I think a lot of fans hate hearing about “BABIP” and “regression,” but this is why we talk about it: because it’s real. Just like we all knew that Tim Hudson wouldn’t keep his ERA under 2.00 all season up in San Francisco, it was pretty clear that Josh Beckett wasn’t going to pitch like a top-10 starter all season in Los Angeles, and that was before the hip injury that’s currently plaguing him. Beckett needed 94 pitches to get through four-plus innings today, the fifth time in a row he failed to go further than five, and allowed nine base runners, including Chris Coghlan‘s two-run fifth inning blast. It’s pretty tempting to be disappointed that he’s struggled so badly, but I prefer to look at it the other way: I had zero expectations for him coming into the season. That he offered anything at all, much less a very good three months, should be considered a gift.
Meanwhile, future Dodger (probably) Edwin Jackson showed how it can work the other way, shutting down the Dodgers over six innings, striking out six without a walk, but getting torched by Matt Kemp for yet another home run. (Kemp the best!)
Oh, and Hanley Ramirez did this:
…so that was fun.
While Beckett wasn’t good, it’s not like he got a lot of support, either. In the first inning, the Dodgers got their first three men on base — Justin Turner doubled, Yasiel Puig singled, then Adrian Gonzalez singled off the center field wall, somehow not scoring Turner, but loading the bases. Bases loaded, none out, Ramirez and Kemp coming up. It’s hard to envision a more favorable scenario for the offense. So what happened? Ramirez hit into a 4-6-3 double play, scoring Turner, then Kemp grounded out to third. Rally over.
In the seventh, with one out, Drew Butera doubled — his second (!) of the day — and then Carl Crawford absolutely destroyed a Carlos Villanueva pitch. I mean, he just could not have hit it any harder. Unfortunately, first baseman Anthony Rizzo made a fantastic leaping play to snare it, then doubled Butera off second. It was that kind of day.
Ultimately, it didn’t matter, because Brandon League. After some solid relief from Paco Rodriguez (two innings) and J.P. Howell (one), League came on in the eighth to do his best Chris Perez impression, walking Luis Valbuena… and Ryan Sweeney… and Chris Valaika. Unsurprisingly, that ended poorly; after a Nate Schierholtz fielder’s choice got Valbuena at the plate, a John Baker groundout scored Sweeney, then pinch-hitter Starlin Castro singled in both Valbuna and Schierholtz. Three walks, three runs. 24 pitches, 16 balls. Funny how that works. I’d blame Don Mattingly for leaving him in to do that, but then the actual Perez came on, gave up a fly that Puig had to track down at the warning track and a crushed Valbuena dinger, so, maybe his hands were a bit tied there.
Anyway, enough Cubs, bring on the Angels. Reminder: I know it’s a big series because the Angels are very good, and because of the obvious local rivalry, but in reality, they’re among the least important games of the rest of the season, simply because the Angels aren’t a team in competition with the Dodgers for a playoff spot. When Dodger Stadium and the Big A are rocking this week, it’ll probably be easy to forget that, but it’s true.