Skidmarks at Dodger Stadium
I watch the Dodgers play in front of me, and I keep wondering what the hell is wrong with them. On the road they could nearly do no wrong, scoring when they needed, getting pitching performances when they needed. Instead, against a team without Melky Cabrera and a struggling starting pitcher in Tim Lincecum, the Dodgers pissed away yet another game losing 4-1.
The Dodgers have now lost 11 of their 17 home games in the second half. In short, when the Giants leave Los Angeles Wednesday night they will be in first place in the NL West.
"Those [games] are over and done," Manager Don Mattingly tried to downplay before the game. "This is a new homestand. I couldn't give you an answer to the rhyme and reason.
"We lost the game last night. That one's over. We need to win a game tonight. That's the way we'll play it."
After Tuesday's loss, Mattingly still had his head up.
"We're going to be fine. We're not going anywhere. We'll be ready to play tomorrow."
Things didn't look good to start the day. Before reporters were allowed in the Dodger clubhouse, relief pitcher Javy Guerra was talking with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt in the bowels of the stadium. The contents of his locker sat on a dolly nearby waiting to be pushed by a clubhouse attendant.
Just hours before, Guerra was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque to make room for right-handed pitcher Rubby De La Rosa from the 60-day disabled list. The flame throwing De La Rosa was coming off of Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on August 9, 2011.
Guerra and Honeycutt were talking for a while. Neither divulged what was said, with Guerra uttering a simple, "See you later," as he walked past.
"We've got to get better command with Javy," Mattingly said. "It's one of the things he'll be working on, giving him 10 days here to get some finishing touches and get back in the groove as far as throwing strikes without the pressure of the pennant race right now."
Guerra will be eligible to come back when Major League rosters expand to the 40-man roster on September 1.
De La Rosa played in four rehab games, one with the Arizona League Dodgers and three with the Class-A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes. The 23-year old did not give up a run in 12 innings pitched.
From all the reports everything was going smoothly until August 4 when he was pulled from a game with a groin injury.
"It scared me," De La Rosa admitted. "I didn't want it to take two or three weeks before I felt good."
The injury turned out to be much ado about nothing, and De La Rosa continued on the road to recovery.
"I worked hard," De La Rosa said although admitting that he was surprised that his return has come so soon.
De La Rosa's reinstatement gives the Dodgers 40 players on their 40-man roster.
Then the game started. This in no way resembled the pitching duel from Monday night between Madison Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw. This matchup between Tim Lincecum and Joe Blanton was just a mess.
Before the crowd of 56,000 had enough time to admire their Fernando Valenzuela bobbleheads, Blanton gave up three singles and a walk, the last of which was a single to Buster Posey that scored two runs.
In the fourth inning after Gregor Blanco hit a one-out single, Blanton threw the ball away on a pickoff attempt. Blanco landed on third and scored on Brandon Crawford's single. After Lincecum bunted over Crawford, Angel Pagan lined a double to right-centerfield to give the Giants the 4-0 lead.
Despite the results Blanton felt better about this outing than his last game in Pittsburgh.
"Tonight I felt like I threw the ball well," Blanton said about his 10-hit performance. "I thought this was the best [outing] since I've been here.
"If the balls fall in, there's nothing you can do about that," Blanton said.
Still struggling at the plate was Matt Kemp who since Wednesday in Pittsburgh went 0-for-19 before hitting a single in the ninth inning. However Mattingly felt optimistic in what he saw Tuesday night with a couple of hard hit balls.
"He looked more settled tonight," Mattingly observed. "He looked better tonight for sure."
Mattingly did his best, however, to quiet the sirens that sound in alarm with the lack of offense.
"That's part of what we go through over the course of a long season. Just because we're playing the Giants and obviously we feel like we can win one every night, it doesn't mean those struggles don't keep coming at different times. It just happens to be right now."
Apparently all of the struggles have been concentrated at home since the middle of July.
Just to keep things in a jovial mood, infielder Justin Sellers will go in for back surgery on Thursday. When it rains, it pours.