Dodgers owner patient despite struggles
LOS ANGELES -- Walking into the press box in the seventh inning, new Dodgers owner Mark Walter greeted a reporter, asking how he was doing. The reporter replied that he was fine, and asked Walter the same in return. Pointing to the field, the President of Guggenheim Baseball Management said "Doing well -- except for what's going on out there". At that point San Francisco led Los Angeles 6-1. Things got no better as Joaquin Arias hit two doubles, homered and drove in five runs to lead the Giants to an 8-4 win, increasing their lead over the Dodgers to 2 1/2 games in the National League West, three in the loss column.
It was the second time this season that the Giants pulled off a three-game sweep of the Dodgers, but even with his team scoring a paltry six run in the series, Walter remains optimistic. "We'll be there in the end, definitely," he said. And when you've invested $2.15 billion in any enterprise, it's a good idea to keep a positive outlook through the bad times.
Indeed, these are tough times for the Dodgers.
They came off the road with a half game lead in the West and optimistic they would have a good series against their arch-rivals. "Nobody has to tell us it's important to do well now," manager Don Mattingly said prior to Monday's game. "We know what's at stake at this point in the year." Then for the next three nights Mattingly had to sit and watch his team suffer through starting pitching that had them in a hole right after the national anthem.
Clayton Kershaw gave up a first inning run Monday night, Joe Blanton was tagged for two in the first on Tuesday, then it happened again Wednesday as Giants got to the slumping Chris Capuano for three runs in the opening frame. In each game the visitors built up bigger leads before the Dodgers ever scored, meaning the games were really over after a half inning.
The Giants also came away with a better feeling about their one-time ace, Tim Lincecum, who dominated L.A. for 5.2 innings Tuesday. He gave up a run on five hits while striking out four, winning his third consecutive road game. His velocity was good and his ERA dropped to 5.30. The Dodgers, on the other hand, were left wondering about Blanton, who was acquired after the non-waiver trade deadline and has gone 0-3 since arriving from the Philadelphia Phillies.
"Really, it was one of those series for us where it seemed like nothing wanted to go our way," Mattingly lamented after the third loss in a row. "(Scoring early) in the games kind of got us on the ropes instantly, and tonight you sure don't want to give Matt Cain a three-run lead the way he throws the baseball." Cain went seven innings, allowing one run and improving his record to 13-5. Capuano has now lost 7 of 10 since July 3, though he's maintained a respectable 3.38 ERA.
A big concern for Mattingly has to be the slump of Matt Kemp, who was having such a great season that he's still batting .331 despite going 3 for 30 in the last eight games. But Kemp, who missed 51 games with a hamstring injury, hasn't looked like a perennial MVP candidate with a bat in his hand lately.
"I don't think he's pressing," Mattingly said."He's just going through a tough time and that's going to happen in the course of a long season. At this point, the off-day comes at a good time.
"The outcome of this series really surprised me. I thought coming off the road we'd play well. And it not that we played badly, we just didn't do enough to win. We didn't score any runs. We swung the bat OK in this game, we just didn't get the breaks we needed.
"It's been a weird season. What we have to do now is look forward. Friday comes, we try to start something. Just look forward."
And be thankful for patient ownership.