Dodgers win despite offensive struggles

USA TODAY Sports

All three Dodgers wins have been shutouts. Conversely, in the two games in which they allowed runs they have lost.

If the first five games are any indication, the 2013 Dodgers look an awful lot like the 2003 Dodgers. The Dodgers have scored only 11 runs in those five games, but they've allowed just eight, and as a result have won three of their first five. But about that offense.

Matt Kemp went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts on Saturday and has just one hit in 18 at-bats to open the season. Through 20 plate appearances last year, Kemp already had seven hits, including two home runs and a double, and eight runs batted in. Then again, it is only 20 plate appearances and Kemp has a career slugging percentage of .499 (well, it was .501 before the season).

"Obviously you can't just say everything is great. The track record guys you don't really worry about. You don't really worry about Matt, because Matt's going to hit," said manager Don Mattingly. "Cruzer's a guy who doesn't have the same track record so you worry about him a little bit. I don't want his confidence going away to where he beats himself up to the point where he really gets down on himself, so we'll be careful with him a little bit."

Cruzer is Luis Cruz, who stands at 0-for-17 on the season, not quite the addendum he wanted to add to his fairytale half season in 2012. But Cruz is not alone on the left side of the infield, as shortstop Justin Sellers is 0-for-13.

"You always want to be strong up the middle. I know Justin hasn't gotten any hits so far, but he can play shortstop," said his double play partner, Mark Ellis. "He's a very good defensive shortstop, and he made a great play last night in a close ball game. Our defense is going to be very important for us."

Defense is important, of course. But not at the cost of completely sacrificing offense. Than again, it can't continue to be this bad, can it?

"Sells I don't really worry about that much because I just know Sells, and he's pretty good about putting things behind him," Mattingly said. "He's actually had some pretty decent at-bats lately, with some of the swings. We know we don't get a whole lot, and we know why he's out there, but we're still going to get more than this."

One of the lone bright spots has been Carl Crawford, who had two more hits and two steals Saturday night and scored the game's only run. He is 7-for-16 (.438/.500/.500) in the early going.

"Carl just keeps rolling along. We're seeing glimpses of what everyone was seeing for a while. We saw him at Tampa and he was doing the same type of things," Mattingly said. "To me, he's gotten even to be a little bit better hitter. He sees the ball good out of the guy's hand, he's been a little more patient than I remember. He's been good. We see the speed and what Carl can cause."

Mark Ellis has started out hot as well at 6-for-16 (.375/.444/.438) and drove in Crawford for the winning (and only) run Saturday night.

"It felt good," Ellis said. "Obviously we'd like to be throwing five or six runs per game, but we've got to take what we can get right now. Sooner or later we'll bust out and we'll start scoring a bunch of runs."

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