When the heavens opened to cause a 33-minute rain delay in the bottom of the sixth inning with the Dodgers leading 2-1 — this after the game’s first pitch was delayed by nearly two hours in the first place — the prevailing opinion among Dodger fans seemed to be, “please, bring on the storms!”
After all, Dodger fans are so shell-shocked by the team’s shoddy bullpen and lack of offense that winning a rain-shortened game actually feels far, far preferable than watching actual Dodger baseball at this point.
Of course, those who felt that way were in no way whatsoever wrong to do so, because really, what was ever going to happen here? J.P. Howell, Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez, & Kenley Jansen managed to nurse the lead through the bottom of the seventh, but then Jansen allowed the first two men in the eighth to reach.
It’s here, really, that you’re walking a dangerous line. Do you want to bring in Brandon League with two on and none out, even though he’s been awful? Do you want to run Jansen into the ground, pitching into his second inning after pitching yesterday and for the fourth time in six days? Do you want to bring in the remaining available relievers, Matt Guerrier or Javy Guerra, each of whom are generally terrible?
There’s not really a good option there, and in my book that goes far more to the front office than the manager’s office. Don Mattingly went with League, and it went as horribly wrong as you’d expect. Basically doing nothing but pumping balls down the middle, League allowed a bunt sacrifice — botched by third baseman Juan Uribe, and more on that in a second — a run-scoring hit to Gerald Laird, a sac fly to Ramiro Pena, a run-scoring hit to Chris Johnson, and a run-scoring squeeze to Jordan Schafer.
By the time he finally got through it, the 2-1 lead was quickly 5-2 Braves, and League — no matter if he’s the closer or the last man out of the bullpen — is an absolute mess right now. That served to blow a fine outing for Matt Magill, who struck out nine in six innings.
But of course, the bullpen isn’t the only problem here, is it? Once again, the punchless offense managed only three hits, none after Matt Kemp‘s third-inning double. Once again, the defense was poor, with Uribe, Nick Punto, & even Mark Ellis pitching in with damaging errors.
There’s a lot of room to place blame for this all-around mess. I don’t want to get in to the entire “fire Mattingly” business again, because we’ve been over this entirely too many times and you all know my thoughts there. The sad thing is, it’s becoming apparent that it really doesn’t make a bit of difference at all who is managing this team, because there’s just really too many holes to fix at once.
That’s not uplifting, I know. So… on to Milwaukee?