Dodgers Lineup vs. GiantsVictorino 7 M.Ellis 4 Kemp 8 Ethier 9 Ramirez 6 Loney 3 Cruz 5 Ellis 2 Capuano 1
The playoff races can turn very quickly. They can change on a dime almost daily. The NL West race changed again last night, but unfortunately it was not in the Dodger’s favor as they dropped their second in a row at home to the Giants. The Dodgers now sit a game and a half back of the Giants in the NL West. If they don’t win tonight, then they might be in trouble. Can the Dodgers avoid a three game sweep? Winning tonight is going to be very difficult as the Boys in Blue will have to go up against one of the toughest pitchers in the league, Mat Cain.
Cain pitched a perfect game against the Astros earlier in the summer, and is having another good year. He is 12-5 with a 2.90 ERA, with 154 whiffs, and only 33 walks. Cain is coming off of another good outing against San Diego where he allowed just one run in eight frames. Despite being so tough on everyone, the Dodgers have beaten him before. Eight times to be exact. Cain is 3-8 with a 3.58 ERA against the Dodgers. Cain has a 3.63 road ERA, and has allowed 11 home runs on the road, so he is prone to the long ball at times. With the struggles of Tim Lincecum, Cain has stepped up to become the Giants defacto ace. The Dodgers are hitting .271 (69 for 255), collectively off of Cain. Matt Kemp does not hit Cain well. (.244 10 for 41, with three doubles, a triple, and a home run)Neither does Hanley Ramirez, or Shane Victorino. Hanley is batting .250 (7 for 28) off of Cain, with two doubles, and a home run. Victorino is hitting .174 (4 for 32). The only two Dodgers to hit Cain well in the past is Andre Ethier, and our very own whipping boy, James Loney. Dre is batting an astonishing .480 (24 for 50) off of Cain, with two doubles, a triple, and an OPS of 1.060. Loney is hitting .360 (16 for 44), with five doubles, a triple, 11 RBIs, and an OPS of .960. I am not kidding. All together the Dodgers have a .693 OPS against Cain. However if the Giants score three runs or more during a Cain start, they are 13-2, so there is little room for error.
The Dodgers will counter with lefty Chris Capuano, who has not pitched well against the Giants. Cappy has been pitching fantastically of late, and is coming off one of his best starts of the year. Last week he had only allowed three hits through seven innings last week in Atlanta, and had a 3-1 lead going into the eighth inning, but Ronald Belisario blew the lead. Cappy has turned in three straight quality starts, and is looking for his 12 win for the first time since 2005. Against the Giants he has been lousy though. A 1-5 record, and a 5.00 ERA. Against the league this year, Cappy is 11-8 with a 3.14 ERA, 143 whiffs, and 46 walks. The Giants haven’t seen him much, so these stats tell me Cappy’s struggles against the Giants were in his yesteryear. The Giants are batting only .170 (8 for 47) off of Cappy. Hunter Pence is 1 for 11. Pablo Sandoval is 3 for 4 with a double. Buster Posey is 1 for 4 with the only home run. This comes out to a .533 OPS.
The Dodgers have been playing just terrible at home since the all-star break. Their record at Chavez Ravine since the break is a pitiful 6-11. The problem is they can’t hit at home anymore. Matt Kemp, and Andre Ethier are mired in slumps, and the rest of the lineup are not equipped to carry the team like they can. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. This team will only go as far as Kemp and Ethier will carry them. Those two are the superstars. If they’re not hitting, then the rest of the team probably won’t.
One of the problems that I have touched on before, is their terrible hitting approaches, and it continued last night. It doesn’t matter who is on the mound either, whether it is a journeyman, or a two-time Cy Young award winner. They use the same failed plate approaches every time. They don’t get on base. They don’t hit home runs. They can’t hit with runners in scoring position. They swing at pitches five feet off the plate, and look at strikes right down the pipe. They don’t keep pitchers honest. They’re too selective yet never draw walks. With two strikes, they don’t protect the plate. They don’t work counts. They try to pull everything, instead of going with the pitch. This is hitting fundamentals 101 guys. The Dodgers are just not executing the fundamentals of major league hitting right now. Where are the coaches?
The team just isn’t playing with any kind of fire or passion. Where is their fire? For once I would like Don Mattingly to go against his easy going demeanor, and walk into the clubhouse and just pull a Tommy Lasorda. I’m talking about walking into the clubhouse and just start ripping into everyone, and yelling and screaming. Raise some hairs. Maybe the players need a kick in the butt. Lasorda was never afraid to do that. If he saw the players executing poorly, he would let them know about it. Say what you will about Tommy, he knew how to motivate his players.
Also, the bench is just horrendous. Absolutely worthless. They’re a man short since they are using a 13 man pitching staff, and with Juan Uribe and his .181 auto out average, it means they are two men short. Playing with a weak undermanned bench is not a good idea. We saw why last night, when Don Mattingly was forced to use Juan Uribe to pinch-hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, because nobody was left on the bench. He had double switched Mark Ellis, and James Loney into the game already, and Uribe, and Matt Treanor were all that were left. This is just frightening. One of the top priorities for the new ownership this off-season should be to rebuild the bench. My lord it is just horrific.
Another issue is the Dodgers aren’t playing very well against the NL West. If you remember in year’s past, the Dodgers used to dominate the NL West. They owned this division. Not anymore. This year they are 23-24 against their own division. That is Pathetic. PATHETIC. Anyways, it’s not time to panic yet. After all the Dodgers are still only a half game out in the wild card race, and a game and a half behind the Giants. The Dodgers can even up the season series against San Francisco at 6-6 with a win tonight.
If the Dodgers don’t start executing fundamentally, hitting, and scoring runs, then we all might be making golf reservations come October. Here is some positivity though. The Dodges are still a pretty good team, and they have hung in this long. They are ten games above .500, and have very good pitching. Now can we please beat the dam Giants! Come on!
The game is on at the normal time of 7PM, and televised tonight on KCAL. Join us over here after the game for our postgame recap and analysis. Go Blue. Defeat SF.