Dodger Beat Diamondbacks Despite the Bullpen
“We’re 1-1 in Opening Day games this season,” Joe Torre said before the game.
That’s a small consolation considering they lie in the cellar of the NL West early in the season with a 2-4 record. While they have the pop, the pitching and defense have clearly let the Dodgers down. Their starting pitching ERA is 4.96 and bullpen ERA is 5.68, sixth worst in the Majors. In addition their fielding percentage is .964 the second worst in the Majors.
“There’s a lot of frustration,” Torre said. “You have leads, you keep fighting. We just need to get the job done, and we haven’t done a good job of that.”
“You’ve got to work on it. You’ve got to make the results better by being more consistent.”
The Dodgers at least kept their offense consistent in their 9-5 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.
The home opener saw a return to the fireworks in the outfield during the lineup introductions. The offense decided to keep the fireworks going on by powering four home runs hit by Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier.
“It’s been on display all week our ability to score runs,” Torre said after the game. “The thing we need to get straightened out is how we get to [closer Jonathan] Broxton.”
The relief pitching was quite the rollercoaster ride with the focus on Ramon Ortiz who gave up three runs in the seventh inning to bring the Diamondbacks to within four runs.
After getting the first two batters out, Ortiz walked Adam LaRoche, gave up a homer to Mark Reynolds, gave up a double to Chris Young and gave up a single to Kelly Johnson which plated Young.
Just like that the 9-2 Dodgers lead was 9-5.
“Today I had visions of Ortiz maybe finishing the game,” Torre continued. “All of a sudden those plans changed.”
Torre admits that it is disarming to watch his bullpen game in and game out give up runs.
“It’s a concern."
Kershaw struck out three consecutive batters in the first two innings, however the recurring of problem of not being able to consistently throw strikes showed up with him running a three-ball count on Reynolds and Young in the second inning. In all he ran a three-ball count on eight of the 25 batters he faced.
“Well he’s done this before, and yet he’s not the only pitcher who’s gone out there and all of the sudden thrown six, seven balls in a row.
“He’s certainly someone we trust. He’ll get it smoothed out. I was just happy he was able to hang in there.”
“I don’t want to have to battle,” Kershaw said of his performance. “I know that I can get people out. It’s just when I’m giving people free bases, free passes, I’m pretty much beating myself out there.”
When asked if there were any positives to take out of his three-hit seven strikeout performance, Kershaw answered with a terse, “Yeah, I guess.
“I’m not trying to sit here and say I feel bad because I pitched bad. I’m happy the team won - that’s the most important thing. I’m just a little frustrated the way I pitched today.”
Despite leaving the game in a jam with two men on base, he was happy to have Jeff Weaver get him out of the mess.
“He does everybody else’s job which is awesome,” Kershaw said. “I almost feel bad making him work this hard.”
“We’ll probably give him a day or two off,” Torre remarked on Weaver. “We’ve used him in all but one game. We trust him in situations where he’ll get us out of a jam. I think we’ve repeated him too much in the early going.”
Russell Martin helped out his battery-mate in the second inning when he hit a sacrifice fly to center field scoring James Loney for the 1-0 lead.
The Diamondbacks would tie the game in the fourth inning. With one out Adam LaRoche hit a fly ball to deep center field that just got over Kemp’s glove as he crashed into the wall. Young cashed in LaRoche on a broken bat single up the middle past a diving Rafael Furcal.
The Dodgers responded right back with a Manny Ramirez solo shot and a Casey Blake homer after James Loney doubled to center to go up 4-1.
Matt Kemp’s solo homer and a bases loaded walk would make it 6-1 in the fifth inning, and Ethier capped everything off for the Dodgers with an Earl Weaver to right field for the 9-2 lead after the Diamondbacks scored the run in the sixth inning.
While the defense had been worrisome, Furcal turned in a defensive gem in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second with no outs, Furcal speared a screaming grounder by Conor Jackson and threw the ball from his rear to Blake DeWitt for the force play at second.
This game marked the second time that Ethier, Kemp and Manny have homered in the same game. Manny how has 547 homers, one shy of Mike Schmidt. The Dodgers have won their third straight home opener going 28-25 in home openers in Los Angeles. Or as Torre said after the game, “We’re 2-1 in opening days this season now.”