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Don Mattingly defends Justin Sellers' defense at shortstop

Despite two errors Tuesday night against the Giants, Justin Sellers will remain as the Dodgers' starting shortstop, said manager Don Mattingly.

Justin Sellers' second error of the seventh inning allowed two runs to score.
Justin Sellers' second error of the seventh inning allowed two runs to score.

It's understandable that a roster or lineup decision, even if relatively temporary, shouldn't be ditched just two games into the regular season. But given the suddenness with which Justin Sellers claimed the starting shortstop role last week, the question needed to be asked.

Sellers is in the lineup for his defense, but made two throwing errors in the seventh inning Tuesday night in the Dodgers' 3-0 loss to the Giants. The second error was an ill-advised and wild throw home that allowed two runs to score.

"Nothing happened in that inning that will change anything," said manager Don Mattingly after the game. "I know they gave him an error on that slow roller, but that's do or die. The other play was just a decision, he was trying to stop that run. I don't think we have anybody on our club that gets the guy at home. It's just making the decision to take the out at first."

The first error was on a wild throw to first base on a ball hit by Joaquin Arias, allowing him to reach base to open the seventh inning. Mattingly didn't think the play should have been scored an error, while Sellers was more diplomatic.

"That was a tough play, the transfer and throw, and it could have went either way. Unfortunately they gave me an error," Sellers said.

But down 1-0 against a cruising Madison Bumgarner, and with runners on second and third base with one out, Sellers' second error of the inning was more costly. Bumgarner hit a chopper up the middle that the drawn-in Sellers fielded, then rather than take the sure out at first he threw home. When the throw sailed to the backstop, two runs scored.

"I was just trying to make something happen that wasn't there. But that's going to happen. I'm trying to make the best I can of any opportunity I get," Sellers said. "We were struggling at the plate right there, I've got to save the run, and that's what I tried to do, and it just got away from me."

Mattingly agreed.

"We haven't scored to that point. That's what happens when you're out there. You're thinking we can't give up anymore runs," Mattingly said. "I want him to have enough confidence in our offense that we'll be able to score some runs, and take the out there."

Then again, it's hard to have confidence against Bumgarner, who has pitched 16 consecutive scoreless innings at Dodger Stadium and has a 1.94 ERA in his last six starts against the Dodgers.

"Madison tonight was exceptional in his control. I have never seen him throw quite that many strikes," Mattingly said. "He's a guy who has good stuff. He's deceptive, he's got a good arm, he's got tough angles for guys to deal with. He's a guy we've had trouble with in the past, and we're going to have to do a better job of making adjustments."

The word confidence was thrown around so much after the game that one might think a Jack Palance aftershave commercial was playing. The bottom line is that, despite his two-error night, Sellers is still the Dodgers' starting shortstop.

"Even after that play I didn't lose confidence in myself, because there are more outs to be made. If I get a ground ball, I've got to just keep my confidence and do that," Sellers said. "When Donnie tells me he has that type of confidence in me and don't change anything, just keep playing your game, that does make me feel good regardless of my error."

Up next

The rubber game of the series will be played Wednesday night, with Josh Beckett facing off against Tim Linceum. The final game of the series has already sold out, and gates will open early. All auto gates, the left field pavilion, left field, left field loge, and club level gates will all open at 4:30 p.m. PT for the 7:10 p.m. game.