You know what, it’s almost a crime that I’ve gone this far without overtly criticizing Grady Little. Whether it’s been his ridiculous lineups (Gonzalez should never play on a team with both Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, and never bat 5th when he does); or his complete lack of intensity on the field (I’m surprised one of his own players hasn’t slugged him for never backing them up during an argument with the ump); or his calling fans who second guess him stupid, this hasn’t exactly been a shining season for Griddle. But he makes bad lineups out every single night, and that would kind of be a repetitive post.
No, what I’m on about today is an in-game decision he made last night – in a contest that could be described as, you know, a big game. 2.5 games out of the wild card going into a series against the team in the lead? This is not the time to screw around, ladies. This is not the time to massage veteran egos. This is the time to win.
Last night, Esteban Loaiza on the hill for the Blue against RoboPeavy. I think it’s fair to say that Loaiza just didn’t have “it” last night. (One might say that “it” was actually “an umpire who would actually call a strike now and then” – and they wouldn’t be wrong.)
First inning, he walks the bases loaded and gives up two runs. 2-0 Padres.
Second inning, he gives up a single to Josh Bard, and then a 2-run dinger to Brian Giles, swinging away on a 3-0 count. 4-0 Padres. Loaiza’s thrown 50 pitches by this point.
So far, this is not Griddle’s fault. Being down 4-0 is a consequence of Loaiza being ineffective combined with the postage-stamp sized strike zone behind the plate.
However.. the bottom of the 2nd. The Dodgers show some life against Cy Peavy. Kent singles. Gonzo walks. Turtle grounds out to move the runners to 2nd and 3rd. After Ethier strikes out, Nomar is intentionally walked to load the bases for Loaiza.
Who hits for himself. And inevitably, strikes out.
Grady. GRADY! Are you awake? You’re down 4-0 in a game you must win. You somehow managed to load the bases against the best pitcher in the league. Thanks to the expanded rosters, you’ve got half the state of California sitting on your bench. Just look at the sidebar here – this team is carrying fifteen pitchers. Plus, Loazia isn’t getting the job done. Look, it’s one thing if you’ve got Penny or Lowe or Billingsley in there mowing people down. You don’t take those guys out in the 2nd inning; you suck it up and hope to keep it close enough to get another offensive opportunity later. Tell me why you couldn’t have let Mark Sweeney (one of the best pinch-hitters to ever play the game) take a pop at a bases-loaded situation and throw Hull or Houlton out there for a few innings? Isn’t that why Sweeney is on this team? Isn’t that why we have 9282 pitchers? Personally, I hate the expanded rosters, but if there is ever a time to take advantage of it, this was it. Because honestly, what are we waiting for? There’s 20 games left in the season, and this team needs to win at least 3 more than the Padres do. Get on it.
But hey, at least we get the benefit of keeping Loaiza in the game, right? Because he.. bang, Khalil Greene homer. Oh, well at least.. bang, Kevin Kouzmanoff dinger. 6-0 Padres. Houlton and Hull, of course, later combined to pitch 3 and 2/3 scoreless innings.
Hey, maybe Sweeney (or whomever would have pinch hit) strikes out. Maybe it doesn’t matter. But maybe he gets a blooper to right field that plates two. And then Houlton and Hull don’t give up those two dingers that Loaiza did. We’ll never know. Thanks, Grady.
- Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness