How did Mat Latos do in his Dodgers debut? Depends on how you look at such things. It’s difficult to look at “six innings, one run allowed” and not think, well, that’s pretty good, and a whole lot better than Zach Lee or Brandon Beachy or the recent parade of fill-in starters have been able to do. On the other hand, he only struck out one batter, and…
Latos only had three swinging strikes in 80 pitches, which is probably worse than “underwhelming”
— Daniel Brim (@DanielBrim) August 2, 2015
But on yet another hand, that one batter whiffed was Mike Trout. So all in all, you’ll take it because he kept runs off the board, while realizing that this was not exactly a recipe for sustained success.
Since the Dodgers were up 2-1 when he left — thanks, Howie Kendrick‘s two-run homer! — it didn’t seem to matter. Of course, after a scoreless inning from Juan Nicasio, then Jim Johnson made his debut and gave it right back with a solo homer to Kole Calhoun. But then: The Andre Ethier show! Ethier homered off Joe Smith in the eighth to dead center to put the Dodgers up 3-2; he homered off Drew Rucinski in the 10th (with Adrian Gonzalez) on to walk off 5-3. Ethier has half as many homers today as he did in all of 2014. It was his first multi-homer game since he put two out off of San Diego’s Josh Spence and Tim Stauffer on July 10, 2011.
You’ll notice that we skipped from “Ethier putting the Dodgers up in the eighth” to “the tenth inning was a thing that existed,” and that’s because the ninth got messy. With Kenley Jansen unavailable, J.P. Howell allowed a single to Shane Victorino, then made a poor throw to second on an Erick Aybar comebacker that prevented Jimmy Rollins from turning a likely double play. Howell got a whiff for the second out, and then it was double-switch time: Don Mattingly lifted Howell for Pedro Baez, as well as removing Yasiel Puig for Scott Van Slyke in right. Baez’ first pitch to Chris Iannetta went over Joc Pederson‘s head in center to tie the game.
If you hated the double-switch, yeah, I get it. Van Slyke has been quietly very good on defense, but not so much that you want Puig’s arm out of the game. If you hated the pitching change, nah. Iannetta has enormous lefty/right platoon splits. If Mattingly had left in Howell and he’d blown it, you’d be killing the manager for that. I know it’s a sport to blame the manager, and that’s fine. The double switch, again, was hugely questionable. Baez, however, simply didn’t get the job done.
Ethier did, though. Boy did he ever.