Andre Ethier’s Eighth Inning Bunt Confuses and Frightens Me


The Dodgers dropped the third game of the series versus Cincinnati on Wednesday night thanks to a shaky first inning by Clayton Kershaw and a very puzzling call in the bottom of the eighth where Don Mattingly asked Andre Ethier to bunt over the best base stealer in the Majors.

Kershaw didn’t have his absolute best stuff in the loss, but he did battle out of a couple of jams and did not allow more than the two-run homerun to Brandon Phillips in the first inning and a lead-off double to Todd Frazier in the sixth which resulted in a run coming in after Drew Butera failed to block a wild pitch.

The three runs were all Cincinnati needed since the Dodgers only scored once in the fifth on a Justin Turner double and a passed ball, and they

May 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) hits a home run against the Cincinnati Reds during the sixth inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

scored once in the sixth with a solo homerun from Yasiel Puig. Kemp made his debut in left field, and he 0-for-4 with 2 strikeouts. Gordon had 2 hits on the night, but the rest of the lineup including Adrian Gonzalez and Hanley Ramirez were quiet again.

The Dodgers’ bullpen was able to preserve the one-run game through two innings of scoreless work between Brandon League, J.P. Howell, and Brian Wilson. Unfortunately the bats didn’t come around much, and without Carl Crawford, A.J. Ellis, and Juan Uribe in the lineup, Gonzo and Hanley will need to step up.

Dodgers 2 5 0

Reds 3 8 0

WP- Bailey (5-3)

LP- Kershaw (3-2)

S- Chapman (5)

HR- Phillips (4), Puig (11)

Here’s how it played out…

With one out in the top of the first, Todd Frazier doubles in front of Matt Kemp in left field. Brandon Phillips than crushes a two-run homerun over the left field fence, and I’m suddenly scared this Clayton Kershaw start will be another clunker like his start versus Arizona. Devin Mesoraco strikes out swinging. Jay Bruce hits back to the box to end the inning, but not before the Reds jump on Kersh early.

Dee Gordon hits one down the left field line for a lead-off double against Homer Bailey in the home half of the first. Gordon advances to third on a Andre Ethier chopper to the hole between first and second which is taken care of by Phillips to prevent it from going through the infield. Yasiel Puig and Hanley Ramirez both strike out, and the Dodgers waste a perfect opportunity by stranding Gordon at third.

Kersh strikes out Ryan Ludwick to start the second, but Brayan Pena doubles to right field. Pena moves to third on a passed ball which is deflected off Drew Butera’s catching glove with Zack Cozart at-bat. Kershaw rears back to strike out both Cozart and Bailey to end any threat.

In the bottom of the second, Matt Kemp strikes out, but strike three is a wild pitch which gets away from Mesoraco. Kemp reaches first base on the

May 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

strikeout. The Dodgers go down in order.

In the third, Kershaw mows down Billy Hamilton and Todd Frazier with dominant strikeouts. Brandon Phillips grounds out, and Kershaw has settled down for a 1-2-3 inning.

Homer Bailey also strikes out two in the bottom of the third as Kershaw and Ethier both go down on strikes in the 1-2-3 inning.

Devin Mesoraco leads off the fourth with a single, and the catcher advances to second on a soft Jay Bruce grounder which Kershaw fields. Kershaw pulls the string by striking out Ludwick with his curve. Pena grounds out to Hanley at short, and the Reds can’t cash in the lead-off single.

Other than a two-out walk to Gonzo, Bailey once again retires the Dodgers easily in the bottom of the fourth.

Kershaw pitches a perfect fifth inning.

Justin Turner leads off with a double in the bottom of the fifth. Turner takes third on a groundout by Butera. With Kershaw hitting, a passed ball by Mesoraco (each catcher has one passed ball now) allows Turner to come down the line to score! Kershaw then singles to center field, and Gordon also singles- his base hit is to left field. Kershaw stops at second. Ethier squashes the rally as he grounds into the dreaded inning ending double play. The Dodgers are still down 2-1.

In the sixth, Frazier continues to torment the Dodgers as he leads off with a double over Matt Kemp’s head in left field. Frazier reaches third on a grounder to short by Phillips. Kersh misses with a curve, and Mesoraco draws the first walk of the night for Cincinnati. With Bruce in the box, a wild pitch which isn’t blocked properly by Butera allows Frazier to come in to score, 3-1.

Yasiel Puig wakes everyone up with a big solo homerun to center field to lead-off the bottom of the sixth! The Dodgers are still down 3-2. Hanley strikes out afterward, Gonzo pops out, and Matt Kemp flies out.

Pena singles to lead off the seventh, and Pena has collected two hits off Kersh tonight. Cozart grounds into a force out, and the Dodgers will challenge the call. The play is upheld and only Pena is out at second. Bailey swings and misses for the second out. Billy Hamilton blisters a double on the left field line, and Cozart holds at third. Kershaw induces a groundout to third from Frazier to end the inning and walk away from runners at second and third.

In the bottom of the seventh, Jamie Romak makes his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter for Clayton Kershaw. He will face Homer Bailey in his first at-bat. He makes contact on the first pitch he sees, and he hits a one-hopper right to Phillips at second to end the inning.

Clayton Kershaw pitched 7 innings and allowed 3 runs on 7 hits with 9 strikeouts and a walk on 105 pitches.

Brandon League takes over for Kersh in the eighth. League gets his first two batters Phillips and Mesoraco on a groundout and a strikeout. Don Mattingly will dip into the pen again to use J.P. Howell to pitch to Jay Bruce. Howell pitches very carefully to Bruce, and he strikes him out looking with a big sinker.

Homer Bailey pitched 7 innings and allowed 2 runs on 5 hits with 6 strikeouts and a walk on 96 pitches.

May 28, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds designated hitter Brandon Phillips (4) hits a two run home run against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Manny Parra will reliever Bailey in the bottom of the eighth. Dee Gordon draws a very important lead-off walk on four pitches. For some reason, Mattingly asks Ethier to bunt. Ethier does execute a successful bunt to move Gordon over, but why? Why ask Ethier to bunt? Why not just have Gordon steal? Gordon seems to have gotten slightly hurt while sliding head first into second. The Reds will bring in good old friend Jonathan Broxton to face Puig. Gordon tags up and moves to third on a deep fly ball to right from Puig. Even Vin Scully is calling Ethier’s bunt a wasted out. HanRam flies out, and the inning is toast.

Here comes Brian Wilson to pitch the ninth inning. Pena collects his third hit of the night, a one-out single. Wilson strikes out Cozart. Skip Schumaker grounds out to end the frame.

The Dodgers will only have to contend with flame thrower Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth. No problem. Adrian Gonzalez quickly grounds out on the first 101-mph fastball he sees. Matt Kemp strikes out. Justin Turner strikes out.

The Dodgers drop to 29-25 on the season. Thursday night the Pirates come into town for a four-game series beginning with a Dan Haren versus Gerrit Cole match-up.