Thursday, June 13, 2013

Want to lose? Just plug in Belisario and League

Another night, another bullpen meltdown.  And there appears to be no end in sight.

Two of the main guys being counted upon to get big outs late in games, Ronald Belisario and Brandon League, were completely useless in the 12th inning against the Diamondbacks on Wednesday.  They combined to turn a 4-4 tie into an 8-4 blowout.  A rally in the bottom half fell short, and the Dodgers lost again, 8-6.

The game featured a solid pitching matchup of Hyun-Jin Ryu and Patrick Corbin.  But, like many other times two good pitchers get together, the offense had their way.  Ryu gave up 11 hits and three walks in six innings, but somehow only gave up three runs.  Corbin gave up eight hits for four runs in five innings of work.  Niether factored in the decision.

The DBacks got up 3-0 in the fourth.  Cody Ross and Miguel Montero each singled leading off.  The next three hitters brought in runs.  Martin Prado and Didi Gregorius each hit RBI singles, and Cliff Pennington's double play ball was still good enough to bring in another.

The Dodgers got going in the fifth, as they took the lead.  It all started on a double by Juan Uribe, who quietly is having a pretty good season.  Yes, I really did just say that.  Then again, compared to his absolutely useless last two seasons, he can do just about anything this year and automatically be better.  But with a .277 AVG and .369 OBP, he deserves credit.

Ramon Hernandez scored Uribe on an RBI groundout to make it 3-1.  Alex Castellanos, who got the late start when Yasiel Puig was scratched with a sore shoulder, hit a ground rule double and went to third on a passed ball.  He scored on an RBI triple by Ryu, though Gerardo Parra misplayed it on a slide.  I'll admit, it probably should have been caught.  RBI singles by Nick Punto and Adrian Gonzalez made it 4-3.

With a one-run lead and nine outs to go, the Dodgers couldn't get the job done.  I know, I know... so shocking!  Chris Withrow made his Major League debut in the seventh and got two outs right away.  Then came a couple of singles, and Montero found just enough room for an RBI single into left to tie it at 4-4.

Not much happened over the next several innings, save for Hanley Ramirez pinch-hitting in the ninth and grounding into a DP.  The word is that he'll be back in the lineup on the road trip starting Friday in Pittsburgh, so hopefully that goes well.  He makes me nervous, though.

After stranding a couple in the 11th, the Dodgers' bullpen showed their true colors in the 12th.  Belisario started it and couldn't retire any of the four hitters he faced, with Prado's RBI ground rule double the big hit.  "Blown Save" Brandon League entered next, and while the damage wasn't all his fault, he still did absolutely nothing to help his own cause.  An RBI single by Pennington and two-run single by Parra made it 8-4.

I'll give the offense credit for putting up a fight in the bottom half, but when you're down four runs in the last inning, it's almost impossible to come all the way back.  Hernandez hit a solo shot leading off against Heath Bell.  Puig pinch-hit, singled, and scored on Mark Ellis's groundout.  Tim Federowicz grounded into a forceout to end the game.

As has been pointed out many times in the past, the Dodgers have virtually no margin of error for winning.  Many things have to go right for it to happen.  And when the bullpen is CONSTANTLY giving away leads or can't hold a tie, it's very disheartening. 

Belisario was charged with the loss, and rightfully so, which is already his fifth of the season.  Right now he has a 4.94 ERA and 1.81 WHIP.  League's numbers are 5.76 and 1.52.  That's terrible!  I'm almost embarrassed to think I was really excited about those two coming into the season.  It's hard to imagine them being much worse.

At this point, I'd much rather see guys like Peter Moylan, Paco Rodriguez, and J.P. Howell get the chance to bridge the gap to Kenley Jansen.  Heck, even Withrow wasn't that bad in this one, as his three hits were all singles, and the last one a little blooper.  Let's see what else he can do.  If Belisario and League aren't going to be released, then only give them the ball when the Dodgers are losing.  They're just that bad.

Thursday is a rare off day for travel, their first one since May 23.  Stephen Fife will go up against the Pirates' ace, A.J. Burnett.

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