Three games to go before the regular season ends for the Dodgers, their focus turns completely to the playoffs, and still the questions mount?
On the same day the Dodgers said Andre Ethier was unlikely to play during the season’s final weekend, they went back to reliever Paco Rodriguez for the first time in eight days.
And the results were not encouraging.
Rodriguez gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, Angel Pagan’s solo shot in the eighth proving the difference Thursday in the Giants’ 3-2 victory at AT&T Park.
Pagan didn’t exactly crush his homer, but he hit it sharply, the drive actually hitting the top of the wall near the 339-foot mark in left and ricocheting out. One out later, Brandon Belt looped a double down the line and Rodriguez was done.
Rodriguez, 22, has been phenomenal this season, but he was still in college a year ago last spring and never before had appeared in more than 32 games. Thursday marked his 75th appearance.
The Dodgers saw he was faltering and gave him his first extended rest of the season prior to Thursday. But in his last 10 games, Rodriguez has a 7.71 earned-run average. In his previous 65 games, he had a 1.85 ERA. He’s given up five home runs on the season, three coming in those last 10 games.
Edinson Volquez started for the Dodgers, and what’s next for him covers the spectrum. It might have been his last appearance as a Dodger. Or they could take a look at him in relief Sunday. They could even put him on their playoff roster as a long reliever.
Volquez at least kept himself in the postseason conversation with his performance Thursday. He looked very sharp in his first four scoreless innings, and then wobbled some in the fifth.
He gave up a pair of runs after Nick Noonan led off with a single. He went to second on a Volquez wild pitch, to third on right-hander Tim Lincecum’s sacrifice bunt and scored when Pagan bounced out to second.
Volquez walked Gregor Blanco, and he scored to tie it on a double by Belt.
Volquez left after the fifth, having allowed two runs, four hits and three walks. He struck out four. In his last two starts, Volquez gave up three earned runs in 11 1/3 innings.
Not brilliant, maybe, but good enough to keep the Dodgers thinking.
For the second consecutive night, the Dodgers were opposed by a veteran who might have been making his final start for the Giants.
Lincecum will be a free agent at the end of the season and has said he intends to test themarket. Not sure how the market will be for someone who finished the season 10-14 with a 4.37 ERA.
The Dodgers scored single runs against him in the first and fourth innings. In the first, Carl Crawford tripled and scored on an Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on back-to-back doubles by Juan Uribe and Mark Ellis.
Lincecum went seven innings for the Giants, surrendering two runs, eight hits and two walks, with six strikeouts.