Matt Guerrier Doesn’t Have the Heart to Pitch the 8th Inning

I’m joking, but not exactly in the way you might think. After Hiroki Kuroda went seven innings allowing just two runs (the 25th time in his 3+ years as a Dodger he’s done that), Matt Guerrier entered, and that’s where things started to go sideways.

Here’s the damage:

I make jokes about Guerrier because as painful as that list seems, it wasn’t really as bad as all that (and I’m someone who hated his signing in the first place). Both of his walks were intentional. The last run would have been saved had Dioner Navarro not dropped a perfect throw from Jerry Sands at the plate (hey, isn’t it great he’s up instead of A.J. Ellis?). And none of the hits were screaming line drives. The first, by Will Venable, was a bouncer between first and second that a better second baseman than Aaron Miles may have come up with. Jason Bartlett‘s single to left-center fell just out of the reach of Sands, and almost certainly could have been caught by Tony Gwynn or any number of outfielders more fleet of foot than Sands. The final one, by Cameron Maybin, was nothing more than a bouncing ground ball just out of the reach of Jamey Carroll at shortstop. Even on the wild pitch, you could make a good argument that it should have gone down as a passed ball by Navarro.

The point here isn’t to absolve Guerrier of blowing the game, because he did, and it looked bad. The point is that this is exactly the sort of bad luck / good hit placement / subpar defense that has often victimized Jonathan Broxton this season, yet the outcry over it won’t be 1/10000th as large. I know the reply to that will be “well, Broxton’s issues have come in the 9th inning while Guerrier was in the 8th”, but that’s silly: a game can be lost just as easily in the 8th inning as the 9th, as we saw tonight. All of Broxton’s issues aside – and there are issues, which I have never denied – baseball is still a game that largely relies on batted ball luck and the support of your defense, not ‘heart’. For a guy like Guerrier who’s never had strikeout stuff, being on a team that doesn’t always put out the best defensive squad behind him can lead to trouble. Tonight, we saw that combined with the whims of the BABIP gods, and the results weren’t pretty.

Oh well. At least Andre Ethier extended his hit streak.