Unfit To Be Tied: Dodgers Drop Another In Colorado

In the first three innings, this felt like it would be one of those games at Coors Field. It was 5-4 Rockies after three frames, and runs were scored in four of the first six half-innings. Chad Billingsley pitched the worst start of the young season for the Dodgers, needing 86 pitches to get through his three innings. Billingsley allowed five runs on six hits and three walks, though he did strikeout three.

Blake Hawksworth relieved Billingsley, and was greeted rudely by Troy Tulowitzki, who hit a two-run home run for his second dinger in as many days against the Dodgers. The heart of the Rockies order did some damage to the Dodgers: Carlos Gonzalez had a double, a single, a walk, and scored three runs; Tulowitzki had a single to go with his homer; and Todd Helton hit a three-run pop fly home run off the top of the wall in right field that gave the Rockies the lead for good.

After the Tuolowitzki home run, the game pretty much settled down for the next three innings, as the bullpens did their job. Kenley Jansen rebounded from his Saturday disaster to retire six of the seven batters he faced, and Matt Guerrier pitched two scoreless innings of his own.

The Dodgers added a run in the eighth inning to pull within 7-5, setting the stage for a bizarre top of the ninth.

Rod Barajas led off the inning by hitting a ball down the left field line, a likely double for nearly every non-catcher in baseball, but Gonzalez got to the ball quickly in left, holding Barajas to a single. Might Barajas have made it to second base on that play? Perhaps, but it was too risky to possibly make an out on the bases on such a low percentage play, especially when he wasn't even the tying run. Keep in mind also at this point Tony Gwynn, Jr., Hector Gimenez, and A.J. Ellis were left on the bench, with one of them needed to hit for Guerrier, due up fourth in the inning.

Jamey Carroll followed Barajas with another ball down the left field line, this one even more shallow than the ball hit by Barajas, but an easy double...except for the fact that Barajas was running from first base and could not even advance to third on the play. So, after two would-be doubles to open the ninth inning, the Dodgers had runners on first and second, still down two runs.

This is the point Mattingly should have pinch ran for Barajas. The tying run is on base in Carroll, and having Barajas run through molasses in front of Carroll would only slow him down. However, Mattingly kept Barajas in the game, which proved marginally costly on the next play. Rafael Furcal lined a ball over the head of Gonzalez in left, but Gonzalez managed to track it down on the fly, wrunning with his back to the infield. Even Barajas could and should have tagged and made it to third base on this play, but Barajas was stuck in quicksand at second base, sinking along with the Dodgers' win expectancy.

At the very least, the Dodgers should have had runners on second and third base with one out, with Gimenez and Ethier due up. But they didn't, and it really didn't matter anyway as Gimenez and Ethier were both stuck out by Huston Street to end the game. The ninth inning was frustrating, one that could have been so different with any kind of speed on the bases.

Notes

  • Casey Blake reached base in each of his first three plate appearances back from the DL: a hit by pitch, an RBI triple, and a single
  • James Loney homered in the second inning, his seventh career home run at Coors Field. In 303 career plate appearances at Coors Field and Chase Field combined, Loney has 14 home runs, or one every 21.6 PA; at 1,224 plate appearances at Dodger Stadium Loney has 18 home runs, or one every 68 plate appearances.
  • The Dodgers are off Thursday, but start a three game series at Petco Park on Friday. In the series opener, Ted Lilly will face Clayton Richard.

WP - Jason Hammel (1-0): 5 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts

LP - Chad Billingsley (1-1): 3 IP, 6 hits, 5 runs, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts

Sv - Huston Street (3): 1 IP, 2 hits, 2 strikeouts

Box Score

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