The first batter Rubby De La Rosa faced in the bottom of the first inning of today’s matinee in Minnesota, Ben Revere, hit a triple to the right-center gap. The next batter, Tsuyoshi Nishioka, grounded out to score Revere and put the Twins up 1-0… and that was it. In what was unquestionably the most effective outing of his young career, de la Rosa pitched 6 2/3 shutout innings following Nishioka’s out (7 innings total), scattering just six hits over the day. Most impressively, de la Rosa issued just two free passes. It was both the first time in his career that he went more than six innings or walked less than three, and he did it against an American League lineup. (Yes, I know, the Twins are one of the worst offensive teams in the AL, but still.) Even better, he improved as the game went on. After escaping from danger in the second after allowing three men to reach, he set down 16 of the 20 remaining Twins he saw – one of which was an intentional walk to Revere.
Here’s the problem, though, and why I saw that de la Rosa has now been officially inducted into the Dodger starting rotation: he was completely let down by his offense, who couldn’t manage to score even a single run against Twins pitching. Scott Baker set the top in the top of the first by dispatching the Dodgers with deadly precision, requiring only fourteen pitches to strike out Tony Gwynn, Casey Blake, and Andre Ethier – who combined to go 0-10. Each of the other six starters (plus pinch-hitter Trent Oeltjen) picked up one hit apiece, and the only times the Dodgers even made it to third base were on stolen bases by Matt Kemp and Dee Gordon.
And who made the final out? Dioner Navarro, because of course he did. I’ve joked a lot lately that there’s some federal statute that requires him to hit in the 9th inning of every games… except it’s happened so often that it’s not really a joke any more. You could have put in A.J. Ellis to try to keep the inning going, or, and I can’t believe I’m really saying this, even Aaron Miles.
Still, I’ll take this as a win. The individual game was basically meaningless, right? The loss dropped the Dodgers to 11 games out and in sole possession of last place, pending the result of San Diego’s afternoon game with Kansas City, so does it really matter if they pulled this out or not? Of course it doesn’t. What matters here is that a big part of the Dodger future made a huge step forward in his progression. I’d much rather see that than for him to have been hit hard but for the game to have been pulled out in the end, even if it’s depressing to see him not get rewarded for a solid performance.
Welcome to the club, Rubby.