Saturday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers lost “bizarre.” Sunday afternoon, they lost “ugly.” In both cases, they looked out for an offensively challenged, sub-.500 divisional rival. I’ll leave it to fans to decide which was worse.
Chris Capuano: It’s always dicey whenever a pitcher gets thrust into unexpected duty ahead of schedule, but the lefty proved once again why he’s the Dodgers’ most reliable pitcher this side of Clayton Kershaw. He was called on last minute to fill in for an ailing Chad Billingsley, and he opened with a three-up, three-down, 10-pitch first frame. Capuano only encountered any kind of pickle during the fourth and seventh innings, and the runs surrendered reflect far more on the failures of the infielders than his own arm. (More on that below.)
All in all, I thought the guy did pretty well pressed into a tough situation. And the fans at Dodger Stadium seemed to agree, awarding Capuano with a rousing hand as he eventually turned the ball over to Josh Lindblom.
Andre Ethier: With a lineup like Sunday’s the right fielder and two-time All-Star naturally found extra responsibility placed on his shoulders. Thankfully, the pride of ASU was up to the task. He put the Dodgers quickly on the board with an RBI shot to right field, scoring Tony Gwynn Jr. from second. He also did his best to extend a two-out third inning after legging out a dribbler to third. Ethier, who has 20 career stolen bases, isn’t exactly famous for his speed, which speaks to just how hard he was digging. Those legs also served him well while backing up deep against the wall to track down a long shot to right from Carlos Quentin.
Jerry Hairston (seventh inning aside): On both sides of the ball, Hairston was cruising before an unlucky seventh-inning disaster. In the field, the utility man made a smothering grab by lunging to his left, then pirouetted around to throw out the speedy Everth Cabrera. In the sixth, he was forced to slide on his knees to track down to tough grounder from Chris Denorfia. Another spin. Another quality throw to James Loney. In the meantime, he provided the Dodgers with their second run after lacing a shot to center field, knocking Loney across the plate from second. It was one of two hits for the third baseman.
Hairston (seventh-inning version): An otherwise quality day (particularly in the field) was marred by a two-error frame, which allowed the Pads to convert two-out danger into an improbable rally. After Capuano handled the opening pair of bats, Hairston threw wide of Loney, allowing Cameron Maybin to reach base. From there, the bags loaded up, but relief was in sight as Capuano induced another grounder to third. No dice. Hairston once again threw wide-left to Loney. Two more runs scored, and the Dodgers fell behind for the first time. The lead was never recovered.
Hairston followed his error with a spectacular leaping grab down the third-base line, but was late on an admittedly difficult throw. Pinch-hitter Alexi Amerista reached base and John Baker crossed home for San Diego’s fourth run.
Dodger D in general: When Don Mattingly announced pregame Juan Uribe was getting the start at shortstop, I was skeptical and intrigued. Yes, he’s well-versed at the position, but that was also a couple of years and (quite frankly) several pounds ago. Uribe’s glove is reliable enough, but I didn’t have a great feeling about his ability to convert plays requiring athleticism. My hunch was reasonably accurate.
In the fourth inning while trying to convert a double play, Uribe’s toss to Mark Ellis, left the second baseman stretched out awkwardly as the Padres runner looked to break up the play. The wide throw to Loney was credited as an Ellis error, but Uribe did his fellow infielder no favors. Later, the Sunday shortstop made a spinning grab to prevent an infield single from trickling further, but bricked the throw to Loney, who couldn’t make the scoop grab.
In the meantime, a legitimate infield single fielded by Lindblom also flirted dangerously with “error” territory on a wild (and unnecessary) throw to first. Five errors in all and six out of San Diego’s seven runs were unearned.
Josh Lindblom/Jamie Wright: Lindblom’s eighth inning consisted of one out, one homer served up to Chase Headley, three hits and a two base-runner mess for Shawn Tolleson to eventually clean up. Wright fared no better in the ninth with three hits and two runs given up in just one frame.