It may be easy to figure out why the Dodgers rolled over and lost three straight to the Giants this week – the good Dodgers were mediocre and the mediocre ones were simply poor. Meanwhile, the Giants were just darn good.
The Giants certainly didn’t look like a team that one might have expected to be in a funk due to the recent suspension of one of their best hitters, Melky Cabrera, for steroid use. They looked almost perfect in sweeping a series at Dodger Stadium for the first time since 2007. Lucky for the Giants, the good personality of their somewhat “schizophrenic” pitching showed up in Los Angeles on Monday.
The first 2012 meeting between these two teams, in May, ended up with the Dodgers rocking the Giants pitchers for 16 runs in three games. That was followed up by series in which the Giants shutout the Dodgers in all three games. Then, at the end of July, the Dodgers once again roughed up the Giants pitching staff; this time for 19 runs over three games. This time out, Giants starters gave up a total of just two runs and held the Dodgers to less than five hits per game. Meanwhile, the Giants Cabrera-less offense tagged Dodger starters for twelve runs. The problems for the Dodgers came in fours. That is, four players who have fallen into the funk Dodgers fans thought the Giants would fall into.
Outfielders Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier each went a paltry 2 for 12 (.166) in the series. Kemp is hitting just .179 in his last ten games and hasn’t hit a home run since August 8th. Ethier doesn’t have an RBI in his last five games and has only cleared the fences twice since the All-Star break. Ethier’s biggest problem has been his inability to hit left-handers this season-he is hitting just .218 against them. His struggles are at the point where Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked if he would do the unthinkable and consider pinch-hitting for Ethier if a lefty was on the mound and the Dodgers needed a big hit.
“He’s one of our guys. It’s like pinch hitting for Matt if he struggled against righties. It’s the way it is. If we fall with Matt, we fall,” Mattingly said. “We’ll fall with Andre, unless I have an option that says, ‘I’ve got to do this.’ But most of the time I don’t have that option” said Mattingly.
And just as the hitting has disappointed in pairs, so has the pitching. A couple of less-than-stellar starters have fallen on hard times. Mid-season acquisition Joe Blanton, who was 8-9 when the Dodgers obtained him from the Phillies, moved to 0-3 as a Dodger after Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Giants. Blanton has given up 16 runs in the 15 innings he has thrown in a Dodgers uniform. And speaking of schizophrenics, Chris Capuano’s second half swoon showed up just after it looked like he had snapped out of a post-All Star break dry spell. Capuano entered his start on Wednesday having given up just five runs in his previous three starts. But the Giants got to him for six runs in Wednesday’s 8-4 loss. Capuano was 9-5 at the All-Star break but is 2-5 in his last eight starts.
The Dodgers host the Marlins this weekend.
Dodgers looking for Red over blue at first?
The Los Angeles Times has jumped on the story that the Boston Red Sox might be willing to dump first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (.301, 15 HR, 85 RBI).