How ’bout them Dodgers? After a not quite promising, but not awful, start, the inevitable collapse has begun. Now balling at a torrid .431 clip, the blue have lost nine of their last 12 games, most in predictably brutal fashion, and are mired in 4th place in the NL West, ahead of only the impoverished San Diego Padres, who can at least make their payroll.
The three game series that wrapped up yesterday in Houston about said it all, featuring one bullpen collapse, one near-collapse in which the road nine escaped by the skin of their too-cheap-to-pay-for-help teeth, and a particularly toothless offensive effort that should have resulted in a win.
At least it’s not like they were playing the worst team in the National League. Oh, they were? Never mind.
Monday was Our Heroes’ day to collapse. Going into the ninth, they were clinging to a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the 9th. With their three best closers all sidelined with McCourt Karma Disease, Don Mattingly went to Kenley Jansen, The Closer of the Future!!!
If Monday is any indication, the future is not so bright that they gotta wear shades. It’s hard to pick a lowlight from his 38-pitch meltdown. Was it: (a) the double steal with the Dodgers still up 3-1 in which Dioner Navarro never even made a throw, (b) Jansen going 0-2 to .216-hitting Clint Barmes with the score tied and then hitting him with a pitch, or (c) Don Mattingly doing bupkus from the dugout to stop the carnage, failing to lift Jansen when it was obvious he had nothing.
Daryl told us his wife – who’s a huge Dodger fan – turned off the TV after the 6th inning because she knew how things would turn out. She wasn’t alone.
Tuesday brought what passes for a clutch win in Dodgertown these days. Staked to a 5-0 lead, largely thanks to a Jerry Sands grand slam – the kid seems to be finding his stride, doesn’t he? – Chad Billingsley promptly coughed up most of it.
Going into the 8th, Mattingly did what any manager would do when protecting a one-run lead on the road. He brought in someone named Rubby De La Rosa to make his major league debut against the heart of the Astros’ order. Fresh from an eight-game AAA career in Albuquerque, Rubby had an ERA of 5.33 in Double-A ball last year, walking 41 guys in 72 innings. He looked understandably shaky, but got the job done.
It appeared he’d stay in to finish matters, but when the team put runners on the corners in the top of the 9th, Mattingly pinch hit for him with Andre Ethier…who was intentionally walked before Aaron Miles whiffed with the bases loaded, leading Mattingly to call on the immortal Javy Guerra, to make his fifth-ever major league appearance. Compensating for that wealth of experience, Javy’s never pitched in Triple-A ball, though to be fair, he spent the last year absolutely shredding Double-A bats. He took care of matters quite nicely, thank you very much, and now we have a new Closer of the Future in Dodgerville!
Woeful Wednesday was, well, just plain woeful. Getting three hits from anybody whose initials aren’t Matt Kemp – with Ethier hurt, he’s the entire Dodger offense – they kept things tied 1-1 thanks to one of Ted Lilly’s three good starts this year. Then, the bully gave the game away, this time on the shoulders of Matt Guerrier.
Yes, the team is going through a horrendous round of injuries, but most of them are hardly shocking. Seriously. Rafael Furcal, back and batting .136 hasn’t really been himself for years. Casey Blake turns 38 this season. Jay Gibbons, originally slated to platoon in left field, last played more than 90 games in 2005. The team went into the season knowing Brox was on the rocks, Vicente Padilla was questionable, and Hong-Chih Kuo is a phenomenally talented pitcher whose name is presumably Korean for “fragile”.
The Dodger (dis)organization went into 2011 with a roster it knew couldn’t compete, and now they’re reaping exactly what Frank McCourt’s failed leadership has sown.
So…wait ’til next year, or whenever the McCourts are history and the new owner gets things right in Chavez Ravine. In the meantime, the term “Think Blue” has taken on a whole new meaning, unless you’d like to think about the past.