Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Maybe Puig should be late to every game

Apparently, there is no off button in the world of Yasiel Puig.

After getting to the ballpark all of 35 minutes before stretching started, Puig found himself not only riding the pine (he was scheduled to have the day off anyway), but fined by Don Mattingly as well.  Sure enough, with the score tied at four, whom did the Mattingly call on?

That's right, Puig.  His solo homer in the eighth broke the tie, and Kenley Jansen nailed down his 20th save as the Dodgers got back on the winning side, 6-4.  The Diamondbacks beat the Reds, so the lead in the NL West remains 7 1/2.

The Dodgers came into this one having dropped two straight against Cole Hamels and Jose Fernandez, something that would happen to quite a few teams I would imagine.  Still, it was their first two-game setback since June 20-21 in San Diego.  The last three-game losing streak?  June 8-10 against the Braves and Diamondbacks.  Amazing.

Chris Capuano got the start, and he again struggled to get things going.  In the first, Christian Yelich led off with a double, went to third on a grounder, then scored on an RBI groundout from Giancarlo Stanton to make it 1-0.

The score would stay that way until the Dodgers broke out in the fourth.  Jacob Turner gave up consecutive singles to Andre Ethier and Juan Uribe, but Skip Schumaker grounded into a double play.  Tim Federowicz was intentionally walked to pitch to Capuano, but he, too, walked to load the bases.

Carl Crawford certainly still has speed, and he beat out an infield single to score one and make it 1-1.  Mark Ellis started in the #2 spot instead of Puig, and he also hit an RBI infield single, and another run came across on a bad throw by Adeiny Hechavarria.  An RBI single by Adrian Gonzalez put the Dodgers up 4-1.

That lead would appear to be comfortable against a lowly team like the Marlins, but Capuano again failed to deliver.  The Marlins got two back in the bottom of the frame as Stanton and Logan Morrison singled, and Ed Lucas walked to load the bases with nobody out.  An RBI fielder's choice by Justin Ruggiano and RBI single from Hechavarria made it 4-3.

Capuano was out of there after five, and in his place came former closer Brandon League.  Notice I said "former," because he does just about anything to show why he doesn't get anywhere near the ninth inning anymore.  He faced four hitters and only got one of them out, as an RBI single by Jeff Mathis tied the game.  J.P. Howell got one more out, and Chris Withrow struck out Donovan Solano with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The eighth is when Mattingly called upon Puig to hit in the pitcher's spot, and one pitch later, the Dodgers were up 5-4.  Memo to opposing pitchers: you might not want to throw a first pitch strike to Puig, who will hack at just about anything.  I'm just sayin'.

The Dodgers tacked on the all-important insurance run in the ninth on an infield single by Federowicz.  Of course, the Marlins again shot themselves in the foot on another throwing error by Hechavarria, which eventually led to the run.

Then again, the extra run didn't matter, as Jansen tossed a perfect ninth, inducing a popup from Stanton to end it.

It's always good to get back on the winning side, but the Dodgers still have to wish they'd get more from Capuano.  He went five innings for six hits, three runs, one walk, and one strikeout.  Not horrible numbers, but four starts ago his ERA stood at 4.16, and now it's 4.70.  You have to wonder if it'll be Stephen Fife time (again) at some point, moving Capuano into the long relief role.  Wouldn't surprise me.

With the exception of Leauge, the bullpen did a fine job of keeping the score close.  Howell, Withrow, Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, and Jansen all pitched the final 3 2/3 of scoreless ball.  I think it's fair to say that Mattingly knew he'd have Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw going the next two days, so everyone in the 'pen was available.

One thing the Dodgers have done way too much of lately is ground into double plays.  They added three more in this game, and are fourth in all of baseball with 110.  The league average is 96, so that's obviously way above the norm.  They have the seventh most hits with 1,141, and for a team without much pop, it's natural to hit into more DP's.  Still, fourth most in baseball isn't where they want to be at.

As I stated before, Greinke and Kershaw are lined up to go the final two games of this series.  I'm sure the Dodgers would rather save Kershaw for the next series against the Red Sox, but that's the way it goes.  Who knows, maybe it'll pay off in October if the Sox face Kershaw in the World Series, and don't have any previous looks against him.  Greinke will look for his 12th win.

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