Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kemp finds his swing, but the BBullpen gives one away

Yes, I did spell that correctly.  When it comes to the Dodgers' bullpen, the only stat I can think of is "base on balls," or "BB" for short.

On a night where the Dodgers actually got to Matt Harvey, a combination of too many walks out the BBullpen (again), and Carl Crawford's inability to make a sliding catch late in the game (again - Red Sox fans will know what I'm talking about), the Dodgers lost 7-3 in 10 innings to the Mets.

Of course, the only way possible for the home team to win by four in extra innings is by a grand slam.  Nope, not by David Wright.  JORDANY VALDESPIN.  I assure you I am not making any of this stuff up.

This game marked the return of Ted Lilly, who pitched very well in his first start in about 11 months.  The big story was definitely Harvey, who brought in a sparkling mark of 4-0 with a 0.93 ERA.  So when the Dodgers scored on him in the first, it was completely unexpected.  An RBI fielder's choice by Matt Kemp made it 1-0.

Lilly held the Mets down until the fifth, when they tied it up.  It figures that it was the damn pitcher who did the damage, as Harvey's leadoff double led to an RBI single from Ruben Tejada.

In the sixth, Kemp reached back into a time machine and found his lost power.  With two outs, Adrian Gonzalez worked a walk.  Kemp then lifted a long fly to right which just made it over the wall.  It wasn't called that way at first, but video replay clearly saw it bounce off some moron security guy, who nearly took it off the chin.  And like that, it was 3-1.

Lilly was done after five innings and 86 pitches.  In his place came J.P. Howell, who upheld the Dodger BBullpen tradition of walking everybody they see.  Marlon Byrd and Lucas Duda both walked to start, which obviously is the worst possible thing to do with a lead.  Luckily only Byrd scored on a sac-fly RBI from Justin Turner off of Ronald Belisario.

Off to the ninth we went, where Brandon League was looking for his sixth save.  Mike Baxter led off and hit a sinking liner to left.  Crawford tried to catch it on a slide, it bounced out of his glove, and Baxter was now on second.  Not an easy play, but one that should and HAS TO be made.  With the margin of error so slim for this team, you just knew that would end up biting them in the behind.

And sure enough, it did.  To League's credit, he got the next two outs, with a big assist on a great catch by Jerry Hairston near the stands at third.  He had to reach over the railing on the run to get it, then fire home to make sure Baxter went nowhere.  Momentum had shifted back in the Dodgers' favor.

Wright smacked an RBI single to tie it up, and that was the end of the short-lived momentum.

I think even the Dodgers believed they couldn't win this one as they didn't score in the 10th and sent Josh Wall to the hill.  A single by John Buck, a walk to Ike Davis, and an intentional pass to Duda set the stage for Valdespin, who pulled the ultimate rarity with a walk-off grand slam in extra innings.

Leave it to the Dodgers to not only get some runs on Harvey, but have Kemp hit his first homer and drive in three runs, and STILL find a way to lose.  Let's be honest, that's why they're nothing more than a mediocre team right now.  They COULD be good, but they still have to prove that.  Like I said before, there's practically no margin for error, so little things like the walks from Howell and Crawford's non-catch all weigh so heavily in defeat.  That's the way it is.

At least Kemp is hitting well as he's starting to show his old self again.  When he was benched against the Padres on April 17, his average was .182.  Now it's up to .250 thanks to a .429 clip over his last five games.  When you see him driving the ball the opposite way, that's a great sign.  Is he fully healthy and ready to unload again?  We'll see, but I'll take these baby steps for now.

The BBullpen has taken such a nosedive it's hard to know who to trust anymore.  I thought Howell was the real deal to start the year, now he can barely find the plate.  I thought Belisario couldn't throw a strike, now he's baffled hitters his last couple of appearances.  Wall looked good on Tuesday, and terrible on Wednesday.  League didn't get any help from Crawford, but still gave up a big hit to Wright.  This unit is so up and down, nobody knows what to expect one pitch to the next.

Maybe Hyun-Jin Ryu can give them a deep start on Thursday afternoon so we don't have to see the BBullpen work so much again.  He'll go up against Jeremy Hafner.

No comments: