Army of Oh-Fers & Curse of 9th Inning Doom Dodgers to Defeat

Rafael Furcal, 0-4 (with four left on base). Jamey Carroll, 0-4. James Loney, 0-3 with a walk. Jay Gibbons, 0-3 with a walk. Jerry Sands, 0-4 with three strikeouts. Other than Matt Kemp, who had a double and a homer among his three hits, the rest of the team went 3-29 (two of which came from Dioner Navarro) against something called an “Aneury Rodriguez” (a Rule 5 pick, like Carlos Monasterios was last year) and three Houston relievers. Once again, anemic Dodger offense wasted what was a generally solid pitching effort.

That it was even tied at one headed into the 9th was in large part due to Ted Lilly, who’s had his share of detractors around here. When the homer-prone Lilly allowed a leadoff dinger (on the first pitch, no less) to Michael Bourn, who has just two since the start of 2010 and 11 in parts of six MLB seasons, you’d have been well within your rights to cringe and wonder how bad this was going to get. (I know I did.) But to his credit, Lilly tossed six shutout innings afterwards, despite striking out only two, and Mike MacDougal & Javy Guerra each followed with scoreless frames.

Now I know Matt Guerrier picked up the loss here, as he gave up a double to Brett Wallace and a single to J.R. Towles to blow the game in the 9th. But for once, I don’t want to bag on Guerrier, who has really been the least of the concern in the beleaguered bullpen (ridiculous contract aside). It’s hardly his fault that the team couldn’t score more than one run, and that’s where the bulk of the blame lies here. Again.

However, the fact that yet another 9th-inning situation ended up sideways – even though this wasn’t a save situation – just goes to show how poorly the 9th has gone for the Dodgers this year. Check out their splits by innings, and keep in mind that this doesn’t even include today’s failure.

Split IP ERA PA R H 2B HR SO/BB BA OBP SLG OPS BAbip
1st inning 50.0 2.16 196 13 35 11 2 4.33 .194 .241 .300 .541 .232
2nd inning 50.0 4.86 210 28 51 14 7 3.00 .273 .320 .460 .780 .310
3rd inning 50.0 3.42 216 19 46 10 2 2.18 .254 .343 .354 .696 .328
4th inning 50.0 4.32 218 28 56 8 6 2.22 .289 .349 .423 .772 .333
5th inning 50.0 3.42 200 19 40 6 6 3.31 .217 .271 .359 .630 .250
6th inning 50.0 4.68 220 27 51 8 9 2.14 .263 .338 .454 .792 .300
7th inning 50.0 2.34 209 15 48 7 7 2.60 .249 .303 .404 .707 .279
8th inning 50.0 3.96 217 24 43 11 2 1.47 .239 .351 .344 .695 .306
9th inning 37.1 9.64 194 42 61 12 6 1.75 .359 .430 .547 .977 .423
Ext inning 7.0 1.29 27 1 5 0 0 2.50 .200 .259 .200 .459 .250
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2011.

Does anything, which I may or may not have highlighted in bold red text, stand out to you there? Save situation or not, close game or a blowout, the Dodgers have seen the 9th inning become their teamwide house of horrors all season. Remember, that’s not including today, so the real number might be up around .990 or so. I don’t have the individual breakdowns handy so it’s hard to pinpoint the exact culprits, but let’s be honest about this: it’s been a team effort. I’m sure Jonathan Broxton leads that list, but he is by no means alone on it. Despite relatively good bullpen work over the last two weeks, this is a team that has just been unable to handle their 9th inning issues.

Combine that with a team that has sporadic – at best – offensive spurts, and that’s how you end up losing two of three to the worst team in the National League. With the day off tomorrow, I’m sure it’s going to be an uncomfortably long wait until they get a chance to try and set things right on Friday against the Marlins. The good news is, they might have Casey Blake back for that game. The bad news is, they’re seven games under .500 with the third worst run differential in baseball… and Casey Blake, of all people, could be seen as a monumental upgrade.

******

Via Baseball America‘s Matt Eddy, Ian Snell has ended his short retirement and has joined the Isotopes down in AAA. Snell struggled in the spring for St. Louis and walked away rather than report to the minors. Still just 29, Snell had his moments in Pittsburgh, making 95 starts between 2006-2008 with FIP scores between 4.01-4.58, peaking at 3.5 WAR in 2007. He got off to what looked like a terrible start in 2009 (2-8, 5.36), but was right in line with his previous work (4.61 FIP), before being sent to AAA Indianapolis to dominate (47/13 K/BB, 4 earned runs in 37.1 innings). He was then shipped off to Seattle as part of the Jack Wilson/Jeff Clement deal, where he was generally awful for parts of two seasons before being allowed to leave after 2010.

Still, this is the kind of zero-risk signing I like. Snell’s not 37 and15 years past a prime he never had (yes, I’m talking about, Juan Castro), he’s 29 and not that far away from having been a useful major league starter. For AAA depth, and to serve as something like the 8th starter for the Dodgers (still behind John Ely), that’s a move totally worth making.

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