It was one step forward and two steps back for the Dodgers this weekend. The series marked the return of Hanley Ramirez to the Dodgers’ lineup. His presence was immediately felt as he banged a home run Tuesday night, much to the delight of the 49,000+ in attendance on Hanley’s bobble-head night. One of the Dodgers best wins of the season, however, was bookended by two of their worst losses of the season. Those two losses 12-2 Monday night, 7-3 Wednesday night, were marred by errors and horrendous starting pitching.
The highlight of the series was Hanley Ramirez‘s return to the lineup. Hanley struck out in a pinch-hit appearance Monday night, but then he started mashing. Ramirez went 5-8 with a homer, two doubles and two runs scored the next two games. After receiving only one double and one home run from shortstop, Hanley matched that Tuesday. Hanley did commit a costly error Wednesday night which contributed to a 3-run inning for the Rockies. Despite the defensive gaffe, Hanley’s presence in the lineup is sorely needed for a team still struggling to score runs consistently. Adrian Gonzalez went 3-11 against Colorado with a homer and 3 RBI. Adrian got the Dodgers back in it Wednesday with a 2-run jack to the right field corner off of Rockies’ starter Juan Nicasio. Adrian almost had a second homer, but he was robbed on a brilliant catch by CF Dexter Fowler. What might have been…? Mark Ellis continues to be sidelined with a strained quad, so Skip Schumaker and Nick Punto have filled in quite well. Schumaker went 1-4 scoring a run, as well as pitching an inning Monday night. Punto went 4-10 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. Luis Cruz went 0-4 in Monday night’s debacle, leaving five men on base, so it appears Juan Uribe has a solid hold on third base. Uribe went 1-7 with a run scored overall. A.J. Ellis was only 1-9 in the series.
It wasn’t a real impressive series for the L.A. outfield. Hot hitting Carl Crawford had to sit the final two games of the series with a sore hamstring. He was 1-3 in Monday’s loss. Crawford is day-to-day, and with an extra day off tomorrow, hopefully he’ll be ready to go against San Francisco this weekend. After breaking out of his slump a bit last week, Kemp continues to not look quite like himself. He went 3-12 with an RBI single Tuesday night. Kemp did not have an extra base hit in the series. In fact, he’s had only six all season. Matt is striking out at an alarmingly high rate too, 28 K’s to only 8 BB’s, worse than 3:1. His average sits at .260, and the Dodgers simply need more from their all-star center fielder. I feel like I’m repeating myself here, but ditto for Andre Ethier. Andre went 3-10 overall, including a double and a run scored Tuesday night. Ethier is only hitting .237, so it’s not surprising that the team is struggling to score consistently when their number four and five hitters haven’t really produced a whole lot of offense. Like a broken record, I say it again, the Dodgers need Kemp and Ethier to find themselves in order to be successful.
STARTING PITCHING: D+
Hyun-Jin Ryu was spectacular Tuesday night. Ryu pitched six innings of two run ball, striking out 12 batters with only two walks. The Korean lefty’s 12 K’s were the second most ever for a Dodgers’ rookie, just behind Hideo Nomo‘s 13 K’s in 1995. Ryu improved to 3-1 on the season and his ERA now sits at a tidy 3.35. Ryu also presented Korean pop-star PSY with a jersey during the game. The Dodgers’ marketing department pulled out all the stops. The same can’t be said for Ted Lilly and Josh Beckett, unfortunately. They both got completely shelled, putting the Dodgers in deep holes early in the game. Lilly lasted only three innings, giving up five runs, four earned, on eight hits and two walks. Lilly gave up a lead-off homer to Dexter Fowler, and a three-run shot to Rockies’ C Wilin Rosario all in the first inning. Lilly dropped to 0-1 on the season. It was later revealed that Lilly had a sore back, so he is day-to-day. Don Mattingly was apparently not pleased that Lilly did not reveal his back pain before his start. Josh Beckett continued to be remarkably unimpressive on Wednesday night. Beckett surrendered five runs, four earned in four innings of work. He struck out six with three walks, and he gave up costly two-run doubles to Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Beckett drops to 0-4 on the season and his ERA is at a very uncomfortable 5.24. Beckett just can’t quite seem to get it right and the team needs him too. Chris Capuano will be back, but Cap and Matt Magill will not be enough to stabilize the rotation if Beckett can’t even pitch adequately.
Although a couple of guys had some bad performances it wasn’t all bad for the Dodgers’ bullpen. Ronald Belisario and Kenley Jansen closed out the win on Tuesday night, with Jansen pitching two innings. After poor Josh Wall gave up 7 runs in only two innings of work in Monday’s loss, J.P. Howell, Matt Guerrier, and Paco Rodriguez each pitched scoreless innings. Wall was forced to eat it and throw some pitches in order to save the Dodgers’ bullpen in what was a doomed effort from the start. Guerrier and Rodriguez would pitch another 2.1 scoreless innings Wednesday night. J.P. Howell and newly called up Javy Guerra each contributed a scoreless inning as well. Jansen and Belisario struggled in middle relief situations, with Jansen getting charged for two runs without recording an out. However, Beckett and the Dodgers’ fate was already sealed last night.
The Dodgers will head up to San Francisco for a three-game set with the Giants this weekend. San Francisco took two of three games in L.A. to open the season. The Giants are coming off an interesting road trip. They just finished off a three game sweep of the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field after opening their trip by getting swept by the Padres at Petco Park. The Giants are currently in second place in the NL West 2.5 games up on the Dodgers. It’s certain to be a raucous crowd at AT&T Park this weekend. The Dodgers will need to improve and ,again, the team has a great opportunity to move up in the standings.