BALK­ING BE­FORE THEY CAN RUN

Dodgers’ walk-off on mis­take by pitcher is only of­fense, fur­ther ev­i­dence for con­cern.

Los Angeles Times - - SPORTS - By Dy­lan Her­nan­dez

More than a month of low-scor­ing games hasn’t changed Mark McGwire’s mind.

The hit­ting coach and for­mer home-run cham­pion was adamant: The Dodgers should be scor­ing more runs.

In McGwire’s view, the Dodgers shouldn’t be play­ing the kind of game they played against the Texas Rangers on Thurs­day night at Dodger Sta­dium. The Dodgers won, 1-0, but their only run in the walk-off vic­tory was scored on a balk by Rangers re­liever Keone Kala.

“We should be av­er­ag­ing no less than five runs a game,” McGwire said.

They scored none against 25-year-old mi­nor league call-up An­thony Ranaudo in the first 62⁄ in­nings Thurs

3 day.

Ranaudo’s only other start this sea­son, in April, lasted 12⁄ in­nings. The An

3 gels pounded him that day for six runs.

Con­cerns about the of­fense have es­ca­lated to a point that Man­ager Don Mat­tingly de­cided to call a team meet­ing in the hours lead­ing up to the home-and-

home se­ries fi­nale against Texas. The Dodgers fell to the Rangers each of the pre­vi­ous three days, in­clud­ing twice in Texas.

The Dodgers have scored two or fewer runs in 18 of their last 32 games. Over that pe­riod, they have scored an av­er­age of 3.16 runs per game.

In their first 35 games of the sea­son, the Dodgers av­er­aged 5.28 runs per game.

“Why can’t we score?” McGwire said. “Well, it’s pretty sim­ple. We’re play­ing the pitch­ers’ game. We’re not play­ing our game. We’re swing­ing at a lot of bad pitches. We’re not work­ing the count. We’re not the do­ing the ABCs of the game of base­ball. When you don’t do these things, you’re not go­ing to score a lot.”

The Dodgers are the Na­tional League leader in home runs with 84, but McGwire doesn’t think his team has be­come overly home-run con­scious.

“Go back and look at what we did in April,” McGwire said. “We did all the things I said we should be do­ing. It’s re­ally sim­ple. Get back to the ba­sics. You un­der­stand what the pitcher’s try­ing to do to you, you stick to your guns, you don’t do what he’s try­ing to make you do, and if you don’t get any­thing to hit, you pass it on to the next guy.”

McGwire said prob­lems started to de­velop be­fore the team’s visit to San Fran­cisco in the mid­dle of last month. The re­sult was a dis­as­trous per­for­mance at AT&T Park, where the Dodgers were not only swept by the Giants but also failed to score a sin­gle run in the three-game se­ries.

“This team should never be shut out,” McGwire said. “Never, ever.”

The Dodgers will play host to the Giants in a three­game se­ries that starts Fri­day. The Dodgers will en­ter the se­ries with a 21⁄2-game lead over the Giants in the NL West.

McGwire ac­knowl­edged the in­ex­pe­ri­ence at the top of the lineup could be part of the prob­lem. On most days, rookie Joc Ped­er­son has bat­ted lead­off, fol­lowed by Yasiel Puig.

“We’ve got two guys that are still learn­ing how to hit,” McGwire said.

Ped­er­son is bat­ting .171 over his last 13 games.

Puig is bat­ting .349 in the 11 games he has played since he was ac­ti­vated from his six-week stay on the dis­abled list. But he is only three for 20 in his last five games.

The more-ex­pe­ri­enced Adrian Gon­za­lez is also in an of­fen­sive tail­spin, as he is bat­ting .223 in his last 31 games. He has one ex­tra­base hit in his last 13 games.

“We need ev­ery­body,” McGwire said. “We’re all in this to­gether.”

Be­fore the start of the sea­son, McGwire said he ex­pected the Dodgers to be more com­pet­i­tive against top-level pitch­ing than they were last year. McGwire said he still ex­pects that to be the case.

“Ab­so­lutely,” McGwire said. His so­lu­tion? “When things don’t go your way, you try to com­pli- cate things,” he said. “You have to sim­plify it. If you sim­plify your strike zone, good things hap­pen.” dy­lan.her­nan­dez@latimes.com Twit­ter: @dy­lanoh­er­nan­dez

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