Earlier today, I merely asked that Josh Beckett “be good“. I think it’s safe to say that Beckett did quite a bit more than that, putting out what was by far his best outing as a Dodger. Beckett pitched into the ninth with nothing but zeroes on the board, striking out nine Diamondbacks and at one point retiring 12 in a row. For a man who had been clearly been the weak link of the rotation thus far, Beckett really made a statement that he belongs.
But of course, it wouldn’t be the Dodgers if a great pitching performance wasn’t wasted, would it?
Despite three hits from Adrian Gonzalez, their best chance may have come in the top of the eighth, when Nick Punto led off with a single and was bunted to second by Beckett. Punto advanced to third on a Carl Crawford groundout, and Kirk Gibson brought in righty Brad Ziegler to face Mark Ellis. For reasons I still don’t understand, Don Mattingly allowed Ellis to bat — remember, we’ve established many times that Ellis just can’t hit righty pitching — rather than bring in lefty Skip Schumaker. Ellis swung at the first pitch and grounded out, ending the threat.
Beckett hung up another zero in the bottom of the eighth, and Andre Ethier walked with two outs in the top of the ninth before inexplicably getting caught stealing with A.J. Ellis up. Mattingly allowed Beckett to go out for the bottom of the ninth, but that’s when things really got odd. Beckett induced Martin Prado to ground out before allowing a double from A.J. Pollock. Mattingly sent Schumaker to left field, ostensibly as part of a double switch, went to the mound… and then left Beckett in anyway.
Now, as impressive as Crawford has been, you get the impulse to have Schumaker’s stronger arm out there with a man on second. But it sure looked for all the world that Paco Rodriguez hadn’t been warming up until Beckett put a man on, and that left Mattingly without a choice about leaving Beckett in. Miguel Montero walked intentionally to set up the double play, and then Paul Goldschmidt poked a single through the right side to hand Beckett a brutal 1-0 loss.
Mattingly’s going to take a lot of heat on this one, as he should. That being said, it’s tough to hang the loss on him entirely, because Matt Kemp struck out three times while going 0-4, and Mark Ellis & Crawford can’t say they did better. A.J. Ellis & Luis Cruz — good lord, even I didn’t see this coming from Cruz — each went 0-3, and really the only hitters worth a damn on the day were Gonzalez and Punto.
So while we’re all upset about this loss — understandably, as it was a tough one to take — I’m hoping we can all at least take some good out of it from Beckett. That, and attempt to figure out just what is going wrong with this offense.