Co. until the conference finals. But Philadelphia’s season-ending 16-game winning streak vaulted the 76ers past Cleveland. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Prime time: LeBron defying age, better than ever at 33 View comments