Well, At Least Kemp and Ethier Did Some Damage

I know, I know: grasping at straws. Still, given that so much of the conversation lately has been dominated by the dreadful Junes of Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier (among others), to see Kemp crush his first homer since June 1 and Ethier get two hits (including a double) was more than welcome.

Clayton Kershaw‘s line (6.2 IP, 5 ER) looks pretty brutal, but it doesn’t tell the real story, as he did have a one-hitter headed into the 6th inning, before allowing a single, a walk, and a homer to Bobby Abreu. It all fell apart in the seventh, though Ronald Belisario certainly didn’t help matters by allowing a single and a double to the first two batters he saw, adding three more runs to Kershaw’s total. Garret Anderson looked Manny-esque in mishandling a ball in left on the latter hit, as well.

While the story today is largely about how the Dodgers simply cannot win interleague games and particularly cannot beat the Angels, that’s not all that important to me. What’s important is that the Dodgers aren’t winning games at all right now, regardless of opponent. Last night’s loss was their fifth in a row, and eighth in ten games. Now while I think there’s a case to be made that you’d rather be losing (i.e., giving wins) to AL opponents who you aren’t battling for playoff spots than against teams in your own division and league, the Dodgers still have five more interleague games left, and the Angels and Yankees are hardly pushovers.

AL or not, sooner or later you need to start winning games against teams who are better than you. Unfortunately, with John Ely and Charlie Haeger lined up the next two nights, things aren’t exactly at their brightest.

Just as I suggested, Haeger is indeed getting the start on Thursday against the Angels. Though I’m obviously a Haeger fan, some people are placing this in the same Mark Sweeney/Garret Anderson category of endlessly misplaced faith, and I just don’t see it that way. I’m sure Joe Torre and crew don’t want to start Haeger, but what else are they to do? This is just a confluence of injury (Chad Billingsley & Carlos Monasterios in the bigs, James McDonald in the minors), unexpected circumstances (Scott Elbert‘s personal leave), and lousy offseason planning (like I need to remind you). Haeger’s hardly earned this opportunity, but I doubt anyone was really dying to see Claudio Vargas in this spot instead.

I never thought I’d say this, but when Rafael Furcal is unavailable, why doesn’t Jamey Carroll lead off more? Russell Martin led off last night for the 18th time this season (he’s the all-time Dodger leader in games led off by a catcher), and Matt Kemp, Xavier Paul, Reed Johnson, Blake DeWitt, and Carroll have also been in the top slot this year – just three times for Carroll, though. 

Kemp, who led off all three games in Boston, is a poor choice despite his speed, since his OBP has plummeted to .315 and his SB success rate is abysmal. Martin is having a typically mediocre year, yet Carroll has the highest OBP on the team (.388) and zero power. Is that basically everything you can ask from a backup leadoff hitter?