Saturday, May 18, 2013

Crappy offense, bullpen, and team

If it can go wrong for the Dodgers, it will.

Despite Matt Kemp robbing Jayson Heyward of a homer, and Chris Capuano pitching shutout ball into the eighth, the Braves used consecutive homers from Evan Gattis and Andrelton Simmons against Kenley Jansen to get the win, 3-1.  That's now two straight nights of the bullpen blowing slim leads late in the game.

On paper, you wouldn't think the pitching matchup of Capuano and Kris Medlen would be a duel, but it sure was.  Neither man surrendered an earned run going into the eighth.  In fact, the lone run for the Dodgers was unearned.

That occurred in the fourth.  Adrian Gonzalez drew a walk with one out.  Andre Ethier flied out as part of his pitiful 0-for-4 night.  Gee, I'm so glad he was back in the lineup and not Scott Van Slyke, who hit two taters the night before.  Great decision by Don Mattingly... not.

Now back to the game.  The second of the Dodgers' two hits on the night came here, as Skip Schumaker lined one down the left field line.  Justin Upton bobbled it a bit, which allowed the snail slow Gonzalez to score.  I never thought I'd see him run from first to home, but the misplay deep in the corner was the reason why.

Capuano was awesome in keeping it a 1-0 game going into the eighth.  With one out, B.J. Upton actually got a hit with a single.  To say that guy has been in a slump would be an understatement, as he was Luis Cruz-like bad.  OK, so nobody's that bad.  That would be darn near impossible!

Evan Gattis came into pinch-hit, so Mattingly called upon Jansen.  Gattis battled him with three straight fouls on a 2-2 count.  Then he squared one up and absolutely unloaded on a laser out to left, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead as Capuano looked like he wanted to spit nails in the dugout.  Just for good measure, Simmons hit one out next to go up 3-1.

That's all Craig Kimbrel would need, as he made only 10 pitches in earning his 13th save.

Looking at the lineup coming into this game, I knew the top third of the order would have to make the most noise if they wanted to win.  Well, Carl Crawford, Kemp, and Gonzalez combined to go 0-for-11 with a walk and run scored.  The only hits were a single by Tim Federowicz and the double by Schumaker, which wasn't an RBI because of Upton's error.

To sum everything up for this lineup, out of 131 pitches faced, only two went for hits.  That is absolutely, truly, utterly pathetic.  But not the least bit surprising for the most boring offense in baseball.

It's a shame that Capuano didn't get the win, but like the lack of runs scored, it's not surprising.  He lasted 7 1/3 innings for five hits, one run, no walks, and five strikeouts.  He's lowered his ERA in his last two starts from 10.38 to 4.84.  About the only justice is that he didn't get pegged with the loss, Jansen did.

And speaking of Jansen, how bad was he?  He can be dominating, but it's fair to say the rest of the league has caught up to him a bit.  He no longer throws high-90s, it's more like around 92.  He's always been a one-trick pony with the cutter, but now hitters don't look as intimidated by it.  All in all, he had a chance to step up and get some big outs, and failed miserably.

Then again, if Mattingly let Capuano keep pitching, perhaps none of this would have happened.  He was only at 91 pitches and didn't walk a hitter all night.  Yet, the second the right-handed Gattis came to the plate, Mattingly brought the hook.  It was all downhill after that.

It's not Mattingly's fault that the bullpen stinks.  But there's no denying that it's yet another wrong call late in the game by him.  Much like going with Paco Rodriguez the night before, only to watch him walk Heyward and surrender a grand slam to Upton.  It was the wrong call then, and the wrong call again on Saturday.

I don't want to be one who piles on every move by Mattingly when things go wrong.  However, the heat is definitely on him right now.  The team looks lifeless, and his moves late in the game have once again backfired.  If things don't turn around in a hurry, and unless Clayton Kershaw or Zack Greinke are on the mound I don't see why they would, then I wouldn't be surprised to see him relieved of his duties.  That's the point we're at right now.

A win on Sunday would at least be something positive to take away from a frustrating weekend.  It won't be Kershaw, as he's been pushed back to Monday in Milwaukee because of his large workload last start.  The mediocre Matt Magill will go instead.  Advantage, Braves.  This has sweep written all over it.

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