Volquez struggles in losing Dodgers debut
Former Padres hurler goes four innings, falls to 0-5 vs. Rockies this year
DENVER -- Reclamation projects Edison Volquez and Carlos Marmol continue to be works in progress.
Volquez's first start with the Dodgers didn't last long or go particularly well, but manager Don Mattingly saw more good than bad in Wednesday night's 7-5 loss to the Rockies that snapped a seven-game winning streak.
"He was OK, really," Mattingly said after Volquez allowed four runs in his first two-plus innings, then retired the last six batters he faced. "Part of the reason we brought in Edinson, or Stephen Fife, is to manipulate who certain guys will pitch against."
The winning margin turned out to be the three runs allowed in the seventh inning by Marmol, like Volquez a former All-Star the Dodgers are trying to help recapture his glory days.
"Obviously, he gave up runs, but he's been really good against lefties and those guys in particular," Mattingly said. "It didn't work out."
Marmol came into the game without allowing a run in his previous 9 2/3 innings, showing progress in many of the same areas Volquez must conquer.
Volquez is part of the Dodgers' plan to go through September without a true "rotation," but rather a six-man pool of starters to be inserted and withdrawn depending on competition matchups, the need for rest and injuries -- like the stiff back that forced the scratch of Hyun-Jin Ryu on Friday night.
The batting orders Mattingly fashioned the last two games of this series, along with the six-man "rotation," are examples of how influential the statistical analysis of front-office number cruncher Alex Tamin has become in decision making.
But for that to come into play, Volquez must become pitching coach Rick Honeycutt's latest successful reclamation project. So far, Volquez has been moved from the first-base side of the rubber to the third-base side in an attempt to provide better deception, and he's worked on keeping a direct line to home plate instead of spinning off toward first base.
"They hit some balls hard, but he made some good pitches, we thought," Mattingly said. "I thought he threw the ball OK. He threw some balls the way we want and some not as consistent. We're trying to get him more consistent so his confidence grows and our confidence grows."
There seemed to be no confidence shortage with Volquez, a former 17-game winner and All-Star who became available to the Dodgers last week when the Padres released him.
"I was doing everything they wanted me to do," Volquez said of Honeycutt's instructions. "I've got to execute pitches, keep the ball down, especially in this ballpark."
Volquez drew this test despite an 8.34 ERA at Coors Field and allowed six hits in only four innings, striking out four without a walk. Three of the hits went for extra bases, although a home run by Todd Helton would have been a towering flyout in almost any other ballpark.
"I used to be like this in '08 [when he won 17], throwing from the third-base side, but I moved to the firstbase side [after 2009 Tommy John surgery], and now I'm back to third and I'm more compact to the plate and it's harder to see my hands," Volquez said.
"I'm really happy. I see myself back '08 when I had my best year in the big leagues. The other way, I open my front side and they see my hand right away. The third-base side, I hide the ball and keep my line to the plate."
After going 0-4 against the Rockies with the Padres this season, Volquez fell to 0-5 against Colorado, the first pitcher to go 0-5 against the Rockies in a season.
For the second consecutive game, the Dodgers fielded a lineup lacking star power. Specifically, Yasiel Puig again was resting his strained left knee, only to strike out as a pinch-hitter representing the go-ahead run in a three-run eighth-inning rally.
Left-handed hitters Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez and Andre Ethier were sitting against tough Colorado lefty Jorge De La Rosa, but all were used later as pinch-hitters.
That should have made for a pretty imposing bench, but the four pinch-hitters went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. The starting lineup had only one player with more than eight home runs -- Hanley Ramirez with 15. The offense was led by the newest Dodger, Michael Young, who had three singles and two RBIs. Juan Uribe had a double, single and RBI.
The Rockies added to their lead in the seventh inning against Marmol, who allowed three runs, one on a balk called by first-base umpire Tony Randazzo.
"My slider missed tonight, I made a couple mistakes and you can't do that here," Marmol said. "But I'm pretty happy with what they've done with me here. He [Honeycutt] told me what to do and I feel a lot better, I'm throwing a lot more strikes. One thing I told Volquez, [Honeycutt] knows how to do mechanics. He can put it together."