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Trying to Make Me Look Bad?
2003-05-09 08:58
by Jon Weisman


Kazuhisa Ishii, who I have said should go to the bullpen, pitched six innings of one-run ball Thursday and lowered his ERA to 2.95.

Fred McGriff, who I have said cannot hit left-handed pitchers, much less bat cleanup against them, went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.

Ron Coomer, who I have said should not be on the Dodger roster, doubled and scored in three at-bats.

Adrian Beltre, who I have said still has more potential than almost every hitter on the team, struck out on three pitches with two runners on.

The Dodgers, who I have said need to hit home runs to score, scored six runs without one.

Looking good, huh? Well, I've looked better.

Ishii confounds me, I have to say. He's allowed 56 baserunners in under 40 innings. But what must be happening is that amid all the leadoff walks that make me about to keel over, he is finding a way to generate outs with runners on. (It helps, say, when Brian Jordan can make a superb catch with runners on in the sixth inning of a 1-1 game. Without that catch, we're having a different conversation this morning.) Anyway, I need to find Ishii's stats with runners on as opposed to bases empty.

Ishii also taked after the game about adjusting his delivery. There have been times that I have noted - anecdotally - that Ishii has gone to pitching in a stretch, even with the bases empty, and improved his performance. Perhaps his ability to minimize scoring, with runners on base all season and overall on Thursday, has something to do with that.

As for McGriff, he did get his hits, but Brian Jordan went 1 for 2 with two walks and Mike Kinkade went 1 for 1. So it wasn't like I was wrong about Jordan and Kinkade getting primacy over McGriff against lefties. Even after Thursday's game, McGriff's OPS against lefties is .508. Jordan improved to 1.209; Kinkade to 1.583. (Again, the 2003 stats come from small sample sizes, but the differences echo the stats from 2002.)

As for Coomer and Beltre, well, Coomer's still an aging player who's no better than Beltre. I am glad Coomer got his double (especially now that I know how big a Springsteen fan he is), but I haven't given up hope that Beltre can be solved. Certainly, he must be solved for the Dodgers to win this season.

Finally, as for the home runs - they're not the only way to score runs. But the home run is an area of the offense where it's clear the team is performing below its potential. Stuck at 20 after 35 games, the Dodgers have been passed by Detroit and have fallen into last place in the majors.

The six runs the Dodgers scored last night was the most they have scored all season without a home run. They don't figure to repeat that feat too often. The home run issue still needs to be addressed and corrected. There has to be a reason why this team has had such a sudden dropoff in power.

In any case, the Dodgers are now 9-4 in their past 13 games. They have put together a true winning stretch. The series with Montreal, a team that is No. 3 in the league in run differential, will be a meaningful test.

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