The Los Angeles Dodgers managed to outlast the New York Mets tonight in a 13-inning battle to take two of the first three of a four-game series. That’s the good news.
Here’s the bad news. The Dodgers needed every member of their beleaguered bullpen to keep New York at bat and still only won after a James Loney walk-off homer in the games final stanza. Even worse, tonight’s victory was only the team’s third win since coming back from the All-Star break. The Dodgers sit third in the NL West, three games behind San Francisco and six games behind San Diego.
Here’s where things get interesting. After tomorrow’s series finale that will see struggling ace Clayton Kershaw square off with red-hot journeyman R.A. Dickey, the Dodgers go on a 10-game run that will have them face the Pods seven times(three at Petco after the Mets series and four at home to close out the two-week divisional stretch) and the Giants three times(at Pac Bell, sandwiched in between the two Padres series and part of a seven-game road trip). If the Dodgers are going to make a second-half run at the division, this is their chance to do it. According to the projected pitching matchups, the Dodgers would avoid top Padres hurler Mat Latos(who is 11-4 after making his return from the DL tonight with a dominating performance against the Pirates) in the first clash with San Diego, but would have to face two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum in the opener against the Giants. The Giants have won both meetings with “The Freak” on the mound, and the fact that the Dodgers would, theoretically, be trotting out reliever Carlos Monasterios to oppose the Giants All-Star pitcher makes a third win more probable for San Francisco.
On top of that, the Dodgers will have to endure the 10-game slate without slugging left fielder Manny Ramirez. Ramirez was placed on the disabled list for the third time this season, this time for an injury to his calf. The injury is expected to keep Man-Ram out of the lineup for three weeks. Also occurring during this stretch will be the much-ballyhooed trading deadline. While an infusion of healthy bats would certianly help L.A., the Dodgers’ main concern has to be shoring up the bullpen. Despite notching the W tonight, reliever George Sherrill continues to be an abomination(as seen by him blowing a win last Sunday against the Giants, after the controversial upheaval of closer Jonathan Broxton). The Dodgers don’t have much relief beyond Broxton and fellow All-Star Hong Chih-Kuo. Injuries have forced Monasterios, who is more suited for a relief role, into the rotation and the team hasn’t gotten much from former starting pitcher Russ Ortiz or guys like Ramon Troncoso and Charlie Haegar.
From all the reports that have surfaced, the poor performance has not gone unnoticed by GM Ned Colletti. However, finding midseason relief is troublesome for almost any team, not just the Dodgers, as quality late-inning guys are pretty scarce and, thus, teams are a bit reluctant to part with them. Regardless, Colletti needs to move swiftly in shoring up the bullpen. If the Dodgers can pull their late-season magic over these next few weeks like they have so many times in past seasons, it will get them out of the hole they put themselves in after losing six straight to start the second half. After this rough stretch, the Dodgers get to feast on the feisty-yet-still-inferior Washington Nationals.
Hopefully, by then, they will be looking down on the Padres and Giants, instead of trying to climb back up in the division.
About the Author
Written by Dave Leonardis
Born and raised in New Jersey, I've been writing since I was 10 and blogging since I was 18. I'm a huge sports nerd, following football, baseball and basketball in particular in close detail. My style is very upfront. I don't pull punches and I'm not shy about criticizing anything I feel deserves a proper tongue-lashing. If you're looking for someone who says what he wants, when he wants, then look no further than this guy right here.