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Dodgers' pitching falters as team falls back to .500

Dodgers' pitching falters as team falls back to .500
Joe Blanto (Harry How / Getty Images)

Ross Stripling had faced 1,132 batters in his professional career without hitting one.

Until Thursday, that is, when the streak ended at a most inopportune time. Stripling hit C.J. Cron with the bases loaded in the fifth inning, forcing home a key run in the Dodgers' 7-4 loss to the Angels.

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The Dodgers fell back to .500, the dichotomy in their record becoming even more pronounced. They are 8-1 when Clayton Kershaw starts, 13-20 when he does not.

On Thursday, the Dodgers had hoped to get at least five innings out of Stripling and hand a lead to Joe Blanton for the eighth inning and Kenley Jansen for the ninth. They had to yank Stripling before the fifth inning was up, and they had to rush Blanton into the game in the sixth inning, to clean up a mess inherited from Chris Hatcher.

Stripling, the rookie, completed six innings in each of his first two major league starts but has done so in one of his six subsequent starts. He admitted he is not sure whether the Dodgers will ask him to work on pitching deeper into games here, or in the minor leagues.

"It's still a problem," he said. "I've got to figure it out."

Hatcher, the beleaguered setup man, replaced Stripling and gave up the two-run single that put the Angels ahead for good. Hatcher gave up two runs of his own in the sixth inning; his earned-run average is 6.35.

He faced six batters and gave up four hits.

"You find a big part of the plate to major league hitters, and the result is not going to be good," Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts said.

Hatcher's ERA was 6.38 last June, when the Dodgers put him on the disabled list with a strained oblique muscle. They plan to remove a pitcher from the roster Friday, but Hatcher said he is physically sound.

"I feel like I have a decent outing and then I have a terrible one," he said.

He blamed his woes on "poor execution," then smiled at the question of what he could do to fix it.

"Execute," he said.

Twitter: @BillShaikin

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