Yes, Charlie Haeger gave up 4 (3 earned) of the 6 Florida runs today by walking two and then giving up a three-run blast to Jorge Cantu. But if you think I’m going to say a single bad word about a 5th starter who struck out 12 in 6 innings, you’re absolutely wrong. In just the fifth start of his career, Haeger tied Tim Wakefield’s career high for strikeouts – and Wakefield’s had 422 starts to get that many.
Haeger’s knuckler was dancing so much that two of those strikeouts actually ended up with a man on first, as A.J. Ellis couldn’t hold onto the ball. This guy’s been a big favorite around here for quite a while now, and with Joe Torre’s propensity for yanking 5th starters at the first sign of trouble, Haeger probably needed a good first start more than any other member of the rotation.
But of course, despite 11 hits, 5 more runs, and some outstanding glovework by Ronnie Belliard, it wasn’t enough. Once again, the bullpen and defense grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory. For the pen, at least today it wasn’t “insert an Ortiz here”, or George Sherrill’s mysterious implosion, or even Torre’s total mismanagement. No, today it was the usually reliable Jeff Weaver who allowed a single, stolen base, walk and a two-run double to Cantu yet again.
Even that might not have been so bad if Matt Kemp hadn’t dropped the third out of the sixth inning, with Haeger still in the game. One base hit later, Ronny Paulino scored the 4th Marlin run.
So now the team is 2-4 headed back to Los Angeles, and while the big-time offense is a nice change, the Dodgers are looking at some serious questions. Remember when this team was built around pitching and defense, but couldn’t really hit? Yeah, me neither.