Dodgers shortstop Dee Gordon went 2 for 4 Sunday. In the field, he ranged to his right to retire Evan Longoria on a tough play in the first inning and also started a double play.
If that was the end of his contribution to an 8-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, Gordon’s day would barely qualify as news. It’s not newsworthy when a one-time top prospect performs well in a substitute role. It’s also easy to overlook one standout performance in a game where Mark Ellis goes 3 for 5 with three RBIs, Carl Crawford and A.J. Ellis get two hits, and Clayton Kershaw is his usual brilliant self.
But because Gordon also committed three errors Sunday, there was a sense of urgency — for Hanley Ramirez to return to the lineup and for the 25-year-old to stop making the inexplicable miscues that have kept him buried at Triple-A for much of the past three seasons. (Gordon has played 158 games for the Albuquerque Isotopes since 2011 and 166 for the Dodgers).
Speaking of Gordon’s errors Sunday, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said “that was a little rough to watch.”
None of the three — two bad throws from a position of balance, and a mishandled grounder right in front of him — were particularly justifiable. If the first two errors were forgiven when both runners were retired on double-play balls, his eighth-inning bobble required the patience of Job. That error ultimately hung an unearned run on Kershaw’s ledger; fortunately for the Dodgers, the score was 8-1 at that point.
Still, second baseman Mark Ellis said, the feeling “stinks.”
“When you’re out there it’s a lonely feeling … especially when a guy is throwing like Clayton. I think (Gordon) did a good job bouncing back,” Ellis said.
Nick Punto is the only other option at shortstop on the Dodgers’ 25-man roster until Ramirez returns. (Two other Dodgers have started a game at shortstop this season — Luis Cruz, who’s a Yankee, and Justin Sellers, who’s at Triple-A.) Mattingly said before the game that he doesn’t want to overuse Punto, a 35-year-old veteran, especially as the season drags into August and September and hopefully October.
So Gordon will likely continue in the spotlight for a little while.
“With anybody you don’t want the routine errors. That’s the main thing,” Mattingly said. “Tough errors are going to happen trying to make plays because a guy like (Gordon) is going to have more range than most guys, but it’s the bread-and-butter ones that end up hurting you. The ones that you feel like should be outs, those are the ones that hurt you.”
Mattingly went on to point out that Gordon had started 19 games this season before Sunday and committed three errors, a number the Dodgers can live with. Six errors in 20 games is more difficult to swallow, especially for a player in his final option year.