Easily lost amid the Adrian Gonzalez home run outburst -- and if he was all that he would have figured out a way to hit one Thursday, the off-day -- was the Dodgers’ debut of right-hander Brandon McCarthy.
The Dodgers very much need an effective McCarthy this season, not just because of its $48-million investment but because the health of the rotation is so tenuous.
Now a glance at the box score might prove confusing, what with McCarthy striking out nine but being charged with four runs on nine hits in five innings. But in truth he pitched pretty well, or at least well enough to be encouraging.
Justin Upton caught him for a two-run homer in the first, but then he largely settled down. He struck out two in each of the first four innings, so that was fairly impressive.
Of course, that pushes up the pitch count. He went into the sixth having already thrown 91 pitches. Manager Don Mattingly, having gone extensively to his bullpen in the first two games, was hoping to get one more inning out of him.
Hindsight shows that was clearly a mistake. But surely there were some first-guessers questioning whether a pitcher would be asked to make more than 100 pitches in his first outing of the season. The mistake was soon obvious.
“I didn’t feel terrible,” McCarthy said. “The pitch to Middlebrooks was terrible, but all of the rest of the pitches in that inning I was actually completely fine with. I just wasn’t as sharp.”
His fastball had predictably lost some zip after throwing over 90 pitches in his first outing. He was hitting as high as 96 mph early in the game, but his fastball topped out at 91 in the sixth.
McCarthy is still known as something of a ground ball specialist, though not to the extent of Friday night’s debut Dodger pitcher, Brett Anderson. McCarthy incurred just five groundouts Wednesday, though when you’re recording nine of your 15 outs via strikeouts, there aren't going to be as many ground balls.
“I don’t care how I get it,” he said. “Ten balls throughout the defense, that’s fine. I want the outs any way I can get them.”
Much like his first outing, that’s fine. Maybe it wasn’t a start to get those happy feet going, but on the whole, still promising.
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