Brandon League, and Hanley’s Errors Ruin Dodger Winning Streak
By Scott Andes
Welp. The winning streak was nice while it lasted. The season is over. It’s over! LOLZ, just kidding. Seriously, jokes guys. But I thought we already figured out that Brandon League can never ever be used in a tie game again? I don’t care what the situation is. Haven’t we been over this before? The Dodger’s ten game winning streak came to a crashing halt this afternoon in Philadelphia as they dropped the last game of the series 3-2 losing in an annoyingly familiar way. Brandon League couldn’t retire a single batter with one out in the ninth, and Hanley Ramirez botched two easy grounders, (One being an easy double play ball) and the Dodgers lost. But then again those balls were hit hard, which brings up the original point that Brandon League is bad. Honestly, we wouldn’t have gotten emails from Seattle writers warning us about him if he wasn’t terrible. (no joke, Seattle writers emailed us with warnings) Reminds me of the losses from the crappy first half. I’m sorry but League just exudes losing.
The Dodgers had a 2-0 and 2-1 lead but couldn’t hold it. Starter Ricky Nolasco pitched well enough to win, but he can never pitch into the seventh inning. He’s only pitched into the seventh inning twice as a Dodger. He threw six innings today and allowed two runs on five hits walked one and whiffed five, but the second run he allowed in the sixth inning was costly. Cole Hamels easily held the scrubby Dodger lineup without Adrian Gonzalez, A.J. Ellis, and Juan Uribe to just two runs on seven hits through seven frames. He whiffed eight and didn’t walk anyone, but came away with a no-decision.
Nolasco was unable to pitch deep into the game but still pitched well-Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Hamels looks like a bird-Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Ugggh god and Jonathan Papelbon vultured the win in today’s game. That’s just wrong guys. The Dodgers scored a run in the third when Andre Ethier hit a solo home run off of Hamels, and added their second run in the fourth when Ethier singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single from Jerry Hairston.
The Phillies scored a run in the fourth to cut the lead in half. Darin Ruf homers off a Nolasco meatball for his eighth home run of the season. The Phillies tied the game in the sixth on a Utley HBP, a Brown single, a walk to Ruf, and then an RBI grounder from Cody Asche.
The winning run in the bottom of the ninth was plated after Paco had gotten the first out easily. Mattingly removes Paco and brings in League, and well, we all know what happens when League enters tie games in the ninth. Losses happen. Casper Wells reaches on a throwing error from Hanley, and Hairston playing first base couldn’t scoop it. Ruiz singles Wells to third, as Puig misses another cut-off man. Tsk, tsk Puig. Rollins is intentionally walked to load the bases. Pinch-hitter Michael Young’s double play grounder is botched again by Hanley and the winning run scores. That was it.
Jhair-Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Yes of course it’s Hanley’s fault for botching two easy grounders, but remember League just isn’t very good. He doesn’t get swings and misses, and isn’t dominating. Look at his numbers. 22 whiffs and 12 walks in 44 innings. The guy doesn’t scare anyone. Brining him in during tie games just changes the momentum and allows the opposing teams opportunities to easily score. I’m complaining too much so here’s the lowlights.
Mark Ellis lines out to Frandsen. Nick Punto trickles a single up the middle, the ball rolling past Michael Martinez into center field. Hanley Ramirez’s grounder advances Punto to second. Hamels gives Hanley a little hip check but gets the out at first. Yasiel Puig pops it up and the inning is over.
Nolasco pitches a perfect first bottom of the first inning and I love it. Michael Martinez lines back to the box. Nolasco knocks the ball down and tosses to first. Frandsen flies out to left. Nolasco whiffs Utley and we’re scoreless through one.
The Dodgers strike first in the top of the second. Andre Ethier blasts his ninth home run to right field. The solo shot puts the Dodgers on top 1-0. In the bottom of the second, Nolasco keeps throwing bullets. Domonic Brown singles up the middle, but Nolasco whiffs Darin Ruf on a nasty breaking ball. Cody Asche flies out to Van Slyke. Casper Wells is whiffed, and the Dodgers still lead 1-0.
