Dodgers Waste Inspiration : Baseball: Rookie Offerman hits a home run in first major league at-bat, but they don’t score again in 2-1 loss to Expos.
The Dodgers, knowing the first-place Reds had already lost Sunday, unveiled 21-year-old shortstop Jose Offerman against the Montreal Expos. Offerman hit a home run in his first major league at-bat, had two other hits and stole a base.
But the Dodgers didn’t score in the next eight innings after Offerman’s home run and suffered a 2-1 loss that left them 6 1/2 games behind the Reds.
The Dodgers left 11 on base, stranding runners on second and third with one out in the eighth inning.
Ramon Martinez (15-6), who lost his second decision in a row, worked out of jams for most of the game, giving up only a fifth-inning home run to rookie catcher Jerry Goff until the ninth. Martinez then gave up a one-out single to Dave Martinez and left with a 2-and-0 count on the next batter, Goff.
Jay Howell completed Goff’s at-bat by walking him, got a fly ball out, then gave up the game-winning single to pinch-hitter Mike Aldrete.
The game left much of the Dodger Stadium crowd of 40,603 seeing visions of a bright future for Offerman, who received several standing ovations, but it left Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda disgusted by the present.
“You’re . . . right this was a tough one,” he said. “We had a chance to win it in the eighth inning, we had a . . . chance right there--second and third, one out. Then (the Expos) get a (game-winning) hit with two outs. We just didn’t score any runs, that’s the answer to it. Ramon pitched good enough to win. We gotta win. We’re not in the lead, (the Reds) are. We’ve gotta win and pray they lose.”
Dennis Martinez (10-8) held the Dodgers to seven hits in eight innings and struck out eight. Steve Frey pitched the ninth for his sixth save. The victory allowed the third-place Expos to stay within eight games of Pittsburgh in the East.
Aldrete, the Expos’ leading pinch-hitter with eight, said he went to the plate looking for a fastball from Howell and got one. He slashed it to center. “It helped that he started me with a curveball that was low. I had a better chance of getting the fastball,” he said.
Ramon Martinez, who made 128 pitches but said he wasn’t ready to leave in the ninth, said, “Today was a very good game, tight game. Denny Martinez throws very good. We leave lots of guys on base.”
Expo Manager Buck Rodgers said his Martinez was a little sharper. “Both Martinezes were very good today,” Rodgers said. “Dennis had a very good breaking ball, all his pitches were working well. Ramon didn’t have his breaking ball--it was fastball-changeup all day. Dennis has been our big man every year he’s been here. It just goes to figure if we’re going do something, it’s going to be with him on the mound.”
In the first, the switch-hitting Offerman’s first swing produced a pop foul, but third baseman Tim Wallach slipped while starting after the ball and it fell untouched. Martinez worked the count to 0-and-2, then came in with a split-finger fastball that Offerman hit over the 385-foot mark in right field. Offerman didn’t have a home run at Albuquerque this year.
As he touched home, he got a standing ovation, acknowledged the crowd with a pointed forefinger, then was called out of the dugout for a curtain call.
“I wasn’t nervous,” said Offerman, who appeared less comfortable talking to the media than playing his first major league game. “Baseball is the same (on all levels). Yeah, I was surprised I hit it.”
Ramon Martinez said the home run energized the Dodgers. “The other players were excited,” he said. “I told him, ‘Welcome to the big leagues.’ That’s the best feeling, to homer in the first at-bat.”
Offerman also made several good defensive plays and showed wide range. He finished three for five, but an afternoon that started out all smiles and high-fives finished with grumbles and low notes for the Dodgers.
“That’s a great way for a youngster to start his career off,” catcher Mike Scioscia said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t build on it.”
Jose Offerman is the 61st player to hit a home run in his first at-bat, and the 55th to hit one in his first plate appearance. The last player to homer in his first at-bat was Toronto’s Junior Felix May 4, 1989. . . . Manager Tom Lasorda said Offerman will continue to see spot duty behind Alfredo Griffin.
Mike Scioscia made several fine fielding plays Sunday. In the first inning he caught Tim Wallach’s foul pop while sliding into the screen behind home. And in the seventh he protected a 1-1 tie by keeping Tom Foley off the plate while handling Kal Daniels’ throw from left field.
Daniels was one of several Dodgers who didn’t care for home plate umpire Jerry Layne’s strike zone. Daniels struck out three times. . . . A three-man crew worked Sunday’s game. Rookie umpire Mike Winters did not work because of flu. . . . The Dodgers and Expos played six consecutive one-run games here, with L.A. winning five. . . . Ramon Martinez lost for only the second time in 11 decisions at Dodger Stadium this season. It was only the second time he has lost back-to-back games this year. . . . Kirk Gibson was caught stealing but is 17 for 19 on the season.
Juan Samuel, who didn’t have an at-bat, has two hits in his last 20 at-bats, no extra base hits in his last 53 at-bats and has struck out 110 times in 106 games.
Fernando Valenzuela now ranks eighth on the all-time Dodger list in victories with 138, having moved past Johnny Podres. Next is Claude Osteen at 147. Valenzuela, who has thrown 2,306 innings as a Dodger, needs 19 more to move past Sandy Koufax into eighth place in innings pitched.
THE LONG CHASE The Dodgers have gone to the postseason 12 times since moving to Los Angeles. However, they have never been this far behind after 120 games and still won. A look at their 120-game position during their first-place seasons and this season.
Year W L GB 1959 66 54 -2 1963 72 48 +5 1965 70 50 + 1/2 1966 68 52 -2 1974 75 45 +3 1/2 1977 73 47 +12 1978 70 50 +1 1981 Split Season 1983 68 52 -3 1/2 1985 72 48 +6 1/2 1988 69 51 +4 1/2 1990 62 58 -6 1/2
DODGER ATTENDANCE 1990 (57 games) 2,104,544 1989 (57 games) 2,222,577 Decrease 118,033 1990 average 36,922