Wednesday, May 22, 2013
A Look at Tuesday's Loss and Some Lapses of Play That May Have Set Mattingly Off
“I’m putting a club out there that will compete and fight their hardest all day. I’m putting out my lineup that I feel is going to be the most competitive and going to compete the hardest.” -- Don Mattingly, May 22, 2013 (during pre-game comments with the beat writers today).
I’m going to read in to Mattingly’s comments today about Andre Ethier not being in the lineup. Please note that this is pure speculation on my part.
Considering that Ethier has been on a recent good streak at the plate, even though it’s a small sample size, (7 for his last 22, including a homer and triple innight’s action), and that the Dodgers were facing a sub-par right hander today, the benching probably had to do with a couple of lapses by the Dodger right fielder in Tuesday’s game.
Lapse #1) Catchable ball to the right field warning track resulted in a leadoff triple in the Brewers 4 run 5th inning. Jean Segura lofted a fly ball to deep right field and Ethier shied away from going after it at the last moment. It looks like he was distracted by the weird angle the wall had. It would have been a great catch, but I believe Mattingly expected a stronger effort by his right fielder.
Lapse #2) The safety squeeze play. With Ethier on third base and one out. Dee Gordon bunts it back to the pitcher and Ethier was out at the plate from here to Milwaukee. Is it possible the call from Mattingly was a suicide squeeze and Ethier simply missed the sign?
Lapse # 3) Ethier strikes out with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the third. Not unusual at all this season, and considering that Matt Kemp struck out just before Ethier, he's certainly not the only player not producing in the clutch. Still, it was a crucial moment of the game and something that is occurring on a daily basis with the Dodger RBI men.
Lapse #4) Lazy fly ball drops in. Again in that crucial 5th inning, Aramis Ramirez lifted a fly ball to right center that both Ethier and Kemp got poor jumps on. This was Kemp’s ball in my opinion, but with the Ethier lapses on the day, perhaps they were snowballing in Mattingly’s mind.
Unexplainable incident) Ethier got plunked. And Belisario returned the favor to the Brewers their next turn at bat by throwing behind Lucroy with a purpose pitch. It appears that there was no intent to hit Ethier. With Belisario though, the intent was evident and he was immediately issued a warning. I’m not even sure if this incident was something that irked the Dodger manager, but I’m just putting all options out on display. Could Ethier possibly have sent a message that a retaliation was in order, with the Dodgers losing 5-2 at the time?
So that's my contribution to rumor mongering today. Some obvious lapses in performance by Ethier on Tuesday, coupled with some possible things that could have irked the Dodger manager. Who knows? We may be looking at a very interesting 36-48 hours in Dodgerland.
Oh, by the way, nice 9-2 win today.