The Dodgers epically punt the NL West

Andre Ethier

Source: LA Times

When your oldest and most hated rival comes to your city for a three-game series in late August, you expect your team to understand the gravity of the situation. You do not expect to get swept in embarrassing fashion and go from being a half game up, to two and half down. Fricken’ Dodgers.

Yes Dodger faithful, it’s that time of year again. Those waning summer months where all of a sudden your greatest asset, starting pitching, comes apart at the seams and amplifies the issues that come with having an offense more anemic than Lindsay Lohan. The Dodgers won their two previous series against the Braves and Pirates by averaging six runs per game and minimizing their pitching mistakes, neither of these characteristics carried over to the Giants series.

Make no mistake, Madison Bumgarner and Cain are superb starting pitchers, but only hanging a single run on an all-of-the-sudden mediocre Tim Lincecum is inexcusable. How can a team average six runs a game for a week, and then put up six total runs in three games against their most hated rival?

Don Mattingly does a great job of engaging his players, most notably Kemp and Hanley, but there just seemed to be no fight in the Dodgers when it mattered the most these past three days. The Giants scored in the first inning all three games and the Dodgers would cooley, calmly, and with all of their Los Angeles swagger, roll over. Playoff teams do not rollover, pennant teams do not roll over, and championship teams, most certainly, do not roll over. Just ask the St. Louis Cardinals and David Freese.

September is not the time to finally decrypt your team’s identity and get motivated to take the division title. The lack of urgency during the Giants series, Kemp’s recent slump, and the fact that Joe Blanton is considered a viable starter in the rotation are massive red flags for a Dodger team entering the home stretch.

So sit back, relax, and quietly suffer as the Los Angeles Dodgers squander another great first half of the season with a lackluster encore down the stretch, I know I will.

Dodgers will make playoffs without question, if….

The Los Angeles Dodgers continued their torrid start with a sweep of the talented Washington Nationals on Sunday and are tied only with the Texas Rangers for the best record in the majors (16-6).

Hot starts in Chavez Ravine are not uncommon. The Los Angeles Dodger teams of the last decade have posted some of the best Aprils and Mays in franchise history, only to succumb to reality down the stretch. Strong pitching and suspect hitting have always been the Dodgers calling card.

Between the twenty-one championship-less seasons of 1990-2011, the Dodgers have finished in the major’s top ten for team earned run average (ERA) a staggering nineteen times while in the same period finishing in top ten for team runs scored in the major’s only twice.

The 2012 season has begun with the Dodgers once again in the top ten for team ERA (8th) and outside the top ten for the majors in runs scored (16th). This season will be different, if the Dodgers can keep their run productivity towards the middle of the pack, their elite pitching will carry them to a playoff berth without question. Outfielder Matt Kemp has been on fire and last year he proved that he could carry a sub-par offense to success. If highly regarding team president Stan Kasten and general manager Ned Coletti can concoct a midseason trade for another bat to add to Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp, look for Los Angeles to make a run at the championship.

With the McCourt era still fresh in their minds, Dodger fans have quickly been reminded that the Blue Crew does indeed have playoff talent that has now been backed with the financial stability of a responsible ownership group. The Dodgers success has returned, and its fans with it.

Eric Eulau is a MLB writer for the Sports Blitz.  He can be contacted

Dodgers already finding a way to make up billions

The Los Angeles Dodgers are looking for a fresh start and after Magic Johnson and company purchased them for a price tag of two billion dollars they have to find a way to put a dent into that loss.
On Thursday, the Dodgers for the first time, invited fans to watch the 5-3 victory over the San Diego Padres on the scoreboard at Dodger Stadium.
Even Magic Johnson was seen sitting next to Frank McCourt.
I was one of what looked to be about 250 people enjoying a day at the ball park which included ½ price concessions and a chance to meet former Dodgers third baseman Ron Cey.  Here are some of stats and observations I had while munching on a Dodger Dog probably made from pink slime.Meanwhile, the Dodgers winning is quickly becoming old for Padres fans. The Padres have lost 15 of their last 20 games against the Dodgers dating back to the final match-up of the 2010 season.

– Starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw could run for mayor if he wanted to.  He was suffering from a stomach bug that caused him to throw up and suffer cramps. Both manager Don Mattingly and GM Ned Colletti tried to talk him out of playing. Kershaw refused and took to the mound in spite of almost keeling over during warm-ups.  He gutted out three scoreless innings giving up two hits, no runs, and striking out three before calling it quits. He even singled in his only at bat.

Matt Kemp worried quite a few people when he struck out nine times in his final 21 spring training at bats. So much for worry-Kemp was two for five with a home run and three RBI Thursday.

– Relief pitcher Josh Lindblom made the team only because pitcher Ted Lilly is on the DL. He got the first call when Kershaw could no longer go. Lindblom retired all six batters he faced over two innings.

– In what my be indicative of how a weak offense may need lots of help this season, the Dodgers were able to take a 3-0 lead  without any runs being driven in by a  ”real” hit.  Their first three runs came via two bases loaded walks and a fielding error.  The two runs in the 8th inning were “legit.”  Second baseman Mark Ellis doubled and Kemp followed with his home run.

– Padres pitchers struck out 10 Dodgers with half of those coming against just two batters. Leadoff batter Dee Gordon struck out three times and Juan Uribe struck out twice. They were a combined 0 for 7.  I know, it is only one game but it isn’t like the Padres pitching staff is the second coming of the ’95 Braves either.

– Too bad this isn’t the NFL. With the bases loaded and Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier the runner at third, Padres pitcher Edinson Volquez uncorked a wild pitch.  Catcher Nick Hundley tracked it down and threw to Volquez covering the plate. Ethier was called out in a close play. Replays clearly showed Ethier touched home plate with his hand before being tagged in the chest by Volquez. I wonder if the future will see MLB adopting an NFL-like policy of reviewing scoring plays.

–  Volquez made his major league debut in 2005 under the name of Julio Reyes.  An immigration crackdown revealed his true name to be Edison Volquez.   No one knows why he added the “n” after the fact.

– Speaking of strange names, the Padres first baseman is named Yonder Alonso.

– Going to watch the game at the stadium is one of those things that was fun but not something I’d do again. The novelty of being able to stroll through the stadium freely and mix it up a bit with other fans is nice…for about three innings. Then the desire for the sofa kicks in.

Be sure to check out other great articles by Robert White at isportsweb.