That Loss Was More of an Oddity than a Disaster


Before we all start beating each other up over Tuesday night’s historic loss, let’s turn it over to commenter Paul for some much-needed clarity:

I tried really hard to be bummed out about this, but just couldn’t. This game means basically nothing, and I was almost amused by the statistical oddity of overcoming a win expectancy that high. Plus watching Ryan Roberts making fun of Kirk Gibson was pretty great.

It’s true. In previous, more competitive seasons – or lord help us, if it had been Jonathan Broxton on the mound – we’d have heard untold doomsday predictions and suicide pacts after this one. But now, in the penultimate game of a generally mediocre season after they’ve already clinched a winning record? It’s definitely more of an “wow, that happened” sort of feeling.

I mean, look at the FanGraphs WPA chart and try not to laugh:

And “happen” it did, somewhat disappointingly for Hiroki Kuroda, if this was indeed his final start as a Dodger, since he was outstanding through six shutout innings. Just look at the hijinks that took place in the top of the 10th, when the Dodgers scored five to bust open a one-run game. Dee Gordon “doubled” on what was really a well-placed (though well-struck) ground ball through the right side, then when Jerry Sands did his best to sacrifice himself with a foolish bunt (don’t get me started), Micah Owings gifted them a run by throwing the ball away attempting to get Gordon at third. That was followed by another error – Chris Young kicking around a single by Matt Kemp - and then after a groundout, single, and a walk, A.J. Ellis tripled in two runs. And by “tripled”, I of course mean, “he blasted a ball off the right field fence that ricocheted back into Justin Upton‘s face,” which is the only way Ellis is hitting triples. (When I first saw that, my initial throught was, “Chad Moriyama‘s going to gif that.” Yep, and it’s glorious.) Owings retired Jamey Carroll and Justin Sellers to finish off his nightmare frame, but the damage was done. (And more on him in a second.)

As fun as it was to see the Dodgers take such a lead in the top of the tenth, it didn’t come without a large amount of Arizona assistance, particularly Owing’s throwing error, so when Blake Hawksworth made his own mistake by failing to cover first on what would have been a game-ending bouncer to James Loney it almost seemed poetic. But still, that only put one man on, and he was still able to come within one strike of ending the game against Miguel Montero… and he couldn’t do it. Montero singled. Young walked. Aaron Miles booted a grounder to third – and I don’t want to hear any more about Miles, who’s a brutal third baseman and who is hitting .234/.292/.313 since the All-Star break – and that was it for Hawksworth.

Javy Guerra, who’d already been up and down at least once, entered as the eighth Dodger pitcher of the night. I don’t need to tell you what happened after that. But I do find it entertaining that no one is asking if Guerra has the “ice in his veins” or the “guts” to be a closer, right?

As Paul says, this was an embarrassing but ultimately meaningless loss. If anything, I think it illustrates much of what we talked about earlier yesterday as far as the bullpen goes: 1) relievers are inherently volatile; 2) veteran relievers don’t automatically mean superior performance, since even though Guerra gets the loss, it was Hawksworth who really choked this game away, and Matt Guerrier allowed the first run by failing to record a single out.

It probably says a lot about this season, I think, that on the list of “awful things that happened,” this can’t be higher that 15th or 20th on the list. Ted Lilly tries to end it on a high note later today.

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Reason #1390138910 why pitcher wins and losses are stupid: Kuroda entered the game 13-16, and he didn’t factor into the decision. That record represents a career high in both wins and losses. So, he’s had both the best and worst season of his career? Got it.

Reason #1390138911: I mean, Owings allowed five runs in one inning before heading off to the showers. He got the win. I can’t believe I still have to argue with people about this. (Jon Weisman amusingly pointed out that since Owings had a 45.00 ERA in the game but won, that must mean the ERA stat is flawed. Ha.)

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Good news: Ned Colletti noted that the entire coaching staff is expected back in 2012. You know what a big proponent I’ve been of this group, particularly after the ineffectiveness of Joe Torre’s crew, so this is a big win.

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  1. [...] up for the rest of the season, saving 21 games while blowing just two. (One of which was the ugly walkoff grand slam in Arizona in the final days of the season, after Hawksworth couldn’t hold on to a large lead or [...]

  2. [...] Returning in June, he was once again solid, allowing a .542 OPS and a 19/5 K/BB in 19 1/3 innings. Nothing stellar, of course, but certainly useful; this earned him a B in the midseason reviews, where I referred to him as “perfectly acceptable.” But from there, it was all downhill for Hawksworth, as he allowed 16 runs (12 earned) in his final 16 2/3 innings of the season, making many wonder if he was injured again – and culminating in his failure to cover first base (or, you know, get outs) in the September 28 soulcrusher in Arizona. [...]

  3. [...] No word yet on whether this is something that had been bothering Hawksworth for a while that he’d been unable to get past or if it’s something new, though I’m inclined to speculate that it’s the latter because of the timing and because Hawksworth’s only injury during 2011 was the hip problem that landed him on the disabled list. While we can’t know for sure, don’t forget that after a relatively solid first half, he was so poor at the end of the year that we often wondered if he was hurt: Returning in June, he was once again solid, allowing a .542 OPS and a 19/5 K/BB in 19 1/3 innings. Nothing stellar, of course, but certainly useful; this earned him a B in the midseason reviews, where I referred to him as “perfectly acceptable.” But from there, it was all downhill for Hawksworth, as he allowed 16 runs (12 earned) in his final 16 2/3 innings of the season, making many wonder if he was injured again – and culminating in his failure to cover first base (or, you know, get outs) in the September 28 soulcrusher in Arizona. [...]