Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Dodgers can't pull through when needed the most

The good news in Wednesday afternoon's 14-inning marathon loss to the Nationals was that the Dodgers hit a couple of big home runs.  Justin Turner's two-run shot in the seventh started the scoring, and Carl Crawford's game tying two-run homer in the 12th kept the game going.

The bad news?  More and more futility with the bases loaded, a bad defensive play that ended up costing them dearly, and a bullpen that lost the battle to the other 'pen.

As Vin Scully said during the game, it's surprising that the Dodgers are even in first place with these kinds of performances.

Adam LaRoche came off the bench to drive in five, and the Nationals outlasted the Dodgers in a loooooooong game of five hours and 34 minutes by a score of 8-5 in 14 innings.  The Giants were slapped around by the Rockies, but in the end it didn't matter, as the Dodgers failed to do a damn thing with it.  The lead in the NL West remains two games.

The Dodgers absolutely should feel good for the way they came back in the 12th, as Crawford's home run to dead center was clutch.  But that still does not excuse the fact that time and time again, this team flat out blows it when the pressure is on.

Here's a couple of examples.  With the score tied at three in the 10th, the Dodgers loaded the bases with one out.  Adrian Gonzalez then struck out, and Juan Uribe pinch-hit and did the same.

No problem, as they had the same exact opportunity an inning later.  This time it was Drew "I Can't Hit to Save My Life" Butera popping to third after a long at-bat, and Dee Gordon striking out, something he seems to be very comfortable with lately.

Crawford did tie the game in the 12th in response to LaRoche's two-run single off of crappy Brandon League.  So shocking the League couldn't get big outs.  I absolutely cannot wait for his contract to be up and he hits the damn road.

The 13th saw another chance, as Joc Pederson hit a leadoff single to left.  He soon went to second on a bad pickoff throw to first, and advanced to third on a grounder.  With two outs, Gordon again failed to come through by grounding a bunt out to first.

Then Kevin Correia came on, Justin Turner made another blunder at short on a bad throw, and the onslaught was soon on.

Right now, the Dodgers look like they will win one game in the playoffs, and that's Clayton Kershaw's start.  As good as guys like Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu are, the offense is so pathetic, I don't trust them to give the proper support.  They'll get hits, but not when they're needed the most with runners on.

In fact, the hitting with the bases loaded is just downright embarrassing.  In those situations, they are 17-for-99 for a .171 average, by far the worst in baseball.  That's pathetic!  It's just inconceivable to me how so many so-called "superstars" can have that many at-bats and not even get a hit 20% of the time.  So pitiful.

Simply put, that kind of output will not get it done when it matters the most in October.  There's no way a team can survive and advance when they give away so many scoring opportunities.  I don't care how good the starting pitching is, it's just not realistic to win that way.

The Dodgers will play each of their NL West opponents in three-game sets coming up.  The Giants series will be tough, but they should be favored in the other three.  Then again, if they don't bring that focus and execution to the plate for those games, then they could be heading towards an ugly September no matter what the opposing records are.

Other thoughts from the game:

* All of this extra inning stuff could've been avoided had Kenley Jansen closed things out in the ninth.  Alas, a two-run lead was not enough, as he was lit up by LaRoche's two-run homer, and an RBI single from Denard Span.  It didn't look like Jansen was throwing any differently than normal, so I'll chalk it up to just one of those days. 

* Speaking of giving leads right back, Jayson Werth did his best Matt Holliday impersonation by dropping what should have been the game's final out in the ninth.  Sure enough, the error led to the tying run, and on and on the game went from there.

* Lost in all of this was a fantastic start by young Carlos Frias.  His first career start yielded great results, as he lasted six innings for three hits, no runs, one walk, and four strikeouts.  It was important to give everyone else an extra day off, and he deserved a win.  But, as usual, the bats didn't agree, and it was a no-decision.

* Kevin Correia really stinks.  He now has a 6.75 ERA in 14 2/3 innings with the Dodgers.  Granted, all three of his runs were unearned today, but it's not like he still pitched well.  He'll easily be left off the postseason roster, and rightfully so.

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