Sunday, April 21, 2013

2 early leads + 2 blown leads = 2 losses

The slide has reached six with no end in sight.

Hyun-Jin Ryu and Josh Beckett both failed to hold onto early leads, the offense continued to sputter, the bullpen isn't any better, and the Orioles swept the doubleheader on Saturday, 7-5 and 6-1.  The Dodgers are now 7-10 and have been outscored by 21 runs.

And like I said, there's no end in sight.

Saturday afternoon in Camden Yards started out positively enough for the visiting team.  Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp both singled with one out, which led to a three-run bomb from Andre Ethier, his second of the season.

In the second, Justin Sellers actually got a damn hit for once with a one-out single, and Carl Crawford doubled for two on.  A sac-fly RBI by Ellis later, the Dodgers were up 4-0 and feeling good.

Over the next 16 innings, they'd go on to score two whole runs.  In other words, back to business as usual.

The Orioles played longball to get within one.  J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer in the second, and Nolan Reimold got ahold of a solo shot in the fourth.  In the sixth, the O's took the lead on a sac-fly RBI by Hardy and RBI single from Steve Pearce.

The Dodgers did tie it up in the seventh, but again left 37 men on base to blow a bigger opportunity.  Ellis took a walk with one out, then Kemp managed to hit his second infield single of the game.  With Ellis on third, Pedro Strop uncorked a wild pitch that easily tied the game at 5-5.

Adrian Gonzalez was at the plate, so he was intentionally walked to put two on with one out.  Brian Matusz came in to strikeout Ethier and get Ramon Hernandez to pop up.  Hernandez also struck out with the bases loaded in his previous at-bat.  Just the latest example of the bottom of the order flat out sucking.

Kenley Jansen pitched the seventh and blew away the O's on only 13 pitches.  After the offense failed to do anything in the eighth, he came back out to pitch the eighth.  At this point I'm thinking, "Great, he can get through this inning and at least send it tied into the ninth."  Matt Wieters then grounded out for one down.

That at-bat took only five pitches, so Jansen was clearly still fresh enough to keep going.  But wait a minute, a lefty was coming up next!  Don Mattingly just couldn't sit by and watch a guy who once set a Major League record for K/9 innings pitch to a lefty!  Let's get him out of there and bring in some guy named Paco Rodriguez to pitch to Chris Davis!

And naturally, Davis doubled.  Ronald Belisuckio... uh, I mean Belisario came in and was wild even by his own standards.  Reimold smoked a two-run double, and it was 7-5.

Jim Johnson had a laughably easy time getting his seventh save. 

I'd love to review the nightcap, but it was more of the same.  The Dodgers scored in the first on a sac-fly RBI from Gonzalez, the O's tied it on a Davis homer in the second, and RBI doubles by Manny Machado and Adam Jones in the fifth put the game away.  There's your summary.

I'll try to start with the positives.  Ethier (three-run homer), Jansen (dominating relief), Nick Punto (2-for-3 with a walk in the second game), J.P. Howell (scoreless 1 1/3 innings), and Matt Guerrier (scoreless inning) played well.  Kemp did go 3-for-5 in the first game, but with all due respect to him, two of those hits were lucky infield hits.  Two stolen bases were good.  But once again, nothing even coming close to finding his power swing.

The starters underwhelmed.  Ryu looked like he was lobbing it up there at times and blew a four-run cushion.  He lasted six innings for eight hits, five runs, two walks, and six strikeouts.  Beckett fell apart in the middle innings, lasting 5 2/3 innings for eight hits, six runs, three walks, and three strikeouts.  He's still winless at 0-3 with a 4.68 ERA.

There's so many holes on this team, it's almost impossible to point to one as being the biggest.  I will say that Mattingly definitely needs to shoulder the blame in the first game.  Maybe not so much that they lost, but that he didn't put his team in the best position to win.  There's absolutely no way he should've lifted Jansen in the eighth.  This whole "right vs. right, left vs. left" crap drives me crazy at times, and none more so than in game one.  Jansen was lights out, and instead Paco Freakin' Rodriguez gets to pitch to one of the hottest hitters in baseball.  Absolutely ridiculous.

Losing the second game came as no surprise, even as they entered the fifth tied 1-1.  They just had no life to them, so it was only a matter of time.  Six hits the whole game pretty much backs that up.

I would say it's up to Chad Billingsley to snap the losing streak... but news just came that he's now on the 15-day DL with elbow pain.  That's just GREAT news for a guy trying to avoid Tommy John surgery.  Stephen Fife will go instead.  Hopefully he gets to hit cleanup and go 4-for-4, too.

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