Dodgers seek answers to struggling offense
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers had one of the best offenses in baseball during the season's first month, but they find themselves in a rut in recent games.
After averaging 4.76 runs per game in April, the Dodgers' offensive output dropped to 4.11 runs/game in May and 3.89 runs/game in June. The club's winning percentage has dropped in each subsequent month.
The Dodgers led the Majors in slugging percentage in April, but dropped to 11th for May and 12th in June.
"We want to have a better quality of at-bats, up and down the lineup," manager Don Mattingly said. "When we were going good, we were having them up and down the lineup, and that's what we need to do. Make the guy fight for every out. It's not that complicated, more just the mentality of team baseball."
The norm in recent games was Thursday against the Rangers. Starting pitcher Zack Greinke tossed seven shutout innings, but left with a no-decision as he departed in a 0-0 tie. Los Angeles eked out a 1-0 win on a walk-off balk. In the decisive ninth inning, the Dodgers didn't record a hit -- scoring after a pair of walks, followed by a double play and then the balk.
The Dodgers' bats have gone quiet as the weather warms for summer.
Leadoff man Joc Pederson entered Friday's series opener with the Giants hitting .162 in his previous 12 games with zero home runs, after hitting 17 homers in his first 53 games.
Slugger Adrian Gonzalez was hitting .109 in his previous 12 games and has two home runs since May 6 after blasting eight homers in April.
Jimmy Rollins has struggled in his first season in Los Angeles, hitting .200 on the year and .132 in his previous 12 games. Catcher Yasmani Grandal is hitting .205 in the last 12 games; outfielder Andre Ethier is hitting .196 in his last 16.
Even when the team has its share of baserunners, the Dodgers are hitting .227 as a team with two outs and runners in scoring position.
"That's something that comes and goes," Mattingly said. "The main thing is with that stat is just keep getting them out there."
Mattingly has attempted to shuffle the lineup in order to jump-start the Dodgers and made another change on Friday. Yasiel Puig hit leadoff for the second time all season, moving Pederson to the No. 2 slot, where he had one at-bat in his career. In addition, Howie Kendrick is hitting fifth for the second time this season
"We wanted to flip Yas and Joc and see what that looked like," Mattingly said. "At this point, we're just trying to get something that sparks us a little bit."
The Dodgers' relief corps continued its march back to full health as a trio of arms took the mound for rehab outings at Triple-A Oklahoma City on Friday.
Pedro Baez started the game with a scoreless inning, allowing one hit and striking out one. He threw 12 pitches, 11 for strikes.
Joel Peralta followed for his second inning in as many days and allowed a pair of hits and one run in an inning of work. Peralta threw 14 pitches, 11 for strikes.
Finally, right-hander Brandon League threw 23 pitches in two-thirds of an inning. He did not allow a hit but he was wild, walking two hitters and plunking another. A run crossed the plate when his replacement, Dustin Richardson, walked in a run.
In addition, Cuban infielder Hector Olivera was 4-for-5 at the plate and was a double short of the cycle. He's hitting .444 since being called up to Triple-A.