It's never a good sign when your team has more ejections than runs scored.
And so it goes for the Dodgers in St. Louis, a place that once again has proven to be nearly impossible for them to conquer.
On Friday night it was more of the same, as John Lackey was dominant, the Dodgers' offense extended their scoreless road streak to a pathetic 37 innings, Don Mattingly and A.J. Ellis were tossed, and the Dodgers dropped the first of a three game-set 3-0.
Something else that dropped was the Dodgers' position of first place in the NL West. That now belongs to the Giants, who took care of the Braves at home.
Oh ya, home plate umpire Mike Winters was just terrible. He's certainly not the only reason the Dodgers lost (more on that below), but his strike zone and quick trigger were all over the place. And shockingly, the calls went the Cards' way at home.
Let's start with the Dodgers' offense. There's really not a whole lot to say other than "They sucked." They mustered six hits (two apiece by Jimmy Rollins and Justin Turner), only one extra-base hit on a double by Rollins, went 0-for-5 with RISP, and had Howie Kendrick ground into a double play.
But hey, at least they struck out 11 times! Yuck.
Look, playing in St. Louis is tough. Really, really tough. As in, visiting teams have won 5 of 24 games there. But the Dodgers just look like they have no life and have to scratch and claw for every little run. And that's something they couldn't even do once Friday night.
To their defense, Winters didn't help this any. All umpires have slightly different (sometimes very different) strike zones, so I swear I'm not one to point them out for a loss. And when I do, I feel it's warranted. In this game, it was definitely warranted.
The biggest gripe of Mattingly and Ellis was that nobody knew exactly what to expect as far as what is and isn't a strike. There was no "adjusting to the umpire" because the umpire looked like he was adjusting his own calls on the fly. And without saying this too loudly, the other complaint was that Yadier Molina got more calls based on his reputation. I believe it.
If you think this is a loyal Dodger fan showing sour grapes, then I counter with this scenario: in the seventh, the Dodgers finally got something going when Adrian Gonzalez and Justin Turner singled with no outs. Andre Ethier then took a very, VERY questionable strike three call on a pitch below the knees (which goes back to the "Molina gets the call" narrative). Ethier was shocked, pissed off, and said his piece.
So of course Winters had to then stare into the dugout and toss Mattingly from there. Instead of just looking the other way on an obvious missed call, Winters had to make it worse by running Mattingly. And then Ellis got his two cents in during the bottom of the inning and was also ejected. It was just a mess all over, and completely ridiculous.
OK, umpire rant over.
All of that aside, like I wrote about before the game yesterday, the Dodgers need to step up this weekend. It's not "must-win" because it's still early in the season, but the last thing they need is another poor showing on the road. Friday night was indeed just that.
It won't be easy with Carlos Frias on the mound, a guy who looks solid one start, then absolutely horrendous the next. It's time for guys like A-Gon, Kendrick, or Ethier to deliver a huge home run, or at least drive in a few runs. Even with Yasiel Puig out, this offense has too much talent to look this pitiful on the road.