Sunday, May 4, 2014

Crawford makes us forget about the bullpen... sort of

* Carl Crawford hit a game-winning two-run homer in the 11th to beat the Marlins 9-7.

* Yasiel Puig hit an enormous three-run bomb measured at 452 feet, his longest as a pro.

* Dee Gordon went 5-for-6 to raise his average to .357, stole three bases, and made a great diving stop to boot.

* Matt Kemp had three hits with a double.

* Juan Uribe and Miguel Olivo each had two hits and two runs.

* Brandon League (yes, Brandon League) pitched two scoreless innings in relief to pick up the win.

(What I just did was list the positives in Saturday night's game.  Because the reality is the bullpen turned a 7-2 laugher into an extra-innings battle thanks to another frustrating night.)

The bottom line is that the Dodgers got the win, but on a night where Kenley Jansen was resting due to a heavy workload, the other guys who appeared at the end did absolutely nothing to give Don Mattingly confidence in resting Jansen again.  Talk about nearly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, or something like that.

It started with Brian Wilson, who took over in the seventh after Paul Maholm gave up three runs in six innings.  Wilson, quite frankly, sucked.  Any good vibes he had from three straight scoreless appearances was thrown out the window in this one, as Marcell Ozuna hit a three-run homer to cut the lead to 7-6.  J.P. Howell had to get out of the inning with the last out.

Chris Withrow wasn't a whole lot better, loading the bases in the eighth on two walks and a double.  He set himself up for some huge failure with Giancarlo Stanton at the plate, but two fastballs and a sharp breaking ball later, Stanton struck out.

OK, so at least the Dodgers were up 7-6 going into the bottom of the ninth, and even with Jansen unavailable, Chris Perez and his 1.35 ERA was.  You know, the former All-Star closer for the Indians.  All was good, right?  Wrong.

Perez coughed up the lead, and was lucky he didn't blow the game in the process.  He had to get two outs with the bases loaded just to send the game into extras.  Two hits and two walks were his undoing.

The final tally for the bullpen from innings 7-9: four runs, four hits, five walks.

And nearly an embarrassing loss.

The bullpen's 3.80 ERA puts them 10th in the National League.  That's not terrible, but certainly not very good either.  All things considered, it's a little below average.  And definitely not worth the millions upon millions of dollars that Ned Colletti threw at them to shutdown the final few innings.

I'll chalk up Wilson's and Perez's performances to rough nights, as they both still have sparkling ERAs.  Wilson, on the other hand, not so much.  As loyal as Mattingly is to him, and understandably so after how good he was last season, it's time to slide him down in the pecking order even more than he has been.  If he has trouble holding onto a five-run lead in the seventh, I'm not sure what he can do.

The Dodgers have to be exhausted after playing two long games in Minnesota on Thursday, flying right to Miami for a Friday game, and then 11 innings on Saturday.  Well, the offense has done the job for the most part, now the bullpen needs to step up and do theirs.  It seems like two steps forward, two steps back on a day-to-day basis.

With Hyun-Jin Ryu on the shelf, old friend Stephen Fife gets the call on Sunday afternoon in Miami.  His opponent?  Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez, who has not given up an earned run in three starts covering 23 innings.  Yikes.

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