25 June 2007

Play the game

The Griffster

The Dodgers are headed into Arizona, but before I say something about that I have a few words about last night's game.

It was the kind of game, I think, that players and fans alike should just put out of their minds. Some days things just will not break your way, and that is not a reflection on your abilities, but simply on the inherent streak of chaos and randomness that the universe exhibits. If Pierre wasn't "out" at second, Gonzo's double would have brought in a run and at least one more batter to the plate. And who knows what would have happened if Kemp wasn't "out" at second later on? I hope the second base umpire steps on a frog somewhere down the road and it is really gross, so that a sense of karma can be served. Of course, this means that the universe has to provide a frog that has a squishing coming. Somehow I don't think it will find it hard to do that.

Anyway, even if two or three more runs came the Dodgers' way, they would still have lost thanks to whatever Beimel did. I don't know because I wasn't watching anymore.

Loney hit a home run in the top of the ninth. Yet again, that draws a thick line under the "Why" of "Why are we still letting Nomar play first?" Right now, Loney provides better production at first. Also, isn't it fun to have Kemp in the lineup? He's progressed a lot from when we saw him last year. He is going to be fun to watch for years. He's ready for The Show, just as Loney is.

The tendency to leave men on have begun resurfacing a bit over the last series. Well, that is something Dodger fans have to live with. This team is constructed that way. You're more likely to see a single than you are to see extra bases, and extra bases are more likely to drive in runs or put them in scoring position than singles are. This is what the Dodgers are right now, and fans have to support them through the frustration of it, or bail out and come back later when fandom is easier.

Now, unto matters future. The Snakes are waiting. They just bopped the Orioles, who bopped San Diego in Petco Park just before this series. San Diego is the muscle of the NL West right now. Colletti and co better hope like all get out that Towers doesn't land a big bat from somewhere, because then we'll be staring at the "also ran" label again this year. Still, just because the Snakes beat a team that beat the Padres and the Padres last beat us doesn't mean that the Snakes will now beat us.

The Orioles are not a very strong team, and the fact that they just got beat by the Snakes doesn't mean that much. The most important thing is for the Dodgers to now play well against the Snakes. A 4-0 sweep would be great, of course, but I think it is realistic that the Dodgers aim for, and maybe expect, a 2-2 split. Just don't lose 1-3, please.

The matchups are:

Penny ( 2.12 ) against Owings ( 4.06 )
Bills ( 3.26 ) against Gonzalez ( 4.35 )
Lowe ( 3.14 ) against Webb ( 3.24 )
Probably one of Kuo or Wolf against Hernandez ( 4.68 )

Now, come on. The first three matchups are great. If Loney and Kemp can just be in the lineup and Nomar and Pierre not, surely we can just grab those three games right there. After this series we play the Padres, and wouldn't you know it, but we're in line to draw Young AND Peavy. Ouch. So it is important that the Dodgers dig in and start playing like they mean it. I want gritty at bats. There are no elegant power swings in this lineup ( unless Kemp and Loney plays and Betemit plays like he can, and Gonzo continues surprising ) so we need to play with grit and application. Don't give away the at bat with a weak slap to second. Work the counts, hang in there, make the pitcher get you out. The first pitch slapping and lack of walking exhibited by some in the lineup gets old in a hurry. Look at the Red Sox and what they did to Peavy. They made him throw eleventy-one pitches in five innings. They beat him, too. That's the kind of play the Dodgers should aim for. The Red Sox lineup is filled with a few hitters patient as a glacier - Youkilis and Drew, for example. Those guys really help the cause of the team as a whole, at least in my opinion. Wear down the starting pitcher and get into the bullpen early and often.

The upcoming stretch is important. I have a feeling the Dodgers will hit a hot stretch soon, and I hope it can be against Arizona and San Diego. There's an opportunity to land a heavy punch, and I hope the Dodgers will step up and grab the opportunity. If we don't, we're doomed to hang around in third place, between one and three games or so back. Not quite good enough.

And who wants to be not quite good enough?

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