I’d love to tell you that I know what’s wrong with Ronald Belisario these days, but I can’t. With one out and a man on second in a tied game in the eighth inning, he entered and promptly allowed the game to get blown open on a walk, a passed ball (much more on Ramon Hernandez, of course), and then, after an intentional walk, gave up a double to Nolan Reimold, scoring two. Only five of his 16 pitches were strikes, and he’s now allowed every inherited runner to score this year. He’s almost the new Mike MacDougal, except that his pitches still have so much movement on them that I can’t imagine how anyone actually hits him.
Belisario’s failure ended an up-and-down affair that began with the Dodgers blowing a 4-0 lead that got started on Andre Ethier‘s three-run blast in the first. If you’re just going by the box score, it’s probably going to look like Hyun-jin Ryu tossed out a stinker, allowing eight hits and five earned runs — along with homers from both J.J. Hardy & Reimold – in six innings, but it never really felt that way. Ryu struck out six, and the runs all being earned is somewhat of a result of charitable hometown scoring, since Ethier clearly booted a catchable sinking liner in the sixth.
As for the rest of the offense, Matt Kemp had something of a breakout with three hits and his first stolen base — though the last two were both infield hits that may have traveled a combined 50 feet — while the 6-9 of Hernandez, Skip Schumaker, Luis Cruz, & Justin Sellers had one hit and two walks in 16 plate appearances. Hanley Ramirez can’t come back soon enough, and I’m no longer sure that Sellers is the one leaving rather than Cruz.
As you might expect, a loss like this lands a lot of blame on the manager, and in my opinion Don Mattingly‘s performance was mixed. I actually quite liked his decision to bring Kenley Jansen into a tied game in the seventh against the top of the Baltimore lineup, and also to bring Jansen back for a second frame. After all, one of the few ways we’ve been able to rationalize Brandon League being the closer is that it frees Jansen up for more important work, so credit there.
I didn’t so much mind removing Jansen for Paco Rodriguez with Chris Davis coming up — I know many disagree with me — yet I did find his inaction in the eighth inning troublesome. In a tie game, Skip Schumaker (who can’t hit lefties) was allowed to ground out against Brian Matusz (who is death on lefties) rather than call on Jerry Hairston. After Cruz was, mercifully, hit by a pitch, switch-hitter Nick Punto sat on the bench while Justin Sellers popped out weakly against righty sidearmer Darren O’Day.
Game two starts in about three hours at 4pm PT, with Josh Beckett on the hill. I cannot express enough how badly the Dodgers need to come away with a split today; they’ve won just once since Zack Greinke was injured.