Thursday, April 23, 2015

Red hot Dodgers... get swept by the Giants

The old adage of "Throw the Records Out When These Teams Meet" certainly applies to the Dodgers and Giants.  It's one of the best rivalries not just in baseball, but in all of sports.  They've had countless number of big games played against each other.  So despite the records on either side, you know you're in for quite the battle.

Still, when the Dodgers enter on a seven-game winning streak, and the Giants were losers of 9 of 10, it's pretty disappointing to see the red hot team get swept by the struggling one.

Nonetheless, that's exactly what happened when the Giants walked off with a victory for the second straight day, a single by Justin Maxwell in the 11th, as the Dodgers fell 3-2 in 10 innings

It's not like the Dodgers got crushed, as save for Tuesday's 6-2 setback, the last two games were 3-2.  But, a loss is a loss, and even though it's only April, any sweep at the hands of the Giants is tough to swallow.

The two biggest culprits were the offense and bullpen.  Let's start with the offense.  Over the course of the seven-game streak, they put up an average of 6.3 runs per game.  In the last three?  2, 2, and 2, which averages... 2.  I think.  Obviously, that's not going to get the job done against much of anyone, let alone the defending champions.

The bullpen has mostly been successful this season, as was pointed out by Dave Cameron from the entertaining Just a Bit Outside website.  They obviously cleaned a lot of house from last year's way overpriced, way underachieving debacle.  Gone are losers like Brian Wilson, Chris Perez, and the injured Brandon League; in are young flamethrowers like Yimi Garcia, Pedro Baez, and Chris Hatcher. 

But while the young arms have experienced plenty of success, the last two days show that they are indeed young and will go through growing pains.  Hatcher let two runners reach in the ninth on Wednesday, which soon led to the winning sacrifice fly RBI by Joe Panik against J.P. Howell.  We won't even talk about the ridiculous missed call on interference, because the game was in San Francisco, and there's no way the umpires would call that.  And that's the truth.

Today, it was Joel Peralta nearly blowing the lead in the eighth, but getting bailed out big time by a sensational diving catch from Howie Kendrick to end the inning.  Baez was given the chance for the save, but right away gave up a single to Casey McGehee, and then an RBI triple to Brandon Crawford.

Baez at least got out of further damage... but then Juan Nicasio could only get one out in the 10th before Maxwell's walk-off.

Add it all up, and it was a more cost-effective bullpen that gave up big runs one right after another.  Perhaps Don Mattingly just needs to let his starters go a little deeper in games, but that's much easier said than done.  Without Hyun-Jin Ryu and Kenley Jansen, the pitching is naturally going to regress a bit.

The Dodgers are still a solid 9-6, but have only one win in six road games.  That needs to change as they tangle with the Padres again, with three games in San Diego coming up.  That's not exactly the ideal place to wake up an offense, so let's hope Brandon McCarthy, Brett Anderson, and Zack Greinke can go deep into the game so less arms are needed at the end.

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