Howell Implodes, Dodgers Lose 4-3


Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers first away game started out relatively uneventfully, with only Adrian Gonzalez (AGAIN) and Howie Kendrick getting on base the first time through the order. The positive for Arizona is that Chase Anderson wasn’t completely incompetent early, if the Diamondbacks need anything, it’s definitely a solid starting pitcher.

The other Anderson, Brett Anderson was okay early, allowing some hard contact, and consistently falling behind 1-0 and 2-0, in the 3rd inning he gave up a couple of BABIP type singles to A.J. Pollock and the next Gerardo Parra in Ender Inciarte. Anderson then proceeded to serve up a meatball that turned into an absolute monster of a home run to Dodger destroyer (and former Dodger draftee), Paul Goldschmidt. He can really hit the baseball good.

The top of the 4th inning was initially a bummer too, with Adrian Gonzalez getting on base with a walk, only to have Howie Kendrick hit a 3-2 pitch into the ground that turned into 2 outs. But Yasmani Grandal broke the scoreless streak, with an absolute mammoth of a dinger to right center. Matthew Ryan Kemp has yet to hit a home run this season

Maybe give that trade a chance, yeah?

Anderson seemed to settle in, even if it’ll never be “easy” watching him pitch (something about how he strains himself on every pitch is uncomfortable), but the story of the season is how deep the lineup is, the top of the 5th inning shows why the Dodgers will be in every single game they play in, Juan Uribe started it off with a single, Joc Pederson followed him with a ground ball through the right side, and after a fun sequence of Brett Anderson bunting, and a totally uncontested “Lets Go Dodgers” chant ringing out at Chase, Jimmy Rollins doubled to right center field, scoring Juan Uribe and Joc Pederson. Puig struck out and the worst thing we could do is fret about his performance in 4 games, he. will. be. fine.

As the game went on, Brett Anderson got a lot better, Nomar Garciaparra noticed that nerves might have contributed to his erratic start, and it seemed justified, not walking anybody and a groundball percentage above 50% are always recipes for success. He ran into trouble in the bottom of the 6th, thanks to a Juan Uribe throwing error, but he was really solid getting out of the inning, having Aaron Hill bounce back to the pitcher and striking out Chris Owings.

The most positive development aside from Anderson not being injured and looking pretty good, is Yimi Garcia being awesome in the 7th inning, getting a shallow popup from Tuffy Gosewisch, blowing away Nick Ahmed and Andrew Chafin (who was perfect in 3 innings against the Dodgers, totally stymying the lineup). He was so good that the Dodgers brought him back after only throwing 8 pitches. He came back to overwhelm Pollock, got Inciarte to pop up, and after a long battle from Goldschmidt which ended in a single (because of course), he totally owned Mark Trumbo with a 94 MPH fastball at his chest that he swung right through.

The Dodgers got a rally going in the top of the 9th, with Cawl Crawford singling up the middle, followed by a Juan Uribe single to right. Which led to Joc Pederson hitting an absolute bomb to right field, missing a home run by 10 feet, juuust getting it off the end of the bat. It was terrifying to hear Charlie Steiner scream, at the absolute top of his lungs “AND IT’S CAUGHT”, the confusion was real.

So on his birthday, Andre Ethier pinch hit, hoping to give the Dodgers the lead.

Ethier predictably grounded out to first base to end the inning.

But the good news is that Joel Peralta, and his 89 MPH heater is looking like a reliable member of the bullpen, shut the DBacks down, striking out two and getting a popup in the infield. He’s not a closer, or setup man, but he’s a solid 3rd or 4th reliever on a contending team, which is all the team really needs.

After a Puig single in the top of the 10th (followed by an AGon double play [he is human!]), J.P. Howell came in and absolutely exploded. He walked A.J. Pollock, gave up a wild pitch, that moved him to 2nd, walked CLIFF PENNINGTON (Pollock stole 3rd in the process), and then Don Mattingly came out after having Chris Hatcher warming up, loaded up the left side of the infield, and Ender Inciarte hit a liner to the right of Adrian Gonzalez to finish the game.

These game are gonna happen, Yimi Garcia is a legitimate late inning option, Yasmani Grandal can hit, Yasiel Puig is still alive, Brett Anderson is going to be really good if he stays healthy all year, there are a lot of positives, I just cannot think of a reason to roster a left handed pitcher in J.P. Howell who throws 85-87 miles per hour now, walks 4.44 per 9 innings since May 1st of last season (4.01 FIP since then) over Adam Liberatore (1.65 FIP in AAA last season, and sat 93-95 in Spring Training). Otherwise, the Dodgers are going to be fine, Clayton Kershaw goes tomorrow, Zack Greinke on Sunday, it’s just frustrating to see a totally winnable game pass them by.