Law of average hits Dodgers, now 17-17 since June 1 after loss to Mets

Law of average hits Dodgers, now 17-17 since June 1 after loss to Mets
Dodgers shortstop Enrique Hernandez makes an unsuccesful attempt to flip the ball to second base for a force out against the Mets. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

When the National League announces its All-Star pitchers and reserves on Monday, the Dodgers could have more names called than any other team.

Zack Greinke is a lock, and the Dodgers believe Clayton Kershaw, Adrian Gonzalez, Justin Turner, Joc Pederson, Yasmani Grandal and Kenley Jansen all merit consideration. No way they all make the team, of course, but none would be out of place.

The Dodgers are more than a star-studded team. They are the first-place team in the National League West.

They also are a .500 team since June 1.


All that is to preface this: The Dodgers looked awful on Sunday, with causes for concern all over the diamond. Every team has its warts, most teams more than the Dodgers.

That last disclaimer was little consolation during an 8-0 loss to the New York Mets, as lopsided a loss as the Dodgers have suffered this season.

The most pressing worry was the condition of Gonzalez — to be specific, the condition of his right hand. He was hit on the hand by a pitch in the first inning and left in the fourth, when he was due to hit again but said he could not swing the bat without discomfort.

The Dodgers listed him as day-to-day with a bruised hand. Gonzalez, the team's most consistent hitter, said he expected to play Monday "unless for some reason I wake up and it's worse."

He said the Dodgers did not send him to get X-rays on the hand.

"I told 'em I didn't need to," he said.

The next item on the checklist of concern: the back end of the starting rotation, and how long Mike Bolsinger and Carlos Frias can hold down the spots intended for the injured Brandon McCarthy and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The Dodgers fully intend to acquire a starter — maybe two — by the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline. Until then, Manager Don Mattingly has to deal with a vacancy in one of those spots and a leak in the other.

The Dodgers put Frias on the disabled list Sunday because of tightness in his lower back. Mattingly said the team would call up Eric Surkamp, whose last victory as a major league starter came four years and two organizations ago.

On Sunday, Bolsinger put the Dodgers into a 4-0 hole four innings into the game. Of the first 22 batters he faced, 11 reached base. His earned-run average: 1.15 in his first five starts, 4.79 in the seven starts since then.

Bolsinger gave up nine hits in five innings, but neither he nor Mattingly sounded overly concerned. Two hits in the first inning — a squib and a soft liner — led to the Mets' first run. In the fourth, a ground ball hit an umpire — a single, in the middle of a three-run inning.

Such is the life of a ground-ball pitcher, and Bolsinger said he needed to do a better job of controlling his emotions and limiting the damage.

"I can take someone ripping a ball off the wall off me or something like that," he said. "But to give up hits that way, those are the kind of things that get me."

In a combined nine starts since June 14, Bolsinger and Frias have failed to complete six innings every time. The Dodgers are 4-5 in those games, but the pressure on Kershaw and Greinke to pitch deep into games increases because Bolsinger and Frias have not.

"They've kept us in games," Mattingly said. "They've taxed our bullpen a little bit."

The bullpen has become as important as the offense. The Dodgers' runs per game, by month: 4.76 in April, 4.11 in May, 4.03 in June. They scored nine runs in their first four July games.

"If there's anything we haven't done well, it's score consistently," Mattingly said.

On the final day of May, the Dodgers were nine games over .500 and led the NL West by one-half game. Now they are nine games over .500, and they lead the NL West by four games after Sunday.

"If we could stay that way the rest of the season, we'll be pretty good," Gonzalez said. "I know we played great early. We've played .500 ball lately. But I don't think any team goes through a streak where they play great the whole season."

Twitter: @BillShaikin