Dan Haren beats the Braves, joins the Dodgers’ growing list of sparkplugs

first_imgATLANTA >> 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.”center_img “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. last_img read more