What to make of Dan Haren?
Smart, effective pitcher who has enough stuff and guile to still be a very effective major-league pitcher? Or a soft-tossing over-the-hill right-hander clinging to a rotation spot?
These days the answer almost depends on which start Haren’s recently made. He made one Friday night against the Mets, and it was a very good one, leading the Dodgers to a 6-2 victory before a Dodger Stadium crowd of 44,374.
Haren gave up a leadoff homer to Curtis Granderson and hearts stopped. It would be the bad Haren? He’s allowed the second-highest number of home runs (26) in the majors.
Yet, after the homer, Haren fairly breezed. He allowed only two more hits and did not walk a batter. He called it a night after throwing seven innings, striking out six and raising his record to 11-10.
Turns out, Friday was the very good Haren.
Haren tried to bunt the runners over, but bounced the ball right to Niese, who fired to third to start a 1-5-3 double play. Still, Dee Gordon lined a single to score Arruebarrena with the tying run.
The Dodgers took the lead with a run in the fifth, after Justin Turner doubled to left-center. Turner took third when Ellis grounded out. After Arruebarrena walked, Haren failed to get down a squeeze bunt and Turner was caught in a rundown.
Not the best night of bunting for Haren. The good news was that Turner ran in the pickle long enough for Arruebarrena to advance to third, which worked out nicely when Haren made amends for his botched bunt by punching a run-scoring single into center.
The Dodgers scored three additional runs in the seventh, with the help of Mets shortstop Wilmer Flores. Gordon started the two-out rally with a triple in the right-field corner. He leads the majors with 11 triples.
After Yasiel Puig walked, Adrian Gonzalez hit a routine bouncer to Flores, who had already muffed one for an error in the fifth that included a pratfall. Flores threw the ball past first baseman Lucas Duda for a second error.
Gordon scored and Puig took third. Matt Kemp doubled to drive in two more. Overall, the Mets committed four errors Friday.
The Dodgers added a final run in the eighth when Turner walked, stole second and scored on an Ellis double.
The Dodgers’ offense, quiet of late, managed 10 hits but their best news of the night had to be Haren turning it around after that first-inning homer. The Dodgers’ rotation currently is of the “iffy” variety and it very much needs Haren to return to the form that saw him start the season 5-1 with a 2.84 ERA.