Justin Upton’s Grand Slam Is The Nail In The Dodger’s Coffin
By Scott Andes
The start of the Dodger road trip did not go well, but it was a predictable loss. Whatever good vibes there were from the team’s fluke back to back series wins were evaporated quickly in the southern heat, as the Braves pounded the Dodger loserpen with six unanswered runs in the sixth and seventh innings in an 8-5 loss. The Dodgers were embarking on a six game trip, starting with the three games in Atlanta. The team was hoping to continue the good times carried over from winning their last two series. The Dodgers had won four of their last five, but of course two of those wins were against the Marlins, so they don’t really count.
Don Mattingly made a huge mistake tonight starting Luis Cruz at third base. The guy is hitting just .087 entering play tonight, and has been stinking it up all season. So please tell me why he was playing?
The Braves were all pumped because tonight was the return of right fielder Jason Heyward who was coming off of Appendectomy surgery. The Braves also placed relief pitcher Jordan Walden on the DL.
Ryu had control problems early in the game, walking five-Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
This game really exposed the club’s weaknesses. The Dodgers were unable to hold a two run lead in the sixth inning as the bullpen allowed six runs in the final four frames, and blew yet another game. The Dodger pitching staff issued seven walks. Mix in some really poor defense and game management, and viola! You have a last place team. The bullpen blew a two run lead, serving up a grand slam home run to Justin Upton in the sixth inning, which proved to be the death knoll in the game. This was Upton’s third career grand slam. The Dodgers did have the lead though for a good portion of the game, after rallying back to re-take the lead in the top of the fourth. The Dodgers would still fall flat once again, losing 8-5 to the Braves.
The Dodgers had a 4-2 lead, thanks to some solid hitting early in the game. The Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when A.J. Ellis doubled, moved to third on an infield single from Cruz, and scored on a Dee Gordon RBI grounder.
The Braves came back to score two runs in the third off of Hyun-jin Ryu to take a 2-1 lead. Heyward doubled, and a Justin Upton grounder, and a Freddie Freeman run scoring single plated the two runs. The Dodgers battled back to retake the lead with two more runs in the fourth. There was a walk to A.J. a costly error from Dan Uggla, and then consecutive RBI singles from Ryu and Carl Crawford, and the Dodgers led 3-2.
The Dodgers padded their lead with a solo home run from Scott Van Slyke, the first of his two home runs in the game. As usual, it was the Dodger’s terrible bullpen that was unable to hold the lead. Ryu only lasted five frames. He wasn’t terrible, but had problems with his control, walking five batters and whiffing five while making 100 pitches through five innings. His opposing starter Paul Maholm went six innings allowing two earned runs and whiffing three to pick up the win.
The Dodger stink pen allowed six runs in the final four innings. They served up four in the sixth, and two more in the seventh. The sixth inning was especially painful. A single, an error, and a walk loaded the bases. Paco Rodriguez allowed a huge grand slam home run to Justin Upton, the major leagues leading home run hitter, and that was it. Once Upton hit the grand slam, the game was over.
The Dodgers don’t score in the top of the first against left hander Paul Maholm. Carl Crawford grounds out, and then Nick Punto bloops one into center for a hit. Matt Kemp’s force out grounder erases Punto at second. Adrian Gonzalez’s long fly ball to left sends Justin Upton to the warning track, but it’s the third out.
Hyun-jin Ryu throws a scoreless first inning while pitching around a mini-walkaplaooza. Andrelton Simmons pops out, Jason Heyward grounds out. Ryu walks both Justin Upton, and Freddie Freeman. Ryu recovers to whiff the hot hitting Chris Johnson to end the inning.
A.J. Ellis leads off the top of the second with a double to the gap. Scott Van Slyke’s fly out is the first out. Luis Cruz’s chopper up the middle is an infield single, sending A.J. to third. Dan Uggla makes a nice diving stop to keep it in the infield. With runners at first and third now, Dee Gordon’s force out grounder to short scores A.J. and gives the Dodgers a 1-0 lead. Ryu flies out for out number three.
Ryu throws a scoreless bottom of the second. He works around a Brain Mccann walk, by getting B.J. Upton to pop out, and whiffing Uggla, and Maholm. In the top of the third with the Dodgers still up 1-0, Punto reaches on a one-out bloop single over Uggla’s head. Kemp whiffs. Punto surprisingly steals second, and makes it. Gonzo lines out to center to end the frame.
