When the Dodgers went on their seemingly endless run, one of the reasons they did so was because of a bullpen that miraculously went from “atrocious” (4.66 ERA in April) to “untouchable” (1.90 ERA since the All-Star break). Part of that is simply because Matt Guerrier is gone and Brandon League was de-emphasized, but it’s also because when you’re that hot, everything’s going to go your way. Balls are going to find gloves. You’re going to end up with things like a .180 BABIP, like they’ve had since the break, and you really ought to know that such things just cannot keep up forever.
We learned that tonight in an eighth inning that saw four Dodger pitchers — including Hyun-jin Ryu leaving after retiring the first batter — turning a gap of one run into a 6-2 deficit. Chris Withrow allowed an absolutely smashed Giancarlo Stanton blast to center field (which doesn’t count against BABIP, I suppose), and then J.P. Howell faced three hitters and failed to retire any.
That sort of thing is going to happen from time to time, but it’s tough for your offense to bail you out when they’re stuck facing Jose Fernandez, who really ought to be the runaway NL Rookie of the Year in any season that doesn’t feature Yasiel Puig. Actually, he deserves the award if you base it only on tonight’s game; Puig went 0-5, striking out twice, as Fernandez (and a generous strike zone) was absolutely dominant. It’s no shame to get shut down by Fernandez, who is having one of the greatest age-20 seasons in history, but it’s not great to not be able to touch A.J. Ramos, Chad Qualls, or Steve Cishek.
The Dodgers had their best chance in the top of the fifth, when Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis led off with singles, then loaded the bases when Marlins third baseman Ed Lucas botched receiving the throw on a lousy Ryu bunt. Carl Crawford then bounced into what should have been a double play, but managed to beat the throw as Uribe scored; Puig & Adrian Gonzalez each went down swinging to end the threat, with Puig particularly unhappy about a somewhat low called strike two. (His unhappiness probably contributed to his giving the bat away, since he struck out swinging on a pitch up at his eyes.)
The Diamondbacks lost, so no ground was lost, and as you probably know, the last time the Dodgers lost twice in a row was two months ago. They looked a bit flat, and that was bound to happen; if you think otherwise, you’re fooling yourselves. Now, can they rebound tomorrow behind Chris Capuano? That’s the question.