Dodgers Lineup:Gordon 2B Puig RF Hanley SS Gonzalez 1B Kemp CF Van Slyke LF Olivo C Turner 3B Maholm P
The Dodgers dropped the first game of the series versus the Giants on Thursday night after the meager offense and awful bullpen weren’t able to hold on to the one-run tie going into the tenth inning. J.P. Howell and Jamey Wright continued to add fuel to the bullpen fire as the Giants scored two runs in the top of the tenth and took home the win after Sergio Romo shut down the Dodgers easily in the home half of the inning. Kenley Jansen looked great in the ninth, but the entirety of the bullpen has been unable to hold leads or ties this season with inconsistency and a plethora of walks. All the members of the ‘pen have been struggling, and the loss on Thursday night was in typical 2014 fashion: solid starting pitching, stagnant offense, and bullpen meltdowns.
The offense could barely muster one run off Ryan Vogelsong, and the lone run came from a Drew Butera sac fly. Even though the bullpen is a nightmare right now, the Dodgers’ offense is also to blame for their current third place standing in the NL West. The Dodgers continue to struggle to score runs at home, and it was all too apparent in the first game versus the Giants at Dodger Stadium last night that one run is not going to cut it on a nightly basis.
The Giants flashed their glove and their bullpen prowess last night, and we could glaringly see the difference between the two rival teams. The Giants’ bullpen has been great so far this season, and their defense saved a run or two on great plays at short by Brandon Crawford. The Giants always like to beat up the Dodgers at home, and I really would like the Boys in Blue to be more aggressive against them for the remainder of the series. With Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez slumping right now, the rest of the team will need to play some small ball in order to counter the aggressiveness of San Francisco.
The starting pitching has been stellar for the Dodgers, but they have often not lasted deep into games causing the bullpen to pitch multiple innings per game and increasing the chance of bullpen implosion. Being overworked may be a factor in the bullpen’s struggles, but the fact is they just aren’t pitching well right now and walking way too many batters. Josh Beckett pitched as well as we could expect last night, but the bullpen was not able to preserve the tie after he exited in the seventh inning. While the bullpen shouldn’t be relied on to pitch nine innings per game, they are big league pitchers who should be able to relieve their starter in the last part of the game and hold a lead most of the time.
Madison Bumgarner has always plagued the Dodgers, and none of the outfielders have been able to hit him. Don Mattingly will go to his match-up lineup configuration with Scott Van Slyke and Yasiel Puig starting in the corner spots. Bumgarner is 9-4 with a 2.68 ERA in 14 career games (13 starts) against the Dodgers. He has pitched in 9 games at Dodger Stadium, and he is 6-2 with a 1.98 ERA in those games at Chavez Ravine. The 24-year old lefty beat Atlanta in his last start and allowed just 1 run on 3 hits with 9 strikeouts and a walk over 6 innings. Unfortunately the injured Juan Uribe (hamstring strain) has the most career hits against Bumgarner with 7 including a double and a homerun. Miguel Olivo has 4 hits in 9 at-bats against the southpaw and will be behind the plate on Friday.
Paul Maholm is still in the rotation while Hyun-jin Ryu remains disabled with shoulder blade inflammation. Maholm has pitched
admirably this season for the Dodgers, and I can’t really complain too much. Last time out Maholm wasn’t involved in the decision against the Marlins, and he allowed 3 runs on 9 hits with 3 strikeouts and 2 walks over 6 innings. Maholm has already allowed 5 homeruns this season, so he’ll have to be careful around the plate when pitching to the Giants. He is 2-4 with a 4.23 over 12 career starts against SF. Hunter Pence has especially been able to hit Maholm, and the awkward outfielder has 16 hits with 5 doubles, a triple, 2 homeruns, and 9 RBIs against Maholm in 55 at-bats.
Hopefully the Dodgers will not enter yet another extra innings game on Friday night. They have already played in 9 thus far and are 3-6 in extra inning affairs with most of the losses due to late inning bullpen implosions.
The Dodgers lead the NL with 124 walks served up by their pitching staff. Conversely, they also lead the league with 317 strikeouts. The staff has a 3.30 ERA combined.
Prediction: Dee Gordon takes matters into his own hands by playing small ball against Giants in order to manufacture some needed runs.
Come back and let us know what you thought of the game tonight. First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. PT