Saturday, August 9, 2014

Defense unravels late as Dodgers fall in Milwaukee

The Dodgers had to be at least somewhat tired coming into Friday night's game in Milwaukee.  Just the night before they took care of the Angels, then had to fly halfway across the country.  So it was understandable that the team might look a little sluggish.

Well, they may have been sluggish at first as they were down 2-0 after one.  But some timely hitting and a very solid start by newcomer Roberto Hernandez handed them a 3-2 lead in the seventh.

And then the Dodgers decided to play defense about as well as the Lakers did last season.  Which is to say, not at all.

If you blinked, then you missed the Brewers putting up a four-spot in the seventh thanks to two (should have been three) errors from shortstop Justin Turner.  Toss in a three-run bomb by Rickie Weeks in the eighth, and the Dodgers ended up getting creamed 9-3.

As Don Mattingly said after the game, it was the defense that did the biggest damage, as Turner had a night he'd like to completely forget.  He was actually the third shortstop used, as Hanley Ramirez had to exit after one inning with tightness in his right side.  Miguel Rojas entered after that, but as usual couldn't hit (.207), so he was lifted for pinch-hitter Andre Ethier in the seventh, who responded with an RBI infield single for the 3-2 lead.

The funny thing about the seventh is that Turner actually started off the inning with a fantastic diving catch ranging to his right.  Then it all fell apart.  He botched a double play ball from Mark Reynolds, which inexplicably was ruled a hit.  Then Brandon League tried to flip a ball home from his glove, which didn't work and led to a run.  Then Turner committed two errors on a bobble and bad throw to first.

The 3-2 lead morphed into a 6-3 deficit.  Uh, not good.

So now Mattingly has to face the dilemma of whom to play at shortstop if Hanley is out for awhile.  Rojas has a good glove, but that boy absolutely cannot hit.  The funniest sight of this game was him hitting in the cleanup spot.  He might be the worst cleanup hitter any team has used this season.  Turner certainly has a better glove than what he showed, but he's no doubt more comfortable at third.

So what can be done?  My guess is Rojas gets the call, simply because of his glove, and he'll be the automatic #8 hitter.  Turner might get some time there, but he now has a lot to prove as far as handling it defensively.  We'll see how that goes.

Other thoughts from the game:

* The Dodgers have to be very happy with what they saw from Hernandez, who overcame a shaky first to post a very respectable line of six innings, three hits, two runs, no walks, and five strikeouts.  He certainly settled down as the game progressed.  He did his part, I just wish the guys behind him did theirs.

* Adrian Gonzalez has hit very well the last couple of nights, as his solo homer in the sixth got the Dodgers on the board.  He's been as streaky as can be this year, as he has five hits in the last two games, but went 0-for-4 in each of the previous three games.  He's still second in the NL with 76 RBIs, so he's getting it done.

* One of the funniest moments of the night was when Matt Kemp got very irritated calling for a fly ball early in the game.  Close ups showed him yelling "I got it," which then turned into "I GOT IT!!!" when Yasiel Puig was lurking.  I wouldn't want to be around Kemp when he gets pissed like that.

* A final thought on Hanley.  While I can appreciate his desire to play, honesty should've taken over so the Dodgers didn't have to waste a bench spot so early in the game, and subjugated themselves to Rojas hitting cleanup.  It was obvious something was up during his only at-bat, so he must have felt something before the game.  An early scratch would have helped the team much more.

The Dodgers still have an excellent road record, and they send their two studs to the mound this weekend in Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw.  You'd like to think they'd win at least one of those games.

No comments: