Saturday, May 24, 2014

Awful defense continues to destroy the Dodgers

The Phillies beat the Dodgers on Saturday afternoon 5-3.  Dan Haren scuffled through a very shaky first couple of innings, Chase Utley hit a two-run homer, and the offense chipped away but never could get over the hump.

And one last thing: four of the Phillies' five runs should have never scored in the first place.  If the Dodgers had any clue defensively, then this would've been a victory.

Welcome to the 2014 version of the Dodgers, where defensive miscues dominate.

Let's go through each of the three scenarios:

Miscue #1 - 1st inning
With Ben Revere on second from a leadoff double, Chase Utley popped one up in foul territory with one out.  A.J. Ellis ranged to his right and back, but the ball skipped out of his glove right near the wall.  It wasn't an easy catch because of the wind, but certainly not a hard one either.  Sure enough, Utley creamed the next pitch into the right field stands, and it was 2-0.

Miscue #2 - 2nd inning
First comes the good, and that was a beautiful throw behind by Ellis to Erisbel Arruebarrena at second to nail a wandering Carlos Ruiz.  Soon Cesar Hernandez was sacrificed to second, and Revere singled into center.  Instead of hitting the cutoff man and holding Revere at first, Andre Ethier threw all the way home too late, allowing Revere to advance.  And wouldn't you know it, and RBI single by Jimmy Rollins came next to make it 4-0.  Utley popped up for the last out, so if Ethier made the correct throw, the score would've stayed at 3-0.

Miscue #3 - 5th inning
Again involving the speedy Revere, who hit a little dribbler to Haren.  Having just enough time to make the play, Haren instead fired the ball wide of Adrian Gonzalez at first, causing Revere to go all the way to third.  Don Mattingly argued that Revere was inside the running lane, and it certainly appeared so.  But, it wasn't called, so the play stood.  Regardless, Haren shouln't have thrown it away.  Rollins got the run in on a groundout to short.

Two errors and one mental mistake were enough for the Phillies to get the win.  And it was also enough for Mattingly to once again question just who the heck is capable of playing fundamental defense.  I'm not sure he's able to find nine players at once who can.  It's been that bad this season.

Today marked the 50th game for the Dodgers, and they are right near the bottom of the league with 42 errors.  Only the Nationals and White Sox are worse.  I'm stating the obvious here, but it's inexcusable.  This team has very little margin for error (no pun intended), so when they throw the ball all over the place, they're being their own worst enemy.

The funny thing is, I actually really liked the defensive alignment that Mattingly has used.  Two days in a row we've seen Arruebarrena at short (Hanley Ramirez was a late scratch with a sore calf), Ethier in center, and Carl Crawford in left.  Dee Gordon continues to look really good at second, Yasiel Puig is a stud in right, both Justin Turner and Chone Figgins have handled third well the last two games, and A-Gon and Ellis have long been considered good with the gloves.

Basically, what I'm saying is that when it rains, it pours.  On paper, these guys should be good with the leather.  But, it just seems like when things go wrong, it really, really goes wrong.  It should also be noted that two games straight the pitchers have thrown balls away trying to make quick throws (Brandon League last night, Haren today).  That's not exactly the best way to help your own cause.

Right now the Dodgers are 4-4 on this road trip, splitting evenly with the Diamondbacks, Mets, and Phillies.  If they can't win tomorrow, then this trip has been a major disappointment.  5-4 looks much better than 4-5, though 6-3 would've been best considering the bad teams they've played.  Josh Beckett will take on A.J. Burnett.

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