Dodgers starter Brandon McCarthy loses control against Rockies

Dodgers pitcher Brandon McCarthy reacts after a wild pitch against the Colorado Rockies during the second inning Sunday at Dodger Stadium.
(Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images)

Brandon McCarthy’s smooth ride through the 2017 season hit a sudden patch of turbulence Sunday when the veteran right-hander appeared to suffer a brief recurrence of the “yips” that derailed his 2016 season last August.

McCarthy, who entered with a 6-3 record and 2.87 ERA in 12 starts, retired the side in order in the first but lost control of his four-seam fastball and cutter in the second, throwing three wild pitches and walking two during a three-run inning.

An error by shortstop Enrique Hernandez on a potential double-play grounder in the third paved the way for two more runs, and McCarthy was pulled after three innings in which he gave up five runs — four earned — and four hits, struck out two and walked two. Of his 64 pitches, 38 were strikes.


“It’s a very hard-to-describe feeling,” McCarthy said, when asked what was different about Sunday. “It certainly wasn’t the usual feeling. Something was going on there with my cutter and four-seamer. I was able to get the sinker back and throw some curves, which made me more competitive.”

With Colorado’s DJ LeMahieu at the plate to lead off the third, McCarthy threw a pitch that bounced about three feet outside and to the backstop.

Asked whether he was concerned that last summer’s problems were creeping back, McCarthy said, “I threw a ball in the other batter’s box, so that’s pretty clear.”

McCarthy lost his ability to throw the baseball with any accuracy last August, when he issued 15 walks and hit two batters in 8 1/3 innings of three starts.

The Dodgers put him on the disabled list, citing a stiff hip, and McCarthy made a mechanical adjustment that steadied his control. He walked one in 5 1/3 innings of his only September start but was not included on the postseason roster.

“I know what I’m confronting, how to get after it,” McCarthy said. “I have to get back to work.”


Unhealthy scratch

Franklin Gutierrez was in the original lineup Sunday, but two hours before the game, the reserve outfielder was placed on the 10-day disabled list because of a rare inflammatory disease called ankylosing spondylitis, which he has dealt with since 2011.

The condition, over time, can cause some of the vertebrae in the spine to fuse. Among the other symptoms are pain and stiffness in the neck and back, pain in ligaments and tendons, fever, fatigue and a loss of appetite.

Gutierrez, who is hitting .232 with eight RBIs in a platoon role, has managed the disease with medication, an anti-inflammatory diet and extensive stretching and massage, but the discomfort worsened Sunday. Utility man Mike Freeman was called up from triple A.

Short hops

Right fielder Yasiel Puig did not start Sunday because of nagging discomfort in his right hamstring, but he was able to pinch-hit in the sixth inning, striking out. Manager Dave Roberts said the injury “is not serious” and expects Puig to play Monday night against the Angels. … Closer Kenley Jansen is batting .500, with two hits in four at-bats. “Kenley has a good stroke,” Roberts said. “He’s been lobbying for more at-bats.”

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