Dodgers hurt by 'pen, lack of offense
Indians' Peralta delivers in extras for second straight game
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers are only a week away from the halfway point in the season, so manager Joe Torre knows this isn't just a slump. This is just the Dodgers' offense.
It didn't do enough again Saturday, losing for the second straight game to the Cleveland Indians in extra innings, 7-2.
Torre has lost starting pitchers Brad Penny and Hiroki Kuroda to the disabled list in the past week, and their replacements have been an improvement. First, it was Eric Stults beating the Reds. On Saturday, it was Chan Ho Park keeping pace with defending American League Cy Young winner C.C. Sabathia for five innings.
But the pitching can keep the club afloat only so long in a game or in a season. The ripple effect of losing Park as the long reliever is taking a toll, especially in marathons like this one. The depleted bullpen finally cracked, with rubber-armed Cory Wade taking his first Major League loss and Scott Proctor taking the heat for what became a six-run 11th inning.
"With the pitching we've gotten this year, we ought to have a better record than this," said Torre, whose club is 34-40. "It's frustrating. We belong on the field with this [Cleveland] club, but we came up empty again. We shouldn't lose extra-inning games at home. It's been frustrating, to get great pitching and come away empty."
On a sweltering first day of summer, Park struck out nine -- the staff fanned 16 -- and the only run he allowed was on a mammoth 440-foot homer by Sabathia, who looked like more of an offensive force than any Dodgers hitter not named Matt Kemp, whose solo homer in the sixth inning was the only Dodgers run until a meaningless score in the bottom of the 11th. Sabathia retired the first 11 Dodgers and in seven innings had 10 strikeouts.
Meanwhile, the Dodgers' bullpen has lost its good-luck gnome ("I'll probably find him on eBay," said a dismayed Joe Beimel) and now, it seems, the karma the little fellow possessed. For the first time this year, Dodgers relievers lost consecutive games. Torre needed six relievers to pitch six innings Saturday after using four for five innings Friday night. He was non-committal whether he would ask for a fresh arm from the Minor Leagues in time for Sunday's Interleague series finale. Closer Takashi Saito, who made 29 pitches Friday night, was the only reliever who didn't pitch Saturday.
Offensively, the Dodgers really haven't been competitive this year, scoring fewer than two runs in 22 of the 40 losses. Excluding a pair of three-game sweeps over the Reds, go back to May 7 and they're 9-27 since. They are 1-7 against the American League.
"Obviously," said Torre," we're putting a lot of pressure on our pitchers, starters and relievers, by the fact we don't score a lot of runs. We don't give them any breathing room."
There have been short starts and few runs, and the injuries are mounting, none of which Proctor would accept to explain the four runs charged his way Saturday or the personal ERA that has ballooned to 6.82, leaving his spot on the staff in jeopardy.
Proctor said letting a game like this one get away was "an embarrassment," but he rejected Torre's explanation that he was "muscling up" and was annoyed when a reporter asked if anything was physically wrong.
"Nothing -- I'm tired of people making excuses, getting hurt," he said. "It's about making pitches and getting outs. It's not rocket science."
Proctor worked in the bullpen with pitching coach Rick Honeycutt before Friday night's game, in which he allowed one of the runners inherited from Clayton Kershaw to score, but also struck out the side. Then came this game, in which he took over for Wade with two runners on and one out and allowed five consecutive batters to reach base before forcing Torre to bring on Ramon Troncoso for his second appearance in as many days since his promotion from Triple-A.
"I made an adjustment with Honeycutt and threw well one time, then an outing like this," said Proctor. "I've been wracking my brain. It isn't one pitch. It's making pitches when they need to be made. An outing like that, going in the right direction, then something like this happens."
Proctor has been scored upon in four of his last five outings.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.