If you thought Hanley Ramirez's two-out, two-run homer off of Sergio Romo would propel the Dodgers to a series split, well... you thought wrong.
Once again, when the Dodgers found themselves in extra innings, the bullpen fell apart, and the offense couldn't pick them up in a 7-4 loss to the Giants. The Giants are in first place for a reason, as they made the big plays more often than the Dodgers, and that's all there is to that.
It wasn't too long ago I wrote about the Dodgers' struggles when there's free baseball after nine innings. The biggest culprit was the team's 5.40 ERA in extras. Well, that number shot up even more today, as Kenley Jansen was charged for three runs while only getting one out in the 10th. J.P. Howell did a good job in getting the final two outs, but also uncorked a wild pitch that led to the third run. It was just ugly all around.
Don Mattingly followed the book of relief pitching by inserting his closer in the 10th. Obviously he wasn't in a save situation anymore, so Donny was trying to put up a zero and let his team maintain their momentum from Hanley's homer to win it in 10. It didn't work. In fact, it blew up in everyone's face.
I can certainly understand Donny wanting Jansen in that spot, but the numbers suggest it's not at all the right call. Coming into this game, his ERA in extras was 10.80. If that wasn't bad enough, it shot all the way up to an astronomical 22.50 (or five runs in two innings) with a 5.50 WHIP. That's just hard to believe. But believe it or not, that's the reality.
The other reality is that right now, the Dodgers can't find ways to win, and it shows. So, the Giants came to Dodger Stadium and took three of four, increasing their lead over the Dodgers to 4 1/2 games.
Other thoughts from the game:
* I can't wait for Juan Uribe to come back. I've seen all I need to see of Justin Turner and Chone Figgins at third. Turner started today and is hitting .180. Figgins pinch-hit and, shock of shocks, struck out to lower his average to .125. I hope Ned Colletti gets rid of them. Good riddance!
* Take away the first and last innings that Clayton Kershaw pitched, and he was fantastic. The problem was that on a team that can barely score, any runs given up is magnified even more. Pablo Sandoval's RBI double in the first made it 1-0, and after grabbing a 2-1 lead, a two-run shot by Brandon Hicks made it 3-2. All in all, though, it was a good start with seven innings, three runs, no walks, and nine strikeouts.
* Even more surprising was a note brought up by Vin Scully during the game. The home run by Hicks was off a Kershaw curveball, which makes that only the second time in Kershaw's CAREER that someone hit that pitch out of the park (Matt Holliday in the 2009 NLCS). That's amazing.
* Every starter had a hit for the Dodgers, including Kershaw. The problem? An anemic 3-for-14 with RISP. Turner was the worst one, as all four of his AB's were in this situation, and he only had one hit. That's pathetic.
* On a positive note, Matt Kemp looked really good in center. I counted two really good catches on a dive and over his shoulder, plus another sharp one on the run. That's a great sign. Of course, going 1-for-5 really is not.
* Yasiel Puig hit a home run and nobody got mad at him. That might be a first.
The Dodgers and their 7-12 record at home welcome the Miami Marlins for three starting on Monday. Unfortunately, that also means the magnificent Jose Fernandez on Wednesday, while Kershaw and Zack Greinke do not go. They will this weekend in Arizona, so maybe that's for the better.