Pods 3, Dodgers 2

Franken-friar will be dancin’ ’til dawn after this one. Hey, I know I have been on this soapbox lately about the Dodgers not working counts, and I know Maddux throws so many strikes that it’s especially tough to work counts against him. But NINETY-FOUR PITCHES? FOR THE WHOLE GAME? BY THREE PITCHERS COMBINED? Please. And besides, when they finally got Maddux out of the game after seven innings, what did the Dodgers do against Scott Linebrink in the eighth? Why, they made three consecutive outs on a TOTAL OF SIX PITCHES, of course. Granted, one of them was that single by Juan Pierre that he foolishly tried to stretch into a double, but the result was the same. I don’t care who the pitcher is, any team that is trailing by one run in the eighth inning lets an opposing pitcher get through that eighth inning on six pitches simply doesn’t have a good collective approach at the plate. I will never forget the press conference at Dodger Stadium back in January of 2006 when the new coaching staff was formally introduced, and I asked new hitting coach Eddie Murray (yes, he HAD to talk to the media that day) the following question: “Your predecessor (Tim Wallach) constantly preached the gospel of working counts and making opposing pitchers work. Do you subscribe to that theory?” Well, first he looked at me like I had suddenly sprouted horns, then he gave me some explanation about how opposing pitchers are always trying to get ahead with the first pitch, so a hitter should always be ready to jump on that pitch. Meanwhile, the Dodgers have Nomar and Kent in the middle of the order, two guys who have made very nice careers for themselves out of almost NEVER working counts. But still, it isn’t always about an individual hitter and an individual at-bat. It’s about the whole lineup making the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches early in the game and getting the other team’s middle relievers — normally the weakest pitchers on any staff — into the game by the sixth inning. Again, that approach wouldn’t necessarily work against a strike-throwing machine like Maddux. But as a general rule, it might be something the Dodgers should try once in a while. … Dodgers fall to 14-10, and their lead shrinks to a half-game over Arizona and one game over the Padres and, as one reader called them in a posted response on this blog yesterday, the Geritols. Day game tomorrow so, as Jack McKeon used to say when I was covering the Reds, sleep fast.

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