Apparently word travels slowly around the National League. Or maybe teams just aren’t reading their memos.
Either way, this much is certain: the Dodgers’ Adrian Gonzalez is feasting on left-handed pitching. And no one seems to be getting the message.
The latest example came Friday when Gonzalez’s two-run, two-out double in the seventh inning lifted the Dodgers a 7-5 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers before a crowd of 44,930 at Dodger Stadium.
But if having a left-hander pitch to Gonzalez with the game on the line might not be wise, Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly said he’s not surprised teams are still doing it.
“It’s kind of hard to get away from the book,” Mattingly said. “Guys have to answer those questions.”
On Friday the book called for Brewers Manager Ron Roenicke to bring in lefty Mike Gonzalez with the left-hand-hitting Carl Crawford at the plate and the tying run on second base. And that chapter ended with Crawford lining out.
But the plot thickened when the Brewers walked Nick Punto, a right-handed batter, on four pitches to set up a lefty vs. lefty, Gonzalez vs. Gonzalez showdown.
Mismatch would probably be a better description because coming into the game Adrian Gonzalez was batting .389 against lefties, who have given up more than half his team-leading 27 hits and nine of his 14 runs batted in. He padded both those in this at-bat, belting a two-strike pitch deep to center field to drive in the runs that put the Dodgers ahead to stay.
Given the way the night began, it didn’t appear as if the Dodgers would be needing any late-inning heroics -- from Gonzalez or anyone else.
Right-hander Josh Beckett, who has received the second-worst support (1.4 runs a game) of any starter in the majors this season, was staked to an early 2-0 lead on Andre Ethier’s two-out, two-strike, run-scoring single in the first inning and a Crawford solo home run in the third. And the Brewers didn’t get a hit until Ryan Braun homered to right with two outs in the fourth.
But Milwaukee didn’t stop there, taking the lead in the fifth inning on Yuniesky Betancourt’s solo homer -- the eighth Beckett has surrendered this season, most in the National League -- and a two-out, run-scoring single by Jean Segura on a full-count pitch.
The Dodgers answered in their half of the inning when Crawford was hit by a pitch, then came around to tie the score on Gonzalez’s first two-out RBI double of the game. The run was a costly one, though, with second baseman Mark Ellis leaving the game after straining his right quadriceps running out the ground ball that advanced Crawford into scoring position.
Less than a half-inning later Beckett was in the clubhouse too, leaving him winless in April for the first time since his first full season in the majors in 2002.
“As long as we win,” Beckett said. “That’s a positive with me. I don’t really care who gets the win.”
On this night, that went to Ronald Belisario (2-2), who retired all five batters he faced, striking out three, in his third consecutive perfect outing.
“The ball’s going down. That’s what we always talk about with Beli,” Mattingly said. “When it’s going down … it’s just filthy.”