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.
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
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.
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.