The Dodgers had pursued Capuano twice when he was a free agent and locked him up for two years and $10 million in early December, hardly registering a ripple throughout baseball. Later that week, the Angels signed C.J. Wilson for five years and $77.5 million. Wilson is 4-2 with a 2.61 ERA for the last-place Angels.
But the Dodgers had new statistician Alex Tamin run the numbers and concluded Capuano's repertoire would play well in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium. So far, so good.
"He's a little bit better than, well, I can't really say that," said manager Don Mattingly. "He was tough to prepare hitters to face him, he gives you a lot of different looks. I can't say I thought he'd be 5-0 and give up hardly any runs. Can't say I expected that. I can say he had great stuff. Now, he's a couple years removed from Tommy John [surgery], and that's when [guys] really pop back."
Actually, Capuano has had two Tommy John procedures, a contributing factor to what seems to be a seven-inning limit imposed by Mattingly. Now that he's 5-0, Capuano was reminded that he's been there before, in 2007. But he followed that beginning by losing his next 12 decisions and undergoing labrum surgery.
"It's hard to remember. That was five years ago," Capuano said. "I've gone through so much since then."
The game was the third consecutive time Capuano was paired with veteran backup catcher Matt Treanor, who is proving to be a pretty good pickup, too. Treanor had two hits and scored a run. The Dodgers are 5-2 when he starts.
"I defer to Cappy. He pitched extremely well," said Treanor. "In the first inning, there were some three-ball counts, but he got in a groove after that. He is so locked in [when he's] in the 'pen. He knows what he wants to do. He followed the game plan. He executes and makes it look easy."
Capuano said he feels fine physically, with no aftereffects from the most recent Tommy John surgery in 2008.
"It's not a thought for me," he said. "I feel like my arm is strong and don't even think about it. Early in the year last year, I had a little trouble getting past the fourth, fifth, sixth innings. But I felt better from that point."
Capuano has credited a new breaking ball, developed in Spring Training, for providing another look against right-handed hitters. But he said his approach is the same.
"Just attack hitters and keep them guessing about what's coming," he said.
Capuano had runs to work with. Mark Ellis lined his first home run as a Dodger into the home bullpen in the first inning. The Dodgers added a run in the fourth on a two-out double by Ethier and an RBI single by Bobby Abreu.
They added three runs in the fifth on a two-out, two-run double by Ellis and an RBI single by Ethier, who homered in the seventh. Uribe slugged his first homer since last June 20 leading off the eighth. Ethier has seven homers, a team-high 32 RBIs, and with three hits is batting .300.
"The unfortunate thing was the Mark Ellis at-bat, on the two-run double," said Colordao manager Jim Tracy. "[Moyer] fell behind, got into a 3-1 count and because of the guy that was standing on deck [Matt Kemp], you can't be real case-specific as far as pitching to different areas of the plate that he likes to pitch to and has to pitch to. He basically had to hand the ball to him and hope that he took a big swing, popped the ball up or hit a ball sharply at somebody."
Ethier made a sliding catch on Cuddyer's foul sacrifice fly near the foul pole in the ninth inning, when reliever Todd Coffey allowed a pair of runs. Coffey, who has a 16.20 ERA, could get only two outs and Mattingly had to burn Ronald Belisario to get the final out of the game.