Dodgers @ Giants September 9, 2012: Are You Kershawking Kidding Me?

September 9, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Posted in Game Threads | Leave a comment

So here’s a list of Dodgers who have made it through 2012 without being DL’d, optioned, traded, suspended, or scratched from incredibly important nationally televised games against division leaders:

A.J. Ellis, Matt Treanor, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Jamey Wright.

That’s it. Two catchers, and three old pitchers. That’s the entirety of the Dodgers who were on the roster Opening Day and have made it through unencumbered since.

Dodgers
Giants
2B
M.Ellis
CF
Pagan
CF
Victorino
2B
Scutaro
1B
Gonzalez
3B
Sandoval
SS
Ramirez
C
Posey
3B
Cruz
RF
Pence
RF
Ethier
SS
Arias
LF
Rivera
1B
Belt
C
A.Ellis
LF
Blanco
P
Blanton
P
Zito

“Wait,” you may be saying, because you’ve apparently been spending the afternoon in a cave, with your eyes shut and your fingers in your ears. “What about Clayton Kershaw, who’s going to win the series for us tonight against the Giants, who he always kills?”

Uh, right. About that: Kershaw has been scratched with hip pain, a severe enough concern that he received a cortisone injection in the area yesterday. Kershaw apparently wanted to pitch through it tonight – as you’d expect – but was turned down by the medical staff, reports Beto Duran. He’s expected to pitch after tomorrow’s off day in Arizona on Tuesday.

In Kershaw’s place is Joe Blanton, which is kind of like going from Cy Young to, well, Joe Blanton. Blanton, it should be pointed out, has been much, much better in his last two starts (20 baserunners, 6 ER in 14 IP) than in his first four (37 baserunners, 18 ER in 21 IP). Still, that’s back-end material at best, and it can’t possibly compare to the extended run of excellence Kershaw’s been on over his last eight starts – 1.97 ERA, 65/12 K/BB – or his general dominance in San Francisco, where in eight career games (seven starts) he’s allowed a mere four earned runs. Blanton may in fact be decent tonight, but he’s not going to be Kershaw, and that puts more pressure on an offense which absolutely does not need it.

At this point, all you can do is laugh, because this run of injuries is never ending and just ridiculous. What’s causing it all? I can’t say I know. It’s popular to point the finger at the training staff, especially first-year trainer Sue Falsone, and I certainly can’t stand here and offer much of a defense there. I’m not so sure it’s that simple, however, especially not when so many of those injuries have come to the over-30 crew that Ned Colletti put together. (How Capuano has made it this far is beyond me. There’s still time, though!) Maybe it’s poor training. Maybe it’s old players. Or maybe it’s one last stink-eye from Frank McCourt on the way out the door. Whatever it is, it’s going to play as much of a role in the seeming downfall of this season as any sort of trade or production issue will.

So yeah, if the Dodgers lose tonight and basically extinguish their hopes of a division title (though not, it should be noted, their hopes of playing in October), you can pile the blame on Adrian Gonzalez or Don Mattingly, because it’s easy to do – fun, too – but realize that this is a club that is tonight without its original top three starters (one being one of the five best starters in baseball), their all-world center fielder, their productive do-everything utility guy, their best lefty reliever, and their stud closer. That’s tough for any club to overcome. It’s even tougher to know that Joe Blanton is your best hope to save the series.

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