The Dodgers had reason to think Saturday would be a good night at Dodger Stadium, as Hiroki Kuroda took the hill for the Dodgers against a "bullpen game" for the Marlins. However, thanks to the moribund Dodger offense, their best laid plans went up in smoke, falling to Florida 6-1 on Saturday night. The Dodgers have scored 2.72 runs per game in May, and have scored two runs or less in 13 of their last 25 games.
The story of the night at the stadium was a small fire that broke out in a warehouse in between the reserved level and top deck in the top of the fifth inning. The smoke that emanated from that blaze forced the evacuation of seats on the first base side of the top two levels (fans were relocated to similar seats on the third base side; don't worry, there were plenty of empty seats available). While quite a distraction -- the smoke was visible for at least two innings -- the game itself was not delayed in any way.
For someone pressed into spot starting duty, Brian Sanches pitched reasonably well. He allowed just one run in his three innings, giving up three hits and two walks while striking out four. However, the Dodgers made Sanches work after an 11-pitch first inning. Sanches threw 23 pitches in the second inning, then 24 more in the third inning, nearing his limit with 58 pitches.
Sanches was followed by Edward Mujica, who has struggled at Dodger Stadium in his career, allowing 11 runs and four home runs in 7 2/3 innings. However, Mujica was able to keep the Dodgers at bay, pitching two scoreless innings, even though it took him 47 pitches to do so. Tonight was just the second of seven career appearances at Dodger Stadium by Mujica in which he didn't give up an earned run.
But by the time Mujica was out and the Marlins were on to their third reliever, it didn't matter much for the Dodgers as they were down 5-1. For the second straight start, Kuroda was not sharp, allowing 10 hits and five runs in his 5 1/3 innings, though the final two runs, inherited by Mike MacDougal, scored on a controversial double by Wes Helms down the first base line that was close to being a foul ball.
But in the end those two runs didn't matter. The bottom line this season is that the Dodgers' offense gives the pitching staff no margin for error. When the Dodger starter pitches a quality start (at least six innings and no more than three earned runs), the team is 20-13, but when they don't -- like tonight -- the club is 3-17.
The announced crowd of 29,971 was the smallest Saturday crowd at Dodger Stadium since September 26, 1992, when the Dodgers were wrapping up their only last place finish in the last 105 seasons.
Clayton Kershaw faces Ricky Nolasco tomorrow afternoon as the Dodgers try to win their second of the last 11 series.
WP - Edwin Mujica (5-2): 2 IP, 1 hit, 4 strikeouts
LP - Hiroki Kuroda (5-5): 5 1/3 IP, 10 hits, 5 runs, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts