Los Angeles Dodgers pitching coach Rick Honeycutt (40) meets with starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu (99) and infielders during the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

A Few Thoughts On Last Night's Loss

A few notes on last night’s frustrating 3-0 loss to Madison Bumgarner and the evil Giants. Off the top of my head…..

 

Justin Sellers

No more poor throws please Sellers-Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

I understand a lot of people are already down on Justin Sellers, just because he had a bad game. I like Sellers, and yes I agree, last night he had a terrible game. He made two very poor throws, which cost the Dodgers two runs in that fateful seventh frame last night. Both throws were very Gordon-esque. In the seventh inning, Joaquin Arias hit a slow roller to short, and Sellers first throw pulled Adrian Gonzalez off the bag at first. That was his first bumble. After a piddly single from Andres Torres, and a grounder from Brandon Crawford, the Dodgers made a pitching change. With runners at first and third, Don Mattingly brought in groundball expert Ronald Belisario to replace Hyu-jin Ryu, which was absolutely the right move. Belisario did his job, inducing three ground balls, to the three batters he faced.

Bumgarner the next batter, hit a high chopper to short. The infield was playing up, and Sellers decided to try and throw home to prevent the second run at third from scoring. Some people criticized the move, saying it was ill-advised. I actually liked the decision there. The Dodgers were already down 1-0 at that point and the way they were hitting, and the way Bumgarner was pitching, allowing a second run to score would have been probably the death knoll. So Sellers threw home to try and throw out Arias. Believe me, a good throw would have gotten him. Unfortunately, his execution was poor. His throw sailed about 20 feet over A.J. Ellis’s head, allowing not only Arias to score, but Andres Torres to score from second base as well. It was a poor throw, magnified by the situation, but not necessarily a bad decision. If Sellers got the out at first, Arias scores anyways.

Sellers is a young player. He is just as inexperienced as Dee Gordon is. He has only played in about 50 Major League games, so he is going to make some mistakes. I hate to admit this, but Juan Uribe probably makes those plays. Uribe while being an utterly atrocious hitter, is a very good defensive player. He has good hands, and more importantly in this scenario, a strong and accurate throwing arm. The difference between him and Sellers is experience. I’m not saying I want to see Uribe playing, just making a point that a more experienced player makes those plays. I think we should give Sellers a chance before chastising him after only two games.

 

Hyun-jin Ryu

Ryu pitched 6.1 innings of one-run ball. Not his fault the Dodgers decided not to swing their bats last night:-Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

I thought he looked pretty good last night in his Dodger Debut. The left hander from the far east, pitched 6.1 innings of one run ball, against the world champion Giants. You can’t ask for anything more than that. He didn’t walk anyone, and whiffed five, while making 80 pitches. 55 of them were for strikes. I know he allowed a lot of hits, but that’s the Giants guys. They do this. It’s what they do. All of the hits were all little piddly infield singles, or choppers. Nothing was hit very hard off of him. The Giants are very aggressive, and I’ll get to that in a moment here. But from what I saw of Ryu last night, he was able to mix pitches, and change speeds pretty well. His control was spot on. Ryu allowed one run on ten hits, and walked none in last night’s annoying loss. The important thing is he didn’t walk anybody, or give up any home runs, and almost all of the hits were all singles. He did get bailed out by three double plays, but he was able to induce three double play grounder when he needed to. So for a first start against the Giants, I don’t think it was bad. It’s not Ryu’s fault the Dodger offense only mustered up two measly hits. Which brings me to may last point……

 

The hitting approaches need work.

What I saw from last night’s Dodger offense was something that carried over from last year, and is very frustrating to watch. Their plate approaches were terrible. The Dodgers are having a problem where they take way too many pitches. Of course, batting Jhair lead-off in place of Carl Crawford didn’t help, but they’re all guilty of this. Watch how the Giants hit, and then watch the Dodgers hit. You’ll see a big difference. The Giants are very very aggressive. They swing at everything in the strike zone. They may make outs, but more often than not, when you are aggressive like that, and swinging the bats, and making contact, things happen. When you put the ball in play, good things eventually happen. It’s Baseball 101 here. The Dodgers weren’t doing that. They kept taking way too many pitches. They only swung at maybe one or two pitches per at-bat if that. Normally, if they had two strikes, they would just stand there and take.

Two at-bats last night come to mind on this. The first was Nick Punto’s at-bat in the bottom of the eighth inning. He was pinch-hitting for Sellers, and facing Bumgarner, who was still in the game at that point. A.J. had just doubled, and Punto was able to work a 2-1 count. Ok fine. Then he just stood there like a statue. The 2-1 pitch was an outside fastball on the corner of the plate. It caught the strike zone. The count evened up to 2-2. Punto then just stood there and looked at the exact same pitch on the outside corner. Strike three called. I don’t think Punto swung at one pitch the entire at-bat. Why not get the bat off your shoulders and try to go the other way with the pitch?

I thought I was the only who had noticed this, but one of our astute twitter followers and readers, Sean Holt noticed exactly the same thing.

And finally this…….

Oh Sean, it’s like you read my mind or something. Fast forward to the bottom of the ninth. The same thing happened again, this time with Mark Ellis in the bottom of the ninth. He just stood there with two strikes, and got called out on called strike three.

Sean makes a great observation here. If you are just going to stand there and try to force walks all the time, and wait for your pitch against good pitchers like Bumgarner, then you’re going to be waiting there all night. It’s poor strategy. When you have two strikes on you, then you need to be protecting the plate, and not stand there like the statue of liberty. Swing the bats. Try to go the other way. Just try it! If Bumgarner is just throwing outside pitches to you, then go with the pitch. Take him opposite field. If you don’t know what he is going to throw, then make sure you read the scouting reports before the game. Bumgarner threw 76 of his 101 pitches for strikes last night. 76! He had first pitch stirkes to nearly every hitter. The Dodgers occasionally swung early in the counts, but almost never when behind or with two striks. He was around the plate the entire game.

Look I like walks, but you know what I like better than walks? Base-hits.  In two games, the Dodgers have only scored four runs on nine hits. One of the runs was scored on Kershaw’s home run. The others were scored on a wild pitch, and two ground-outs. Not good. I’m hoping that Big Mac, and Don Mattingly can fix this quickly here. Sean hit it right on the head guys. There is a direct correlation between getting hits, and swinging the bats. It’s pretty simple, if you don’t swing the bats, then you can’t score runs.

Let’s hope for better results tonight. Kudos to you Sean for noticing this. You know your Baseball. We’ll find out later tonight at 7:10 PM. Go Blue.

Tags: Don Mattingly Hyun-jin Ryu Justin Sellers Los Angeles Dodgers Mark Ellis Nick Punto

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