Don Mattingly Still Managing, Dodgers Shutout by Cardinals
"I expect Donnie to be here a long time," Dodgers president Stan Kasten told us unsavory media folk.
Rumors have been spreading like wildfire about at which inning manager Don Mattingly would be fired tonight. It turned out that Mattingly managed the entire game as the Dodgers were shutout 7-0 by the St. Louis Cardinals. The press clippings went past the point of bemusement for Kasten to just sheer hilarity. Kasten decided to set the record straight.
While the Kasten quote above seemed to be a ringing endorsement of Mattingly's job, we always have to make sure we take things in context. After all when a public figure gets in trouble for a quote, they always blame the media for taking it out of context. So here it goes.
Kasten continued, "I understand there's another side of that if things don't go well."
To give Kasten credit though, he didn't bury that sentiment later in the media session. There was no fine print to have to decipher. He made it clear that if he had to sack Mattingly he'd do so.
"I don't know what the future is going to be," Kasten continued. "Can I tell you for sure if things go bad will there be a change? There may be, there might not be. I just don't know that. I'm not smart enough to predict how things are going to go."
So where does that leave us?
"I'm just going to go about my business," Andre Ethier said.
Much has been made about comments that Mattingly made Wednesday morning in Milwaukee that seemed to be directed at Ethier. "I just basically put a lineup out and didn't single Andre out," Mattingly commented. "They kept asking questions and basically I just said that I was putting the best club out there."
"I was disappointed and frustrated," Ethier said when he heard that his competitiveness came into question.
It has to be said this isn't the first time Mattingly has benched Ethier with very little explanation. As former Dodger beat writer Tony Jackson tweeted:
Anybody remember when Mattingly benched Ethier for an entire three-game series in Houston in May 2011? Also without much public explanation.— Anthony Jackson (@ex_ballscribe) May 25, 2013
Ben Bolch of the Los Angeles Times was on hand to witness that.
Mattingly repeated his mantra. "The way the game of baseball is supposed to be played — the determination you're supposed to play with, the grit you're supposed to play with, the toughness you're supposed to play with. It's about the respect to the game. It's respect to your teammates. It's respect to your organization, the fans."
The grit did play out in startling fashion in the second inning when David Freese hit a double to left field. With Jon Jay running from first, shortstop Nick Punto's relay throw to A.J. Ellis at the plate didn't quite make it before Jay got the to the plate. Although it seemed that Jay hesitated a bit, the blow sent Ellis sprawling backwards lying on his back behind the plate motionless for a couple of seconds.
"First base umpire Gary Cedarstrom was telling me to stay down, stay down," Ellis recalled. Ellis said that the brunt of the impact was Jay's knee hitting his right forearm. The rest of the impact was, as he characterized it, "glancing blows."
After answering the normal battery of questions correctly, Ellis got up and took a couple of warmup tosses. He remained in the rest of the game, but admitted to feeling sore afterwards. While Mattingly will see how he feels tomorrow before putting him in the lineup, the blow did not knock out Ellis' sense of humor. When asked what he was the most surprising thing about the incident, he responded, "I was surprised how cool the weather was for a night in St. Louis."
Not funny was how the game went for the Dodgers. Ethier was back in the line up and went 0-for-3. However it's unfair to single out Ethier because everyone except Juan Uribe and Carl Crawford were unable to touch Cardinals starter Lance Lynn. Crawford led off the bottom of the first inning with a single and was caught stealing during Adrian Gonzalez's at-bat. Uribe hit a double in the third inning and walked in the sixth inning. That was all the Dodgers could muster against Lynn. Skip Schumaker came in on the double switch and got a single off of reliever Seth Maness in the eighth inning, and that just about sums up the Dodger offense.
"We didn't do anything with him tonight," Mattingly said after the game. "A guy that seemed like threw a lot of fastballs through the course of the game. We didn't seem to be able to get on him."
Meanwhile with Chris Capuano armed with a lifetime 5.83 ERA against the Cardinals starting for the Dodgers, it wasn't pretty. Six runs, five of which were earned, going two batters into the sixth inning isn't good.
"I'm not real happy mentally with the way I handled the game," Capuano said. "I just didn't make enough good pitches tonight."
The loss puts the Dodgers at 19-27, eight games under .500, last place in the division and seven games behind. That's not an insurmountable hurdle to overcome, but if they can't compete against the good teams then that first sentence of this story will prove to be untrue.