Defensive miscues loom large for Dodgers
Missed opportunities proved to be difference in eighth inning on Friday
LOS ANGELES -- After throwing seven scoreless innings, Brett Anderson was cruising into the eighth inning, clutching a 1-0 lead over the Cardinals on Friday night.
However, it was that eighth inning where two infield ground balls led to a pair of runs and a 2-1 loss for Anderson and the Dodgers.
After a leadoff walk to Yadier Molina, Cardinals right fielder Jason Heyward hit a grounder up the middle off the mound. Veteran shortstop Jimmy Rollins fielded the ball on the right field side of second base at nearly full speed. Rather than take the out at first base, Rollins tried to flip the ball over to Kiké Hernandez at second to cut off the lead runner.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, I go to first. But in crossing, Kiké yelled for it, I changed my mind," Rollins said.
Rollins' flip wasn't on-line, however, and Hernandez, who said he "probably called for the flip a little late," couldn't field the throw and everyone was safe on the play.
"I'm going fast, he's going fast and at that point, you can't throw it to [Hernandez]," Rollins said. "You have to throw it way in front of him and the direction I was going, I felt like I had to throw it into left field. It's not a play you practice much and I failed at it tonight."
The two combo men haven't played much together this season, as usual second baseman Howie Kendrick was out with a right knee sprain. Hernandez, who played second base throughout his entire Minor League career, has made starts at six different positions, but Friday marked his third start this season at second base.
After a Tony Cruz sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third with only one out in the inning, Kolten Wong pulled an 0-1 slider to Adrian Gonzalez at first base.
"He's a pull hitter. Hits the ball left, you tip your cap to him," Rollins said.
Anderson, who only has six career putouts, including one in the first inning on Friday, slipped on the mound in an attempt to cover first base.
"I don't know," Anderson said when asked if he could've covered the base in time. "I didn't know if I was going to beat Carpenter [in the first] but I beat him. I know I'm not the most athletic guy in the world but I beat him. So it would've been close."
By the time the ball reached Gonzalez at first, pinch-runner Pete Kozma was well on his way to scoring from third. With no play at the plate, and Anderson slow to get over, Gonzalez didn't make any play at first and never saw Hernandez covering first base behind him.
"We probably would have had him," Hernandez said. "That's kind of an unusual play. The pitcher usually covers and he didn't see the pitcher and he was worried about the other runner and he didn't see me there."
Gonzalez held the ball, and the next hitter, Matt Carpenter, hit a sacrifice fly for what ended up being the go-ahead run in the game.
Probably more frustrating for Anderson was that he was playing to his strengths. As a ground-ball pitcher, Anderson has a career 1.78 groundout-to-fly out ratio, much higher than the league average of 1.09. Friday's start was no different, as he induced 11 groundouts to three fly outs on the night.
"A couple pitches don't go my way, I slip on the mound and it turns into two runs and a loss," Anderson said.
But it was those two ground balls that weren't outs that kept Anderson from his first win since May 8.
"Those plays could be made and should be made, but they weren't and that did us in," Rollins said.