Good news, Andre Ethier extended his hitting streak to 26 games, the second longest in LA Dodger history, and also tied a team record for most hits in April with 40. Bad news, Dioner Navarro is back with the Dodgers as the #2 catcher and his defensive liabilities were on display in a 3 run 8th inning that cost the Dodgers the game.
However Navarro wasn’t the only Dodger catcher who had defensive issues which led to runs for the Padres. Rod Barajas dropped a great throw by Andre Ethier in the fifth inning after catching a one-out line drive by Padres’ starter Tim Stauffer, and Cameron Maybin crossed the plate allowing the Padres to tie the game at 1.
Maybin would have been the third out of the inning, but the costly drop by Barajas allowed the Padres to add another run, it could have been even worse if not for a great throw by Ethier to nail Bartlett at third to end the inning.
Trailing 2-1 in the 7th Rod Barajas redeemed himself by hitting a one out double and Jamey Carroll was then hit by a pitch. Last nights hero Tony Gwynn Jr. then pinch hit and singled scoring Russ Mitchell who pinch ran for Barajas. It looked like a great move at the time by Don Mattingly, replacing Barajas for a faster runner but the Dodgers would pay the price an inning later.
Instead of going with a fresh Mike MacDougal or Kenley Jansen to pitch the 8th with the score tied, Mattingly brought out $12 million dollar man Matt Guerrier, who had pitched the night before. Guerrier immediately gave up back to back singles to Will Venable and Jason Bartlett. Ryan Ludwick then sacrificed the runners to second and third bringing up Chase Headley, who was intentionally walked to load the bases.
Guerrier got Nick Hundley to pop out to James Loney giving him a chance to escape the jam, but Guerrier uncorked a breaking ball in the dirt that replacement catcher Navarro made little effort to block, unable really to move his portly frame to even attempt to get his body in front of the pitch, giving the Padres the lead. Yes it was a wild pitch but Navarro tried to lazily backhand the ball, rather than aggressively block it with his body, in an attempt to keep the pitch in front of him and keep the go ahead run from scoring.
It only got worse from there for Navarro and Guerrier, after intentionally walking Orlando Hudson, Mattingly left Guerrier in the game, despite his ineffectiveness, to pitch to Cameron Maybin who singled to left. Bartlett scored easily from third but Jerry Sands threw a dart to the plate, easily beating Headley, yet Navarro simply dropped the ball allowing the third run of the inning to score.
And with stud Padre relievers Mike Adams and Heath Bell pitching the 8th and 9th there was no way the Dodgers would come back from a 5-2 deficit. Both starters pitched well but when the game turned into a battle of the bullpens, it was the Dodgers, and the National League’s worst bullpen sporting a 5.12 ERA that came up on the short end, again.
You would think that for the million dollars the Dodgers are paying Navarro, who hasn’t been a productive major leaguer since 2008, they would at least get effort out of him. But this kind of loss is one I’m afraid Dodger fans are going to have to get used to. Due to the budget constraints a large market team like the Dodgers shouldn’t be facing, the roster is filled with journeymen who come at the right price, rather than elite talent.
This weakness is especially glaring with the Dodgers suffering from injuries to starters Casey Blake and Rafael Furcal. Like all things in life you get what you pay for, but unfortunately when it comes to the Dodgers roster we as fans aren’t even getting that. And the free-agents Ned Colletti has given lucrative contracts to have almost all been busts, Jason Schmidt, Andruw Jones, Manny Ramirez, Juan Pierre, just to name a few, and all of whom the Dodgers are still paying. Hopefully Matt Guerrier won’t be added to this list.
The Dodgers are a .500 club, they don’t have the offensive talent or lineup depth to hit their way out of their mistakes, so on nights when they don’t get exceptional pitching and defense they will continue to suffer frustrating losses like tonight.
In my opinion the Dodgers are better off playing young players like Russ Mitchell, Ivan De Jesus Jr and AJ Ellis to see what kind of players they will become. Veterans like Aaron Miles and Dioner Navarro have a long track record of mediocrity, why add to it at the expense of Dodger fans and our supposed prospects of the future?
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