Even Mattingly’s biggest fans had a tough time with Dodgers 12-7 loss to Pirates

It’s no secret that there are a lot of Dodger fans who do not like the way that Dodgers manager Don Mattingly runs his team, and after Tuesday night’s embarrassing 12-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park there are undoubtedly a few more.

The trouble began when starting pitcher Josh Beckett, who was fresh off the disabled list for a hip impingement, gave up three solo home runs and an RBI double before the seats were even warm. It was obvious after the second home run that Beckett simply did not have it – obvious to everyone except Mattingly, that is. Beckett was finally pulled after 3.2 innings having allowed four runs on six hits. To his credit, Beckett did not walk a batter while striking out five.

Ever move that Mattingly made on Tuesday night was too late - without exception. (Photo credit - Jon SooHoo)

Every move that Mattingly made on Tuesday night was too late – without exception.
(Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

As anticipated, Mattingly replaced Beckett with left-hander Paul Maholm, the Dodgers long reliever/spot starter. And while Maholm got out of the fourth inning without allowing a run and pitched a scoreless fifth, Mattingly allowed the 0 for 25 Maholm to bat for himself in the top of the sixth inning with one out, the score tied at four, with the go-ahead run on second base in A.J. Ellis and with Yasiel Puig available on the bench to pinch hit. Maholm promptly struck out without so much as a swing. He didn’t even attempt to bunt Ellis over to third base. Dee Gordon followed with a fly ball to center to end the inning stranding a visibly upset Ellis on second base

In spite of giving up two runs, Paul Maholm didn't pitch all that bad. But there is no justification for Mattingly letting him bat for himself with one out in a tied ball game with the go-ahead run on second base - none whatsoever. (Photo credit - Jon SooHoo)

In spite of giving up two runs, Paul Maholm didn’t pitch all that bad. But there is no justification for Mattingly letting him bat for himself with one out in a tied ball game with the go-ahead run on second base – none whatsoever. (Photo credit – Jon SooHoo)

Maholm came out to pitch the bottom of the sixth and gave up back-to-back singles to Pirates catcher Russell Martin and first baseman Ike Davis and Mattingly went to right-hander Jamey Wright. Wright immediately erased Josh Harrison on a sacrifice bunt and Jordy Mercer on a foul tip strikeout and just when it looked like the Dodgers might escape the inning, Wright completely fell apart allowing a two-run single to Gregory Polanco followed by an RBI single to Travis Snider. Instead of pulling Wright, Mattingly let him pitch to Andrew McCutchen and promptly hit him with a slow curveball to re-load the bases. Wright then uncorked a wild pitch to allow another run to score. Wright then got Neil Walker to ground out to end the inning, but not before four runs had crossed the plate making it an 8-4 game.

The Dodgers scored two in the top of the seventh on Adrian Gonzalez’s 15th home run of the season, a two run shot to deep center field, to make it an 8-6 ball game. Scott Van Slyke added another run in the top of the eighth with a pinch hit home run to left to make it 8-7 and it appeared that the momentum was on the Dodgers side heading into the bottom of the eighth.

Because Mattingly had used left-hander J.P Howell on consecutive nights and Brian Wilson on Monday night, he opted to go with the guy who, quite frankly, should have been released months ago – Chris Perez. After getting pinch hitter Michael Martinez to pop out to short, Perez walked the next batter… and then the next. Because Mattingly had no one warming in the Dodgers bullpen, he allowed Perez to face another batter and walked him… and then the next. Mattingly finally brought in Brandon League who clearly was not ready and League allowed three more runs to score making it 12-7 before finally getting out of the inning.

The Dodgers then went quietly in the top of the ninth after a Matt Kemp strike out, an Andre Ethier pop out, a Carl Crawford walk and a Juan Uribe fly out.

Even longtime Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter had issues with the way that Mattingly managed this game.

