Sure enough, Ishii settled down and retired 11 of the next 12, striking out eight in seven innings as Los Angeles held on for a 5-4 victory. The win made Ishii 5-0, the best start by a Dodgers rookie since Fernando Valenzuela went 8-0 in 1981. This is why the Dodgers paid $11.26 million for the right to negotiate with the 28-year-old Japanese import and then signed him to a four-year, $12.3 million contract last February.
Sunday's outing was a typical Ishii performance, as he alternated between dominance and ineffectiveness. After struggling with his control during the spring, Ishii struck out 10 Rockies in his major league debut last month; in his two starts before Sunday, however, he allowed nine runs and 15 hits and issued seven walks in 11 innings. He won those starts, though, wriggling out of trouble in both games and taking advantage of ample run support (6.4 per game this season). "He's either pretty good or pretty lucky," says teammate Brian Jordan.
Third Manager Fired
The Bell Tolls for Buddy Bell
"If you fire anybody," lefthander Mike Hampton said after Rockies skipper Buddy Bell was axed last Friday, "you should have fired me." That was the guilt talking, but it's about all that players can offer in the way of accountability for a team's early-season collapse. As was the case with the Tigers and the Brewers, who had already cut loose their managers this year, Colorado's players deserve at least as much of the blame for the team's 6-16 start under Bell as the former manager does. Hampton, who has been a bust since he signed a $121 million contract before last season, is 0-3 with an 8.88 ERA.
By letting Bell go last week, Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd was sending a message that he's still trying to win this year—even if the team on the field looks as if it has thrown in the towel. A club may not be in the running for a playoff spot, but it had better appear to be headed in that direction.