Monday, May 6, 2013
Thoughts: Crisis time for Dodgers
By David Schoenfield
Thoughts on Sunday's games ...
- A brutal weekend for the suddenly disintegrating Dodgers. Swept by the Giants, including two on walk-off home runs. Hanley Ramirez, just activated from the DL earlier in the weekend, landed back on it after straining a hamstring on Friday. Adrian Gonzalez didn't start any of the three games because of a stiff neck but pinch-hit on Sunday, so I guess his neck was OK for one at-bat but not four. Meanwhile, Matt Kemp is still sitting on one home run, they've already used nine starting pitchers (rookie Matt Magill couldn't get out of the second inning on Saturday) and Sunday's lineup included Nick Punto, Juan Uribe, Luis Cruz and Dee Gordon. You're not winning anything with that group. Heck, Clayton Kershaw may ask for a trade not a contract extension. As for Sunday's game, Matt Cain took a 4-0 lead into the eighth before tiring and walking Kemp. The Giants' bullpen allowed Kemp and two more runners to score before finally closing the door on the 4-3 win. I'd say Cain finally looked like vintage Cain but, again, it wasn't much of a lineup he faced. The Dodgers are 13-17, they're second-to-last in runs scored in the National League, they're minus-27 in run differential and their best player isn't hitting. Right now, they're a bad baseball team, and showing no signs they have the talent to dig out of this.
- The Orioles beat the Angels 8-4 to take three out of four in Anaheim. Manny Machado continues to impress with the bat almost as much as he has impressed in the field, hitting his fifth home run and improving his batting line to .309/.352/.522. The Orioles finished 7-4 on their longest road trip of the season and have won five of their past six series. How loaded is third base in the American League? You have Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre and Evan Longoria, and now Machado, the underrated Kyle Seager in Seattle and Josh Donaldson, off to a good start with the A's.
- Speaking of Donaldson, his home run off Boone Logan in the eighth was the decisive run in Oakland's 5-4 win over the Yankees. The key decision, however, came in the bottom of the ninth when Brett Gardner singled with two outs off Grant Balfour and with Robinson Cano up was wild pitched to second. Bob Melvin elected to walk Cano -- the potential winning run -- a risky move and one that looked good when Vernon Wells struck out. Essentially, Melvin increased his chances of winning (Wells more likely to make an out than Cano) while simultaneously increasing his chances of losing (by putting the go-ahead on base). What he did was decrease the chance of a tie (because of the lesser chance of a game-tying hit). Interesting decision but not one you see too often.
- Bryce Harper got ejected, the second ejection of his career. Seems like umpire John Hirshbeck got the check-swing call correct (the pitch was probably a strike anyway), but it certainly appears like he got a little itchy with the trigger finger. Come on, umps, the game isn't about you.
- Nice win for the Royals over the White Sox. Billy Butler tied it in the bottom of the ninth with a two-run double with two outs and then they won it in the 10th. The Tigers beat up on the hapless Astros this weekend but the Royals stayed a half-game behind and have won four in a row. They can sweep the White Sox in Monday's makeup game. I still don't know what to make of the Royals. The pitching has been terrific but Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Salvador Perez and Jeff Francoeur have combined for three home runs. The optimist says that even when the pitching inevitably regresses the offense will start picking up the slack. Are you optimistic, Royals fans?