|The body language tells it all. Yes, they know it's over (photo by Dennis Poroy/Getty Images)|
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
For September,Meat of Order is 7, 8 and Pinch Hitter
When the Dodgers entered the 9th inning with Luis Cruz leading things off, I had a pretty good feeling that a rally would ensue. When that rally extended to the number 2 and 3 hitters, I also felt that it might fizzle and be over. That's exactly what happened as Luis Cruz, and A.J. Ellis led off the ninth with hits and when the top tier hitters came up, failure was the result.
There was a time when we all lived for Ethier and Kemp to come up with the game on the line. Ethier was "Captain Walk-Off" and Kemp thrived in the late inning at bats. But neither is hitting up to par in clutch situations and it certainly didn't help that home plate umpire Marty Foster was extending the strike zone horizontally several inches beyond the plate on each side.
There was also a time when Matt Kemp would drive that pitch that he flied out on over the right field wall, but Kemp, whose average dipped below .300 for the first time this season, is not right physically. There are images of him whincing in pain and that shoulder is effecting his power game. I'll say this much about Matt. He makes no excuses. He isn't telling the world that the injury is the cause of his subpar play. He goes in day in and day out. He's that threat in the middle of the lineup and frankly, a 60% Kemp is better than the options that there are on the bench. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, a 50-60% Matt Kemp isn't enough to lead this team to post-season play.
Being 4 1/2 games out with 7 to play, the season is essentially over. Last night's contest was very winnable. Dee Gordon was standing on second base as the tying run with none out. There's no excuse to leave him stranded. Mattingly wasted an out by having Nick Punto bunt when as a left handed hitter chances are he would drive the ball to the right side and at the least advance the runner to third. But that is Donnie's M.O., an American League player that manages like a National League "little ball" manager.
It was another night of frustrating Dodger baseball. Stellar pitching, untimely hitting. But this time, it's over. The season is really over.