The Dodgers lost 4-2 to the Braves on Wednesday night, but the talk of the locker room after the game was of closer Javy Guerra, who was struck in the jaw by a line drive off the bat of Brian McCann in the ninth inning. That was the second of five straight one-out singles given up by Guerra, who said he thought the ball hit by McCann would have been a double play had it not hit Guerra in the face first.
"I've got to get the ball down. If I don't keep the ball up it doesn't come back at me," said Guerra, who suffered the loss for the second consecutive night.
Manager Don Mattingly said he considered removing Guerra immediately after the line drive off his face, but decided to leave his closer in the game after Guerra was cleared by assistant trainer Greg Harrel. Mattingly, Guerra, and catcher A.J. Ellis all insisted that Guerra was not affected, physically, by the line drive.
Guerra received concussion tests, which he passed, after the game. His jaw was visibly swollen as he spoke to reporters. Ellis praised the toughness of his closer.
"He's a tough kid. He's a bulldog on the mound. I'm not surprised he got up," Ellis said.
Guerra has three losses, including two blown saves, in his last five outings over the last nine days, but Mattingly bristled at questions about the closer role. "Javy is throwing the ball good for us. Nothing really changes in my eyes," Mattingly said.
"You can sit there and question all you want. Our ballclub has confidence in Javy. The game will tell us what to do with him. If he has trouble there, we'll put him in a different spot," Mattingly said. "Two days ago or three days ago it's not even a question. After two outings do you think I'm going to flip-flop? I'm not."
Eovaldi Appears On His Way
Nathan Eovaldi was pulled after just one inning in his start Wednesday night for Double A Chattanooga, and speculation is that he is on his way to Los Angeles. We just don't know which pitcher he will replace. Mattingly responded "Yes," when asked if there were other injuries on his pitching staff, but declined further comment.
The Dodgers have Thursday off, then conclude their homestand by hosting the Washington Nationals for three games. Clayton Kershaw starts the opener Friday night, facing Ross Detwiler of the Nats.