Harang Proves You Can’t Go Home Again

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You know that saying, that you can’t go home again? Well, today Aaron Harang proved that correct during his craptacular return to Petco Park. Harang pitching in his former ballpark and against his former teammate Clayton Richard, was awful. Harang lasted only 4.1 innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, walking five, and whiffing six. While his opposing pitcher went virtually untouched the entire game. Other than a homer from Kemp. Richard shut the Dodgers down. Richard held the Dodgers to just two hits through seven innings, and whiffing three, and the Padres escape the series with an 8-4 victory.

The Dodgers were looking to start the season with four straight wins since for the first time since April of 1978. However on Easter day, Aaron Harang squatted down on the mound and laid a giant egg. Then he colored the egg with stripes and gave it to the Padres. After the Dodgers pulled out a tough win last night in eleven innings, you have to wonder how much a role fatigue would play for both teams.

The game begins with Dee Gordon lining a scorcher to third, as Chase Headley snares it for the first out.  Lefty Clayton Richard, whiffs Sellers for the second out. Bison grounds out. Aaron Harang in his first start in his old Ballpark, plunks Cameron Maybin with a pitch to lead off the game.  Harang whiffs Venable as Maybin steals second base. The old and decrepit Matt Treanor is in the Lineup today, so of course his throw was nowhere near second base, sailing high and wide heading for center field. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Justin Sellers alertly backs up the play.

Harang predictably walks Headly to put runners at first and second. Jesus Guzman smacks a run scoring single into right field. The throw to third is close, but Headley is safe. 1-0 San Diego. For the first time in the series, the Padres have a lead. Yonder Alonso hits a fly ball to center, its deep enough to score Headley, to give the Padres a 2-0 lead. John Baker grounds out to end the inning.

Top of the second, Juan Rivera leads off by grounding out.  Andre Ethier grounds out, and Uribe flies out, and that innings goes by quick. Harang starts out the Bottom of the second by whiffing Jason Bartlett. Then Parino singles. Richard sacrifices Bartlett to second. Leadoff guy, Cameron Maybin, hits a sharp grounder to third, that Uribe has to stop from his knees to get him.

In the top of the third, Loney leads off and gets his bat sawed off by Clayton Richard. It’s a signature weak grounder. Treanor hits a long fly ball to center, for the second out. Harang whiffs ending the third.

Venable starts the bottom half of the third by hitting a deep fly ball to right field that Ethier catches as he crashes against the wall. Phew! Headley grounds to first. It seems Harang has settled down. Jesus Guzman hits a routine grounder to short, but Gordon drops it for an error allowing Guzman to reach. Yonder Alonso walks. Here we go again. John Baker bloops a single into left field. Guzman scores from second, but Alonso is thrown out at third base.

Top of the fourth, and I am ready to Harang myself. Dee Gordon leads off with a little dribbler to the mound, and Richard overthrows first base for an error. Now we have a rabbit on the loose. Richard goes full count to Sellers, and then he pops out. Kemp grounds into a force out, erasing Gordon at second. Juan Rivera flies out to end the frame.

Bottom of the fourth. Harang whiffs Bartless to start the inning. Little known Andy Parino slugs his first home run ever, a long drive over the right field wall. That makes it 4-0 San Diego. Clayton Richard whiffs. Maybin singles up the middle. With Venable at the plate, Maybin easily steals second off of the weak throwing Treanor.  Then of course, it’s a walkapalooza. Venable walks. WALKAPALOOZA! Then Headley Walks, WALKAPALOOZA! Harang is really laboring now. Finally Guzman whiffs on a called third strike, and we are out of it.

Ethier hits a little grounder towards first, Alonso tries to shovel pass it to Richard, but he can’t hang onto it. Ethier is safe, it’s an error charged to Richard. Then Dodger fans are treated with the biggest easter miracle of all, A Juan Uribe hit. Yep, Uribe singles into right field. Ethier stops at second. However the doctor of weak ground balls, James Loney, grounds into an easy 6-4-3 double play. I believe Loney has gone through four rigorous years of post-graduate school for ground balls.  Ethier moves over to third. Of course the rally is thwarted just as quick as it started. Matt Treanor ends this rally with a fly ball to right field.

Harang’s awfulness continued into the bottom of the fifth. Alonso leads off with a single. Baker whiffs. Bartlett hits a swinging bunt up along third, that Uribe tries to bare-hand throw to first, and of course, he throws it away allowing both runners to advance to second and third. Parino is intentionally walked with Richard on deck. The bases are loaded, and if on cue Mattingly hooks Harang and brings in Jamey Wright, because you only bring in Jamey Wright with the bases loaded. Luckily After throwing two balls out of the strike zone, Richard grounds into an inning ending double play.

Top of the sixth. Mark Ellis bats for Wright, and pops one into right field. Venable loses the ball in the sun, and drops it for another error. Lot’s of bumbling plays today. Gordon whiffs. Sellers grounds out , moving Ellis to third. With two outs, Matt Kemp, slams his second home run of the season just going over the wall in straight away center-field. Remember Bison predicted he could go 50/50 this year. Rivera’s slixing fly ball to center is caught by a sliding Cameron Maybin. 4-2 San Diego.

Bottom of the sixth. Josh Lindblom on to pitch now. He whiffs Maybin to begin the inning. Venable grounds out to Loney. Then Headley walks. With Guzman at the plate, Headley steals second. That is the third steal off of Treanor behind the plate, who couldn’t throw out the broad side of a barn. Lindblom whiffs Guzman to get out of the inning.

Top of the seventh goes by quickly. Andre Ethier grounds out. Parino makes a nice play on Uribe’s grounder. Loney another weak grounder, ends this inning. Loney is now 0 for 11 on the season. Up to this point Richard has only allowed two hits. Bottom of the seventh. Lindblom, who is in for his second inning of work. Of course he walks Alonso, because we need more walks. Baker pops out. Bartlett grounds into a force out. Parino grounds out to end the seventh.

Young fireballer Andrew Cashner enters the game in the eighth.  Richard’s day is done, and pitched a good game. Seven innings, two runs two hits, no walks, and three whiffs. He made 94 pitches and comes out with a 4-2 lead.

Treanor starts the eighth by grounding out. Mark Ellis Who was double switched into the game draws a walk. Gordon pops out. Pinch-hitter Adam Kennedy, batting for Lindblom, whiffs pathetically on a 99 MPH fastball from Cashner.

The big man Todd Coffey comes in for the bottom of the eighth inning, and promptly serves up consecutive singles to Jeremy Hermida and Cameron Maybin. Mattingly quickly brings a hook, and enter Scott Elbert.  Venable tries to bunt, Elbert can’t field it cleanly and the bases are loaded. Elbert looked awful. Chase Headley makes him feel awful, by hitting a grand slam home run into the Petco Park bleachers. This puts the game out of reach. Guzman and Alonso ground out. Baker walks. There is a coaching visit on the mound since Elbert literally can’t get anyone out. Finally Parino whiffs to end the inning that would not end.

With the game being 8-2, it is pretty much in the refrigerator for the Padres, but that wasn’t much of a surprise. Consider this, Clayton Richard going into this start was 4-1 with a 2.38 ERA against the Dodgers. Only Juan Uribe had any kind of success against Richard in the past. He was hitting .444 with a couple of home runs off of Richard.

Ernesto Frieri on now to finish the game in the ninth. Kemp flies out. Rivera singles. Ethier, our all-star warrior, goes big fly to right field for his first home run of the year! The score is now 8-4 San Diego. Uribe flies out. Loney whiffs going 0 for 4 on  the day, and 0 for his life.

It seems that we have similar problems from last year that were not solved. A lousy bullpen that can’t throw strikes or hold leads, and poor in-game management. Although, Kershaw’s flu, and the extra inning game last night certainly haven’t helped the situation for the bullpen. We will see how this plays out once they come home. Speaking of Kershaw, he is feeling much better and will be ready to make his start on Tuesday. The Dodgers are off on Monday, then return home for their home opener to kick off Dodger Stadium’s fiftieth anniversary. Join us on Tuesday as Stacie and I will be at Dodger Stadium for opening day! We will be live tweeting throughout the game. We will have more info about the opening day festivities at the Ravine tomorrow. If you are there on Tuesday, come say hi, we will be sitting in reserved level aisle 23.

I knew the Dodgers would have to lose at some point, and taking three out of the first four is a good way to start the year. However the Bullpen is a little concerning.  Shake it off. Happy Easter Dodger fans. Go Blue