A day that has gone poorly from the start for the Dodgers has become a real nightmare.
With the White Sox leading 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth inning, Juan Pierre muscled up on a Hiroki Kuroda slider and send it toward the right-field wall. Andre Ethier chased it, and at the last moment, turned the right side of his body into the fence and slammed into it in his vain attempt to make the catch. As Gordon Beckham went into third base and Pierre into second, Ethier retrieved the ball but clearly looked shaken up afterward.
The next batter was Alexei Ramirez, who homered earlier in the game. The Dodgers had the infield in, while the staggered Ethier was playing deep. Ramirez hit a 3-1 pitch for a pure Texas Leaguer in between the oncoming Ethier and backpedaling second baseman Jamey Carroll. The ball fell in for an RBI single.
After that play, as Ethier retreated back to his position, Tony Gwynn Jr. came running out of the dugout on manager Don Mattingly’s direction to replace Ethier in right field. It was unclear to me whether Ethier signaled that he needed to replaced.
Though Ethier had been in a 1-for-30 slump (including 0 for 2 today) when the play occurred and has only one extra-base hit this month, there’s no doubt that any kind of injury to him would be a significant blow to a reeling Dodger team. Of course, Ethier has already been nursing a troublesome left elbow, which some think might be responsible for the hitting woes that followed the end of his 37-game on-base streak.
In the meantime, the Dodgers were hoping that Kuroda could just stabilize things, not out of any realistic hope of winning the game, but just to spare a Dodger bullpen that used mop-up relievers Ramon Troncoso and Lance Cormier for outings Saturday of 30-plus pitches each.
Kuroda ended up allowing two runs in the inning (both unearned, thanks to an error by Rafael Furcal), but at least he made it through four frames, albeit on 89 pitches. Rookie reliever Javy Guerra, who warmed up in the fourth inning, would probably combine with Scott Elbert to take the role of long man today.
However, the sixth White Sox run of the day brought about another injury, as Pierre, sliding home on Paul Konerko’s sacrifice fly, brought his right leg right into catcher Rod Barajas’ face. Dioner Navarro pinch-hit for Barajas in the top of the fifth.
Update: The Dodgers tried to come back, managing to score three runs and get Matt Kemp to the plate as the tying run in the seventh, before ultimately losing, 8-3. A day after his first major-league home run, Jerry Sands went 4 for 4 with his 10th double of the season and third stolen base. James Loney reached base three times. Rafael Furcal made an error and went 0 for 5 with three strikeouts, including one with the bases loaded, in his return from the disabled list.
Chicago’s Ramirez went 4 for 5 with his home run and two doubles, driving in five runs.
Ethier and Barajas are currently day-to-day with their injuries, according to Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com. The Dodgers said Ethier had injuries to his right elbow, right lower back and left big toe, while Barajas had a right wrist injury.
Even if Barajas is only going to be out for a few days, it’s hard to imagine the Dodgers won’t have to call up catcher A.J. Ellis from Albuquerque, rather than rely on Dioner Navarro and emergency catchers – regardless of whether it’s Barajas, Ethier or Aaron Miles who goes in the disabled list. (Miles has been said to be improving enough to be ready to play Monday in Houston.) If two players went on the DL, then Jamie Hoffmann would be the likely second callup.
After the three-game Houston series that starts Monday, the Dodgers play 19 consecutive games against teams with winning records. Brace yourselves.