How about a little déjà vu.
Turn the clock back a few weeks ago to Opening Night at the historic Sydney Cricket Ground in Australia.
That’s when Diamondbacks’ left-hander Wade Miley opened the Dodgers’ second inning by walking Adrian Gonzalez in a scoreless game. Scott Van Slyke followed with a double to left and Gonzalez came across with the opening run of the season.
Later in the fourth, Van Slyke lifted a Miley fast ball just inside the 321 foot sign at the right field foul line for a two-run bomb and that proved the game-winner in a two run Los Angeles victory.
Fast forward to Saturday night in Chase Field and Van Slyke again was the catalyst in the Dodgers’ 8-5 victory over the Diamondbacks before 38,374.
This time, the pattern was nearly the same.
In the Dodgers’ second, Gonzalez, as he did in the opener, walked to open the second and Van Slyke followed with a double off the left field fence. That set up a two-run single from Juan Uribe singled to right and that scored Gonzalez and Van Slyke.
Gonzalez then followed in the third with his second, two-run home run in as many nights and that pushed the Dodgers into a 4-0 lead. From that point, a pinch home run from the D-backs’ A. J. Pollock in the fifth, RBI single from Cliff Pennington in the eighth and a three-run ninth generated an offense which was too little and too late.
For his part, Miley indicated his game Saturday went south quickly.
“I got behind hitters in the count and against a good team, like the Dodgers, they will beat you,” he said. “It’s not where I went to be and I just have to make better pitches.”
With the loss, the Diamondbacks have dropped 10 of their first 14 games, including 1-7 at home, and occupy the National League West basement.
“Guys are pressing and trying to pick each up,” was the observation from manager Kirk Gibson after Saturday’s loss. “They’re putting pressure on themselves and we need to reverse this trend. Somehow, we have to get over this, get a spark and win some games.”
For the second night in a row, the Diamondbacks did not generate much offense. That is, until the ninth when a three spot made this game closer than the final score indicated.
Leaving runners in critical positions and striking out 12 times, the limited opportunities presented early were wasted.
In the third, Paul Goldschmidt popped to first with runners on second and third and two out. At that point, the D-backs were down 4-0 and could have some help from the reigning RBI king in the National League.
Later in the fourth, Cliff Pennington left two runners on when he flied to center to end the frame. In the fifth, Miguel Montero fanned with runners on first and third and two out to end that threat.
In the ninth, RBIs came from Montero with a sacrifice fly and a two-run double from Mark Trumbo.
The Diamondbacks will try and salvage the final game of the L. A. series Sunday afternoon when Trevor Cahill (0-3, 7.90 ERA) opposes former D-back Dan Haren (1-0, 0.75 ERA).
For the second game of the current weekend series, Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly made a subtle line-up change to his starting line-up.
In a quick glance, the change would represent just a righty/lefty situation and that‘s all not that usual.
Here, Mattingly sat left-handed hitting Carl Crawford and inserted right-handed hitting Scott Van Slyke in left field against the D-backs’ Wade Miley.
After Van Slyke reached Miley for a double and home run in the season opener in Sydney to power L. A.’s 3-1 win. After that game, Miley was asked if he had “a history” with Van Slyke and he responded, “I have now.”
Van Slyke was in the Dodgers’ line-up against Miley Saturday and hitting fifth, regarded a power slot in the batting order. The insertion was not by accident.
Coming into play Saturday, Van Slyke was 5-for-11 off of Miley and all five hits were for extra bases. That included three doubles, two home runs and five RBIs.
Mattingly offered on explanation why certain hitters have success against certain pitchers.
“Many times, the swing fits the pitcher’s style,” he said. “In most cases, it just happens. Baseball is a difficult game and explanations do not come easily. But, I would say the swing of the hitter fits the style of the pitcher.”
On Saturday, Van Slyke went 1-for-2 and walk against Miley and proved a valuable set-up hitter for the rest of the Dodgers’ line-up.
“(Van Sykle’s) hurt us, that’s for sure, but we go over numbers of all the hitters,” said Diamondbacks’ manager Kirk Gibson. “There are some nights this will happen and some hitters have better success against a certain pitcher.”
Though he did not mention, one look at the way Paul Goldschmidt has handled the Giants’ Tim Lincecum over the past three years supports the theory of the ability of one hitter to take down an individual pitcher on a consistent basis.