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Broxton's fast start a relief for Dodgers

The Sports Xchange
 
Roster Report · Notes, Quotes · Broxton's fast start a relief for Dodgers
 

It took Jonathan Broxton 31 games to get his third save last season. It took him four games this year.

Not that it was Broxton's fault last year. The Dodgers didn't provide him many save chances the first month of the season.

Also, former manager Joe Torre ran into some bad luck where he would pitch Broxton in a blowout to get him some work, and then not have him available for a real save.

Broxton's opening weekend provided just enough struggles to keep the skeptics nervous, and plenty of material to suggest his second-half meltdown is a thing of the past.

A brief recap:

Game one: Broxton entered with a two-run lead. First baseman James Loney saved him by making a nice play on a wicked slicing grounder for the first out. Broxton allowed a solo home run to Pat Burrell, then retired Miguel Tejada and Brandon Belt to get the save.

Game two: Broxton entered with a one-run lead. He retired the side in order, starting with three straight called strikes to Mark De Rosa, and needing a total of only nine pitches.

Game four: Broxton entered with a three-run lead and leadoff hitter Aaron Rowand's pinch home run started the inning. After a groundout, Freddy Sanchez singled to right, bringing the tying run to the plate. Broxton retired Aubrey Huff and Buster Posey on groundballs to save it.

"I've still got to get three outs; that's the mindset I use whether we're up one run or up four," Broxton said, after Sunday's series finale against the Giants. "We're winning, so I'm happy."

The encouraging sign was that Broxton's fastball was clocked at 96-98 mph for the first two games, and down slightly to 93-96 on Sunday.

The slider, a pitch Broxton sometimes loses confidence in, was an effective weapon the first two games. When catcher Rod Barajas saw it registering 89-90 mph on the scoreboard, he kept calling for it.

Rowand's home run came on a slider, however, and Broxton threw it only once more (out of 19 a total of 19 pitches) the rest of the inning.

Manager Don Mattingly was asked if Broxton's home runs were cause for concern or anxiety. After a long "Uhhhh" he said, "No. He keeps getting (the last out). That's what we're looking for."

Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.

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