I suppose I have only myself to blame for actually going out on a Saturday night rather than watching the game, but as I was following the action on my phone, all I could think was, “if not for the foolish usage over the last few games, Jonathan Broxton could be available today.” Clearly, I was not alone in this:
The Dodgers held a 6-4 lead entering the ninth inning, but with closer Jonathan Broxton unavailable, George Sherrill coughed up the lead, giving the Marlins a 7-6 comeback victory. How did we get to this point, you ask? Let’s go back in time to Wednesday night in Pittsburgh…
- Wednesday: Tied 3-3 entering the 10th inning, Torre saves Broxton for a save situation that never comes, rather than use him to help keep the game tied. Ramon Ortiz gives up a run in the 10th, giving the Pirates the win
- Thursday: Now that Broxton hasn’t pitched for six days, he “needs work” and is inserted into the finale in Pittsburgh with the Dodgers leading 10-2.
- Friday: Russ Ortiz began the ninth inning in Pittsburgh leading 7-1, but was pulled with one out and the bases loaded. In comes Jonathan Broxton to get two outs, entering a game in which the Dodger win expectancy was already 98%.
- Tonight: Now that Broxton has pitched in two straight games, he is unavailable tonight to protect a 6-4 lead
That, my friends, is the vicious cycle of incorrect bullpen usage. Over the last four games, Broxton was unavailable in the two games he was needed most, both which ended as Dodger losses. Both losses may have ended differently with a few bounces going the Dodgers’ way, but it would be nice if our chances of winning would have been maximized. With Hong-Chih Kuo on the disabled list, Sherrill struggling, and Ronald Belisario still a couple weeks away from returning, the bullpen is really thin right now. It would be nice to use out best reliever when he is needed most.
But losing isn’t why a lot of fans, including me, are frustrated with the chain of events. Getting beat is one thing, but shooting yourself in the foot is another.
-The usage pattern of Jonathan Broxton is just puzzling. Three days ago, Joe Torre refused to use Broxton in a non-save situation because it was a tie game, and the Dodgers eventually lost that contest in extra innings. However, Torre saw no problem with using Broxton in the very next game in a non-save situation with a 10-2 lead and then again last night in another non-save situation. Those wasted appearances left Broxton unavailable for tonight’s game, and you’ve already seen how that ended.
Yep. These, exactly. Of course, Tony Jackson points to the real culprit: Russ Ortiz.
In part, then, it was the ripple effect of Ortiz’s failure to carry out his assignment Friday that led to the Dodgers’ ninth-inning woes Saturday — although that could hardly be blamed for Sherrill’s personal implosion because he hadn’t pitched since Wednesday night at Pittsburgh, when he turned in a scoreless eighth inning and appeared finally to have found his long-lost mechanics.
It always goes back to Russ Ortiz!