Dodgers hit just enough to win
Kendrick drives in all the runs as the team continues to struggle at the plate.
The Dodgers remain in first place in the National League West, but the question is still worth asking: What happened to their offense?
In their 3-1 victory Arizona Diamondbacks at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday night, they were shut down for most of the night by a mid-level pitching prospect named Robbie Ray (1-1). Their first run was scored on a sixth-inning home run by Howie Kendrick, who had a two-run single in the eighth inning.
This kind of limited output has become typical in recent weeks for the Dodgers, who have scored two runs or less in 13 of their last 24 games.
Veterans Adrian Gonzalez and Jimmy Rollins have described the three-plus week slumber as nothing more than part of the cyclical nature of a season.
Manager Don Mattingly has wondered aloud about the effects of injuries to key
players. Tuesday was the first time in more than six weeks that Gonzalez, Kendrick and Yasiel Puig were in the same lineup.
Dodgers bench coach Tim Wallach thought there might be something to that, but wasn’t sure.
“Why we haven’t scored?” Wallach said. “I don’t know. I wish I could put my finger on it.”
Through their first 35 games, the Dodgers averaged 5.28 runs per game. Over their last 24 games, that figure has dropped to 3.25.
“We just haven’t put a lot of hits together,” Wallach said. “We’re still scoring a lot of our runs on home runs.”
The Dodgers have 77 home runs, the most in the NL. They have received power contributions from unexpected sources, including rookie center fielder Joc Pederson (17 home runs), Alex Guerrero (10), Andre Ethier (eight) and Rollins (seven).
The Dodgers are batting .239 over their last 24 games.
“We just have to do a better job of extending innings, taking walks, base hits,” Wallach said. “And I think we will. I think that’s the kind of team we are.”
From that perspective, Wallach had to be encouraged by what he saw in the seventh inning Tuesday.
Chris Heisey, who started in center field in place of Pederson, drew a two-out walk against Ray.
Manager Chip Hale replaced Ray with Addison Reed, who gave up a double to Puig that advanced Heisey to third. With the score tied, 1-1, and first base open, Arizona intentionally walked Gonzalez to pitch to Kendrick, who singled to center field, driving in two runs and moving the Dodgers in front, 3-1.
“I think we’re going to be fine,” Wallach said. “I’m not worried. The length of our lineup is so good.”
Wallach said the coaching staff has talked about trying create offense by putting runners in motion more often. But Wallach said they will be selective about it.
The offense, Wallach said, is built around Gonzalez.
“We’re going to try things to help us to produce runs the best way we can,” he said. “But we’re not going to make stupid decisions. We don’t want to take the bat out of Gonzo’s hands. Ever.
“We’re not going to ask Yasiel, if he’s hitting in the two-spot, to hit and run. We want him to be able to get a pitch to hit. Joc, we don’t want him running into outs to say that we’re running. If we do that and Yas doesn’t get a hit, they’re going to put Gonzo on. They’re not going to let him beat them.”
Whatever their offensive shortcomings, the Dodgers haven’t lost more than three consecutive games this season. Wallach said that was a credit to the team’s pitchers, such as Carlos Frias, who held Arizona to one run over 62⁄ in
3 nings but didn’t get a decision.
“Hitting is something that you go in and out of,” Wallach said. “For us, if we pitch it and catch it like we’re supposed to, we’re going to be in every game.”