LOS ANGELES -- And after Thursday’s two-run barrage, we’re back at zeroes again after the Dodgers were shut out by the Mets, 9-0, on Friday night at Dodger Stadium.
Instances of good fielding. The fifth inning featured a gem catch from Dee Gordon, who drifted back a long way to make an over-the-shoulder catch and rob Ike Davis of a shallow single. A single would have loaded the bases with one out, but Gordon’s defense instead offered pitcher Aaron Harang the chance to close the frame. Unfortunately, Harang promptly surrendered a double to Daniel Murphy on the next at-bat, but still, it was Gordon’s thought that counted. Bobby Abreu eventually ended the same inning by hustling all the way to the left field stands to grab a long pop fly from Kirk Neiwenhuis. Not bad for a 54-year old.
Kenley Jansen. Obviously, not the most pressure-filled situation, but one inning with no runs and two strikeouts is one inning with no runs and two strikeouts.
The bottom of the seventh inning. Two men actually reached base! ‘Twas a glorious inning, my friends! One you’ll share with your children, and your children’s children!
R.A. Dickey strikes again! Dickey has been really good this season. As in, “back-to-back one-hit complete games” good. As in, “five consecutive games with zero earned runs over at least 7.1 innings” good. As in, “hasn’t lost a game since April 18” good. Still, he entered this particular game on the heels of surrendering five earned runs to the Yankees, perhaps a sign the Dodgers were catching him in the midst of a bugaboo. Or not. Three hits were cobbled together over eight innings, and 10 batters struck out.
Obviously, there’s no shame in failing to tag a pitcher currently among baseball’s toughest. But given how dormant the bats have been of late, it sure could have provided a nice boost if they somehow pulled it off.
Harang scrapped ... and often lost. The righty’s night began in ominous fashion, with a leadoff walk delivered to Andres Torres, followed by a Ruben Tejada single sliced over Gordon’s head. Two outs were then punched, but just when you thought it was time for easy breathing, Lou Duda got a free pass to first, putting runners on the corners. Still, Harang got Murphy looking on a 1-2 fastball, and the inning yielded no runs. That was as good as things got when it came to wriggling out of trouble. Harang once again found himself with two on and nobody out in the third inning, and this time two runners crossed the plate. (More later on why that particular mess wasn’t entirely his.) With two on, two out, and force plays intentionally set up in the fifth, he was tagged for two more runs. (Again, perhaps not entirely his fault.) Finally came the sixth inning, where Harang got Tejada down 0-2 in the count with two outs ... then proceeded to plunk him. That was all she wrote for Harang. But hey, at least he got the first hit off Dickey. And if it makes Harang feel any better, Shawn Tolleson (1.1 inning, 43 pitches, five hits, four earned runs, one first pitch, 3-run dinger) was considerably worse.
Instances of bad fielding. Jerry Hairston made an error on a routine grounder in the third, and the man allowed eventually became an unearned run for Harang. Later in the fifth, Scott Van Slyke made the curious decision to bare hand a right field hit from Murphy rather than knock it down, and the ball went leaked past him. By the time Tony Gwynn Jr. fielded it, Murphy was on second and two runs had scored. The play was scored as a double, but still a poor idea that did Harang no favors. Then in the seventh, Gordon coughed up a playable grounder at short, later converted into an unearned run for Tolleson. A team struggling to hit can’t afford to serve up scoring opportunities on a silver platter for an opponent. Against an electric pitcher, it’s even worse.