Sunday, April 13, 2014

New lineup, same domination in Arizona

Don Mattingly must feel like a kid in a candy store.  No matter which players he scribbles into the starting lineup, a win over the Diamondbacks is near.

With Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Dee Gordon all sitting against the left-handed Wade Miley, Mattingly stacked the deck with eight righties and one lefty.  Sure enough, that one lefty was Adrian Gonzalez, and his two-run homer helped key the Dodgers to an 8-5 win.  The Dodgers are a perfect 4-0 against their NL West rivals this year.

I liked how Mattingly switched things up a bit with Miley on the mound.  Yasiel Puig led off, then Matt Kemp was right behind him, taking a page out of Tony LaRussa's book of putting some power in the #2 hole.  Hanley Ramirez and A-Gon took their customary 3-4 slots, as well they should, followed by Scott Van Slyke, who started in left, and Juan Uribe.  Justin Turner and Drew Butera rounded things out.

The results were huge, as the offense put up eight runs on 12 hits and seven walks.  Every starter, save for Zack Greinke, got on base at least once, and everyone but Kemp and Ramirez had hits.  Kemp was the only downer at 0-for-4, but I still hope Mattingly gives him more looks in the second spot.  As an opposing pitcher, starting the game facing Puig, Kemp, Ramirez, and Gonzalez can't be a comfortable feeling.

That's the nice thing about depth and health.  Simply put, when there's good health, there's depth.  Gordon is hitting .405 and Crawford .306 and have combined for nine steals.  Ethier is only at .216, but with nine RBIs in 12 games.  All three of those guys are everyday players on numerous other teams.  But on this team, they can be sat here and there depending on matchups.  It might lead to some hard feelings, but when your team is in first place in the division, there can't be any complaining.  The results speak for themselves.

Other thoughts from the game:

* Greinke threw a lot of pitches, 103 in 5 1/3 innings to be exact, but made the big pitches when he needed.  He gave up a run on eight hits with eight K's to improve to 3-0.  Not the sharpest outing, but plenty good enough.

* Good to see Van Slyke's name back in the lineup, as he's been victimized by the numbers crunch.  It's a shame, too, because he's the fifth outfielder, and can't get time at first with A-Gon heating up at the plate.  In this one he doubled and scored a run.  It's a small sample size, but he's hitting .333.

* Butera had two hits.  Seriously!

* Chris Withrow again struck out the side, the second time he's done that in three appearances.  He has 12 K's in 7 innings, which are Kenley Jansen-like numbers.

* Speaking of Jansen, he again was called on to get the last out after the bullpen struggled with a big lead.  Just like the second game in Australia, things got way too interesting in the ninth.  Whose fault was it this time?  Good old Brandon League, who was just awful.  After giving up three runs, Jansen struck out Gerardo Parra to end the game for his third save.

The Dodgers will look for their second sweep of the DBacks already on Sunday when Dan Haren takes the mound.  Monday will be an off day before playing three in San Francisco.  And then it's back home next weekend to face... you guessed it, the DBacks.

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