There was something intentional to Javy Guerra
Tough news this, Javy Guerra being human and all. The nerve.
Guerra, the Dodgers' rookie sensation, is no longer perfect. He now owns his first major-league loss, after walking in the winning run in the 10th inning Tuesday.
Although fans are certainly disappointed with the 5-4 defeat against the Diamondbacks, there is no possible way anyone could truly be disappointed in Guerra, who has saved 18 games in 19 chances.
But he was asked to do two things for the first time Tuesday, and he failed at both, although it's very possible one led to the other.
For the first time this season, Guerra was asked to pitch two complete innings. Manager Don Mattingly's logic was simple enough: In Guerra's first appearance since throwing one inning Saturday, he had breezed through a perfect ninth on just 12 pitches.
"For myself, going back out really wasn't even a question with Javy," Mattingly said. "His pitch count was low, he was throwing the ball good, he'd had a couple of days off. I knew he was rested and able to go.
"But seeing how he reacts ... obviously everything you see now is a learning experience."
The 10th got off to a poor start when the sensitive Gerald Parra hit a soft single to left. He was sacrificed to second, and then Guerra struck out Justin Upton.
All seemed well enough, but then the Dodgers asked Guerra to do something else he had never done in his 41-game career -– issue an intentional walk. Neither had he thrown one this season at double-A Chattanooga. In fact, in his eight seasons in the minors, he had thrown a total of five intentional walks.
It got him all out of whack. After he intentionally walked Miguel Montero, he walked rookie Paul Goldschmidt on four pitches to load the bases. Then he threw four consecutive balls to Chris Young to force in the winning run.
"You have to be better than that," Guerra said. "I have to make the adjustment. I was throwing like an A-ball pitcher."
Counting the intentional walk, Guerra threw 13 consecutive balls. By the time he got the final painful out, he had thrown a career-high 38 pitches.
"It's part of the process for him and us, and it is part of the experiences we're going through," Mattingly said. "I'm sure Javy is going to learn from it and bounce back.
"I don't know if he got tired, or his pitch count got up, or it's just uncharacteristic and he couldn't get the ball where he wanted to."
Guerra is an intense, finely focused pitcher. He seemed to lose that edge after the intentional walk. Of course, a reliever has to be able to issue the occasional intentional walk and still be able to come back and get the ball down.
It's a learning experience when you're a rookie, but, as Mattingly said, it goes both ways.
-- Steve Dilbeck
Photo: Javy Guerra. Credit: Kirby Lee / U.S. Presswire.