First Place Dodgers Loaded With Big Question Marks

For a team that has comfortably been ensconced in first place for many weeks and that has been in the hunt for the league’s best overall won-lost record, the Dodgers seem to have far too long a list of serious problems for a team in that position. Last night’s extra-inning loss to the San Diego Padres highlighted several of those problems:

1. Shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Since the Dodgers traded for Hanley, he has been one of the team’s offensive leaders, and a defensive liability as shortstop. A healthy Hanley is a dominating hitter, but the Dodgers’ have seldom had the healthy version in the lineup. Yesterday was kist his fourth game back from the disabled list, and after going one-for-12 in his first three games, he got back in the groove yesterday, going three-for-four,

including a game tying, eighth-inning home run. But, earlier in the game, he somehow tumbled to the ground after rounding first on a base hit, injuring his left leg, and shorty after his homer, he left the game. He is not in tonight's lineup, and it is unknown how long he again might be among the missing. Miguel Rojas (or Erisbel Arruebarrena) is an excellent shortstop, but his .195 average only partially demonstrates what the Dodgers miss without Hanley's bat in the lineup.
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2. Yasiel Puig didn’t start last night, after going zero-for-18 over his last six-plus games,but he pinch-hit and struck out. His batting average has dipped to its lowest point since May 1, and with his return to the lineup tonight, a single out would dip him below .300. Puig missed a game last weekend, due to what the empty uniform non-manager Don Mattingly described as “fatigue”, but his absence last night was due to his slump. It is vital to the Dodgers that Puig returns to hitting form, beginning tonight, especially in light of the lack of a Hanley in the lineup.

3. Roberto “Fausto Carmona” Hernandez has filled in pretty well as the fifth starter, replacing the injured Josh Beckett, but Kevin Correia has been a different story, first replacing Hyun-Jin-Ryu in the rotation, and then, as in last night, appearing out of the bullpen. Correia pitched reasonably well in his first game, wining 6-2 while giving up a single run over six innings. Since, however, his as been hit for 12 runs, 11 earned, over 8-2/3 innings, winning one when the Dodgers scored eight while Correia only allowed four (in five innings), and losing two, including last night when he came in the game in the 12th

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inning of a 2-2 tie, giving up two walks, two hits, one the game-loser, while retiring two batters, one of them due to the outrageous four-infielders-on-the-right-side shift, that worked to retire Seth Smith. Word is that Ryu will be back in the rotation, and while that is great news for the Dodgers, it likely means Correia's days in LA are about over.

One final word regarding last night – Dan Haren gave up a couple of early runs but overall pitched another pretty good game, going six, while allowing only two runs. As the fifthstarter, or even the fourth, he seems fine, but with the pressure and expectations of his has the number three, or possibly even number two, that is also a big problem.

Tonight will feature yet another rematch between Zack Greinke and the trojan headhunter, ian kennedy. Greinke has apparently had no continuing elbow pain after that his last start was pushed back a couple of days, but of course, at any time, his head could be the target of an inside fastball from kennedy. Greinke and every Dodgers’ batter coming to the plate has to keep alert to what the sociopath kennedy might be up to.

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