Thursday, August 16, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Pirates 10, Dodgers 6
By Mark Saxon
The Dodgers' groove slowed with a 10-6 loss in Pittsburgh Thursday, an emotional game in which both Matt Kemp and Don Mattingly were ejected for arguing with the home plate umpire.
The loss cost the Dodgers a chance to complete their first four-game sweep in Pittsburgh since 1949 and snapped their four-game winning streak. They remain in first place with a half-game lead over the idle San Francisco Giants.
Handy Hanley. It's not so much that Hanley Ramirez has been hot as a Dodger... more like efficient. Of his 25 hits for his new team, 23 have resulted in runs scoring. Ramirez hit an opposite-field two-run home run that -- briefly -- gave the Dodgers a lead. So far, he has done exactly what they were hoping he would do, add heft to a lineup that used to fall off a cliff beyond Andre Ethier.
Rare pop. How astonishing is it that James Loney didn't hit his third home run until mid-August? He broke a nearly three-month power drought by launching one into the seats in right field. The Dodgers no longer have high expectations for their first basemen, but they need something.
Rolling reliever. Javy Guerra's last eight appearances have been scoreless. In that span, he has struck out 11 batters and walked two while allowing six hits. It's hard to believe he had a 5.86 ERA back in May. The former closer appears to be back in form and it always helps to have hard-throwing, effective relievers who can shorten games for your starters.
Temper, temper. The temperature was hotter at Dodger Stadium than in Pittsburgh Thursday, but the Dodgers' emotions boiled over nonetheless. It's not that easy to get ejected from the bench, but Kemp got the hook for something he said to umpire Angel Campos in the second inning while Andre Ethier was hitting. Not surprisingly, Mattingly wasn't happy his best player got tossed and he had a few things to say before he, too, was asked to exit the field of play. It wasn't the best way to get a game underway, losing your slugger and your manager. Mattingly is a mild-mannered fellow, so it's a little surprising he's been ejected six times this season.
Long tossing. Joe Blanton, like Kemp and Mattingly, didn't seem particularly enamored with Campos' strike zone, but it wasn't the umpire's fault he threw three pitches that resulted in Pirates home runs. The Dodgers are trying to survive Blanton's starts rather than benefiting from his contributions so far. He might prove to be a good No. 5 starter before long, but so far, not so good. Blanton is 0-2 with an 8.21 ERA as a Dodger.
Thin on talent. When your big managerial moves are to insert Elian Herrera (.246), Juan Rivera (.242) and Juan Uribe (.185) as your pinch hitters, you might have some issues with depth. The Dodgers might have the least-scary bench in the major leagues and, now that the trade deadline has passed, that's not going to change unless a couple of these guys regain their stroke.