Tuesday, August 7, 2012
3 up, 3 down: Rockies 3, Dodgers 1
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- Any team that managed to get shut out five times in a six-game span has a different standard for futility, but the Dodgers have stumbled back into one of their mighty cold spells.
The Dodgers were stymied for the second straight night by the worst pitching staff in the major leagues in a 3-1 loss to the last-place Colorado Rockies on Tuesday night.
There's no in-between for this team. If the Dodgers lose again Wednesday, that will give them four straight series that ended in a sweep, two that were lost and two that were won.
One-man band. Aaron Harang got a nice ovation when he left the mound in the seventh inning. He deserved it. Harang (7-7) has pitched deep enough into games and with good enough results that the Dodgers shouldn't be 2-7 in his last nine starts, but they are. The hulking right-hander couldn't get a shred of support as he battled through jams most of the night. He seemed to have a good game plan: don't come anywhere near Carlos Gonzalez. He pitched around him once and walked him intentionally twice. The Rockies loaded the bases off him in the first and fifth innings, but he minimized damage to set up a Dodgers rally that never came.
Walk along. One of the reasons the Dodgers could afford to designate veteran Bobby Abreu for assignment last week is that they have the right-handed version of him on their roster: A.J. Ellis. Both Abreu and Ellis take plate discipline to a whole new area, seldom flinching at anything outside the strike zone. Ellis walked twice Tuesday and has walked 52 times this season, nearly three times as many as teammate Juan Rivera in fewer plate appearances.
A spark. After a rough start to his Dodgers career, Shane Victorino is showing signs of bringing the top of the lineup to life. He has been on base five times in the past two nights, though -- tellingly -- didn't score once in those games. In six games with the Dodgers, Victorino has one run scored. That kind of defeats the point of trading for a premium leadoff hitter, of course, but lately it has not been Victorino's fault.
Big bats. Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier are getting some hits to fall here and there, but neither of the Dodgers' two best hitters is driving the ball with any consistency lately. Ethier has one extra-base hit since July 29 and Kemp has three. That's not the kind of production that will jump-start this pennant race in the Dodgers' favor. Soon, the Dodgers will need these two to begin carrying the team or there may be nowhere to carry it.
Taking a toll. It's fair to say that Tuesday was not a good relief outing for Shawn Tolleson, but at least it didn't linger. Josh Rutledge slammed Tolleson's first pitch off the left-field wall to drive in two inherited runners and Dexter Fowler lined a single to center on his fifth pitch. That was it for Tolleson's night. It must be weird to have a work day that lasts three minutes and has such spectacularly bad (and public) results, but that sometimes is the life of a reliever.
Pace. How does it take nearly seven hours to score six runs? The teams took three hours and 28 minutes Tuesday in a 3-1 game and three hours and 22 minutes Monday night. It shows you the Dodgers had plenty of deep counts, but couldn't cash in with base runners or clutch hits.