Jon Garland gave up just four hits and two runs over seven innings, numbers which are good from just about any pitcher but great from a fifth starter. Jerry Sands broke out with three hits, including a double and a stolen base (should have been two, if not for Rod Barajas getting called for catcher’s interference), becoming the 31st LA Dodger to have a three-hit game in his first ten career games. Matt Kemp doubled and threw a laser to nail Omar Infante at third, Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak again, and Ivan DeJesus showed some life with two hits.
Then there were the kinda bad things that are worth noting, but aren’t quite the “really bad thing”.
Barajas may or may not have injured himself after reaching base on a strikeout that got past Florida catcher John Buck. There was no official word, but he was removed for pinch-runner Tony Gwynn on a 2-1 count, which is basically unheard of before the 9th inning. Come back, A.J. Ellis! (Update: after the game, Tony Jackson reported there was no injury.) James Loney went 1-4, but even the one hit was a soft grounder up the middle that got past a backup shortstop playing in a drawn-in infield. The bell tolls for thee, James, especially as Sands is catching on. Of course, there were men on base, so that got Loney an RBI, leading directly to the final “kinda bad thing”, Steve Lyons. Just as he did on Sunday, he exulted over Loney’s “ability to drive runs in”, which I don’t need to explain to you is just garbage. He also spent about ten minutes talking about how Jamey Carroll was a “gamer” who “plays the game the right way”, (i.e. “moderately talented short white guy”), and while I like Carroll, you didn’t hear Lyons busting that out in the 9th, did you?
Then there’s the really bad thing… the 9th inning, which, good lord, could not have gone worse for everyone involved.
Let’s get right to the meat of it, and yes, Jonathan Broxton deserved to lose. With two outs and no one on, Florida manager Edwin Rodriguez inexplicably allowed the punchless Emilio Bonifacio to hit, despite having Hanley Ramirez on the bench. For all the laughs we have at the expense of Loney and Aaron Miles, Bonifacio is legitimately one of the worst hitters in baseball, with a career 66 OPS+.
And Broxton walked him.
In nearly 1,000 career plate appearances, Bonifacio has just one homer, and even that was an inside-the-park job. He is one of the least threatening batters in the game. You do not pitch around Emilio Bonifacio. You make him beat you, and Broxton didn’t. He issued him a free pass, and that’s inexcusable. I can’t say whether he was physically wild or emotionally weak – and neither can you – but walking Bonifacio with two outs is grounds enough for a loss.
That, of course, brought up Ramirez – and why in the world he was held back to not hit if Bonifacio ended the game is still beyond me – and cold or not, Hanley’s still one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, and so it’s no surprise or shame that he singled to right, moving Bonifacio to third. (Though it should be noted that Broxton arguably had a third strike on Hanley that was not called.)
Still, first and third with two outs is still a game worth saving, and Broxton’s made a season so far of getting himself in and out of tight spots. But here’s where it all went sideways, because Broxton induced that game-ending groundball by Scott Cousins to Gritty Gamer Jamey Carroll… and it went right. under. his. glove. Don’t listen to any of Lyons’ garbage about a bad hop; it was a simple ground ball, and Carroll absolutely should have had it.
With the game now tied, getting the last out would at least send the game into extras. Chris Coghlan was intentionally walked, and Infante hit a liner to left that should have ended the inning… except Sands played it like it was covered in bees, allowing it to go over his head to end the game, and that was that.
So if you want to vilify Broxton, go right ahead, because I am in agreement that whatever ailed him last year is not fixed. Head, arm, legs, who knows what body part is causing this, but it’s an issue. I don’t deny that. Unfortunately, this was a team loss. Carroll’s horrendous error, his third of the trip, was the main culprit, and Sands should have caught his ball as well. Vicente Padilla allowed three baserunners and a score in his one inning of work, and as I’ve asked before, if not Broxton, who? Kenley Jansen‘s rounding into form, but he’s not ready yet. I don’t even want to hear Mike MacDougal and his 6/5 K/BB mark, or Matt Guerrier, who’s been relatively good but is definitely not a closer. The only hope is that Hong-Chih Kuo comes back healthy at the end of the week, but you’re a smart person and therefore you better than to ever count on that – and he’s too fragile to do the job alone anyway.
The simple fact is, Broxton’s not very good right now. I stipulate to that, and if there were another option, I’d be for it. Unfortunately, there’s really not, and when the defense is doing their best to give the game away, that’s not helping matters either.