Thompson, Culberson make most of limited time

May 10th, 2016

LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers didn't find much success at the plate against left-hander Steven Matz in Monday night's 4-2 loss to the Mets, but a pair of platoon players were at least able to provide half the hits, all the RBIs, and some amused looks during lineup announcements.

As Country music star Keith Urban introduced them, they were "Tracy Thompson" and "Charlie Cumberson."

In reality, Trayce Thompson and Charlie Culberson arrived to Dodger Stadium set to do the job they have been given since Opening Day: Take over a premium position in the field against a left-handed starter.

Thompson had the team's only RBIs with his two-run homer in the fourth inning, an opposite-field shot that found the shallowest part of the right-field stands.

"He's got great stuff. Their whole entire pitching staff has great stuff," Thompson said. "You just got to try to keep it simple, look for a fastball. I saw three my first at-bat and two my second at-bat. They were mainly staying away from me the whole night. My first at-bat, I probably just tried to do too much. Second at-bat, I just trusted myself and was fortunate to get a good swing on it and hit it out."

Culberson went 2-for-2 before being pulled for a pinch-hitter once Matz's night was over. He also flashed some impressive leather around the infield.

Unlike Culberson, Thompson managed to stay in for an at-bat against Mets reliever Jim Henderson despite lefty-swinging Joc Pederson still being available, which manager Dave Roberts attributed to a belief that the earlier home run made Thompson vs. Henderson a better matchup than Pederson vs. Jerry Blevins, who was warming up in the bullpen.

Thompson has started in center field for the Dodgers in all but one game against starting southpaws, while Culberson has gotten the nod at shortstop in five of the nine such games. Roberts has been liberal in playing the matchups this season, as evidenced by Adrian Gonzalez being the sole left-handed hitter in the lineup against Matz.

"I'm not playing every day, so I'm just trying to keep it simple, work hard, and luckily enough, it's been paying off lately," Thompson said. "Just got to keep it going tomorrow and do it again."

Playing those matchups hasn't led to much success on offense for the Dodgers, at least at home. In 14 home games, the team has only twice scored more than three runs. The last time they exceeded that mark was a 7-3 win over the Giants on April 15.

It's a problem that doesn't seem to have a solution beyond patience, which Roberts preached throughout a recent 1-6 homestand. The message has reached at least one player.

"I think hitting is contagious," Thompson said. "Guys are probably trying to do too much right now. That's usually the case. We have some really established veterans in here that have been through this, so I think we'll be OK."