Thursday, April 18, 2013

Swept at home by the Padres? Yup, it happened

No matter what the calender says right now, it's not a stretch to say that this is definitely a low point for the Dodgers.

Despite having their ace on the mound and the offense putting 16 men on base, it hardly mattered as the Padres once again slapped around the Dodgers, 7-2.  Roll all of these scores together, and the Padres won these last three games 22-7.

So much for "A Whole New Blue."  Looks a lot like the same crap we saw for most of last year.

The Dodgers actually had the lead early.  Yes, I know, it's hard to believe their offense was capable of scoring a run before the other team.  In the third, Carl Crawford led off with a single and stole second.  Mark Ellis singled to center, and despite a bobble, Crawford chose not to come home.  Andre Ethier, hitting in the #3 hole for the resting Matt Kemp, popped up, but Adrian Gonzalez's sac-fly RBI made it 1-0.

Of course, I have to point out that A.J. Ellis singled and Skip Schumaker did nothing with it to strand two, just like the Dodgers did in the first.  Get 'em on, get 'em over... and leave 'em right there.

That would be it for positives on this night.  Kershaw was clearly not locating well and his fastball was didn't blow anyone away.  Everth Freakin' Cabrera hit a leadoff homer in the fourth to tie it up.  Then Nick Punto dropped one of the easiest pop ups in the history of baseball in foul territory at third, which led to Chase Headley walking.  Which led to Jesus Guzman singling.  Which led to Yonder Alonso walking to load the bases.

Granted, Punto made a great diving stop for a double play to only allow one run to score, but Kyle Blanks followed that up with an RBI single, and it was now 3-1.  Had Punto made the routiniest of routine plays, I would have to think this inning would've been much different.

The game may as well have ended right there, because the Dodgers would proceed to ethier go down in order, or fail to cash in when they were on base.  In other words, the same old song and damn dance since game #1 this season.

The Padres scored in every inning from 4-8.  Solo homers by Chris Denofia and Blanks made it 5-1, chasing Kershaw in the process.  J.P. Howell pitched the seventh and was scuffling to say the least.  An RBI double by Mark Kotsay scored Cabrera, who doubled leading off.  Howell did strikeout Nick Hundley to leave the bases loaded. 

In the bottom of the seventh, the game got comical for the Dodgers, or sad depending on your perspective.  Mark Ellis and Gonzalez each singled off of Joe Thatcher with an out.  Dale Thayer came in and A.J. Ellis singled, but the other Ellis somehow didn't come home on it.  That brought in Kemp for a big pinch-hitting spot, and he showed everyone why he was benched in the first place by striking out.  Punto flew out to, you guessed it, stand men on base.

The only other time the Dodgers scored was in the ninth when Kemp's sac-fly RBI scored Ethier.  Luis Cruz pinch-hit and struck out to end another crappy night in Dodger Stadium.

I think it's quite telling that two of the main guns being relied upon to drive in runs in Kemp and Cruz both started the game on the bench and both K'd when they did get to hit.  Kemp is now hitting .182 and Cruz .100.  My oh my do those numbers suck.

Kershaw had his second straight subpar performance, at least by his standards.  He lasted 5 1/3 innings for seven hits, five runs (three earned), four walks, and five strikeouts.  As I pointed out before, he just didn't have his usual dominating stuff.  I thought his off-speed stuff looked good, but nobody seemed intimidated by his fastball.  They were squaring up on it all night.

The bigger issue here isn't Kershaw not delivering his usual great performance, it's the fact that every Dodger pitcher who toes the rubber knows that they have to practically be flawless just to stand a chance of winning.  Anything less won't cut it.  There's no way you can tell me that Kershaw isn't thinking that.  He looks at the numbers of the bums in the lineup and knows he better deliver on the mound.  Lo and behold, the added pressure has a negative effect.

So here we are 15 games into the season and the Dodgers clearly don't look anything like a contending team.  Their starting pitching is banged up, their bullpen has been leaky, and they might be the worst team in baseball with runners in scoring position.  In fact, they're second to last to the Cubs, who have 24 of those runners score compared to the Dodgers' 27.  Either way, that sucks.

I think we all should be glad that Thursday is an off day, because they just played the last three games as if they were on off days, too.  Friday they go to Baltimore for three.  They are also struggling a bit at 7-7, but they've also played much harder teams than the Padres or Pirates.  Simply put, it won't be easy.  Hyun-Jin Ryu will go in the first game.

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