Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dodgers getting healthier, but still need more fire

Let's start with the good news.  Hyun-Jin Ryu is scheduled to come off the 15-day DL and make the start on Sunday in San Diego.  He's been missed, as the Dodgers have had to rely on Kevin Correia to make his starts, with mostly bad results.  Plus, Ryu is a really good option in the #3 rotation spot.

The other good news is that Juan Uribe isn't far behind, and should be good to go within the next couple of days (same link as above).  He has one of the best gloves at third base in all of baseball, and is having a good year at the plate towards the bottom of the order by hitting .293 with six homers, 18 doubles, and 35 RBIs.

Oh, and September call-ups means we should see the debut of Joc Pederson, who should instantly add some punch to a punchless lineup... if the Dodgers actually play him.

OK, so that's the good news.  Here's the bad news: the Padres walked-off on the Dodgers for the second straight night in extra innings on Saturday 2-1.  Once again, the Dodgers wasted a great performance by their starter, this time by Zack Greinke, and the rest of the team looked as lifeless and boring as can be.  Hence, even against a pretty bad team like the Padres, it was another loss.  And of more concern, now only a 2 1/2 game lead over the Giants in the NL West.

It's important not to get too high or too low during a 162 game season.  That's the message Don Mattingly has been trying to deliver to Yasiel Puig, but considering he struck out another three times, it doesn't look like it's registering much.  But with that in mind, there's no other way to put it than to come out and say these last two nights have been bad, bad loses.

Look, let's take nothing away from the Padres.  Their pitching is much better than people realize, and they looked much hungrier for the win.  The Dodgers, on the other hand, almost appear to just go through the motions way too much, and hope one of their former All-Stars turns it on for a win.

Well, Friday night Hanley Ramirez drove in both runs, and one night later it was ex-Padre Adrian Gonzalez launching a solo shot.  And that was it.  Nobody else did a damn thing.  Dee Gordon has gone 0-for-11.  Puig has struck out four times.  Matt Kemp has five strikeouts.  Hanley went 0-for-5 following up his good Friday performance.

So many swings and so many misses has led to 25 punchouts the last two nights.  Yikes.

It's obvious the Dodgers need some serious adjustments at the plate.  I don't know if they're trying to do that, or are just too stubborn to realize they can't hit a home run on every swing.  I know the Padres have good pitching, but there's still no excuse for that many K's in only a two-game span.  When they actually put runners on, they're not moving them over, and they're not doing the little things to get them in.  Instead, it's one giant hack and one giant miss after another.  So frustrating.

Sunday is a big day for the Dodgers.  It would be really bad to get swept by a team six games under .500.  Couple that with the Giants playing so well of late, and the lead in the NL West could shrink even more by the time Labor Day rolls around.

Yes, Labor Day will also signal some new blood, whether that be from the DL or from the minors.  But to the guys already on the team, it's time to start playing with more fire, more sense of urgency, and quite frankly, more intelligence.  If not, they'll be the ones looking up to the Giants in no time.

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