The Dodgers Double Switch
With the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres tied at 3-3 in the top of the sixth inning, manager Don Mattingly took Luis Cruz out of the game as part of a double switch. To quote Mattingly from before the game: "We can talk about the bullpen and the guys we don't have, but at the end of the day we haven't done enough offensively."
Luis Cruz has been a dependable bat for the dodgers hitting .400 in the past seven days. If there is any knock on him he has only been batting .148 (4-for-27) with two outs and runners in scoring position. Then again he was .565 (13-for-23) with runners in scoring position and less than two outs.
So after Cruz popped up in foul territory to the catcher to end the fifth inning and pitcher's spot due up second in the bottom of the sixth inning, Mattingly took the gamble and put in Shawn Tolleson into the game for two innings and Adam Kennedy in at third base.
Mattingly said he liked the team's at-bats in the game with the Dodgers amassing ten hits through five innings.
"Tonight we put an attack out there," he said after the game. "We got behind but we were coming all the time. It was a different feel tonight compared to the last few."
But Mattingly also said the improved attack didn't factor into the decision to pull Cruz.
"It was where we were at," Mattingly explained. "I don't really like taking Cruz out of the game at that point the way he was swinging the bat. But at that point in the game, we've been asking so much out of our bullpen I was in a situation where I've got to try to get two innings."
Cruz took it all in stride.
"I'm just there for whenever they need me," Cruz said. "If they want to take me out, that's the manager's decision. I've just got to be ready everytime they need me. I'm fine with it."
Mattingly sacrificed offense, an ultimate source of weakness he identified before the game, for a bullpen that was ten deep. Ultimately the move didn't work with Tolleson giving up the winning run on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Quentin in the seventh inning.
The Dodgers didn't get a hit for the rest of the game and lost the game 4-3. The closest the Dodgers came to hope was in the seventh inning when Matt Kemp hit a long fly ball to deep centerfield. Only one problem: Cameron Maybin jumped up at the wall to snatch the home run away from Kemp.
"He caught the ball," Kemp said. "He's a good centerfielder and got a good jump on the ball."
And thus the Dodgers lost for the first time on a Hello Kitty giveaway game. I suppose the tote bag doesn't hold the same powers as the plush doll or the mini bobblehead.
Fortunately for the Dodgers the Giants lost again to the Arizona Diamondbacks to maintain a 4 1/2 game lead in the division. The Dodgers are now 1 1/2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the final wild card spot.
While it's easy to dismiss the Dodgers, they still have six games against the Giants and four against the Cardinals. So they're not quite dead yet.