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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Answering Don Drysdale's Question: Dodgers 1, Angels 0

The Dodgers of the mid-1960s featured pitching, speed, defense and light hitting. The last quality was so notorious that teammate Don Drysdale, while briefly away from the team, was informed of a Koufax no-hitter and famously asked, "Who won?"
— cribbed from B-Ref's Wiki, which is down right now
Thanks to Eric Enders in today's DT thread (at comment 117) for mentioning that there have only been three games in the Retrosheet era in which one team has thrown a complete-game no-hitter and lost; the most recent was Matt Young, a one-time Dodger then with the Red Sox, who pitched a complete game no-hitter for Boston against the Indians on April 12, 1992 and lost.

Of course, this game was not one of them, Jered Weaver being Jered Weaver and getting behind almost every batter, but it pretty much was a showcase for that which irritates me endlessly about Weaver:

  1. Weaver often does not throw first-pitch strikes, and rarely gets ahead of hitters. Not one of the batters Weaver faced in the first inning saw a first-pitch strike, four of twelve batters he started off that way (out of 23 batters faced). Now, granted, home plate umpire Jeff Nelson's strike zone was peculiar, but as we saw in Torii Hunter's first at bat, he was giving pitches below the knee to the pitcher. That is to say, Weaver was often outside a generous vertical zone.
  2. He has trouble (this year at least) fielding his position. The critical play was the leadoff batter in the fifth, Matt Kemp, who bounced out to the first base side of the mound. Another error back on April 16 against the Royals cost the Angels that game, too.
  3. He simply does not control the running game. Once again this bit the Angels, as Kemp immediately stole second, and thanks to the allegedly superior defense of Jeff Mathis, Kemp not only reached second, but because of the airmailed ball, arrived safely at third — whence he was cashed in by a Blake DeWitt sac fly.
  4. The petulance whenever something goes wrong. He expects himself to be perfect all the time, and according to other reports, was engaged in glove-shouting again. He also took his replacement for a pinch-hitter badly, sulking into the tunnel to the clubhouse.
  5. He seems to be regressing a little every year. His ERA will go down after this one, but there's little question but that his inconsistency seems to get worse each year. Certainly his ERA has, and he's below league average, even with this game in which he allowed no hits and no earned runs. In many ways, this game was a step in the right direction for him, though I would also posit that until he gets his control problems straightened out, he's not going to improve in other areas.
And yet all that said, and even for the box score bearing the L next to his surname, the real problem was the offense; Fangraphs blames Torii Hunter for his failures at the plate, and most egregiously, his failure to cash in Garret Anderson from second with two outs in the top of the sixth, especially after Vlad reached on an Angel Berroa error. Now, as much as I root for the Dodgers to win, there is just no way in hell that I am going to do so after they intentionally trade for a piece of junk like Berroa and he makes an error in a game-critical situation like that. Unfortunately, Hunter took his swing-first, ask-questions-later approach to the plate, and so the Angels lost. But there was plenty of blame to spread around, including a 2-for-18 night from the top five slots in the batting order, and yet another moment of futility from Reggie Willits, impressed again late in a game with almost zero live pitching in the last week, as usual.

Lost in this historical swamp is a very good performance by Chad Billingsley, who seems to be doing better and better as the season progresses; the Dodgers offensively performed poorly otherwise.

ESPN BoxAngels MLB.com recapDodgers MLB.com recap

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Goodness, quite a tirade against a pitcher who gave up ZERO hits in 6 innings.
And yet, he lost, and deservedly so. If he fields that ball correctly, the game goes to extras in a scoreless tie.
And, yet, nothing. You're frontloading your argument with criticism of a player that had to be PERFECT to win that game, where every other player on the team fell far short of that. One single error on an erratically spinning ball is understandable. The Angels catcher making his ninth error, by launching the ball into centerfield AGAIN, is not.

Your target is misplaced.

If he fields that ball correctly, the game goes to extras in a scoreless tie.

Such a statement fails logic, and I think you know how.
only caught the first inning or so since we're camping but Vin at the top mentioned Weaver's poor ability to manage the running game. opposing runners are 15 for 18 (before the game) against him, the worst in the AL. the other 3 are Pads (Young, Maddux, Peavy).

so you nailed all Weave's deficiencies in your summary. it's a fair enough criticism despite shutting down the Dodgers.

on the flip side, blame has to go to the Angels offesne - they're the ones who lost the game, and Weave almost certainly did not deserve to lose.

In conjunction, there are lot of kudos to the Dodgers, starting with Billingsley to of handed out.
Such a statement fails logic, and I think you know how.

Nonsense. Weaver's inability to control the running game once again was his undoing. I most certainly don't place all the blame on him for this one — that error aside, he pitched well — but this one was against the Dodgers, a losing team with a manager who doesn't know how to manage his bullpen and can't tell good players from bad, and a GM who certainly doesn't know good from bad.

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