“We had 10 hits today?” Adrian Gonzalez asked in an otherwise silent Dodgers clubhouse.
“Same old story,” he said.
The Dodgers are no mystery after 15 games. They are putting runners on base (their .337 on-base percentage is fourth in the National League) but not driving them in (their 39 runs scored are second-fewest in the NL, ahead of only the Miami Marlins). They’ve won seven games because their pitching staff is generally excellent. When it’s not excellent, as was the case Wednesday with Clayton Kershaw, they’re in trouble.
Maybe one person at the ballpark knew the Dodgers were in trouble from the outset Wednesday, and that was Kershaw himself.
“I was battling the whole night, didn’t have any command,” Kershaw said, holding a pair of cookies in his hand before heading out to catch the team bus to the airport. “I really couldn’t throw a breaking ball again and they took advantage of it. They took some good swings on some fastballs behind in the counts. They did what they were supposed to do. I just wasn’t very good tonight.”
It was clear that Kershaw’s curveball in particular wasn’t as devastating as it was Opening Night against the San Francisco Giants. In fact, he had thrown an increasingly higher percentage of fastballs, and a lower percentage of curveballs, in each of his first three starts according to FanGraphs. The chart of Wednesday’s game will probably show a continuation of the same trend; the Padres were ready for a steady dose of fastballs and took advantage.
Everth Cabrera and Kyle Blanks took Kershaw over the fence on fastballs. Chris Denorfia homered off a belt-high slider. The three home runs Kershaw allowed tied a career high, overshadowing the 1,000th career strikeout he logged in the second inning.
“I’m just inconsistent” throwing breaking pitches, Kershaw said. “Some ones were good. Some weren’t good. I was just too inconsistent.”
How to shake this one off?
“Just play another game,” he said. “Keep going. Can’t look back.”
It might be that simple for a pitcher who throws every five days (every six this turn in the rotation). For the Dodgers’ hitters, Gonzalez said, it’s going to take more than one big hit or one big inning, to break out of their slump with runners in scoring position.
“It’s hit after hit after hit, so we can all see it. It takes a big week. One game is not going to carry momentum. Two, three, four games is going to carry momentum.”
Dodgers manager Don Mattingly was asked after Wednesday’s loss if he met with his team. His answer was along the lines of “are you kidding?” — specifically, ”No, why would there be a meeting?”
Well, there was a meeting Wednesday night. Mattingly was concerned that the players were losing confidence at the first sign of trouble. Gonzalez said that’s not the issue.
“The confidence is there,” he said, “because we understand what it takes.”
Some postgame bullet points:
• I get the feeling Hyun-Jin Ryu is going to be sponsored by every major Korean brand by the end of the season. Next up: Hyundai.
• The top 10 stories on the website kpopstarz.com are about Psy. One mentions Psy’s recent twitter exchange with Ryu.
• Check out a photo gallery from tonight’s game here.
• The box score is here.
• I can’t say enough good things about the new Strokes album. Here’s “Call it Fate, Call it Karma”: