When I saw that today’s starting lineup included the infield foursome of James Loney, Eugenio Velez, Jamey Carroll, and Aaron Miles (combined career stats entering the day of 98 homers in 9721 career PA, or one about every 100 PA) I joked on Twitter that they were among the least threatening infield foursomes I could ever remember. Then Loney had to go and make me look bad by hitting his first homer in nearly two months, a no-doubter to right-center field. (By the way, that surprised even me. He really hadn’t homered since taking Ubaldo Jimenez deep on June 12 in Colorado. Three of his five homers this year have come in either Phoenix or Denver; four of the five have come against those two teams overall.)
But despite the infield lineup, partially brought on by the shoulder injury to Dee Gordon, it stood to figure that the Dodgers would still have a good shot at their first road sweep of the season, since Clayton Kershaw was taking the hill, coming off of five starts in a row without allowing more than two earned runs. That optimism lasted for about eleven pitches, during which Kershaw walked leadoff man Ryan Roberts, missed with his first seven pitches, and served up Kelly Johnson with a belt-high fastball which Kelly Johnson promptly parked in the seats for a 2-0 Diamondback lead.
Kershaw settled down to retire 19 of the next 22 Arizona hitters, during which time the Dodgers took a 3-2 lead on Loney’s solo homer and run-scoring hits in the 6th inning by Andre Ethier and Juan Rivera. But the wheels came off in the seventh, as Kershaw gave up a single to Colin Cowgill with one out and then let journeyman Cody Ransom crush a ball to left field for a 4-3 lead. (You can clearly see on the video that Kershaw immediately knew it was a mistake; he jumped about eight feet in the air as soon as Ransom connected.) Kershaw stuck around to allow a double to Sean Burroughs, before being relieved by Josh Lindblom, who got the final five outs without much trouble.
I saw a few people online saying that Don Mattingly erred by allowing Kershaw to stay in as long as he did, as he ended up with 113 pitches. I have to say I disagree; after his first inning troubles, Kershaw dominated over the next several innings, and got the first out in the seventh before the single and homer cost him the lead. It’s hard to blame Mattingly for sticking with his ace through the seventh inning, and the troubles came quickly.
With the loss and San Francisco’s win over Philadelphia, the Dodgers fall back to 10 games out.
Great (by which I mean, “terrible”) moments in bunting, edition #2931039: with the Dodgers down 2-0 in the top of the 4th, Matt Kemp tried to bunt for a hit and was easily thrown out by Ian Kennedy. I’d love to make a snarky comment about how the guy who is arguably the best hitter in the National League should never give himself up so easily, but I’m not sure I could put it better than KABC’s Joe Block did:
Matt Kemp bunting is like punting on first down
What a waste. I’m not sure if I hope that was Kemp’s idea or Mattingly’s. There’s no right answer there.
I may have given Loney the reverse-jinx motivation to take Kennedy deep, but Velez continued his usual path of “not being a major league player”. With his 0-3 today, he’s now failed to get a hit in any of his first 20 plate appearances as a Dodger. That ties him for the worst performance of anyone with at least 20 PA in Dodger history:
I’m sure there’s a good reason he’s still on the team, but… well, I don’t really know how to finish that sentence.