It Wasn't A Good Day
Today wasn’t a good day for the Dodgers. First came news that closer Jonathan Broxton needed an MRI on his right elbow. Then came the late scratch of right fielder Andre Ethier due to a sore left elbow. During the sixth inning Juan Uribe was pulled from the game after getting hit by a pitch on the left hand from Cubs’ starter Carlos Zambrano in the fourth inning. So the Dodgers’ 5-1 loss to the Cubs just seemed like piling on by that point.
First the game. With Ethier only available for pinch-hitting duties, the only person in the lineup with a batting average over .250 was Matt Kemp. So it really came as no surprise the Dodgers could only muster a run off of Zambrano.
“Just haven’t been able to put any runs together,” Manager Don Mattingly said. “You have to score to win. We’re in a little phase right now, but I still think we’re going to score runs.”
The only runs the Dodgers mustered came from the unlikeliest of sources in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Cubs already leading 5-0. Tony Gwynn, Jr. led off with a double and Aaron Miles sent him to third on a single. Jay Gibbons, now hitting in the third spot, hit a sacrifice fly to left field to bring in Gwynn for the lone run.
Then with Matt Kemp, the lone offensive threat for the Dodgers, at the plate, the new and improved for one at-bat looked like the 2010 version: he grounded into a double play ending the inning.
“Just got to put at-bats together more than anything else,” Mattingly said.
On the other side of the ledger, Dodgers’ starter Ted Lilly was in a groove through four innings. But the tide started to turn in the fifth inning when Geovany Soto took a fat fastball down the heart of the plate and deposited it into the left centerfield bleachers.
“When we’re not scoring like that I feel Teddy’s trying to keep zeroes every inning, and you can’t make any mistakes,” Mattingly said. “That’s not a good way to pitch.”
And from there it only escalated. Carlos Pena proved that when you’re in a slump in the National League, just be patient. After all you’ll see the Dodgers eventually. Pena, who came into the series on Monday batting .157 without a homer, hit his second homer in as many games in the sixth inning for the 2-0 lead.
Marlon Byrd got in on the action after Carlos Zambrano and Darwin Barney singled and hit his first homer of the year, an Earl Weaver shot for the 5-0 lead.
“Those are certainly not the results I’m looking for,” Lilly said. “I still want to be aggressive. Clearly I wasn’t able to execute those out pitches today.”
As for Uribe, he took x-rays after being pulled from the game in the sixth inning which came back negative giving some hope he’ll be back in the lineup on Friday. For a team that’s lost their starting shortstop and third baseman for extended time in Rafael Furcal and Casey Blake respectively, a loss of Uribe would be a huge concern.
“We can’t really afford to lose any more guys off of our infield,” Mattingly said. “We’re playing mostly our utility guys out there anyway. We really can’t afford to lose that bat.”
The initial Dodger lineup had Andre Ethier batting third. When the final lineup was written up, Ethier was nowhere to be found.
“I wanted to pull a trick on you guys so you wouldn’t ask me before the game,” Ethier joked.
“It’s just sore. It’s been sore for the last couple of days. I’ve been trying to get it going. It’s more tender on the throwing than it is the swinging. After I take five or six hacks, it loosens up pretty nicely. But throwing is still kind of sore.”
Ethier said that he first noticed something was off during the homestand against the St. Louis Cardinals a few weeks ago. On April 16 in the bottom of the fourth inning when James Loney grounded out to first baseman Albert Pujols, Ethier slid home trying to avoid the tag by catcher Gerald Laird.
“I don’t know if it was hyperextended or I jammed my elbow reaching for home plate,” Ethier said. “It’s been on and off for the last couple of weeks, but the last couple of days has been worse than good.”
With Ethier in the middle of a 29-game hitting streak and one of the precious few sources of offense for the team, Mattingly didn’t want to take any chances.
“He can’t go out there and do damage to himself and us miss him for a long period of time,” Mattingly said.
But Ethier made it clear that he would have been available for pinch hitting duties, hitting streak be damned.
“I’m not focusing on the streak,” Ethier noted although he did mention it was fun. “I was prepared to pick up the bat today.”
Ethier confirmed that he would meet with Dr. Neal ElAttrache in New York City on Thursday to have an examination on his elbow.
“Hopefully there’s nothing serious he finds,” Ethier mused. “Hopefully it’s just a sore elbow or a bone bruise.”
Mattingly and Pitching Coach Rick Honeycutt were in the video room Wednesday morning looking at Broxton’s delivery from the last couple of days. They were interrupted by Director Medical Services Stan Conte and Broxton.
“As we’re looking at tape, Stan comes in and says, ‘You don’t need to look at tape anymore,’” Mattingly recalled. “[Broxton] came in with pain.”
But “I’m Fine” Broxton wasn’t flinching. “It just stiffens up a little bit.”
Broxton said he didn’t feel any pain while he’s throwing, and that the stiffness doesn’t affect him while he’s throwing.
“It just stiffens up after it starts cooling down,” Broxton said.
However Broxton didn’t completely rule out this injury as affecting his pitching.
“I won’t say it isn’t. I could be trying to protect.”
Broxton had an MRI done and will also meet with Dr. ElAttrache in New York on Thursday to review the results. He’s not too concerned about what may pop up.
“If it was something serious, I think I wouldn’t be able to throw at all.”