The Dodgers don’t score in the top of the third, and Nolasco allows another lead-off single in the bottom of the third. Hamels sacrifices Ruiz to second. Nolasco whiffs Martinez with another nasty breaking pitch. Frandsen a slow roller for the third out.
Ethier hit his ninth home run-Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
In the top of the fourth, Puig whiffs. Ethier singles to right, and advances to second on a wild pitch. Hamels whiffs Van Slyke, but Hairston loops a liner just inches over the leaping glove of Martinez. Ethier scores from second base to give the Dodgers a 2-0 lead. Fedex singles up the middle too, but Nolasco’s grounder ends the frame.
The Dodger’s consecutive scoreless innings streak ends at 30 when Darin Ruf takes Nolasco deep into right field in the bottom of the fourth. The solo shot is the first Philadelphia run of the series, and the Dodger lead is cut to 2-1.
Punto and Hanley whiff during a 123 top of the fifth inning for the Dodgers. In the bottom of the fifth, Wells whiffs, but Ruiz singles. After a sacrifice from Hamels, Martinez grounds to Ellis, and we’re out of the fifth frame.
Move to the top of the sixth, where Yasiel Puig reaches on an Utley fielding error. Then he immediately gets picked off of first base. What Dodger game would be complete without another Dodger Tootblan? It costs them a run as Van Slyke singled in the same inning, but a deep fly out from Ethier, and a Hairston grounder ends the inning without scorage for the Boys in Blue. Keep note Hamels is at 100 pitches.
Nolasco implodes in the sixth inning again, allowing the Phillies to tie the game. With one out a Nolasco fluffer pitch hits Utley in the foot. Brown singles to right, and Puig’s throw misses the cutoff man again allowing the runners to go to second and third. Ruf walks to load the bases, and Asche’s force grounder scores Utley to tie the game at 2-2. Wells grounds out and the Dodgers escape.
OH Hanley, you and your errors, but I still love ya-Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Hamels retires the Dodgers in order in the top of the seventh in his final inning of work. Fedex and pinch-hitter Uribe whiff. M.Ellis grounds out. Ronald Belisario takes over on the mound in the bottom of the seventh. He allows a Ruiz single. Ryne Sandberg lets Hamels bunt, but he sacrifices into a force out at second. Martinez is whiffed on a called strike three, and Frandsen flies to right.
Right hander B.J. Rosenberg enters for Philadelphia to pitch the top of the eighth frame. Punto walks, but of course Hanley hits into a double play, and that does that for the eighth.
Paco Rodriguez pitches a dominant bottom of the eighth frame to keep the tie intact. Jonathan Papelbon pitches the top of the ninth. He whiffs Ethier. Van Slyke flies out. Hairston a two-out single to left. Fedex pathetically whiffs and we move to the bottom of the ninth.
Paco stays out for his second inning of work. He whiffs Asche for the first out. Then Mattingly inexclipcably removes him for Brandon League. Casper Wells hits an easy grounder to short, but Hanley’s throw is offline, and Hairston can’t scoop it up. Gonzo really should have been put into the game at this point. Ruiz’s single advances Wells to third, and Ruiz takes second as Puig misses the cut-off man. Again I know. There’s an intentional walk to Rollins, and then an easy double play grounder from Michael Young ends the game. Hanley bumbles the ball and can’t even get a throw off as the winning runs scores. The Dodgers lose 3-2. The club falls to 72-51 but is still eight games ahead in the NL West.
You can make great arguments that Hanley’s errors cost the game. And they definitely did, but League doesn’t scare anybody. How many more games do we have to watch this guy blow before the Dodgers finally wake up about this guy.
I guess the moral of this loss is to stop using Brandon League in tie games. I mean I think Mattingly has done a great job working with him and slowly easing him into situations outside of mop-up situations, but still didn’t we learn from this already? Seriously stop using League in tie games. These games down the stretch are too important to be punting away.
The Dodgers gets out of town with a series win and fly into Miami for a four game series. All four of those games are televised on KCAL 9, so try and make your plans accordingly. Tomorrow Hyun-jin Ryu battles rookie Jose Fernandez at 4:05 PM, as Hanley and Nolasco both make their Miami homecomings.