Dodgers Battle Injuries and Hunter Pence in a Loss to the Giants
There was only one acceptable explanation for the Dodger lineup today, and manager Don Mattingly got it right. "Today is a matter of not having guys," he said. It showed in the Dodgers 4-3 loss to the Giants.
"We're trying to get guys back and get healthy," catcher A.J. Ellis said.
It has been a team of walking wounded in the Dodger clubhouse. Among those include Yasiel Puig with "left hip tightness", Carl Crawford with a sore back, Andre Ethier with a sore left ankle and Hanley Ramirez with nerve irritation in his lower back. That doesn't even figure Matt Kemp into the equation who is still rehabilitating at the Dodger spring training center in Glendale, Ariz.
That explains the Dodgers got a starting outfield of Jerry Hairston, Skip Schumaker and Nick Buss. That explains Juan Uribe hitting clean up.
It would have been hard for the Dodgers to replicate the pitching performance they got yesterday, and Edinson Volquez did hold the Giants to only three runs in his 5 2/3 innings of work. Unfortunately two of the five hits he gave up were home runs to Hunter Pence, the final one a two-run homer that tied the game 3-3 that sent Volquez to the showers.
"Hunter's given us trouble in this series," Mattingly said. But besides those two pitches, Mattingly liked what he saw from Volquez. "It's probably his best outing with us as far as composure and tempo. He just didn't execute a couple of pitches, and they made us pay."
Pence really broke the Dodgers in this series becoming the only Giant other than Willie Mays to ever hit a home run in every game of a four-game series against the Dodgers. For a player who is playing for a contract next season, Pence is taking this all in stride.
"Things turn out the best for those who make the best of what is," Pence said channeling John Wooden.
Meanwhile the game breaker came in the eighth inning. With Paco Rodriguez on in relief, Brett Pill hit a pinch hit homer that just curled inside the left foul pole. After giving up only one run in the month of August, a 0.79 ERA, Rodriguez has given up three runs in four innings pitched in Septemeber, a 6.75 ERA.
Mattingly didn't want to offer up any excuses as to why the drop off. He came back to something more fundamental. "Most of the time it goes back to simply getting ahead of the count. If you get behind the count, you've got to throw it over."
For the Dodgers sake, they better hope the injuries to Puig, Crawford, Ethier and Ramirez are very short-term. We've seen how they play when injured — a last place team that look nothing like a playoff team.
But as A.J. Ellis pointed out, "We're not in the postseason yet." The Dodgers magic number is still four. Ellis pointed out the simple goal: "We've got to go win two games [in Arizona]. That's our mission. That's what we're going to try to do."
Giants Scorecard: (click to embiggen)
Dodgers Scorecard: (click to embiggen)