Mar 30, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers relief pitcher Brian Wilson (0) watches a home run hit by San Diego Padres pinch hitter Seth Smith (not pictured) in the eighth inning on the opening day baseball game at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Can The Dodgers Learn From Their Mistakes Of The Past?

You know what they say, those who don’t learn from the past, are doomed to repeat it. I don’t want to complain too much about yesterday’s stateside opening night loss to the Padres at Petco Park. But Sunday night’s 3-1 loss was embarrassing, and was on national t.v. And if I didn’t complain then there wouldn’t be an article here. What fun would that be, right guys?

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

In usual Dodger fashion, the game should have been won. The Dodgers had the game in the bag until that fateful eighth inning. But the way the Dodgers lost last night was very much like the first half of 2013. You know, the crappy first half.

Poor Hyun-jin Ryu pitched excellently, and unfortunately was removed from the game in the eighth, and instead of earning a much deserved win like he should have, earned a no-decision as he watched his club eventually lose from the bench. Ryu tossed seven shutout innings, giving up just three hits, and whiffing seven. At one point Ryu had retired 16 batters in a row. He should have won. The Dodgers should have won.

But they didn’t. And it’s important to understand the why. The Dodgers were up 1-0 in the bottom of the bottom of the eighth inning, when manager Don Mattingly brought in reliever Brian Wilson to pitch the eighth inning. Wilson gave up three runs in the frame. A lead-off solo home run to pinch-hitter Seth Smith, and that opened the floodgates, leading to two more unanswered runs highlighted by a two-run single by Chris Denorfia. Momentum is a huge thing in games sometimes. That home run was a momentum killer for the Dodgers.

But leading up to that eighth frame, the Dodgers did what they did back in 2013. This was a typical 2013 type of loss. Let’s go over all of the ways this pathetic loss screamed like it was the first half of 2013.

The non-existent offense

Once again, in grand 2013 style, the offense completely and utterly gave up. They had some trouble figuring out opposing starter Andrew Cashner, (who pitched very well by the way). We’ll tip our cap to Cashner for a job well done, but let’s face it, the Dodger offense beat themselves.

Like the norm of last year, whenever the offense couldn’t figure out a starter, they would just give up, and totally shut down. You can blame the bullpen all you want, but it’s hard to win games when you only score one measly run on four hits.

The Dodger offense could muster just that one run on four hits the entire night. All four hits were singles. No extra-base hits.

The plate approaches were poor, Dodger hitters were behind in counts all night. The club could get just four lousy singles, and three walks. One run. That was it. Otherwise it was a whole game full of routine outs. One run scoring single from Carl Crawford in the fifth was it. It wasn’t just the lack of offense, that did the club in.

Poor relief pitching

Of course poor relief pitching did the club in. In the first half of the 2013 season the Dodger’s relief corps was pretty inconsistent. Tonight it was Brian Wilson who had a bad game. He couldn’t retire a single batter. He allowed three runs, two of them earned, (although he really allowed three runs, since the error was committed by Wilson himself), a home run, a walk, and two hits. When the smoke had cleared, three runs had scored and the Dodgers were done. Paco Rodriguez, and Chris Perez had to come in to bail Wilson out and did a fine job.

Wilson just had a bad game, and that’s fine, but there were other things that contributed to the loss

Sloppy defense and mental lapses

Again, the crappy defense and mental mistakes resurfaced in the eighth inning once the club was down. Smith’s game-tying home run rattled the club. After a walk to Yasmani Grandal, Everth Cabrera’s sacrifice bunt was botched by Wilson to put runners at first and second. Once that happened with Denorfia at the plate, both runners stole their respective bases. Grandal, who is not known for base stealing, stole third without a throw, as nobody was covering the bag. Uribe was still playing up on the grass anticipating another bunt.

Then Cabrera seized the opportunity to steal second base as well without a throw. This perfectly set-up Denorfia’s precitable two-run single, which put the nail in the Dodger’s coffin at that point. And that brings me to my next point.

Bunting failures

Bunting is so stupid. You all know how I feel about the bunt. I hate it. I think it’s a stupid archaic strategy that doesn’t lead to runs. It doesn’t lead to runs scored, and it doesn’t even move runners over if done correctly. The bunt guarantees nothing, other than giving away an out. It’s a low percentage play. When you’re only up by a run, and can’t score, you just can’t give away outs late in the game. Those outs are too precious.

Once again though, Mattingly reverted right back to his usual script of bunting away scoring rallies. The Dodgers had not one, not two, but three failed bunt attempts in the game. That’s three outs.

In the top of the fifth, After A.J. Ellis singled, Dee Gordon walked to put runners on first and second. Ryu was ordered to sacrifice, and his bunt despite being executed well, led to A.J. being forced out at third. As you can see, even if a bunt is laid down well, it still doesn’t even mean the runners will be moved along. Plus they had Cashner on the ropes in the fifth. Where was the knockout blow they so desperately needed?

Then in the seventh frame, the Dodgers had two failed bunt attempts. After A.J. walked, Gordon was asked to bunt. He popped up the bunt and was out. Then Ryu was asked to bunt, and he of course struck out. Again, bunting only leads to failures.

Poor Game management

That leads to my final take, which is on the poor management from Mattingly. There was the three failed but attempts that cost the Dodgers three outs and a base runner. The poor decision to take Ryu out in the eighth, when he had only made 88 pitches and was dominating. The decision to not send someone out to talk to Wilson during that dreadful eighth inning, and stop the Padre’s momentum.

Poor Ryu, he ddeserved a better fate than a no-decision-Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Final thoughts

I’m not going to get too upset about the loss on Sunday night. Granted it was irritating, and frustrating, but it’s a long season, and it’s only one game. No the season is not over despite what some may think. I joke, but seriously, it’s aggravating to see the club losing again in the same exact way they would lose last year.

We can’t blame this loss on Yasiel Puig this time. There was no base running blunder, or poor throw that did the club in. We can’t even blame the loss on Wilson, despite giving up three runs in the eighth. This was a team loss, with an assist from Mattingly’s poor decision-making. All I ask is that the club learn from their mistakes and stop doing the same things over and over again, hoping for different results.

Perhaps next time the club can study up on the opposing pitcher and go in with some kind of game plan on offense instead of swinging wildly, or taking strikes. Maybe the club should not make mental mistakes, and stop the sloppy fielding. And perhaps Mattingly can stop making the same mistakes himself over and over again too. Stop bunting. Stop giving away outs late in games. Stop emptying the entire bullpen every game. Don’t take a starter out of the game when he’s dominating and only made 88 pitches.

For once I would love to see Mattingly throw his script out, and look at what’s going in the game. Think outside the box. You don’t always have to go by the book. The book isn’t always right.

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Tags: Brian Wilson Carl Crawford Don Mattingly Hyun-jin Ryu Los Angeles Dodgers

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