Dodgers Lose Sixth in a Row, Again
The Dodgers continue to plummet in the standings losing their sixth consecutive game, a 5-3 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks. The two big problems continue to plague the team as each loss piles onto another loss: lack of power and the bullpen.
As predicted Jerry Hairston was placed on the disabled list today. The Dodgers had options from Triple-A Albuquerque to choose from. Scott Van Slyke could have come up, who is having his best professional season at the plate batting .393 and armed with a slugging percentage of .738.
On Monday manager Don Mattingly explained that one of the reasons the Dodgers are having a hard time scoring runs is their .363 slugging percentage, second-worst in the Majors. So it figured Van Slyke or someone like Alfredo Amezega with a slugging percentage hovering around .600 would be the optimal candidates to come on up.
But no. When I got to the Stadium several players were taking bunting practice. Among them were the usual suspects: Dee Gordon, Nick Punto, Mark Ellis, Skip Schumaker. They were there with an addition: Elian Herrera.
Yes, the Herrera that has a .250 batting average in a hitting friendly Pacific Coast League, a slugging percentage of .336.
I'll admit it. This one stumped me. And watching him take bunting practice really perplexed me. With a .250 batting average I'm sure Herrera already knew how to create an out all by himself.
"Outfielder, pretty much," Mattingly said. "We feel like that's his best position, the outfield corners."
Mattingly did explain that Van Slyke wasn't called up because he had played exclusively at first base in Albuquerque this season. Never mind the fact that the majority of Van Slyke's nine seasons in baseball has been at right field.
However Mattingly did leave the door open for Van Slyke's entrance.
"I know he's going to play outfield the next few days," Mattingly said. So there's a chance?
Then again, that wouldn't have been able to save the Dodgers in this game. The offensive hero of the game was Nick Punto who hit a solo home run in the second inning and an RBI double in the seventh inning, both game tying hits. Punto credited hitting instructor Mark McGwire for his .368 batting average.
"I made some small changes," Punto said. "Mechanically I had some flaws in my swing."
Still, with the game tied at 3-3 heading into the ninth inning the Dodgers had to feel good about their chances.
"We felt good about the game," Punto said. "We came back and tied the game."
The only other of the nine Dodger hits that wasn't a single was Matt Kemp's double that led off the bottom of the eighth.
Which brings us to the bullpen. Coming into the game the Dodgers had the fifth-worst bullpen ERA in the Majors at 4.67. That's even worse than the Angels mark of 4.42.
After Josh Beckett's six innings giving up three runs, out they came. First J.P. Howell who pitched a scoreless seventh. Then Kenley Jansen who had to get out of a jam before escaping the eighth inning unscathed. Then there was Brandon League. After walking Gerardo Parra and striking out Didi Gregorious, he had an 11-pitch battle with Dodger killer Paul Goldschmidt. A fastball down the middle ended up in the left field pavilion for the D-Backs 5-3 lead.
"My whole plan was to get Goldschmidt to ground into a double play," League said. "It's a prime example of what happens when you throw a good hitter a shitty pitch."
League now has given up six earned runs and three home runs in his last six outings giving him an 8.53 ERA.
"Mechanics are not an issue right now," League said. "I'm just not executing."
It's not just League. The entire team doesn't seem to be functioning whatsoever. This is their second six-game losing streak of the season, and the season is only 32 games old. They remain in last place in the NL West six games under .500 and sit six games back of first place Colorado Rockies. Even the fans are striking back on the team's Instagram page.
"You can say all the cliches, but you need to buckle up and you've got to get tough at times," Mattingly said. "Basically just getting past it.
"I don't think there's any magic formula. We have our guys here. We've got to perform. There are no real tricks. We can move the furniture. We can try guys at dfferent spots. But really all of that is just trying to get a different feel to maybe spark something.
"Once we get past all of the smoke and mirrors we've got to perform. That's what we do. That's what these guys do. They come and they get ready to play and they play. And we've got to play better. That's what we've got to do really."