Vin Scully made a point today of emphasizing how Washington lefty Gio Gonzalez had not allowed a two-strike hit this year. Opposing hitters were 0 for 42 entering the game with two strikes against Gonzalez, and the Dodgers tacked on six more outs with two strikes before James Loney stepped to the plate with the bases loaded and one out in the sixth inning today.
Gonzalez had thrown his last 11 pitches for balls to walk three consecutive batters – Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier understandably, Juan Uribe less so – but he did get ahead of Loney 1-2.
However, Loney went with a tailing pitch and stroked it smoothly to short left-center field, driving home Kemp and Ethier to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead that held up as the final score for a sweep of the Nationals.
The Dodgers ended up with six walks, but Loney’s single was their third and final hit of the day.
In another impressive performance, Chris Capuano pitched 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts and only five baserunners allowed, lowering his ERA to 2.73. Facing Jesus Flores, Josh Lindblom gave up a couple of high fly balls that threatened to tie the game, but one landed foul and the other in Tony Gwynn Jr.’s glove. Lindblom then stayed in to complete the eighth inning.
Kenley Jansen pitched the ninth inning, which combined with Don Mattingly’s pregame statement about Javy Guerra’s sudden lack of swag is sure to ignite some conversation about who wears the title of Dodger closer – as will the fact that Jansen walked two batters in a 26-pitch ninth before striking out the side. Guerra warmed up in the bullpen after Jansen began the inning with six straight balls, so I wouldn’t say there’s clarity on this issue.
Nevertheless, I’m just glad that Mattingly’s increased faith in Lindblom meant that he let him pitch the eighth, rather than take him out for no good reason. Whenever that trio of Lindblom, Guerra and Jansen pitches, I expect them to be effective over the long haul, despite the occasional hiccup. The inning that they pitch in should be the least of anyone’s worries – although the way these things go, I’m sure the calls for Lindblom to close are not far away.
Chad Moriyama has a worthwhile post on Guerra’s pitch selection, for those who wish to explore this further.