29 August 2007

Penny Lays an Egg

by Joshua Worley

I'm watching my computer screen, hoping for the blue circle to show up on retro-gameday, with the caption "in play, run(s)". Even if it happens, though, The Dodgers will still trail by 2. It's the bottom of the fourth inning, with the Dodgers down 5-2. Oh hey, it just happened! Run scoring play on Loney's single. Now 5-3, Dodgers trail.

A couple of days ago, back when the Dodgers were down 4-2 because of three home runs given up by Derek Lowe, I briefly lamented that Lowe had picked a bad time to have a stinky start. Which brought up the question: when would it be a good time for him to have a bad start? The Dodgers can't afford to lose many more games. If anything, it was a good time for him to have a bad start, if he had to have one, because the Nats were a team the Dodgers could come back against. Could, and can come back against. And they did, and maybe they still will today.

So I'm back to where I was two days ago, lamenting a bad start by a usually reliable Dodger hurler. Again though, if it had to happen, maybe now is the time. Because this game is not yet lost. The only problem is that if the Dodgers don't come back to win today, then the Padre series looks like a must sweep, and that's not going to happen. Even if the Dodgers could win 2 of 3 this weekend, which would truly be an admirable result, they'd still be treading water, hanging around at 3 or 4 games out of the playoffs.

You know what Penny is missing today? Foul balls. Especially in the first few innings. The first seven batters all took 3 or fewer pitches for their at bats to reach conclusion. That's just not like Penny at all. It's usually difficult to hit one of his pitches into play, let alone square on. The misses and near-misses on swings just aren't coming as often as they should. Penny just had his first strikeout of the game to end the fifth inning. His first and should be his last, as he just gave up his sixth run.

Penny's habit of inducing lots of fouls and the resulting marathon at bats often drives me nuts. But it's worth remembering that a pitcher who induces a lot of foul balls isn't easy to hit. If the fouls disappear because they are becoming swings and misses, that's a good thing. But if the fouls disappear because they are becoming squarely hit balls, then it's a very bad thing. The pitcher is getting ready to lay a very foul egg and likely ruin the game.

The Dodgers trail 6-3 at the end of 5 innings. No comeback today, I fear. Penny's egg is about to hatch, and it's going to be a loss.

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