07/28/2002 8:58 pm ET
Dodgers drop game to Giants
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Dan Evans said he might not be done dealing, and considering the relapse suffered by the Dodger offense Sunday, that might be a good thing.
Hours after Evans bolstered the bullpen with the acquisition of reliever Paul Shuey, his ballclub scratched out four hits in a 3-1 loss, snapping the win streak at two.
Afterward, the Dodger clubhouse was split in writing off the defeat to either the good job done by Giants starter Jason Schmidt, or the bad job done by plate umpire John Hirschbeck, whose strike zone had Dodger hitters comparing the game to the one Eric Gregg called in the 1997 World Series.
Meanwhile, the chemistry issue came into play when reliever Guillermo Mota received the surprising news that Shuey's arrival meant Mota was headed back to Triple-A Las Vegas. He did not take the news well.
He refused to take a phone call from Evans. He waved off club officials wanting to discuss travel plans to rejoin Las Vegas, although with his service time, he has no choice if he wants to be paid. He huddled with teammates and was consoled by pitching coach Jim Colborn.
"He's pretty upset," conceded Colborn. "He'll be back, as long as he doesn't become embittered. I told him his time will come, just not right now. He wants more of the action and he'll get it, but he doesn't see the big picture. Our point of view is that he's definitely in our future and who knows the top to this guy?"
Mota refused to be interviewed. He was 1-1 with a 4.28 ERA, but had a 10.00 ERA in nine appearances since the All-Star Game. Manager Jim Tracy said the club preferred to have Mota pitching regularly at Triple-A than inheriting Terry Mulholland's role as long reliever, which went to Victor Alvarez, who was promoted Sunday.
"That would be a hindrance to (Mota's) development," said Tracy. "He would run the risk of not pitching five or six days in a row. That's not a healthy situation for a young arm. He needs to pitch."
The Dodgers view Mota as a young arm, but inexperienced is more appropriate, considering that at 29 he is older than Eric Gagne. He is in his 13th year of professional baseball, having spent the first seven years as an infielder. He was acquired in the Matt Herges trade, and while the Dodgers loved his live arm, the Expos were concerned that his progress as a pitcher had stalled.
Speaking of stalling, how about that win streak? After easily taking the first two games against the depleted Giants, the Dodgers took a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but Andy Ashby couldn't protect it. The previous game, Omar Daal said his goal was to not let Jeff Kent and Rich Aurilia beat him. Ashby got beat by both of them.
Aurilia doubled off the center-field wall and Jeff Kent followed with a home run and that was it.
"I made bad pitches to Aurilia and Kent and it cost us two runs," said Ashby, who hasn't won since June 23. "I was pretty good after that, but I still don't feel right. The first inning I tried to get ahead and tried to throw a cutter away to Kent and didn't make the pitch. Too bad it ended up costing us the game."
Too bad the Dodger hitters couldn't handle Schmidt, or Hirschbeck. Ashby and Tracy agreed that the strike zone was the same for both teams, but it took its toll on several of the Dodgers.
"I don't like to bad-mouth or start anything, but it was a tough day for the hitters," said Brian Jordan, called out on strikes twice on pitches clearly outside but exactly where catcher Yorvit Torrealba had set up. "He called a lot of away pitches strikes. You give up on them and he calls them strikes, then you start swinging at balls and that's bad."
Tracy, critical enough of his team's approach during the post-break slump to call two team meetings to discuss it, said this loss was different.
"You have to give credit sometimes where credit is due," said Tracy. "Schmidt was acquired last year to be involved in big games. In this case, today was a very big game. We did a good job today. We got his pitch count up there, we were not overly anxious. He pitched well and you have to recognize that too."
Meanwhile, the need for Shuey became more apparent after Ashby left. Giovanni Carrara allowed a double to the first hitter he faced, but was rescued with two strikeouts from Jesse Orosco. There was nobody to rescue Paul Quantrill, and he served up an insurance run in the eighth inning on three hits.
Ken Gurnick covers the Dodgers for MLB.com. This article was not subject to approval of Major League Baseball or its ballclubs.