Trey Hillman was given the reigns to the Dodgers on Friday night, as Don Mattingly was serving his one-game suspension. Hillman was able to pencil in Yasiel Puig leading off, Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez in the 3-4 spots, and A.J. Ellis back behind the plate.
Did it do anything to help the offense? Nope.
The red hot Jeff Locke completely overwhelmed them for seven innings, and the offense failed (again) to cash in with runners on in the final two innings. A two-run double by Andrew McCutchen early in the game was more than enough for the Pirates to win, 3-0. And with that, the Dodgers have fallen 10 games under .500.
Puig avoided suspension and was back in the leadoff spot. He laid down a perfect bunt past Locke to open the game. Naturally, that led to a double play ball from Nick Punto, one of two the Dodgers grounded into this game.
The Pirates blew two on with none out in the second, but McCutchen made sure that didn't happen again in the third. The top of the order of Alex Presley and old friend Russell Martin singled to start. McCutchen lined one down the right field line to score both, and it was 2-0.
A hitter in the heart of the order coming through with runners on? Hmm... must be nice.
Locke cruised through seven, and J.P. Howell took over in the sixth and was flawless for two innings. Mark Melancon took over for the hold in the eighth. With one out, Andre Ethier legged out an infield single, then Jerry Hairston hit a two-out double. Hillman turned to Juan Uribe to drive them in, but he struck out.
Matt Guerrier took the ball from Howell, and has been the case for his three miserable years with the Dodgers, he couldn't get the job done. Both McCutchen and Gaby Sanchez singled. Paco Rodriguez only allowed a sac-fly RBI to Neil Walker before striking out the next two.
That led to the ninth and the dominating Jason Grilli. It was a tough situation, but Puig starting things with an infield single. Punto executed a perfect bunt along the third base line to get a couple on.
At the very least, the Dodgers could hope to score both of them while someone else could step up to tie it. The meat of the order was due up in Gonzalez, Ramirez, and Mark Ellis. How did it go?
Strikeout. Popup to catcher behind the plate. Strikeout. That's right, not a single ball was even put into play by the 3-5 hitters. It was absolutely pathetic.
This game summed up everything wrong with the Dodgers: no clutch hitting, bad bullpen work, and no ability to step up in tight situations. Fife was good enough, tossing five innings for six hits, two runs, three walks, and four strikeouts. Howell and Rodriguez were also great, but Guerrier flat out stunk. Like I said before, that's his legacy with this team.
The offense managed six hits and one walk the whole game. Hairston had the only extra-base hit, and Puig was the only one with two hits. Ramirez, Ellis, Gonzalez, and Uribe all failed to get a hit with RISP. I don't care what the pitching does, with an offense as putrid as this, there's no way this team can string off a bunch of wins to get back into things. It's just painful.
This weekend will feature the Dodgers running their two aces out to the mound in Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke. Kershaw goes first on Saturday. Forget about throwing a complete game shutout, the Dodgers need him to hit a homer like he did on Opening Day.