Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Dodgers hardly look like a first place team right now

Another night, another loss to the Rangers.

And a whole lot of frustration.

Frustration from Clayton Kershaw, who slammed his glove in the dugout after giving up a 439-foot bomb to young Joey Gallo.  Frustration from the offense, which was abysmal in leaving 10 men on base.  Frustration from the bullpen, which saw Josh Ravin give up another homer in a close game.

Frustration, frustration, frustration.  That's about the only consistent thing with the Dodgers right now after a 5-3 loss to the Rangers.

They're 37-29, good for first place in the NL West.  That's the good news.  The bad news is that they've fallen apart this month, getting practically nothing from their offense, even less from their middle relief, and currently on a three-game slide.

Yesterday, I broke down the offense and middle relief, and nothing has changed after Wednesday's game.  Well, Clayton Kershaw got hit around in between striking out 10, but it was obvious he wasn't on top of his game.  I can't blame him too much, though - the pitching has to be nearly perfect just to pick up a win with this damn offense.

The Dodgers definitely rely on Kershaw way too much as it is.  It's probably no different than when King Felix pitches for the Mariners or Madison Bumgarner for the Giants.  The expectations are sky high, so when they mess up, it's like there's no recovering from it.

Kershaw has definitely been more human this year, as he's been much better lately, but you get the feeling he's still searching for his best stuff.  Even with a mediocre 5-4 record, he still has a 3.29 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and 122 K's in 93 IP.  The nine homers allowed, though, already matches last season, and is two away from 2013.  There's his biggest problem.

With all of that said, it hardly matters what Kershaw did when the offense continues to be a giant letdown time and time again.  Take the first couple of innings on Wednesday.  Yasiel Puig doubles leading off the first, then Chris Heisey walks.  Nothing came of it.  Then the returning Scott Van Slyke doubled leading off the second, and A.J. Ellis walked with an out.  Again, nothing came of it.

About the only signs of life came in the sixth when Van Slyke hit a two-run homer, and Alex Guerrero hit for Kershaw and came through with an RBI single.  But, more men were left on, which God forbid one inning comes and goes without that happening.  Joc Pederson pinch-hit with two on and one out and struck out for the millionth time.  Adrian Gonzalez grounded out to end it.

Then Ravin gave up a solo homer to Prince Fielder in the ninth.  Granted, it was a "Dodger Stadium" homer that barely got over the small left field fence, but still.  Two nights in a row with another middle reliever failing miserably.

Don Mattingly rolled out a lineup that included Chris Heisey, Kike Hernandez, and Ellis.  Not included were Andre Ethier, Jimmy Rollins, and Pederson.  Once again, the rationale was to matchup righties vs. lefties.  Once again, it made no difference whatsoever.  I don't have a big problem resting guys, but enough of Kike and Ellis getting starts.  They should be late inning options if anything, not guys in a starting lineup with Kershaw on the mound.  It's just ridiculous.

Then again, if Rollins could hit anything and Pederson could stop striking out so damn much, changes wouldn't need to be made.

The bottom line is that the Dodgers absolutely cannot drop ANOTHER game to the Rangers tonight before playing the Giants at home this weekend.  That would be so embarrassing.  If they want to be a first place team for long, they need to step up, show more fire, and play like a contending team.

Anything less would mean more of the same.

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