Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Dodgers need to thank Kershaw

Think about it: no Clayton Kershaw, no wins this season.

After being on Cloud 9 from an incredible Opening Day win, the Dodgers have come crashing back down to Earth the last two games.  The Giants took advantage of a four-run third, in addition to two more errors and a pathetic 1-for-14 with runners in scoring position by the Dodgers, in winning the rubber game, 5-3.  The Dodgers have dropped two of the first three this season.

This game certainly had an interesting pitching matchup, as the Giants ran out Tim Lincecum, while the Dodgers turned to Josh Beckett.  It's safe to say that both men would like to forget about 90% of last season.  The only good thing for them is that they ended well, with Lincecum doing very well out of the bullpen in the playoffs, and Beckett finding his groove after the trade from Boston.

The Dodgers didn't score at all on Tuesday, so it was encouraging to see them get on the board in the first.  Carl Crawford was back in the leadoff spot and had a great night with three hits and a walk, and he singled.  Skip Schumaker did not have a good night, but he at least walked here, and Matt Kemp's flyout to center got Crawford to third.

Adrian Gonzalez took a walk, and as ball four got away from catcher Hector Sanchez, Crawford scampered home to make it 1-0.  Andre Ethier popped up and Luis Cruz struck out to end the inning, which was a small part of a huge problem of leaving men on base.

The Giants had their big inning in the third.  Gregor Blanco singled and Brandon Crawford doubled to open the inning.  An RBI groundout by Lincecum tied the score at one.  Angel Pagan picked up an RBI with a grounder to Schumaker at second, which was then booted for an error.  Two hitters later, Pablo Sandoval launched a two-run shot, making it 4-1.

Two walks led to nothing for the Dodgers in the fourth, but they did get one back the next inning.  Kemp walked leading off and Gonzalez reached on an error by Buster Posey, who started at first.  Kemp soon scored on a sac-fly RBI by Cruz, which was his only good at-bat in three games.  A.J. Ellis flew out with two men on.

Hunter Pence's solo shot in the sixth gave the Giants a 5-2 lead.  The Dodgers loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame, and even though the Giants cycled through three different pitchers, they only scored one.  Kemp came up with the bases loaded when Mark Ellis and Crawford singled, and Schumaker was beaned.  In yet another effort of trying to do too much, Kemp grounded into a double play, and only one run scored.

The seventh was really the last threat for the Dodgers.  Andre Ethier doubled leading off, a good sign considering he has two doubles so far against tough lefties.  Chad Gaudin relieved, and he got Cruz and Juan Uribe to pop up, and A.J. Ellis to fly out. 

Sergio Romo pitched a scoreless ninth for his second save.

Beckett was pretty good at times, but was done in by a couple of longballs.  And of course, a bad lack of run support.  He went six innings for six hits, five runs (three earned), one walk, and four strikeouts.  Not the greatest of lines, but I thought his stuff moved well.  I still think he's going to have a good year, so I'm not worried.

Let's give some credit to the bullpen, specifically the work of J.P. Howell, making his Dodgers' debut.  He pitched two scoreless innings and showed a great breaking ball.  He'll be a big weapon in later innings.  Brandon League got in a scoreless inning as well.

Let's not give any credit, however, to the offense.  The stat "1-for-14 with RISP" is just pitiful.  Right now, I can't stand their approach with runners on.  It's plainfully obvious that they're trying to send one to the bleachers on every swing.  The 3-6 hitters of Kemp, Gonzalez, Ethier, and Cruz are a combined 4-for-41 this season for an .098 average.  I know it's still early but Good Lord, that sucks!  Kemp and Cruz are still looking for their first hits.  I guess losing Hanley Ramirez looms much larger than we though.

The Giants have tough pitching, as they've proven with two rings in three years.  But like I said before, the Dodgers need to change their mindset when they step up to the plate.  How many popups have we seen already?  Seems like every Cruz swing that happens.  Kemp is trying so hard to prove he's back that he's overswinging as well.  Gonzalez just looks plain lost.  Thankfully Crawford looks good so we can at least feel good about something.

And let's get this perfectly clear - Uribe should not be allowed to start.  Or even play at all.  An 0-for-3 night starting at third once again shows why he shouldn't even be on the team.  When Ramirez comes back, it's time for Ned Colletti to admit to this colossal mistake and release him.  End of story!  Enough already!

Thursday will be an off day before the Pirates come to town for three.  I think a day off is a good thing right now, as the offense needs a day to relax and try to get rolling again.  Zack Greinke will make his first start with the Dodgers after signing his massive offseason deal.

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