Monday, October 1, 2012
3 Up, 3 Down: Dodgers 3, Giants 2
By Mark Saxon
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are clinging stubbornly to hope, no matter what the evidence suggests.
After blowing an eighth-inning lead, they rallied for a 3-2 win over the San Francisco Giants on Monday night at Dodger Stadium, with Elian Herrera singling off Marco Scutaro's glove to drive in the winner in the Dodgers' last at-bat.
They can't afford to lose one of their next two games -- or for the St. Louis Cardinals to win even one -- or it's all over. The Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds 4-2 earlier in the evening to reduce their magic number to one.
Sweet science. Andre Ethier takes a lot of flak for his .218 hitting against left-handed pitching, so why doesn't he get just as much credit for his .324 average and 16 home runs against righties? After all, you face about twice as many right-handed starters as lefties. One righty he seems to see pretty well is Matt Cain, against whom Ethier is hitting .456 in his career. He lifted the Dodgers from despair with his two-run home run to center field in the fourth inning. It's fair to wonder why Ethier can't improve against lefties, but to suggest he needs to be in a strict platoon next season seems a bit unfair.
For starters. It never seems like Dodgers starters -- other than Clayton Kershaw -- are dominating. They just never have bad games. The solid pitching has fueled this hot streak more than anything else, even if it sometimes goes a bit under the radar. Aaron Harang got through six strong innings, allowing just two hits, and Dodgers starters have a 1.24 ERA in their past 10 starts. Had the Dodgers supported their pitching a bit more this season, they'd be setting up their rotation for the postseason right now.
Rubber arm. It's not considered an official Dodgers game these days unless Ronald Belisario pitches, or so it seems. The durable reliever pitched in his third straight game, touched 97 mph on the radar gun and worked another scoreless inning despite allowing a couple of base runners to get on. Belisario, Kenley Jansen and Brandon League have given the Dodgers a tough late-game triangle that other teams haven't been able to negotiate lately.
Rhythm disruption? Jansen had already begun his delivery when home-plate umpire Jerry Layne awarded time out to Scutaro. Jansen gestured at Layne with his arms out as if to say, "What gives?" After that, pitching coach Rick Honeycutt, perhaps worried about Jansen losing concentration, jogged out to the mound. Sure enough, Scutaro lined a single to left to drive in the tying run. That snapped Jansen's streak of six hitless, scoreless appearances since returning from an irregular heartbeat.
Final turn. In back-to-back games, the Dodgers got their two best players thrown out at the plate. Matt Kemp survived a violent collision with Colorado's Jordan Pacheco on Sunday. Adrian Gonzalez was sputtering around third when Tim Wallach decided to send him and, by the time Gonzalez slid into home, Buster Posey was standing there with the ball waiting for him. Wallach is just learning some of the new guys, and he might want to note: Gonzalez is slow. That play derailed a two-out rally and made the later innings scary for the Dodgers. Later, Wallach held Hanley Ramirez at third on Luis Cruz's line drive to left. That was probably wise.
Left field. Shane Victorino has been a center fielder most of his career, so cut him a little slack, but he made two plays that might have given the Giants their two runs. First, he bobbled the ball after Posey slammed a double off the wall, allowing Scutaro to score. And in the eighth, Victorino hesitated on his throw -- then sailed it over the cutoff man -- to not only allow Angel Pagan to score, but Scutaro to take second. They weren't egregious mistakes, but they were costly.