The Dodgers and the Diamondbacks took each other on in the Rubber Game of a 3 game series at Chase Field today, with Josh Beckett on the hill for the Dodgers facing down the Diamondbacks’ Trevor Cahill.
The Diamondbacks opted to keep the roof closed today, and it seemed to stifle both offenses. Both teams only got 6 hits on the game and both starting pitchers were absolutely masterful.
Matt Kemp continued to slump at the plate, going 0-for-4 and lowering his season batting average to .174. In fact, the entire top of the Dodger lineup was quiet at the plate. The 1-3 spots in the lineup were a combined 0-for-12 on the day, not even managing to draw a single walk.
Adrian Gonzalez was the one bright spot for the Dodgers on offense today, going 3-for-4 with a ringing 7th inning double off of Cahill that fell a few feet too low to get out for a home run, but did not have runners on base in any of his at-bats and the Dodgers did not cash in on any of his 3 hits.
Josh Beckett was electric. Through 8 innings, he had given up no runs on only 4 hits and struck out 9 batters.
Cahill for his part was masterful as well. The line on Trevor Cahill for the game: 7 1/3 innings pitched, giving up 6 hits and striking out 4 while preventing the Dodgers from scoring. Additionally, the Diamondbacks bullpen would be near- perfect for 1 2/3 innings, allowing only a 9th inning J.J. Putz-issued walk to Andre Ethier in completing the shutout.
As for Beckett, he would run out of gas in the 9th inning. Beckett got the first out on only 9 pitches, but then gave up a double to A.J. Pollock. Pollock’s hit initially looked like it would be a single, but Pollock challenged Carl Crawford’s arm and drew a bad throw. Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly immediately took Crawford out of the game and placed Skip Schumaker in Left Field, but this change may have been one batter too late. Pollock’s double was followed by an intentional walk to Miguel Montero, then Paul Goldschmidt skipped a ball into right field. Pollock would come around to score.
Beckett’s final line on the day: 8 1/3 innings pitched, 1 run allowed on 6 hits, one walk and 9 strikeouts in his best outing so far this young season.
J.J. Putz, who pitched a hitless 9th inning for the Diamondbacks, picks up the win and is now 1-0 on the season. Josh Beckett takes the loss and is now 0-2 on the season.
The Dodgers will return home tomorrow night to start a 3 game homestand against the San Diego Padres after completing a 3-3 road trip. The Dodgers return with a 7-5 record in fourth place, a game and a half back of the Giants in the National League West. Chad Billingsley (1-0, 1.50 ERA) will face Eric Stults (1-1, 3.60 ERA) to open the 3 game set.
Questioning The Manager:
Don Mattingly appeared to make two mistakes, either of which may have resulted in Josh Beckett either winning or taking a no decision in this game. Leaving Beckett in the game after 92 pitches was possibly a mistake. Though Beckett easily got the first out of the Bottom of the 9th, Beckett has not pitched this deep into a game in some time, and with a history of arm and shoulder injuries, the safe bet may have been to pull Beckett after 8 innings and give the game to the bullpen in a scoreless tie.
A.J. Pollack exposed the second mistake. Pollack’s hit to left-center was not exceptionally well-hit and may have been a single in most cases. However, by leaving Carl Crawford in the game, Mattingly put Pollock in a position to challenge Crawford’s still-recovering left arm and take an extra base on the Dodger left fielder. Had Mattingly opted for Schumaker, Pollock may have opted to stay at first base, allowing Beckett to pitch to Miguel Montero and possibly get an inning-ending double play. Instead, Beckett intentionally walked Montero, throwing him off his rhythm and putting Paul Goldschmidt in position to hit his game-winning RBI single to right.
Either decision had the potential to allow Beckett to avoid picking up the loss, the second decision possibly even giving Beckett a chance to win the game if he succeeds in getting out of the inning and the Dodgers score in the Top of the 10th. This was not Mattingly’s finest hour managing the team.