Ross Porter Tweet

The Dodgers absolutely could have won this game if Mattingly had:

  • Pulled Beckett after the second home run.
  • Pinch hit for Maholm with one out and the go ahead run on second base in the top of the sixth inning.
  • Pulled Wright immediately after he allowed a two run single to Polanco and an RBI single to Snider and before he hit Andrew McCutchen and then threw a wild pitch for another run.
  • Had Brandon League warmed and ready to go as soon as Perez entered the game for when (not if) Perez got into trouble.
  • Pulled Perez after the second walk in the bottom of the eighth inning instead of allowing two additional walks, of which all four scored.

While the box score lists Paul Maholm as the losing pitcher in this train wreck, the actual loss goes to Don Mattingly – not only of the game but of some of his biggest fans.


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9 Responses to “Even Mattingly’s biggest fans had a tough time with Dodgers 12-7 loss to Pirates”

  1. KSparkuhl says:

    ICYMI: Andrew McCutchen was hit by a 90 MPH fastball in the shoulder. Russell Martin was the guy who got hit by the slow curve.

    And Justin Turner was none-too-happy about getting plunked in retaliation.

    This was one of Mattingly’s worst ever…

  2. ebbetsfld says:

    I really like Mattingly, but last night was ridiculous for all the reasons you mentioned.

  3. Bluenose Dodger says:

    As a manager you have to play the cards you have been dealt. Now how you play them is a different story.

    My biggest concern was not pinch hitting for Maholm. That just seemed like an easy one to do but I expect Mattingly was hoping to get more innings out of him.

    Let’s face it – you might be right – but Mattingly doesn’t have a lot of good options in the pen regardless of who he pulls and when. He probably should have had a quick hook but was also managing the staff with the next game in mind. Also it is easy to determine what should have been done after the fact.

    I expect when Chris Perez comes in someone should always start warming in the pen. I do remember he had been hailed on TBLA as a good option as a set up guy when Brian Wilson went on the DL. He is now just a 250 lb roster spot going to waist (pun intended Linda).

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      I can assure you that there aren’t too many people who like Mattingly more that I do, but his constant coyness does little to help his image as a manager. I certainly understand that there are some things that you do not want to tip your hand about with the opposing manager, but Don often times takes this too far – especially with injuries.

      If I had to pick one weakness in Mattingly it would be that he is too nice. If he were to be more aggressive, not in a Bobby Cox way but in a Joe Maddon way, it would do him and his team wonders.

      I certainly understand the need to protect your bullpen and “managing the staff with the next game in mind,” but when the current game is teetering between a win and a loss, you have got to go for the win, because if you do not, eventually the next game won’t matter.

      In my opinion, not pinch hitting for Maholm with the go-ahead run on second base and only one out was the turning point of the game; and even at that, why would you not at least have Maholm attempt to sac bunt A.J. to third?

      I think that Mattingly’s pre-determined decision to not use J.P. Howell under any circumstances shows his lack of killer instinct. I certainly understand not wanting to overuse J.P., but a good manager has to let the game dictate what he does and not vice versa – especially when you have your weakest link on the mound in the next game.

  4. MFGRREP says:

    Looks like Jon Weisman at Dodger Insider has been reading a lot of what’s being said today and has his own input of what we might want to consider.


    • KSparkuhl says:

      Thanks for the heads’ up, Gary. I think the Verducci column is most compelling. Not sure where I stand on this, but to say the shift is ruining the left-handed pull hitters of the league is a powerful indictment of the professional hitters of today; they don’t know how to hit to left field. Should the game adjust to an “illegal defense” rule set? If it stays a problem, I think the players will adjust to it… or die.

      Here’s the link to Verducci’s column:


  5. OldBrooklynFan says:

    I could watch baseball for 100 years and still be very surprised by it. It’s just a game of non-expecting things happening.
    As odd as it may seem, to most of you, I wasn’t surprised by any of the moves Mattingly made. It seemed like all the right moves and I can’t seem to place the blame on anyone except the pitchers. To me, they failed, not Mattingly.

    • Ron Cervenka says:

      You are completely missing the point, Joe. A good manager puts his players into a position to succeed, not fail. There is NO excuse for allowing Perez to walk four consecutive batter, NONE. Mattingly put (and left) Perez in a position to fail and did nothing to prevent it from happening.

      And not having League (or anybody else) ready to go behind Perez exacerbated the problem significantly.

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