Dodgers' closer Brandon League has had a rough time this season, specifically in his last two outings. Tuesday night was the second time in four days that League allowed a game-winning home run. Paul Goldschmidt got the best of League on Tuesday, hitting the 11th pitch he saw into the left field pavilion for a 5-3 Diamondbacks win.
"Tonight I got that leadoff walk, then the one out. My whole plan was just to ground into a double play," League said. "But it's a prime example of what happens when you throw a good hitter a shitty pitch."
Goldschmidt succeeding against the Dodgers is nothing new, as he is hitting .450 (9-for-20) this season against them and .331/.410/.534 in his career versus Los Angeles.
"We've got to mix it up with him. Obviously that was a pretty good at-bat right there. He's fouling off a bunch of pitches. You don't want to walk him. You've got to go after him," said manager Don Mattingly. "You make good pitches and he keeps fighting one off until he finally gets himself one to hit. He's hurt us. He's a guy that looks like he keeps getting a little bit better all the time. We've got to continue to try to change our patterns on him."
League wanted to challenge the right-handed Goldschmidt, especially with the left-handed Gerardo Parra on deck. In his career, left-handers have hit .277/.344/.422 against League entering play on Tuesday.
"Right on right, I'm not going to give into a guy like that, one that I can get a grounder. If I pitch around him and walk him, I put a a runner in scoring position with a lefty up next. That was my thought process. I don't care if (Goldschmidt) is hitting .500, it's a right-on-right. I have a batter chance right-on-right than right-on-left," League said. "We battled for a little bit, but still. You've got to come out on top in a tie game like that."
League has had trouble most of the season, as he sports a 5.40 ERA with just seven strikeouts in 57 batters faced. He has allowed runs in seven of his last 10 outings.
"The last two times he gets the baseball he ends up with a home run in the end. There are some concerns, like everyone else," Mattingly said. "I've seen closers over the years, it seem like when one gets away it seems like they come in a little bit of a bunch. It feels like par for the course right now. Nothing we do seems to work."
League has successfully converted eight of his nine save opportunities, though he allowed a run of three of those successful saves. League's last two games, both losses, have come in non-save opportunities. Though both League and Mattingly downplayed the difference.
"The top of the ninth, in a tie game. It's the same thing as a save situation," League said. "You've got to do your job and hold the score so you can walk them off in the bottom of the ninth."
"We have to use him. It's not like every time we can use him is a save situation. It would be nice if we were getting to that spot all the time," Mattingly said. "But you're at home, you're going to put him in there and give yourself a chance to win the game the next inning."
After he was traded to the Dodgers in 2012, League found success after a mechanical adjustment from coaches Kenny Howell and Rick Honeycutt. But he said mechanics have nothing to do with his 2013 struggles.
"Mechanics are not the issue right now," League said. "I'm not all over the strike zone or out of the strike zone, whatever you want to call it. I'm just not executing what I need to execute."
How long League, who signed a three-year, $22.5 million contract during the winter, will get to execute in the ninth inning remains to be seen.
The Dodgers send ace Clayton Kershaw to the mound on Wednesday night, looking to snap the club's second six-game losing streak of the season. Fellow southpaw Wade Miley takes the mound for Arizona in the series finale.