Plays that weren't made are the ones that will haunt Dodgers
No one promised a Gold Glove meant a sterling defensive performance every night.
Matt Kemp didn’t exactly mess up, he just didn’t make the plays. Didn’t step up when the Dodgers needed it most Saturday night.
This is not to lay the blame of the stunning 7-6 loss to the Florida Marlins at Kemp’s feet.
After a terrific night by the bullpen, reliever George Sherrill came in the ninth and could not get a single batter out. Struggling with his mechanics all spring, he was again a mess.
A hit batter, a walk to a hitter trying to bunt, a two-run double off the wall and a final game-winning sacrifice fly.
Sherrill is a mystery the Dodgers need to figure out in a hurry, particularly with left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo still on the shelf.
But with Jonathan Broxton having pitched the last two games, Manager Joe Torre decided he wasn’t going to push it. It was Sherrill’s game.
And he might have gotten out of it with a win, if Kemp -- who hit a towering home run in the top of the inning -- had been able to make a couple plays.
The first opportunity he had was on pinch-hitter Ronny Paulino’s shot to the wall in center. Kemp broke and appeared to have a play on the ball.
But the ball was hit to a spot in center where the wall makes an odd drop back a couple feet -- it is a football stadium -- and Kemp appeared to misjudge how much room he had. He couldn’t pull it in.
Two runs scored to tie it.
Then Jorge Cantu hit a fly to Kemp in medium-shallow center. Kemp has a powerful arm, but still with no outs, the Marlins decided to gamble and send Chris Coghlan from third.
A good throw and Coghlan is probably out. Kemp fired home, but several feet up the first-base side instead of third. Catcher Russell Martin had no play.
On a night when Andre Ethier had hit a dramatic two-run, go-ahead single in the eighth, the Dodgers were left with a heartbreaking loss. And thinking about plays they didn’t make.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Matt Kemp tries to make a diving catch on double by Florida's Wes Helms during Friday's game. Credit: Doug Benc / Getty Images