Sunday, May 31, 2015

Punchless Dodgers fail another road test against the NL's elite

By my count, the Dodgers have played in three major series on the road: April 21-23 in San Francisco, May 19-21 in San Francisco again, and these last three days in St. Louis.

The result?  A pitiful 1-8 record, and getting outscored 29-12 in the process.

Sure, the Dodgers can talk about wanting to be the elite of the National League, but until they learn to play better, MUCH better, on the road, they are not in the same class as the Giants and Cardinals.  And that's just the truth.

At home, the Dodgers are a terrific team, as they swept the Mariners in three and took two of three from the Giants back in April.  They get a rematch against these same Cardinals for four games coming up later this week.

But after going through another painful 3-1 loss in which Jhonny Peralta's two-run homer in the first inning held up, it's obvious there's a whole lot of work to be done before anyone should pencil in the Dodgers as a serious contender to come out of the NL.  They're not there yet.

Coming into the Cardinals' series, the focus was on Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke sitting these games out, as they're about to take their turns in the rotation starting Monday in Colorado.  The trio of Mike Bolsinger, Carlos Frias, and Brett Anderson responded by allowing a mere five runs, four of which were earned.  Basically, they pitched well enough as if they were the stars in the first place.

The biggest culprit, again, was the offense, which continues to just sputter along.  Saturday night saw Yasmani Grandal lead the way with a big three-run shot.  Other than Joc Pederson's solo homer in the eighth, it was more of the same today - a whole lot of nothing.  It's pretty amazing just how ice cold this team has become at the plate.

Before the season started, I pointed out how I firmly believed the Dodgers have a deeper lineup, yet there would still be times when they missed the home run power of Hanley Ramirez and Matt Kemp.  Over the past couple of weeks, those two have been missed many times.  After hitting eight homers in April, Adrian Gonzalez has two in May.  Howie Kendrick had three homers and 17 RBIs in April, and then sank to one and five this month.

Maybe the best example of a player going cold has been Alex Guerrero.  It would have been impossible to keep up his torrid rate from the start of the season, so we shouldn't expect that.  However, with increased playing time lately, he's hitting only .250 with a .294 OBP in May.  He has homered in three of the last six games, but it's getting to the point where he's home run or nothing.

Simply put, the offense is continually letting the rest of the team down.  When that happens, as good as the pitching might be, the Dodgers are still very beatable.  They're also pretty damn boring to watch.  How boring, you ask?  Over the last 12 games (a 5-7 clip), they've scored three or more runs only four times.  That's just terrible.

Maybe a little Coors Field action will help shake them awake, as they will be there for four games the next three days, with a double-header on Tuesday.  Just imagine if they STILL can't hit even there.

That would be a new low.

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