Wednesday, August 1, 2012
3 up, 3 down: D-backs 4, Dodgers 0
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers have an Arizona problem.
Fresh off an emotional sweep of the San Francisco Giants up north, the Dodgers came home and played three of their flattest games of the season. After Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers have lost their last six games to Arizona and lead the Diamondbacks by just 1 1/2 games for second place in the NL West.
The Dodgers managed just 15 hits in the three games and gave up six Arizona home runs. Yeah, not a good midweek series.
Working back. Getting Javy Guerra healthy and productive again could give the Dodgers a formidable bullpen. Since he came back after knee surgery, Guerra has pitched well in lower-stress situations. If he keeps going like this, the tension level might rise, which would be good for his career. Guerra, the Dodgers' former closer, got off to a shaky start when he hit Paul Goldschmidt -- who homered Monday and Tuesday -- with a pitch, but Guerra got out of trouble in the fifth and then cruised through the sixth and seventh. He has pitched scoreless relief in 20 of his last 24 appearances.
Beginnings. Hanley Ramirez has more value to the Dodgers if he can play shortstop, particularly while Dee Gordon is still walking around with his arm in a cast. Ramirez made his debut there, sliding over from third during a fifth-inning double switch. Ramirez began an inning-ending double play and looked fairly smooth. Perhaps he will feel comfortable enough to make it his permanent home before long.
Counterpoint. Patrick Corbin is a good argument against doing what the Dodgers just did, emptying out a chunk of their minor league talent to make a run at a 2012 title. The Angels didn't feel like Corbin was one of their core prospects either when they traded him for Dan Haren in 2010. Corbin, 22, has now made six starts for Arizona, four of them quality. He held the Dodgers to two hits over six innings, striking out five, Wednesday afternoon. Oh, and the Diamondbacks also got Tyler Skaggs in that Haren deal. He's only 20 and has a 2.08 ERA at Triple-A Reno.
Bench. Don Mattingly doesn't exactly have the most fearsome weapons at his disposal when he's trying to claw his way back in a close game. His first two guys off the bench were Juan Uribe, batting .196 at the time, and Tony Gwynn Jr., hitting .235. GM Ned Colletti did well to fill some gaping needs with four strong trades at the deadline, but you have to wonder whether there might be a waiver deal Colletti could swing this month to add a little much-needed depth to the offense.
Low Fife. You get a sense what kind of confidence a manager has in his pitcher by how he lets him work his way out of jams. As soon as a baserunner got on against Stephen Fife in the fifth inning, Mattingly came out of the dugout and asked for the ball. Fife has helped the Dodgers bridge a gap until Ted Lilly comes off the disabled list, but you get the sense the Dodgers want to limit his exposure as much as possible.
Fife pitched around a mess of trouble all afternoon, with multiple baserunners in the second, third and fourth innings.
New guys. It hasn't been a good introduction to L.A. for a few of the Dodgers' newest players. Lefty Randy Choate had been cruising all season, but he gave up a long home run to Arizona's powerful catcher, Miguel Montero, that sort of turned out the lights on the Dodgers' chances. Brandon League, also recently acquired in a trade, gave up a single to Goldschmidt, the first batter he faced, and Goldschmidt scored on the Montero home run. Shane Victorino, in his Dodgers debut, went 0-for-4 with a strikeout.