Dodgers bullpen: Was it sink-or-swim time for struggling Ramon Ortiz?

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Am I the only one who felt like Ramon Ortiz was out there pitching for his little Dodger life Friday night?

Pitching into his third inning for the first time all season, having major control issues, and Joe Torre left him in there to -- what? -- just figure it out?

Ortiz went into the eighth inning with the Dodgers already down 5-1, and then promptly went to a full count on each of the first three batters, walking each.


Yet with the bases loaded and nobody out, Torre remained on the dugout steps. Like he almost defiantly wanted to see Ortiz get out of the jam.

The bullpen already has been overworked, but Torre had George Sherrill -- another struggling reliever -- warmed up in the bullpen. And still, he left Ortiz to his own devices.

Then Ortiz actually got out of the jam with help from one of the stranger double plays you’ll ever see.

First he got Albert Gonzalez to pop up, and then, with Torre keeping the infield in with speedy Willie Harris up, came the oddity.

Harris bounced to James Loney at first, who fired home for the force, though catcher A.J. Ellis took a swipe at Cristian Guzman with the glove, like he didn’t understand the situation.

Which was nothing compared with Harris, who apparently thought that was the third out. So he turned and started walking into the Washington dugout.

Ellis threw back to Ronnie Belliard covering first, who tagged a hastily retreating Harris several feet off the bag. Umpire Jerry Crawford called him out, though in reality he had run out of the baseline and should have been automatically out.

Probably not the way Torre had envisioned Ortiz escaping, but he had.

Ortiz threw 48 pitches in his 2 2/3 innings. He actually lowered his ERA to 6.94. After a terrific spring, the season’s start has been a struggle for Ortiz. If Torre was looking for reason to still believe in him, he still is.

-- Steve Dilbeck