Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

Dud for Dad as Pirates double up Dodgers

Showing little kindness to their fans and their fathers Sunday, the Dodgers dropped the rubber game of their series in Pittsburgh, 6-3.

Zack Greinke allowed 11 of 25 batters he faced over five innings to reach base, and it was the 11th who was the killer. Pedro Alvarez broke a 2-2 tie with two out in the fifth inning by hitting a full-count, no-doubt three-run homer to center off Greinke, whose 2013 ERA rose to 4.22.

Los Angeles had a chance to get right back in the game in the top of the sixth, when with two out, Adrian Gonzalez doubled, Yasiel Puig (3 for 4, plus his first career stolen base) singled him to third and Andre Ethier (2 for 4) singled home a run, cutting the deficit to 5-3. Tim Federowicz, who in the fourth inning grounded into an inning-ending double play with two runners on, then walked to load the bases.

Don Mattingly let Luis Cruz, with a sub-.200 on-base percentage in 2013, come to the plate. As I watched Cruz strike out, I figured Mattingly was conserving players because Juan Uribe was a late scratch with back tightness. (Note: This was what counts for an optimistic assessment of the Dodgers’ travails.) Instead, we came back in the bottom of the inning to find that Mattingly had made a double switch, putting third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. into the game in the pitcher’s spot and putting Matt Guerrier in Cruz’s spot.

Double-switching so that you can get an extra inning out of Guerrier is a waste, especially when, if you don’t get the lead back, you’re only going to be playing an eight-inning game. (Right now, it’s hard to think of any Dodger reliever for whom you’d make an effort to  double the innings.) Meanwhile, Hairston is no guarantee to get a hit if he bats in place of Cruz, but surely it would have been better to see him or another pinch-hitter up in that situation.

And as a topper, Guerrier allowed a solo homer to Alex Presley in the bottom of the sixth to put the Dodgers behind by three again. Los Angeles had two walks but no hits over the final three innings, going quietly to another defeat that put them 10 games below .500 again.

After an off day Monday, the Dodgers make that long-awaited regular season appearance in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Neither team should be anything less than ornery. The Yankees, though doing better than the Dodgers in 2013, nearly blew a 6-0 lead in the ninth inning against the Angels today before avoiding their sixth loss in a row.


Anchors a-whoa


Conversation with Bronx Banter’s Alex Belth


  1. purpledrank

    Hanley was also available to pinch hit, but Don elected to use him in the 9th with 1 on, 2 out, down by 3.

  2. Jack Dawkins

    Im thinking small from here on out. Just want to see them win a series.

  3. I only watched parts of this game but enough to see Greinke was not pitching well at all. And the Dodgers are not a team right now who can come back too often when a SP is off his game that much. There’s a snowball effect too of course, with the bullpen. I guess that’s somewhat the reasoning behind the stubborn double switch but I agree that was a mistake to make that move–most importantly Cruz should be pinch hit for in that bases loaded situation. These are desperate times. If not Hanley then, then Hairston, as you note. (The Uribe scratch was a bummer since he’s been hitting and playing well and then we’re stuck with Cruz.) This not a team that can afford to absorb these kind of mistakes and have that kind of lineup out there, especially if Greinke is off a bit.

    I’ve not been a Donnie-basher and still think he’s not been given a full deck of cards to play with given all the injuries, but he can’t mess up these key managerial moments either.

  4. Glad the Yanks held on. In a silly way I feel this gives Dodgers slightly better chance; a 7 game streak would make Yanks even more overdue. This probably makes no logical sense but it’s something!

  5. Dodgers remain 7 1/2 games out of first place. Padres, in fourth place, are two games behind NL West-leading Arizona.

    • Anonymous

      SD has won 6 in a row to go over 500, 8 out of last 10, gained 5 games on Ariz in those last 10 including 3 this week-end by sweeping Ariz.

    • Don’t know whether to laugh or cry. It’s just sad because if Dodgers put together a halfway decent winning streak at any point in last two weeks they’d be more in the race than they are. Failure to take advantage is maddening. But maybe the NLW will be tight and mediocre all year and Dodgers can still get involved if they get their act together. Seems like a cruel tease at this point but who knows.

      • Anonymous

        Tease is right — another consistent trait of this team.

        If the Dodgers are that close to 1st, this IS the NL Worst.

        Frankly, I don’t care how far back they are if they are 10 games below “average” — and sinking fast. Especially since the rest of the Worst beats up the Dodgers, steals their lunch, then eats them for dessert..

