Dodgers’ late rally is for naught
Something was clearly wrong.
Chad Billingsley’s line made that much clear: seven runs and seven hits in three innings.
But in the wake of his latest on-the-mound meltdown that resulted in the Dodgers’ 11-9 defeat to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park, Billingsley stood in front of his locker and said that everything felt fine.
“I made some good pitches,” he said. “I wasn’t walking guys. As far as everything I wanted to work on between last start and this start, I thought I accomplished it.”
He had no explanation for the results.
“I mean. . . " Billingsley said, searching for answer. “I mean. . . I mean. . . . Honestly, I don’t know.”
The Dodgers climbed out of the six-run hole Billingsley and reliever Ramon Ortiz dug for them, as Matt Kemp’s sixth home run of the season tied the score in the eighth inning, 9-9. But in what counted as his ninth appearance of the season, Ramon Troncoso turned from a groundball pitcher to a fly ball pitcher, resulting in the go-ahead runs for the Reds in the eighth.
For Billingsley, the game marked his second consecutive poor start. He gave up six runs and eight hits to the Arizona Diamondbacks last week.
There were plenty of theories about what has happened to Billingsley, who went from being an All-Star in July to barely making the Dodgers’ playoff roster.
Manager Joe Torre said Billingsley appears to have issues with his confidence. Pitching coach Rick Honeycutt said Billingsley might be thinking too much. Or that his pitch sequence might be too predictable. Or that he might be pitching too much like a control pitcher when he should be pitching like a power pitcher.
Billingsley disagreed with Torre’s assertion that his confidence has taken a hit.
“That’s not an issue,” he said. “I’ve been feeling good on the mound, as far as my delivery, my pitches. My arm feels good, my pitches feel good, my mechanics feel good. You have these times. I’m not going out there and walking guys. I’m going after guys. I’m making them beat me.”
The lack of walks — zero on Tuesday — was what Billingsley said convinced him that his problems this season are different from the problems he had last season.
“Last year, the second half, I felt like I was battling myself,” he said. “I couldn’t repeat my delivery. Now, I feel like I’m repeating my delivery consistently. I’m throwing the ball in areas that I want to.”
Torre and Honeycutt each said Billingsley left too many pitches over the plate, but Billingsley denied that he lacked command.
“I thought I was throwing quality pitches,” he said.
After a perfect first inning, Billingsley allowed the first six batters he faced in the second inning to score.
Brandon Phillips homered, Scott Rolen singled, Jay Bruce tripled and Jonny Gomes and Ramon Hernandez hit singles. Every ball was hit hard.
Matters became further complicated when Billingsley fielded a sacrifice bunt by pitcher Homer Bailey, but sailed his throw high over Blake DeWitt, who was covering first base.
The Reds scored six runs in the second inning and one run in the third inning.
Torre stood by Billingsley, saying he remained on schedule to take his next turn in the rotation, Sunday in Washington.
“We have to figure it out,” Torre said.