Oscar Salazar delivered an RBI single up the middle in the bottom of the ninth to give the Padres a 3-2 victory and a series win over the Dodgers, pushing them seven games back in the National League West. The hit came off of George Sherrill, who was brought into a tie game in the ninth rather than Jonathan Broxton.
This isn't even about George Sherrill. Yes, to say he has struggled this season is a massive understatement. He didn't even pitch that badly in the ninth inning. He was just put in a position he shouldn't have been, because Joe Torre manages to the save rule rather than trying to win.
In a tie game on the road, in the bottom of any inning after the ninth, the only way the road team can keep playing is by keeping the other team scoreless. The Dodgers best chance to do that in the ninth inning was Broxton, yet he waited in the bullpen for the call that never came. I'm sure Torre will say something in the post game about wanting to save Broxton in case the Dodgers got a lead, and that if he brought him in during a tie game, he wouldn't want to have to pitch him two innings if necessary. But it's ridiculous.
You don't lose with your best option on the sideline. It's not as if Torre hasn't seen the flip side of this misuse. How many walk-offs have the Dodgers had in the past few seasons? They use Broxton in tie games in the ninth inning quite often, while the other teams' closers wait for their lead that never comes. Almost every manager seems to manage this way, but that doesn't make it right. The bullpen is awesome when it's Status Kuo, not status quo.
Then again, with the Dodger offense on summer vacation, I'm not sure if it matters anymore.
A Rare Southpaw Feat
Adrian Gonzalez did something no other left-handed batter has done this season. He got a base hit off Dodgers reliever extraordinaire Hong-Chih Kuo. Before the eighth inning single to center field by Gonzalez, lefties were 0-for-36 against Kuo with 18 strikeouts (to go along with three walks and a sacrifice fly). The last left-handed batter to record a hit off Kuo before today was Tony Gwynn, Jr., who singled last September 29, also at Petco Park.
The Dodgers begin a three-game series in San Francisco tomorrow night. However, with Tim Lincecum matching up with Carlos Monasterios in game one, I would kill for an opportunity for Broxton not be used in the ninth inning of a tie game again.
WP - Heath Bell (5-0): 1 IP, 1 strikeout
LP - George Sherrill (1-2): 1/3 IP, 2 hits, 1 run