  6. Anonymous

    Chien-Ming Wang

  7. Anonymous

    UCLA coming up against LSU in 5 minutes on ESPN2. LSU’s pitcher’s name is Nola. He is also 12-0 with a 1.68 ERA.

  8. Anonymous

    I think I’ve figured out Donnie’s reasoning, such as it is: I wouldn’t use my closer in the sixth, so why would I burn my best pinch-hitter then? I might need him later.

  9. FWIW, I asked Bill Plunkett about the Cruz with bases loaded moment on Twitter and he was kind to reply at leest.

    Me: @billplunkettocr Anyone (or everyone) ask Mattingly why he didn’t pinch hit for Cruz (say, Hanley) with bases loaded?

    Bill Plunkett ‏@billplunkettocr 11m Couldn’t play Ramirez in the field. Uribe either. Bench was real short. Would have been out of players in 6th inning
    [My response to that was basically, I get those concerns but desperate times call for desperate measures and Hairston came in for Cruz anyway. It was the double switch that was goofed up in my estimation.]

    • Yeah, that’s no explanation at all with Hairston replacing Cruz in the bottom of the sixth inning. The only explanation for the move would be that Mattingly was afraid of running out of pitchers.

      • Weirdly, Dylan H gave me the same answer. (Yes I was bored and crabby on Twitter.)

        Dylan Hernandez: “He didn’t want to be out of players so early in the game.”

        • And re: the pitchers worry–on the one hand I get it because the pen’s been a bit taxed lately and Greinke’s start didn’t help matters, but they do have a day off tomorrow. I mean he knows more than I do about the health and availability of his relievers but that seems a lame excuse too.

          • The “out of players” excuse is just bizarre when you take the guy out of the game 30 seconds later.

      • purpledrank

        Yep. Had Hanley hit, the defensive subs in the bottom of the 6th would have been exactly the same.
        Don really messed that up. Much like his bullpen messups last week.

    • Anonymous

      Mark Ellis, who pinch hit in the 9th, was available countering the claim that the team would have run out of players in the 6th.

  10. Anonymous

    If Donny had pinch hit Hanley for Cruz in the top of the 6th, he could still have double-switched Hairston for Hanley in the bottom of the 6th, with Guerrier batting in Cruz’ #7 spot and Hairston hitting in the 9th spot. By letting Cruz hit for himself and still subbing him out in the bottom of the inning, Donny’s effectively saying that Cruz is a better hitter than Hanley in that spot.

    • West Coast Ram

      …or it’s saying that Donny doesn’t think things through all the way. There have been way to many of these in game decisions that make no sense for even his biggest supporters.

      • Anonymous

        I was one of his biggest supporters until a few days ago. When he said that when Kemp comes back, he’ll move Puig to LF and Andre back to RF, that brought me to neutral, along with his decision to let Withrow pitch to Montero last Wednesday when Paco was warmed up in the pen. But after he let Cruz hit in the 6th inning of Sunday’s game and then subbed him out in a double switch in the bottom of the inning, I got on board the Fire Donny train.

  11. Anonymous

    Just happened to check. Loney’s numbers are almost the same as AGon’s, with Loney having slightly better SLG. Oh well. Can’t wait for the second half surge!

    • Anonymous

      Sure, but who’s slower?

    • West Coast Ram

      If Loney hadn’t sucked so bad during the last two years he would have stayed with the Dodgers. It’s hard to argue to keep him when he was terrible. The fact that he is hitting better somewhere else just tells me that he was unmotivated with a club that didn’t push him by bringing in someone else to challenge for his spot.

    • Anonymous

      Loney was a slow starter and his best months may be ahead.

      • Anonymous

        We all remember 2011,and 2006 when he came up, but over his career his first and second half splits are basically the same.

  12. Anonymous

    I know I’ve likely missed this, but is Ramirez hurt again?

  13. Anonymous

    I don’t know how many wins a Manager can create with in-game decisions versus wins he creates with leadership but I am guessing the former is fewer than the latter. Time should improve Matingly’s in-game decisions but time isn’t as helpful for developing leadership skills.

    If we think Mattingly is a good leader we should leave him alone.

  14. Anonymous

    Ian Kennedy has dropped his appeal.

  15. Anonymous

    And…we’re only seven back!

  16. Anonymous

    Nice story on Puig

    Nice quote from the story I didn’t realise:
    “Four home runs in his first five games should have been sufficiently spectacular for any rookie, but this one did it on a different pitch each time — changeup, fastball, slider and curve.”

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