LOS ANGELES -- The day after Paul Goldschmidt homered off the Dodgers this spring, a writer mentioned to new manager Dave Roberts that, no matter what the analytics say, don't pitch to the D-backs' slugger.
Roberts learned the hard way on Tuesday, when the final home opener of Vin Scully's broadcasting career was ruined by yet another Goldschmidt home run in the eighth inning of a 4-2 loss to the D-backs at 1000 Vin Scully Avenue (also known as Dodger Stadium).
Going back to last year, Goldschmidt has homered in four of his last five games against the Dodgers. In 19 games last year against them, he hit .397 with eight homers and 19 RBIs. In 10 games at Dodger Stadium, he hit .450 with five homers and eight RBIs.
Of Goldschmidt's 101 career hits against Los Angeles, 22 are home runs. He also added an RBI grounder in the ninth inning as the Dodgers' bullpen wasted six scoreless innings from rookie Kenta Maeda.
An inning before Goldschmidt's blast on a 3-0 Chris Hatcher fastball, No. 9 hitter Nick Ahmed tied the game with a home run into the first row of box seats in left off a Pedro Baez changeup.
So, while Goldschmidt did his usual demolition job on the hosts, the real issue in the second week of the season is the Los Angeles bullpen, which has suffered three of the club's four losses.
Every reliever not named Kenley Jansen has allowed a run. The combined bullpen ERA is 6.64. The 'pen has allowed five home runs in 21 2/3 innings, two each by Hatcher and Baez.
While his bullpen didn't provide enough defense on Tuesday, Roberts defended his relievers, saying it's too early to bump Hatcher out of his eighth-inning setup role.
"Right now, I'm not thinking about that at all," said Roberts. "Right now you want to give these guys confidence. We're going to need them if we're going to have a great season. For me, it's way too early for me to be thinking about changing roles.
"Right now, they're not throwing the ball as well as they'd like to or we'd like them to. For me, it's a matter of continuing to run them out there. I'm seeing certain pitches not being executed, and over a certain time, if that continues, then you have to entertain [a change]."
Roberts said Ahmed hit a changeup from Baez that he thought was so low that catcher A.J. Ellis would need to block it. The manager was less forgiving on the Goldschmidt homer.
"With Hatch ... he made a mistake, a fastball with Goldschmidt, 3-0, a hitter like that everyone in the ballpark knows he's swinging," Roberts said. "Definitely a pitch he'd like back."
Hatcher, who allowed the home run to Trevor Brown in San Francisco after taking over Ross Stripling's no-hitter Friday night, was booed loudly by the sellout crowd.
"I deserved it," the reliever said. "We've got to pick it up as a group, and I have to myself. The rollercoaster has to stop and we have to start putting up zeros."
Hatcher said he wasn't challenging Goldschmidt, but trying to make him chase a pitch that was mislocated.
"It missed, left it belt high," Hatcher said. "Our job is simple, put up zeros. I've got to tighten it up. Just got to make better pitches, and right now I'm not making very good pitches."