Alexander: Are Dodgers starting to head upward again?

first_imgSimply put, when Kenley Jansen detected an abnormality in his heartbeat, Dodger fans developed palpitations of their own.Even Sunday the bullpen wasn’t immune, with Yimi Garcia giving up a home run to the Padres’ Hunter Renfroe on the third pitch of the ninth. In the 16 games since the start of the series in Colorado Aug. 9, the Dodgers are 7-9, and relief pitchers have surrendered eight home runs in the seventh inning or later, four of them off Jansen himself. The bullpen accounted for seven losses and five blown saves (two in extra-inning victories) in that span.Not surprisingly, then, manager Dave Roberts gave Jansen the day off Sunday, noting that an issue with Jansen’s mechanics has affected his control both in and out of the strike zone. If the game had been close in the ninth inning Sunday, Kenta Maeda would have pitched.This is an example of how sour pitching leads to sour hitting, and vice versa. Hitters press, trying too hard to cash in those scoring opportunities and create a cushion. They can’t, which puts stress on the bullpen. Rinse and repeat.“Today was one of the best games we’ve had in quite some time as far as one through eight,” Roberts said of his team’s offensive approach. “It’s just more guys continuing to watch each other, talk about having a plan and really trusting the process, because I think results kind of get in the way of clarity in the hitters’ minds, but if you can stay diligent on the plan and win each pitch, good things are going to happen.”Maybe he should have said one through nine. Hyun-Jin Ryu was bobbing and weaving on the mound, giving up 11 hits but striking out eight and lasting 5 2/3 innings. And he also picked up two hits, including the one that started the fifth inning rally. That may put him in line to be the first pitcher off the bench to pinch-hit the next time the Dodgers get into one of those extra-inning thrillers.They could joke about that and other topics Sunday, and that was a good sign. If nothing else, even with a flight to Dallas Monday’s off-day will be much more pleasant than the last one, when the Dodgers were coming off a sweep of the Cardinals and things looked bleak.Sometimes momentum shifts when you’re not looking.“I don’t think you can really put your finger on anything that turns stuff around,” Turner said. “It just kind of happens. It’s the ebb and flow of the game.“Sometimes you have six or seven guys in the lineup all feeling good. Sometimes you only have a couple feeling good, but it’s all about finding ways to win ballgames.  And coming down to this last month, this last stretch, the personal numbers (and)  personal stats don’t mean anything as long as we figure out a way to win a game.”That would make the ride a little less bumpy for everyone. Dodgers’ Max Muncy trying to work his way out of slow start How Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling topped the baseball podcast empire Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error Dodgers hit seven home runs, sweep Colorado Rockies Cody Bellinger homer gives Dodgers their first walkoff win of season center_img Fire danger is on Dave Roberts’ mind as Dodgers head to San Francisco The two main topics of conversation these days are a bullpen that has developed one leak after another, and an offense that has tended to tighten up during important at-bats (mainly those with runners in scoring position).Related Articles LOS ANGELES — To be a baseball fan, especially one of a team with any sort of ambition, is to strap yourself in for a six-month roller coaster ride. The highs are immense, and the lows … well, you can feel them in the pit of your stomach.Sign up for our Inside the Dodgers newsletter. Be the best Dodger fan you can be by getting daily intel on your favorite team. Subscribe here.If you’re a Dodger fan, there wasn’t much reason for queasiness Sunday. But are you dizzy yet?It has been a brutally schizophrenic two weeks in Los Angeles. The Dodgers got a break this weekend with a visit from the Padres, but not even a sweep of the San Diego Tank Farm, achieved with Sunday’s 7-3 victory, totally covered the blemishes that threaten to destroy their playoff chances.Still, they’re just 2 1/2 games behind in the division and wild-card standings. And maybe this five-game stretch of games against bottom-feeders (including a two-game series at Texas beginning Tuesday) can enable them to reverse the direction of the roller coaster before Thursday’s opener in The Ravine against first-place Arizona. Neither was really in play Sunday. The Dodgers were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position but attained a comfortable lead because of two of those at-bats, back-to-back in the fifth: a two-run double by Justin Turner to tie the game 2-2, followed by a two-run homer by Manny Machado for a 4-2 lead.Turner added a two-run single in the sixth and an RBI single in the eighth and is now hitting .400 in August with 19 RBI and a 1.142 OPS. Clearly, he is past the effects of the broken wrist he suffered in spring training when he was hit by a pitch.“I feel like I’m in a pretty good spot right now,” he said. “I haven’t had any problems with my wrist, my groin (which landed him on the disabled list in July) is feeling good, and I’m seeing the ball pretty good at the plate right now. Knock on wood, I’m going to try to just keep getting better.”Turner’s approach, if emulated by others in the lineup, could be the method to get the Dodger lineup out of the offensive funk they’d fallen into since the All-Star break. Night after night, scoring opportunities wasted in the early innings caught up to the Dodgers in the late innings, especially when the team’s relief pitching turned into a full-blown dumpster fire 2 1/2 weeks ago.last_img

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