LOS ANGELES (AP)—The crack of Ramon Troncoso’s(notes) fastball against Austin Jackson’s(notes) helmet was a sickening sound for everyone in both dugouts, and it overshadowed another victory in the Dodgers’ impressive turnaround.
Casey Blake(notes) homered for the third time in five games and made a critical defensive play in the ninth, Matt Kemp(notes) also hit a solo shot and Blake DeWitt(notes) had a two-run triple as the Dodgers beat the Detroit Tigers 6-4 on Saturday for their 13th victory in 14 games.
Troncoso replaced reliever Hong-Chih Kuo(notes) in the eighth, and Brennan Boesch(notes) greeted the right-hander with a leadoff home run to dead-center. Troncoso walked his next batter, got a double-play ball from Gerald Laird(notes), and then hit Jackson with a 2-2 pitch.
Manager Jim Leyland and trainer Kevin Rand rushed to the aid of the talented rookie, who was able to make it to the dugout under his own power and was replaced by a pinch-runner. He was taken to a hospital for precautionary tests, wearing a bandage above his left eye.
“You always get scared with those moments up and around the head area,” Laird said.
The game started at 4:11 local time, and the shadows between the mound and home plate didn’t help Jackson’s chances of picking up the spin of the ball.
“It was one of those pitches you just can’t get out of the way of, especially when a sinker guy throws it in that spot and it’s running in on you,” Laird said. “I’m sure it just got away from him, but we’re thankful that Austin’s all right. I saw him when he came into the dugout and again before he left, and he said he said he was fine.”
Dodgers manager Joe Torre was relieved when told about Jackson’s condition.
“It was scary,” Torre said. “I mean, I’ve been beaned a few times, and I know every time somebody throws at somebody—at least during my tenure in New York—it was always ‘on purpose’ in everybody’s mind. It’s a frightening thing when pitchers are up and around the head, especially this time of day where you can’t see the ball as well as you normally could.”
Jackson is hitting .337 with 11 RBIs in 42 games. Before batting practice, he met former Tigers manager Sparky Anderson in the dugout, and the Hall of Famer took him aside near the bat rack and showered him with praise in front of reporters and teammates. Anderson didn’t stay for the entire game, so he missed Jackson getting beaned.
“He got smoked pretty good,” Leyland said. “It’s just one of those unfortunate things that happen, and it’s part of the game. He came around pretty quickly and he appears to be OK, but you’ve got to be extremely cautious with that type of situation. So we’ll have him looked at in the hospital and we’ll go from there.”
Rookie John Ely(notes) (3-1) allowed two runs and eight hits through six-plus innings and struck out three in his fifth big league start. The 24-year-old right-hander Ely walked Brandon Inge(notes) on four pitches in the first, snapping a string of 89 consecutive batters without a base on balls, but retired his next nine in a row and didn’t let another runner get past second base.
“There’s no point where you can actually let up against that lineup. Every single guy can burn you, so you really have to focus, top to bottom,” Ely said. “Coming back and putting up zeros after being a little bit shaky in the first inning was a huge confidence boost—for myself and the team.”
Jonathan Broxton(notes) gave up a run-scoring ground-rule double to Boesch in the ninth before getting his 10th save. One batter earlier, Blake made a diving stop on Miguel Cabrera’s(notes) sharp grounder in the hole and got the force at second on Ramon Santiago(notes).
With the Tigers unable to use a DH in an NL park during this interleague series, Jackson was the odd-man out in a starting outfield consisting of Boesch, Magglio Ordonez(notes) and Johnny Damon(notes). Jackson pinch-hit for Adam Everett(notes) leading off the seventh and legged out a broken-bat infield single that sent Ely to the showers.
Blake booted Santiago’s grounder to third base for his seventh error and Kuo walked Ordonez, loading the bases for Cabrera and putting the potential tying run at the plate in a 6-2 game. But Kuo fielded Cabrera’s slow bouncer near the third-base line, took a full windup and threw his best fastball of the day to first base for the third out.
NOTES: Anderson, who guided the Tigers to a World Series title in 1984 and led them for 17 seasons, came down from his home in Thousand Oaks to visit with Leyland and Torre on the field during batting practice. The three have combined for 5,901 regular-season victories, 13 pennants and eight World Series titles as managers. … Among the crowd of 45,117 was actress Lorraine Bracco, who is no stranger to Dodger Stadium. She filmed a number of scenes at the ballpark for the 1991 baseball flick “Talent For The Game.”