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The kid is all right: John Ely makes his bid to stay in Dodgers' rotation in 7-3 win over Brewers

May 6, 2010 | 10:54 pm
Really, how are you going to send John Ely down now?

After he just gave the Dodgers their best start of the season? After he just handcuffed a Brewers offense that had marched all over Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley the previous two nights?

Ely was a gift from the baseball heavens Thursday, and the Dodgers are in no position to be turning down gifts.

The 23-year-old who has pitched only three games above double-A was a much-needed breath of fresh air for a rotation desperately in need of a lift.

Ely and reliever Jon Link were the two players the Dodgers acquired during the off-season from the White Sox in the trade for Juan Pierre. Safe to say, he didn’t figure into this season’s plans.

But through attrition and disappointing performances, opportunity presented itself and Ely made the absolute most of it.

His first start came last week in New York against the Mets, and the nervous right-hander went six innings, allowing five runs on six hits and three walks.

Still, it was enough for Joe Torre to give him another shot, though it’s not like expectations were high, just that options were low.

"We’re sending John Ely out there and we hope it’s good," Torre said before the game. "We haven’t seen enough of him to say we expect him to pitch a good game. That’s unfair to him. We’ll see what we see."

What they saw was a unique performance. Ely barely breaks 90 mph with his fastball. He comes back with a curve around 70 mph.

But he had that one thing every Dodgers starter not named Hiroki Kuroda has struggled with all season: He had command.

Ely did not walk a batter in his 6 2/3 innings. He struck out seven. During one stretch from the second into the seventh, he retired 16 consecutive Brewers. Of his 108 pitches, 72 were strikes.

He took a two-hitter into the seventh when Prince Fielder somehow squeezed a grounder between diving James Loney at first and Blake DeWitt at second. Fielder advanced on a groundout and scored on a single by Gregg Zaun.

With that, Torre went out and got Ely, assured he could come away only with a victory. He left to a nice standing ovation. His first major league victory escaped when Jonathan Broxton gave up two runs in the ninth, the Dodgers coming back to win, 7-3, in the bottom half on Andre Ethier's grand slam.

Still, it was a completely impressive performance by Ely. Yet because he has options left, it was almost understood that Ely would be sent down Friday when reliever Jeff Weaver is activated from the disabled list.

The Dodgers, though, will need another starter in five days. And Ely earned another start.

-- Steve Dilbeck
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