Dodgers Make 5 More Errors, Making It Easy for Atlanta, 10-3
The Dodgers once more proved their fallibility and Tom Lasorda once again proved his generosity, forgiving five errors. That’s a lot to forgive, but not few enough to forget.
“It was just one of those days,” said Lasorda after his team was booted out of town by the Braves, 10-3, Sunday. “We had a bad day.” If there are too many more days like this one, and there have already been several, the Dodgers’ group insurers will be canceling policies. Soon it will not be a matter of whether the Dodgers can regain the .500 level but whether their personal safety on the field can be guaranteed.
Sunday, in front of 29,340, the fielder most visible by his lapses was shortstop Mariano Duncan. Duncan made three of those five errors, one of those a simple catching error at second base that allowed a possible double play to develop into runners on second and third, which in turn developed into a three-run inning.
Duncan was also a key figure in the Braves’ eighth inning when he winged a relay throw into the Braves’ dugout and, moments later, bobbled a grounder.
But no need to single Duncan out. He is young (22), right out of Class AA baseball at San Antonio, so, of course, it is perhaps possible to forgive 14 errors so far this season. But he wasn’t the only guy out there who looked unfamiliar with a baseball. Dave Anderson, playing out of position at third, had a problem with a bunt down the line. And second baseman Steve Sax bobbled a ground ball and decided not to compound the error by trying to throw it.
The Dodgers’ fielding has come under scrutiny before but no published work of any notable scholar has properly explained it. So here comes Pedro Guerrero’s potato theory: “Seemed like the ball was kind of hot today.”
Meaning the Dodger infield could do better wearing oven mitts than baseball gloves. Certainly they couldn’t do worse.
Duncan, for his part, was not talking. Rather, Guerrero, who comes from the same home town in the Dominican Republic, was not allowing him to talk.
What the Dodgers couldn’t catch, they couldn’t hit either. Steve Shields (1-0), a rookie at 27 after nine years in the minors, closed the Dodgers down for six innings. It was only his third major league start. Mike Marshall tapped him for a second-inning home run and that was it until Anderson unloaded a two-run shot to chase him in the seventh.
Former Dodger Terry Forster, who evidently likes Southern cooking to judge by his increased girth, then worked two innings of scoreless relief.
“We just didn’t hit,” Guerrero said. “We didn’t hit with men on base. We don’t get the hits at the right time.”
A case in point was the second inning. Marshall’s home run might have been a three-run homer had Greg Brock not hit into a double play ahead of him. “Now, that,” said Lasorda, “could have been a big inning.”
Lasorda was remorseful all the way around, though still forgiving. “We played very poorly without a doubt,” he said. “And the players know it. They feel just as bad as I do. They made those errors because they tried. They care. You can see it when they walk into the dugout.”
He assured, however, that it wouldn’t carry over. Reliever Steve Howe, who gave up five hits and five runs, only one earned, in his two innings of relief of starter and loser Fernando Valenzuela (5-7), didn’t appear so confident. When asked would it carry over tomorrow, he said, “Who knows where we’ll even be tomorrow.”
Howe was being philosophical. The Dodgers will be in Cincinnati.
For the Braves, meanwhile, taking fourth place away from the Dodgers is now thinkable. The heart of their lineup was hitting again and that, with some attention to Dodger gaffes, made all the difference in the world.
Dale Murphy, who had been having a comparatively rough time lately, greeted Valenzuela with a two-run homer and then added an RBI single in the sixth. Bob Horner, who was 1 for 15 in his last four games, hit two doubles.
Horner especially seemed pleased by the turn of events. “Now they’re struggling like we’re struggling,” he said.
Dodger Notes The Dodgers have now hit 40 home runs in 55 games; 32 of them came when the bases were empty. . . . Pedro Guerrero has now hit in seven of eight games since being returned to center field. . . . Fernando Valenzuela had won six games in a row against the Braves going into Sunday’s game. . . . Mike Marshall got hot with plate umpire Charlie Williams over a called strike. “I don’t argue much, I just said the pitch was inside.” Some coaches had to come over and cool Marshall off. . . . Tonight’s pitchers in Cincinnati: Rick Honeycutt (3-5) vs. John Stuper (5-4).