LA Dodgers fall to Pirates again; magic number still seven

first_imgThe ball lined off Mike Bolsinger’s left wrist and rolled toward the first-base line.Bolsinger made a quick recovery and pounced on the ball but made a wild underhand throw past the first-base bag. First baseman Scott Van Slyke retrieved the ball and fired toward the plate but air-mailed it into the stands allowing the run to score.“I was a little discombobulated,” Bolsinger admitted. “Everything happened so quick. I probably should’ve just eaten it.”Welcome to September baseball, the time of year for sloppy play, expanded rosters and countless pitching changes and defensive substitutions. September has not been kind to Bolsinger, who gave up two more booming homers in a 4-3 loss Sunday afternoon to the Pittsburgh Pirates.Bolsinger has allowed four homers in 13 innings since being recalled Sept. 1 after giving up just three homers in his first 89 innings over 16 starts. Bolsinger was charged with four runs (three earned) and five hits in 4 1/3 innings, and even he expressed doubt about making the playoff roster if his malaise continues.“My feel is not there,” Bolsinger said. “It hasn’t been there. Before it was consistent and a lot sharper.”VIDEO: Watch Mike Bolsinger’s postgame interviewWith the San Francisco Giants’ 5-1 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Dodgers’ magic number to clinch the National League West remained at seven games. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorcenter_img The Dodgers still lead the Giants by 7 1/2 games with 14 to play, but the sun-soaked crowd of 47,483 endured 97-degree heat and the Dodgers’ second straight loss to the Pirates.Although it is nearly a foregone conclusion the Dodgers will make the playoffs — though there is no guarantee of home-field advantage — there were a couple of alarming trends.Red flag No. 1: If the Dodgers are going to succeed in the playoffs, they must find a way to overcome the kind of pitching they saw Sunday from the Pirates’ Garrit Cole, a former UCLA star who struck out nine in seven innings of work.The Dodgers did manufacture some runs off Cole. Andre Ethier had a two-out RBI single in the first inning following Carl Crawford’s 122nd career triple (most among active players). Alex Guerrero squirted an RBI single in the second inning, and Van Slyke bombed a solo homer over the center-field wall in the seventh in his first game since coming back from a hand injury Sept. 15.But it was not enough to overcome Bolsinger’s so-so performance.The Dodgers also tiptoed quietly in the eighth and ninth innings against the Pirates’ bullpen, being retired in order by Tony Watson and Mark Melancon. That is not a good omen against playoff teams with lockdown bullpens.It followed a commanding performance from Pittsburgh starter Francisco Liriano on Saturday.Red flag No. 2: The Dodgers continued their trend of sub-par play against playoff-bound teams. By winning Sunday, the Pirates won five of six from the Dodgers in the season series.Worse yet, the Dodgers fell to 10-18 against the other NL playoff-bound teams for a paltry .357 winning percentage, a record that improves just slightly to 16-25 (.390 percentage) if one throws in the American League playoff teams the Dodgers have faced.“The most important thing is coming back tomorrow against the D’backs,” Ethier said. “We know where we are at, but if you are looking too far ahead, that gets you into trouble.”The silver lining: There were some positives from the Dodgers to take from Sunday’s game.Corey Seager hit a third-inning double and has hit safely in 13 of his 16 games while batting .379 (22 for 58). Seager also made several stellar plays in the field, including snaring a line drive to start a 6-4-3 double play in the third inning and turning a nifty 4-6-3 double play from Chase Utley in the ninth.Utley came up with his own web gem to end the sixth inning, making a diving stop up the middle and throwing from his knees to rob a decent-hitting Cole of a hit.The much-maligned Dodgers bullpen also put up zeroes as Dodgers manager Don Mattingly “only” used five relievers to piecemeal Bolsinger’s outing. Yimi Garcia (2/3 of an inning), Carlos Frias (two innings in his first appearance since June 30), Jim Johnson, J.P. Howell and Juan Nicasio combined for 4 2/3 scoreless innings of relief.last_img

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