Van Slyke hit two home runs tonight-Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
The Braves rally in the bottom of the third. Simmons singles, and Heyward doubes down the left field line sending Simmons to third. Justin Upton’s grounder to second scores Simmons to tie the game at 1-1. Freddie Freeman’s RBI single gives the Braves a 2-1 lead. Dee Gordon can’t handle Chris Johnson’s hot smash. The ball bounces off Gordon’s glove and he is unable to make a play. McCann’s fly ball to left is the second out. Uggla walks to load the bases. B.J. Upton’s pop up finally ends the inning. But Atlanta takes the lead.
Top of the fourth. A.J. Walks. Van Slyke pops out. Uggla boots Cruz’s weak grounder for an error. With two on and one out, Gordon statues away his at-bat by looking at a called third strike. Ryu comes up, and remember, Ryu has four hits on the season. The lefty pitcher strokes a base hit to center! A.J. scores to tie the game at 2-2. Crawford immediately singles in Cruz to give the Dodgers the lead back 3-2.
The opposing starter Maholm singles to lead off the bottom of the fourth. Ryu whiffs Simmons, and Heyward. J. Upton grounds out, and the Dodgers still lead by a run after four frames.
Maholm retires the Dodgers in order in the top of the fifth. Ryu opens the bottom of the fifth with a walk to Freeman. Johnson sends a drive down the right field line, Van Slyke makes a great sliding catch near the foul line. Kemp also makes a diving catch on McCann’s fly to left center. Uggle flies out to end the fifth, and preserve the Dodger 3-2 lead. Scott Van Slyke leads off the top of the sixth with a booming opposite field home run, to extend the Dodger lead to 4-2. Maholm settles down to retire the side, but the Dodgers are now up by two. That’s Van Slyke’s second home run of the season.
After being pinch-hit for by Tim Federowicz in the top of the sixth, Ryu leaves the game after five frames. Ryu allowed two runs on five hits. He walked five and whiffed five, and made 100 pitches. The Dodgers have to go to their bullpen early, which has been a big weakness this year for the Boys in Blue.
Los Angeles Dodgers center fielder Matt Kemp (27) reacts to home plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt (21) in front of Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) after being called out on strikes during the fifth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
Enter mediocre reliever Matt Guerrier in the bottom of the sixth. B.J. Upton whiffs for the first out. Pinch-hitter Jordan Schaefer a bloop single to center. Simmon’s line drive goes off Cruz’s glove dropping right at his feet. Of course Cruz couldn’t find the baseball after spinning around in the air looking for it. He’s charged with an error. Mattingly brings the hook and goes to lefty Paco Rodriguez to pitch to Heyward. He walks the right fielder, and the bases are loaded. Justin Upton immediate hits a grand slam home run, his MLB leading fourteenth on the season, and the huge shot puts the Braves up 6-4.
The Braves score two more runs off the horrendous Dodger bullpen. With two outs, Ramiro Pena triples, and then scores on a big time fielding error by Crawford on Simmon’s short fly to left. The ball actually gets by Crawford rolling all the way to the wall. Pena scores, and Simmons ends up on second. Heyward’s RBI single off of Ronald Belisario makes it an 8-4 Atlanta lead.
The Dodgers get one back in the top of the eighth, when Van Slyke hits another home run, off Eric O’flaherty. The second home run of the game for Van Slyke cuts the Atlanta lead to 8-5. Move to the top of the ninth with the Braves up 8-5. Closer Craig Kimbrel enters the game to close up. Schumaker singles. Crawford whiffs. Ethier whiffs as well. With the rain falling, Matt Kemp grounds out to end it. Braves win 8-5.
Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel (46) and catcher Brian McCann (16) react after defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Dodgers 8-5. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports
This was a very predictable loss. The bullpen is a pathetic mess. At this point, I don’t know what else to say. You can easily see how overmatched the Dodgers are when they play real live competitive teams. The Braves are not the Marlins.
The Boys in Blue will try and rebound tomorrow night as they will give the ball to left hander Chris Capuano in a 4 PM start time. Atlanta will counter with Kris Medlen.