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Tuesday, May 21, 2013
It looks as if they're buckling under pressure

By Mark Saxon

 

Manager Don Mattingly's biggest fear coming into this season was that weighty expectations would prove an unbearable burden. That worry seems to be coming to life, and he might be the one who gets caught under the pile.

Night after night, it looks as if the Los Angeles Dodgers are standing around waiting to lose. Virtually each night, a bad at-bat or a wayward pitch in the clutch seems to send them slinking back to the clubhouse, sluggishly hauling their bats and gloves.

Now, after Tuesday night's 5-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers, they have Wednesday's day game to try to salvage a series against a team that was reeling when it got to town. It's conceivable that Mattingly's job hangs in the balance. It has been widely speculated the Dodgers will make a change of managers Thursday before opening a short homestand.

The Dodgers are 1-4 on this trip, 4-13 in their past 17 games and deeply stuck in last place in the NL West.

Even if the Dodgers owners have no intention of firing Mattingly, does he really want to sit there night after night and watch this?

The Dodgers batted five times with the bases loaded and somehow managed to squeeze one run out of it. This team reduces rallies to background noise. They left 10 runners on base in just the first five innings.

As usual, the Dodgers had excruciating at-bats in clutch situations, going 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position. Nobody had a rougher night than Matt Kemp, who showed a glimpse of breaking out of his two-month slump with a deep home run Monday but regressed the next night.

Kemp came up with the bases loaded and one out in the third inning. Two outs later, they were still loaded. Kemp couldn't check his swing on a slow curveball well outside and low for the third strike, and Andre Ethier followed with a strikeout of his own. Later, Kemp bounced out softly to strand two more runners to end the fourth.

Zack Greinke came into the game with an almost-unbelievable 15-0 regular-season record at Miller Park, but he wasn't sharp in his second start since coming off the disabled list. Greinke, making his first start there since the Brewers traded him to the Angels last July, struggled to put hitters away and was gone in the fifth inning. He gave up nine hits and struck out just one batter, the big blow Carlos Gomez's bases-loaded double.