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For the Want of a
2002-09-18 00:17
by Mike Carminati

For the Want of a Nail

The Dodgers just missed an opportunity to get back into their game tonight with the Giants. San Francisco roared out to a 5-1 lead in the top of the second knocking starting pitcher Omar Daal out in the process. Giovanna Carrara replaced Daal on the mound and in the ninth position in the batting order.

In the bottom of the second, the Dodgers scored a run on three consecutive one-out singles. They had men at first and second with one out and the score 5-2 when Carrara stepped to the plate. Carrara bunted the first pitch straight back, the second pitch down the third base line, and the third nowhere-he whiffed miserably but did act ticked off about the K just like a major-league hitter. We were informed by the ESPN staff tha Carrara had not bunted successfully since 1997. That's a bit misleading given that he did not pitch in the majors at all in 1998 and '99 and that he only pitched 8 games in 2000. Oh, and he bunted successfully twice in four plate appearances over two games in 1997 (his only career bunts in 29 plate appearances). He did look rather pathetic though. Lead-off hitter Marquis "Player" Grissom flied out to extinguish the rally.

It is now the top of the fifth and the score remains 5-2 in favor of the Giants. The good news for the Dodgers is that Carrara has thrown 2-1/3 scoreless innings. The bad news is that since Tracy had no other long reliever in the bullpen that he could rely on and was set to go, Carrara had to bat, and a potential rally was lost. The reason that Kevin Beirne was not summoned was that he has now been pressed into starter duty due to injuries to Ishii and Brown. Quantrill and Orosco typically go less than an inning an outing. The rest of the staff was either not rested, not considered reliable, or too young to be put into the situation.

The Dodgers had better come up with a solution and fast because they need to exploit every possible opportunity and if that means pulling a long reliever in the second inning than it must be done. The Dodgers find themselves in a similar painted corner to the Yankees though their problems stemmed from a lost closer (Rivera) not two lost starters. Either way, the middle innings guys are being enlisted elsewhere and that spells trouble for the middle innings. Of course, the Yankees are about to clinch their division and have the luxury of sorting this out in the last two weeks. He dodgers must fight for their playoff lives.

Tracy will probably have to rely on a yet untested arm. The best bet may be Robert Ellis who pitched 19 games (17 starts) for the Diamondbacks last year: he has pitched a bit in the majors and knows most of the Giants hitters. Tracy's unpreparedness displayed in Carrara's inept bunt is ostensible in two major ways: 1) even with expanded rosters he does not have enough long relievers and 2) he never thought to get his relievers batting/bunting time (or at least not enough). I guess he really cannot be blamed for not doing a double-switch when he brought in Carrara but I wonder if he thought about it. That sort of poor preparation will not win the Dodgers the wild card and belies the great job that he has done with the team all year.

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