The Dodgers lost two out of three to the hated Giants on opening weekend at Dodger Stadium. The boys in blue looked pathetic in the first two games with losses of 8-4, and 7-2, but were able to stave off a sweep with a 6-2 win on Sunday night.
The opening series really demonstrated the two club’s differing styles and philosophies of play, and so far it appears the Dodgers don’t match-up well with the more aggressive Giants. It’s only been three games, so we’ll have to wait and see how things develop, but the Dodgers played right into the Giant’s plans this past weekend. I’m hoping the Dodgers can make some adjustments in time for the next series.
You see the Giants are a super aggressive club. They’re aggressive at the plate, and on the base paths. The Giants swing at everything and anything in the strike zone. They’re hackers. And Throughout the series they were swinging at a lot of first pitch strikes right down the pipe.
The Dodgers are a different club. They’re patient. They wait for their chances. There’s nothing wrong with either style of play, but what happens when the super aggressive club meets the super patient club? Well in this instance, the super aggressive club wins. The super patient club waited around for chances that never came.
A huge difference in the series has been the Giant’s aggressive nature with runners in scoring position. In the three game series, the Giants were 9 for 23 with RISP, while the more patient Dodgers were just 6 for 31.
So how do you beat the Giants? Simply put, you beat them at their own game. You have to be as equally as aggressive at the plate, and on the base paths as they are, or more. You have to swing at pitches in the strike zone, and when you do get guys on base, you have to take the extra bases.
Now there are downsides to the aggressiveness. For example, clubs like the Giants tend to strike out a lot. The Giants struck out 16 times on Sunday night, compared to the Dodgers whiffing just four times. The Giants struck out 33 times over the three game series, and the Dodgers whiffed 27 times. However, the Giants scored 15 runs in the first two games on 19 hits. The Dodgers scored just six runs in the first two games. Lack of aggressiveness on offense for the Dodgers has hurt them in this series.
The Giant’s super aggressive approach allows them to put a lot of runners on base. They focus on making contact, and not on waiting for pitches, which is why they get so many bloopers, choppers, bleeders, and seen-eye singles. But it works for them. The Dodgers were unable to adjust.
That’s how you beat the Giants, you have to be super aggressive. Keep pressure on their pitching staff. Right now the Giants have a bit of a deeper lineup than they have in the last few years. Practice swing boy Michael Morse is providing them with some added power, and this new guy Brandon Hicks is much better than the old and declining Marco Scutaro at second base.
The question mark for the Giants will be how their pitching staff holds up. With Matt Cain, and Tim Lincecum having career worst years, and newly signed Tim Hudson coming off of an ankle injury, the Giants may have to rely on their more powerful lineup to score a lot of runs if their pitching staff can’t hold up.
Speaking of pitching staffs, the same strategy goes for the Dodger pitchers, but reverse it. The Giants are a good first pitch fastball hitting team, so don’t give them a fastball down the pipe early in counts. Make them chase pitches outside the strike zone, and trust me they will.
The Dodgers were more aggressive on Sunday night which resulted in them scoring six runs, thanks to four home runs, two each from Matt Kemp, and Hanley Ramirez. This is why Yasiel Puig is so important to the club, because he’s always super aggressive and makes things happen. Let’s just hope his thumb injury isn’t serious.
The Giants may end up becoming the Dodgers main competition for the NL West division title in 2014. If that’s the case, then the Dodgers need to understand why they lost to the Giants this weekend, and make some adjustments before the club plays them in San Francisco for a three game series from April 15-17.
So If the Dodgers are going to be able to beat the Giants, they’re going to have to play their game. They’re going to have to be aggressive on offense, score early, and stop falling behind in the first couple of innings.
The Dodgers need to Steal bases, and take the offensive. But take calculated risks on the base paths, not make foolish tootblans. The Dodgers need to play a smarter game. Put the ball in the Giant’s court, and force them to have to make adjustments. Baseball is a game of constant adjustments. The Dodgers are going to have to make a few of them before the two clubs meet again in San Francisco next week. The Dodgers need to flip the script and put the pressure back on the Giants. And they also need to stop throwing fastballs to Pablo Sandoval with runners on base.
Things won’t get any easier for our beloved Dodgers, as the Detroit Tigers come into Dodger Stadium to play a two game series starting on Tuesday night.