Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually a cheerleader for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, but not tonight. In this first game of a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals, the skipper messed up big time. He made two ridiculous – and monumental – decisions that cost the Dodgers a nine-inning win, and indirectly set the conditions in motion for the horrifying 10th inning collision between Joc Pederson and Yasiel Puig.
Stupid decision Number 1:
In the 8th inning Chase Utley singled and Clayton Kershaw walked. With two men on and two out, Logan Forsythe was due up. While Clayton Kershaw pitched a gem, over on the other side, Cardinals pitcher Lance Lynn had pitched just as well.
The big difference between the two pitchers was Yasmani Grandal‘s solo home run. Except for that one hit, Lynn had pretty much owned the Dodgers all night. On top of that, he was Logan Forsythe’s daddy. Lynn struck out Forsythe all three times they faced each other, and here was a golden chance for the Dodgers to bring in a much-needed insurance run.
Daddy Lynn was on the mound. Enrique Hernandez, Brett Eibner and Chris Taylor – all with much hotter bats than ol’ Triple K Forsythe – were all sitting on the bench. Roberts had a decision to make. He made the stupid choice.
He let little lamb Forsythe step in against his daddy. The result was unsurprising. Lynn carved up the little lamb, Forsythe earned a Golden Sombrero, and the Dodgers’ chances went up in smoke.
Stupid Decision 2A:
Yes, I know Kershaw was brilliant tonight. His curve ball was truly Public Enemy Number One and he was chalking up the strike out stats like a pitching god.
Everyone wanted to see Kersh get a complete game, but there was one problem. He was gassed at he end of the eighth inning. Sure he struck out the side in the eighth, but that last K took a huge toll on Kershaw. For the pitch counters, Kershaw was just over 100 pitches. However, I’m not basing my analysis on the pitch count. I’m using the eye test.
After getting two strikes on Aledmys Diaz, Kersh struggled to find strike three. He tossed two balls that missed, and both pitches looked to be labors, almost like he was trying too hard to force that strike three. Diaz swung at the next pitch and struck out, but he swung at ball four. The ball was in the dirt and Grandal had to block it to keep it from running past him. My eye said Kershaw was kaput, or to be charitable, he was now extremely vulnerable.
Everyone was hoping for a complete game, and Roberts – like Mattingly probably would have done – let his ace make the call. Kershaw went to the mound and the tired pitcher immediately gave up a solid base hit to center field. Here’s where Roberts and his predecessor differ – Mattingly would have yanked Kershaw and went right to his closer.
Stupid Decision 2B:
Roberts left Kershaw in the game instead of going for the win with the best closer in baseball – Kenley Jansen. The Dodgers didn’t have an insurance run to play with. They had a tired pitcher trying to finish a one run game on guts. The next batter grounded out, but he moved the runner into scoring position. Did Roberts go to Jansen then? Nope.
Kershaw’s wildness from the end of the eighth continued, this time the pitch got by Grandal, and the runner scored, tying the game. The ace eventually completed the inning, but by then, the damage was done. As I type this, their still tied one-one and entering the bad luck number 13 inning.
But bad luck had nothing to do with it. Bad decisions got us to where we are now.