Is It Time To Worry About the Dodger Bats?
After winning the first two games against the Rockies in Colorado, Dodger manager Don Mattingly fielded a team that had Yasiel Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez on the bench and Edinson Volquez as the starting pitcher on Wednesday.
In his three seasons as manager, Mattingly has said the same sentence whenever we would question a lineup decision: "I'm putting out a lineup that will give us the best chance to win everyday."
The Dodgers lost 7-5. I really hope Mattingly didn't use that line on that day.
After a day off, the Dodger lineup looked more like themselves against the Cincinnati Reds. Yasiel Puig, after suffering an ouchie in his knee in Denver, legged out an infield single in the first inning, and Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run shot two batters later. Just like that it was a 2-0 lead, so everything is all right.
Well not so much, it turned out.
Before the game the Dodgers announced that Matt Kemp suffered a setback with his "Anaheim hamstring", the right hamstring as Mattingly put it to reporters before the game. So the speculation and mystery about what Mattingly will do with four outfielders will remain on the ice for now. While this is a setback of sorts, the Dodgers have been doing just fine without Kemp.
After throwing an 0-1 pitch to Zack Cozart with two outs in the second inning, starter Chris Capuano made some delicate hops on the mound after missing the strike zone. Starting in place of Ryu Hyun-Jin who is dealing with some back issues, Capuano left the game with a mild groin strain.
In the top of the third with Dee Gordon pinch-hitting in the pitcher's spot, he bunted a ball towards third base. Third baseman Todd Frazier threw the ball to first, hitting Gordon in the neck instead of Joey Votto. Gordon collapsed on the field in foul ground but sprang right up with a sheepish grinn on his face. One less injury worry for the Dodgers to worry about.
Meanwhile Stephen Fife gave up a run in the fourth inning, and J.P. Howell gave up a two-run homer to Joey Votto who apparently never drives enough runs in.
With the Reds 3-2 lead, the Dodgers couldn't do anything against starter Mike Leake after the first inning. Manny Parra got Carl Crawford to ground out in the eighth, and Aroldis Chapman torched the Dodgers in the ninth striking out Puig, Adrian Gonzalez and Ramirez to take the game.
In the three-game series against the Boston Red Sox the Dodgers scored two, two and one runs respectively. The Dodgers scored two runs against the Reds tonight. In these four games, the Dodgers won only one of the games.
These two teams are fighting for their playoff lives — neither want to have to play the one-game elimination wild card game. They are playing this month as if they are in the playoffs.
Is the Dodger lack of offense against these teams something to be concerned about? Is the Dodger pitching something to be concerned about?
Obviously they're not going to be playing the Rockies, the Giants, the Cubs of the world come October. But this is the caliber of competition the Dodgers will be facing. And if you remember what Mattingly said after that Red Sox series: "It's a series we pretty much got outplayed."
I'm not sounding an alarm. It's not time to panic. There are two games left in the series with the Reds with Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw starting for the Dodgers. The Reds will trot out Mat Latos and Homer Bailey respectively to keep their push for the NL Central.
But it will be interesting to see the quality of the Dodger at-bats and how the bullpen holds up in the back end of games.