After pitching his way into becoming an indispensable part of the Dodgers' bullpen, Josh Lindblom has had a rough four days. After recording two outs in the seventh inning on Sunday, the next four Angels reached base and two scored, sending Lindblom to his second loss in four days.
"I got two quick outs, then obviously to (Albert) Pujols I wasn't going to give in to him there. He's one of the best hitters in the game if not the best. After walking him I just had to make better pitches to (Kendrys) Morales," said Lindblom. "Everything kind of snowballed, and that's a spot where you have to slow the game down."
The walk was the 1,000th career walk for Pujols, who scored the winning run.
"He's so good at knowing pitchers and hitting mistakes. You just have to stick with your strengths," Lindblom said. "My strength has been fastball command, and it's kind of wavered a little bit in the last couple of outings. With the walk and the hit batter, I'm really just beating myself right now."
Lindblom gave up a three-run walk-off home run to Yoenis Cespedes in the series finale in Oakland on Thursday, facing three batters without recording an out in that game. After putting up a 2.12 ERA in his first 31 games with 29 strikeouts and 11 walks in 34 innings, Lindblom has allowed five runs in his last two games while recording only two outs.
"It's just one of those things he's going to go through at some point in the year, like everybody else. Javy (Guerra) had his little stretch, Kenley (Jansen) had a couple stretches. This was the first time Josh had back-to-back outings; they seem to come in pairs," said manager Don Mattingly. "He'll bounce back, he's fine. His stuff is still the same, it's just a matter of making pitches."
Lindblom said he feels fine physically and that he was just going through a rough stretch.
"It's a long season, and it's just two outings. I've had failures before, and it's just a matter of showing up every day and being ready to work hard and get better."
After hitting just .160/.232/.240 in 20 games with Matt Kemp on the disabled list, Andre Ethier had a nice series against the Angels. He had six hits in 11 at-bats, including a pair of flare doubles on Sunday, plus a walk in three games against the Angels.
"Guys get streaky. His first two hits today weren't crushed, but those are hits that get you going," Mattingly said. "He's swinging the bat good. He's hit some balls hard. He's going to hit. Andre's not my worry, trust me."
Ethier, who hasn't driven in a run in his last nine games, is second in the National League with 55 RBI, one behind Carlos Beltran, who homered and drove in three for St. Louis on Sunday.
Relievers On The Mend
Blake Hawksworth threw a scoreless inning on Sunday for the Class A Rancho Cucamonga Quakes, retiring three batters in order on two pop outs and a grounder. It was the second game of Hawksworth's rehab assignment, which could last for a while.
Manager Don Mattingly said on Sunday that if Hawksworth were to come back, he would likely be the last man in the bullpen (basically Shawn Tolleson's role now), and the Dodgers would like to see Hawksworth be able to throw multiple innings if needed on his rehab assignment, as well as pitch back-to-back games.
Minor league rehab assignments for pitchers can take up to 30 days per the collective bargaining agreement, though they could be extended with a setback or further injury. Since Hawksworth is out of options, the Dodgers may decide to take the better part of a month to decide what to do with Hawksworth, or if there will even be an open spot for him in the bullpen when he is ready to return.
For instance, that open spot could be gone depending on Guerra's return. Guerra, who underwent knee surgery on June 5, threw 20 pitches off flat ground on Sunday, two days after throwing off a mound for the first time in a light bullpen session on Friday.
Guerra said he has experienced no pain in his knee, and is scheduled to throw again in San Francisco on Tuesday. Guerra said he is ahead of schedule on his recovery, and that he will throw every other day to see if his knee flares up. If all goes well, he could begin a rehab assignment of his own soon.
Push Stop, Maybe?
However, there might have been a silver lining to the loss for the Dodgers. As a joke, the song "Call Me Maybe" played on a loop in the weight room in the Dodgers clubhouse before Saturday's game and since they won the song was continuously playing again before Sunday's game, much to the playful dismay of several players.
But with the loss on Sunday, might the song go away as the superstition has worn off?
"I hope so," Lindblom said, laughing.
The Dodgers take their three-game division lead north to San Francisco, where they open a three-game series against the Giants on Monday night. Nathan Eovaldi makes his sixth start of the season for the Dodgers in the series opener, against Barry Zito for San Francisco.