The Dodgers defense, horrible bullpen problems, and lackluster offense once again sank them in the first game of a four-game series down in San Diego. Adrian Gonzalez, who should be comfortable in his hometown, went 0-for-4 last night. Yasiel Puig hit his sixth homerun, but the Dodgers could only muster two additional runs off a Juan Uribe sacrifice fly and a solo homerun from A.J. Ellis. San Diego made at least three highlight reel plays in the field, while the Dodgers once again erred. Mark Ellis, who rarely makes mistakes out at second base, made a costly fielding error which brought on a disastrous fifth inning. Then the bullpen completely ruined the quality start by Stephen Fife by allowing even more runs in relief. The Dodger bullpen is almost unable to not give up runs.
Even though the Dodgers will have their ace Clayton Kershaw on the mound for game two, it is certainly no guarantee that the Dodgers will win. In fact, Kersh hasn’t won a game since May 20th in Milwaukee. Time and time again the Dodger bullpen and offense has failed to support Kersh’s efforts. Last time out in Pittsburgh, Kershaw wasn’t involved in the decision after allowing just 1 run on 3 hits with 8 strikeouts and 3 walks in 7 innings of work. It almost seems like that complete game where Kersh threw 107 pitches in the 3-1 win was the beginning of a hard luck slide. Kershaw is first in the league in ERA (1.84), third in the league in strikeouts (104), and fifth in WHIP (0.97). The Dodgers need to rally behind their ace to help prove that our Clayton is better than theirs. Kersh is 8-5 with a 2.44 ERA against the Friars in his career.
Clayton Richard might share the same first name as Kershaw, and he may also pitch left-handed, but he is in no way the same category as the Cy Young Award winner.
Richard has been struggling this season, and his high 7.01 ERA reflects that. Richard has had some success against the Dodgers over his career, and he is 6-3 with a 3.67 ERA against the Boys in Blue. Richard picked up his second season win against Arizona in his last time out. He allowed 1 run on 7 hits over 8 solid innings. Richard only struck out 1 batter, but walked none. The Dodgers have already faced Richard twice this season. Back on April 9th in San Diego he allowed 2 runs on 8 hits, and on June 4th at Dodger Stadium he allowed 6 runs on 5 hits in just 4 1/3 innings. The Dodgers hope to get to Richard like they did earlier in the month.
Can the Dodgers squeak out a win in San Diego? Perhaps if Kershaw can go deep into the game, the Dodgers will have a chance to use the bullpen sparingly in hopes of sparing the fans from the continual bullpen failures. A bullpen should be turned to with confidence to be able to pitch in late inning high leverage situations. So far this season, the bullpen has failed in almost every situation. The Dodgers continue to hold on to players like Matt Guerrier and Luis Cruz when they have younger and better potential in players like Chris Withrow and Dee Gordon.
While it has been nice watching the amazing Yasiel Puig, I’d still like to see some Dodger wins as well. Go Blue!