Things Getting Interesting with the Dodgers
Things are getting interesting at the Ravine.
Today the Dodgers recalled shortstop Justin Sellers from Triple-A Albuquerque after optioning Sunday's starter Matt Magill back to Triple-A after his emergency start. While with the Isotopes, Sellers batted .337 with a homer and 17 RBI in 24 games. With runners in scoring position he was batting .321 (9-for-28).
Before getting sent down by the Dodgers on May 8, Sellers was batting a paltry .191 with one homer and two RBI.
"I just knew I've got to hit," Sellers said. Getting regular at-bats in Triple-A allowed him to work on shortening his swing. "I'm just trying to get quality at-bats, be a pest at the plate, be a tough out. I've got to keep the ball out of the air."
With Dee Gordon also sitting in Albuquerque, why was the decision made to bring up Sellers? "I wouldn't be able to speak to that, honestly," Mattingly replied. "They let me know who was coming, and that's who it was."
So Mattingly had no input? "No," he replied.
Never has Mattingly thrown management under the bus so explicitly. Both he and general manager Ned Colletti have glowed in the past about the great two-way communication they enjoy. So it just seems interesting that players are being foisted upon Mattingly all of a sudden.
Trouble in paradise?
Let's look at the ninth inning. The Dodgers had a 3-1 lead over the first place Arizona Diamondbacks. In came their closer Brandon League whom Colletti signed to a three-year contract during the offseason.
Although League had three uneventful games since his last blown save on May 31 in Colorado everyone knew this was inevitable. After striking out Miguel Montero, Martin Prado singled and Gerardo Parra doubled. Jason Kubel hit an RBI single that scored Prado. Didi Gregorious walked to load the bases as Josh Wilson came in to pinch run for Kubel.
As Peter Moylan started warming in the bullpen, A.J. Pollack popped up to second baseman Mark Ellis for the second out. And the escape hatch was oh so tantalizingly close.
But Willie Bloomquist hit a single that scored Parra and Wilson giving the D-Backs the 4-3 lead.
"Bases loaded, a ground ball just inches away from being an out," League said. "It's just back to the drawing board tomorrow."
In came Moylan who gave up a single to Goldschmidt before getting Cody Ross to pop out with the D-Backs holding on to a 5-3 lead.
People on Twitter were blasting both League for blowing the game and Mattingly for continually going back to League in the ninth. "He's our closer," Mattingly said. "He's been the guy."
Then came another shot, a dose of sanity amongst all of the palaver. "If I can say that there's been one dominant guy, it would be a different story," Mattingly said. Sure Kenley Jansen has been dominant as of late, especially retiring the side in order in the eighth inning. But we've seen him also go through stretches where he's been struggling. See the two games he pitched in Atlanta in May when he gave up two runs each.
It's easy to criticize Mattingly for the bullpen, but realize that the bullpen he has isn't very good. And if Mattingly is being left out of the conversations of who gets recalled from Triple-A as is apparently the case now, then who's to blame for the quality of the bullpen arms?
The Dodgers did make a comeback attempt. In the bottom half of the inning Juan Uribe led off with a home run off of D-Backs closer Heath Bell. The Dodgers had runners on first and third with no outs, but Nick Punto flied to left, Mark Ellis struck out swinging and Adrian Gonzalez grounded back to the box to give the D-Backs the 5-4 win.
At least it was better than them getting nothing after getting the bases loaded with no outs in the eighth inning. "That hurts us not to be able to tack on," Mattingly said.
So even though Clayton Kershaw pitched seven innings giving up only one run on six hits and two walks. Even though Mark Ellis went 3-for-4 with a walk and a homer in the fifth inning. Even though Yasiel Puig and Jerry Hairston had three singles each. Even though the Dodgers neutralized Paul Goldschmidt, who torched the Dodgers for four homers and nine RBI the last time he was in town, until his single off of Moylan at the end of the game.
Despite all of that, it went for naught.
I know there have been rumors and reports from behind the scenes over the last month or so about the mounting tension behind the scene. Today was the first time I've witness it starting to seep through in a public manner.
I doubt that anyone is getting fired tonight or tomorrow. But as summer gets closer and closer, things are starting to heat up. I guess we'll see what happens next.