After losing game one of a four game series at home to the Cincinnati Reds Thursday night, the Friday morning headline in the Los Angeles Times read “Worse than the Worst”. And that was before one of the worst pitchers in baseball one-hit the Dodgers over four innings Friday night, and the Los Angeles lackluster offense and bullpen made its presence known the rest of the way. The 16-24 Dodgers are now playing .400 ball this year, yet it seems they are the worst of the worst.
Battling such imposing names on the mound as Tyler Mahle, Matt Harvey, Homer Bailey, and Luis Castillo (not the Florida Marlins infielder from the late 1990s), the Dodgers scored 9 runs in 4 games. Harvey made his Cincinnati debut Friday after being cut loose from the Mets and refusing a minor league assignment, and some LA area sportswriters were knocking the idea, saying that the Reds shouldn't put Harvey in such a 'pressure situation'. It seems like pitching for a lousy team against another lousy team that isn't scoring any runs is a good situation, right? Harvey allowed only one hit in four innings, and it was a triple by Cody Bellinger on a fly ball that should have been caught.
Saturday, although Bellinger homered in the game, he later became the goat for bunting a 3-0 pitch back to the pitcher, and ignoring a take sign at the same time. While coaches and broadcasters say he was just 'trying to make something happen', it backfired, and the Boys in Blue lost 5-3. Sunday showed the same final score, with Yasiel Puig finally hitting his first home run of the season, but starting pitcher Rich Hill left with a blister, and the bullpen surrendered more runs.
On my phone earlier this morning, the ESPN 'SportsCenter' jingle sounded briefly. That means breaking sports news, and for a split second, I thought maybe Dodger manager Dave Roberts was fired. He wasn't, of course, and while I still think he is highly overrated, he doesn't deserve to be shown the door just yet. Clearly, this isn't the team that won 104 games last year, but also, clearly, they aren't even trying to pretend they are by playing like it. Yes, third baseman Justin Turner is reportedly days away from returning after a broken wrist (maybe even as early as tomorrow), and fellow infielder Logan Forsythe (honestly not that much of an asset in a Dodger uniform) is supposed to be right behind him. A Turner return, coupled with, say, a Puig hot streak, and maybe the team can get something going. I wouldn't hold my breath, though, if I were you.
A great stat that may some up the Dodgers' somniferous season so far: They are 2-10 against starting pitchers with earned run averages over 5.00. In other words, they can't hit lousy pitching. They seem to have a hard time hitting good pitching, too, and that doesn't equate to a hundred wins. Friday was the first time the Reds have won two straight against the Dodgers since 2004, and this was the fist four-game Cincinnati sweep against LA since the Big Red Machine era of 1976. These Reds ain't the Big Red Machine, and the Dodgers have soundly proven that they at least are among the worst of the worst.
This just in: While the Dodgers are in fourth place in the NL West, the Angels beat Houston tonight, and are percentage points ahead of the Astros for first place in the AL West... While the Dodgers scored 9 runs in 4 games against the Reds, the Giants scored 10 tonight, and defeated Cincy 10-7. Andrew McCutchen notched his 1500th careeer hit.
Friday Night Lights II: A week ago Friday we had the Dodger combined no-hitter and Albert Pujols' 3000th hit—both southern California teams registering high on the cool meter. To kick off this weekend, it was Norcal's turn. The Giants were in Pittsburgh and the return of McCutchen to the fans he had called home for his entire career to this point. Long standing ovations both when he came to the plate for the first time, and when he took the field. A few minutes later at Yankee Stadium, A's outfielder Dustin Fowler took his first major league at-bat, not only against his old team, but against the pitcher he was traded for in Sonny Gray. He struck out the first time, but got his first major league hit a bit later.
Sho Hei Kid: This note from Ron Tom of Pasadena in the Viewpoint letters to the Times, “Six weeks into the baseball season and Shohei Ohtani has more wins than Clayton Kershaw, more home runs than Cody Bellinger, and a higher batting average than any Dodger. Amazing.”
You Betcha!: This morning, the United States Supreme Court struck down a decades-old law that prohibited betting on sporting events everywhere except for Nevada. Many anticipated the ruling, including the NBA and NFL, which, believe it or not, were in favor of it. New Jersey could see sports books open by the beginning of football season, and California will be in the fray sometime sooner rather than later. I'm not objecting to the ruling necessarily, but it's amazing that activity that was once considered undesirable or socially unacceptable, is now fine, especially if the state gets a piece of the action. Recreational marijuana is okay now in California (with a tax rate about 15 percent), and you know there will soon be a California State Gaming Commission to collect its take in the sports wagering market. Betting may be legal in California soon, but I wouldn't advise putting money on the Dodgers to get to the Series this year.
It was considered a 'not so bad' or 'could have been worse' school shooting. This is where we are in our society. One person was shot, but not killed, at Highland High School in Palmdale Friday. A 14 year-old former student fired several shots, an injured a 15 year-old. The school was on lockdown for over an hour. School officials and local law enforcement deserve a lot of credit for keeping the situation from getting worse, but it just goes to show that anything like this can happen anytime and anywhere now. How sad.