6/10/2014 10:23 P.M. ET
Bullpen on fire to start June
By Manny Randhawa / MLB.com
CINCINNATI -- The Dodgers' bullpen has been sensational so far this month, posting a National League-best 0.93 ERA (two earned runs in 19 1/3 innings pitched) going into their game against the Reds on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park. Opponents this month are hitting .175 (11-for-63) with 22 strikeouts against Los Angeles relievers.
In their 6-2 win over Cincinnati on Monday, the Dodgers escaped three consecutive innings with the help of double plays induced by relievers J.P. Howell and Brandon League. Howell, in particular, has been excellent of late, having not been scored upon in his last 11 appearances (9 2/3 innings since May 9).
"At the beginning of the year we were just chasing results," Howell said of the bullpen. "And that's a tough way to play the game rather than to stick to our process and calling that a successful inning, which is what we're doing now. We're just trying to stick to our process and not worry about what happens. You can be on point and give up runs, and you can be terrible and give up no runs. We found that out and now we're focusing on the process and not results."
After Monday's win, manager Don Mattingly said that with the starters going deeper into games, the relievers are able to better settle into their specific roles, which has helped. Howell agreed with that assessment.
"That's definitely true, it's helped," Howell said. "We hate to use the excuses about why we were struggling earlier. We don't want to put down anyone else but ourselves. We want to be accountable for our inning no matter what's going on. But it does definitely help whenever the guys are going a little bit deeper to start the game."
Lasorda, others fondly remember Welch
CINCINNATI -- Several current and former members of the Dodgers' coaching staff were teammates and friends of Bob Welch, the former Dodgers and A's pitcher who passed away on Monday. Before Tuesday's game against the Reds, they reflected on what Welch meant to them and their organization.
"I just got over [Don] Zimmer's death and now we got another one real quick," said former manager Tommy Lasorda. "Bobby Welch was just one of my all-time favorite pitchers. He had a lot of heart … He had tremendous ability, he was a great guy and everybody loved him."
Lasorda, along with so many others, will never forget the strikeout Welch had of Reggie Jackson in the 1978 World Series, when Welch was only 21.
"That was one of the greatest confrontations I have ever witnessed in all the years I've been in baseball," Lasorda said. "That was the most exciting thing; I'm sitting on the bench, I was up in front, and it was really something to behold … One of the greatest, greatest I've ever seen between a pitcher and a batter confrontation, and it will go down in the history of baseball as the greatest."
"He was a fierce competitor," said hitting coach Mark McGwire, who played with Welch on the A's from 1988 to 1994. "He was just a special guy. I don't think there was a teammate that played with him that didn't care for him. The last time I saw him was at the retirement of Tony [La Russa's] number in St. Louis. I got to sit next to him on the field when they were doing the ceremony, and all he kept on doing was talking about the good old times and how it was."
"It's unbelievable, very sad," said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, who was on the same pitching staff with Welch both with the Dodgers and A's from 1983-93. "He was a very upbeat guy, a great teammate, just one of those guys you didn't get to see enough of."
• Mattingly said Tuesday that left fielder Carl Crawford hasn't made any more progress with his sprained left ankle, and that a date for a return to the lineup is still uncertain.
"Carl's kind of stuck. Today wasn't really any better than yesterday, so he's kind of leveled off," Mattingly said. "Nothing really bad, but not really moving forward at this point."
• Catcher A.J. Ellis continues to progress with his right ankle, which was sprained during the celebration of Josh Beckett's no-hitter on May 25. He is still on track to return either at the end of the Cincinnati series on Thursday or at the beginning of Los Angeles' home series against the D-backs on Friday.
• Third baseman Juan Uribe, who has been on the disabled list due to a strained right hamstring, did more running on the field Tuesday and made further progress toward returning to the lineup.
"He did a lot today," Mattingly said of Uribe. "I saw him running some curves and doing some running out here and doing some ladder drills. So he's moving forward, but that's still probably a little bit a ways from playing in a game here [in Cincinnati]. So we'll see where [Dodgers head trainer Stan Conte] kind of decides where to go with him."
• Right-hander Chad Billingsley threw a bullpen session on Tuesday. He has been on the DL with flexor tendinitis in his right arm following recovery from Tommy John surgery.
Billingsley reached his 30-pitch limit in 1 2/3 innings during a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Rancho Cucamonga last Sunday.
• The Dodgers' 32nd and 37th round selections in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, first baseman Scott De Jong (Felician College, N.J.) and right-hander Karch Kowalczyk (Valparaiso University, Ind.), signed with the club on Tuesday.
Manny Randhawa is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.