I was wrong.
I didn't think keeping Lance Cormier on the roster would come back to bite the Dodgers in the ass in as close game, especially considering that he only pitched in blowout games one way or another. Somehow, with a seven-man bullpen, I didn't think there would come a time Cormier would be needed in a close game.
Tonight, that time came.
Cormier gave up a tie-breaking three-run home run to former Dodger Cody Ross in the ninth inning, giving the Giants an 8-5 win over the Dodgers in the first of two games at Dodger Stadium.
What we didn't full know before the game, but we know now, is that Kenley Jansen and Matt Guerrier were unavailable tonight. Jansen pitched in four of the past five days, and Guerrier threw the past two days. Coupled with Vicente Padilla still being out with a stiff forearm, that gave Don Mattingly a four-man bullpen tonight.
Trailing 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, with Clayton Kershaw at 85 pitches, having already given up four runs and seven hits and a walk in a span of nine batters, Mattingly faced a decision. The bases were loaded with one out, and Kershaw was due up. Even with just a four-man bullpen, it's hard to argue with hitting for Kershaw in that spot, which is what Mattingly did.
Only Mattingly chose Juan Castro as his pinch-hitter. "He was two for three, with a ribbie [off Matt Cain]," Mattingly reasoned.
It is now abundantly clear that Mattingly has no plans in the immediate future to let Jerry Sands bat against a right-handed pitcher. On one hand, it is hard to blame them, as the rookie is hitting .186/.258/.288 in 67 plate appearances against righties. Sands is now on the wrong side of a platoon in left field with the left-handed hitting Jay Gibbons, and we saw backup catcher Dioner Navarro chosen over Sands as a pinch hitter on Saturday by virtue of being able to stand in the left-handed batters box. However, tonight it reached a new low with the choice of Castro.
Castro flew out to center, but not deep enough to score a run, followed by a groundout by Jamey Carroll, and the Dodgers turned their bases-loaded, nobody out situation into zero runs. The Dodgers are a whopping 3-for-34 with the bases loaded this season, with three walks and two sacrifice flies, hitting .088/.154/.088 (though their BABIP is just .111 in those situations).
The Dodgers found themselves down 5-2 in the eighth inning with two outs, and Mike MacDougal struggling. They decided to give the ball to Cormier, their final pitcher available. He got out of the jam, although his role looked like most of his normal mop up roles, although the Dodgers were closer than seven or eight runs.
Somehow, the Dodgers managed to tie the score in the bottom of the eighth, even delivering the tying runs off closer Brian Wilson with two outs. Juan Uribe hit a two-run double to make it 5-4, and James Loney hit a patented weak ground ball to the right side that looked to end the inning. However, 2011 Dodger MVP Aubrey Huff, now at first base for the Giants, inexplicably gave up on the ball, thinking Freddie Sanchez would field it, only the ball rolled harmlessly into right field, bringing home the tying run.
That meant Cormier was the pitcher of record, only with nobody left in the bullpen, it also meant Cormier needed to get three outs in the ninth inning. He got two.
Cormier has been kept on the roster twice this season over other pitchers only because those other pitchers (Scott Elbert, then Jansen) had options remaining. Given that Cormier showed what he can do when he is the only option remaining, it's time for him to go.
Cormier has allowed 19 hits, 15 runs (13 earned), four walks, and five strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings this season. Cut the cord.
- The Dodgers have 12 home runs in 24 home games this season, and Kemp has hit seven of them.
- Juan Uribe walked in the fifth inning, his fourth consecutive game with a base on balls. It ties the longest streak of Uribe's career, matching a streak in September 2005 with the White Sox.
Chad Billingsley battles Madison Bumgarner tomorrow night in the finale of the homestand.
WP - Brian Wilson (1-1): 1 1/3 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 1 strikeout
LP - Lance Cormier (0-1): 1 1/3 IP, 3 hits, 3 runs, 1 strikeout