‘Pressing’ Dodgers falter at plate vs. Rockies

The Dodgers announced Janet Marie Smith would serve as the club’s senior vice president of planning and development on Monday, a position in which she’ll be tasked in overseeing upgrades and enhancements to Dodger Stadium that reflect the 50-year-old structure’s historic legacy while offering amenities that reflect the increasing levels of fan comfort and in-game experience commonly found throughout Major League Baseball.

No amount of bells and whistles could have obscured an uninspiring Los Angeles performance against the last place Colorado Rockies Monday night in a 2-0 loss that erased the momentum generated by the weekend sweep of the Chicago Cubs. The Dodgers struck out 10 times, went 2-13 with runners on base, and advanced two runners to third base against a team that entered the night 30 games under .500 with an MLB-worst 5.51 ERA. The Rockies had allowed at least seven runs in seven of their eight games entering Monday’s action and were outscored 35-13 in a three-game weekend sweep by San Francisco.

Star centerfielder Matt Kemp, who struck out and grounded into a double play when batting with runners at first and second and nobody out in his first two times up, accepted a share of the responsibility for the feeble offensive result.

“You know what? I didn’t do my job today,” Kemp said. “Victorino gets on, that’s what he’s supposed to do. Mark gets a base hit. It happened two innings in a row where the first two batters get on, and I don’t even move ’em over or even drive in any runs. My job is to at least drive that run in or get them to third base and let Hanley try to get those RBIs or something. We just didn’t get any big hits today. We didn’t get the job done.”

Though he lasted only four innings, Colorado starter Drew Pomeranz was effective if not efficient throughout his 84 pitches, 48 of which were thrown for strikes. He struck out seven and walked three without earning a decision and now sports a 0.84 ERA against Los Angeles over two starts this season. His ERA against all other teams is 5.67.

“All I saw was fastballs I didn’t do much of,” Kemp said of his battles against Pomeranz.

Adam Ottavino (3-1) entered the game with a 4.85 ERA and earned the win by turning in three scoreless innings of relief, striking out two. Rafael Betancourt induced a 1-2-3 ninth inning to earn his 18th save.

“They were pressing. They wanted to put a run up,” manager Don Mattingly said. “It kind of felt like we were going to score as the game went on, but it seemed like we just didn’t get our opportunities. When we had ’em, we didn’t do anything with ’em.”

The most compelling moment of Monday’s game occurred in an exchange between Rockies manager Jim Tracy and third base umpire Mike Everitt after Tracy protested the reversed call in the bottom of the seventh inning in which Shane Victorino’s sinking line drive was originally ruled the third out of the inning before the umpires convened and changed the call to a single. Tracy was ejected after throwing his cap on the ground, an exchange that drew pristine narration from Dodgers hall of fame broadcaster Vin Scully.

“He caught the blinkin’ ball,” Scully said while offering his own profanity-free account of Tracy’s complaints while reading the Colorado manager’s lips.

“‘He caught the darn ball.’ Uh oh, you’re gone. He is gone. ‘That is blinkin’ fertilizer.’ I’m doing the best to translate. ‘You gotta be blinkin’ me. The ball. He caught the ball. Unbelievable. Blinkin’ unbelievable. No way. No blinkin’ way. No bloody way.'”

After the reversal, the Rockies had to emerge from their dugout with Los Angeles runners on first and second base before Mark Ellis flew out to deep left field to end the inning, quelling the budding controversy.

Not that it realistically would have presented much in their offensive effort, but earlier in the day the team designated for assignment Tony Gwynn, a key sparkplug who added energy and defensive responsibility that appeared to do just enough to soften out the edges of his .232 batting average.

“Tony’s been a special guy, for me at least, as far as a guy that works and kind of does everything you ask,” Mattingly said. “He really has been a big part of the attitude and the way guys work, I think last year and this year. It’s one of those that it bothers you even thinking about when you know you have to do it. So it wasn’t a good day.”

Jerry Sands, who had 69 games of Major League experience and failed to make the Dodger roster out of spring training, was recalled Monday after batting .286 with 21 homeruns and 82 RBI with Triple-A Albuquerque. The 6’4 righthanded batter finished 0-3 before Shawn Tolleson entered the game as a reliever in his spot in the top of the eighth inning.

“Obviously I knew it wasn’t the end of my career coming out of spring training,” Sands said. “I knew I had a lot left to prove, a lot more baseball to play. So I just kept working. Obviously this game’s a lot of disappointment, so if you sit there and dwell on what I should have done or what I could have done in spring training, then you’re probably just going to keep digging yourself a hole. I just kept working and knew I was going to come out on the other side hopefully a better player.”

Because Adam Kennedy is on the verge of a rehab assignment to Albuquerque and is likely to rejoin the team this weekend in Miami, another roster move looms.

Don’t expect his arrival to be at the expense of rookie infielder Luis Cruz.

“Cruzer’s been a nice surprise for me,” Mattingly said. “I didn’t see Luis before this spring. He swung the bat good in spring, He swung the bat good in Triple-A, and he’s swung the bat good here. And he’s steady with the glove. That’s the thing that I think for us is nice because everything he catches, he throws you out. His timing’s been good as far as not panicking with the throws and timing of everything. He’s been a good guy for us, that’s for sure.”