New Hitting Coach, Dodgers Get One 1-0 win

The Dodgers lead the league in hitting coaches, but rank near the bottom in most offensive categories. Now, there's a little more room in the batting cage. The team dismissed Jeff Pentland as hitting coach prior to Wednesday's game, a 1-0 victory for the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw over Tim Lincecum and the Giants at AT&T Park.

Executives, coaches and players acknowledged that Pentland wasn't the only reason for the Dodgers underachieving offense this year. Still, when the numbers are this bad, a coaching taking the fall is inevitable.

General manager Ned Colletti and manager Don Mattingly discussed the move during the All-Star break, but elected to wait a week to see if the results would improve.

They didn't. The Dodgers scored 12 runs in five games after the break, half coming in the first game. They've been shut out 10 times, exceeded only by San Diego and Washington.

The Dodgers went into Wednesday ranked 27th out of 30 teams in runs scored, 17th in batting average, 20th in on-base percentage, and 26th in slugging percentage.

"It's a lack of results, and in some cases a lack of focus," Colletti told reporters in San Francisco. "You hope with a new voice, somebody sees that a good man was let go, and you point to yourself that I've got to be better at what I do.

"We don't lack for talent. Are we the '27 Yankees? No. Look at the offensive production of the club and certainly some guys have fallen short, not of expectations not warranted but by the type of performance of the past. This is not about blame. It's being a new voice and a realization that it's got to be better."

The 64-year-old Pentland, in his 15th season as a major league batting coach, told the Los Angeles Times that he thought owner Frank McCourt was responsible for his dismissal, not the baseball-operations department.

"Frank was informed of our decision," Colletti said, rebuffing the claim. "He did not make the decision."

Pentland was born in Hollywood and grew up a Dodgers fan. He lives in the Phoenix area, where he owns and operates a private hitting facility with numerous major league hitters among his clients.

Andre Ethier said he will still use Pentland during the offseason.

Since 2007, the Dodgers have employed six primary hitting coaches: Eddie Murray, Bill Mueller, Mike Easler, Mattingly, Pentland and now Dave Hansen. Pentland and Hansen were de-facto assistant hitting coaches before being promoted to the top spot.

Manny Mota also remains on staff as a hitting instructor, working primarily with Latin players such as Juan Uribe and Rafael Furcal.

Was three hitting coaches overkill?

"I personally like it," said Tony Gwynn, Jr., the day before the dismissal. "I know some guys might not like it. For me, sometimes you can be reached with the same words, just used a little differently.

"That's where the advantage comes in, having three different guys."

Slump Broken
The Dodgers salvaged the final game of a three game set in San Francisco after dropping six consecutive games to the Giants, the longest drought since 1969. Los Angeles will play 37 of its remaining 65 games against divisional opponents, including seven contests with the Giants.

--LHP Clayton Kershaw continued his dominance of the Giants, pitching eight scoreless innings while allowing three hits, all singles, while walking one and striking out 12. He was removed after 111 pitches. Kershaw's career ERA is 1.41 against the Giants, the best of any pitcher ever against that San Francisco with a minimum of 50 innings. Kershaw's scoreless streak at AT&T Park is 24.2 innings. In his last five starts there, his ERA is 1.01 and he has struck out 38. He's 11-4 this season.

All-Time ERA vs. San Francisco Giants
    (min. 50.0 IP)
 
1. Clayton Kershaw	1.41
2. Kent Tekulve         1.50
3. Tim Burke            1.59
4. Mike Cuellar         1.65
5. Goose Gossage        1.78
6. John Franco          1.90
The Dodgers bullpen has done a remarkable job this season, ranking among the Major League leaders in ERA (2.93, 5th), opponents' batting average (.217, 3rd), strikeouts (123, 2nd) and shutouts (4, 2nd) in 15 July games (6-9). The bullpen had their scoreless innings streak snapped at 18.0 frames Tuesday night, but has posted a 1.79 ERA (8 ER/39.1 IP) in 18 games since June 27. Los Angeles relievers have limited opposing hitters to a .176 batting average (25-for-142) with 43 strikeouts and just 14 walks in that span.

  --Kenley Jansen extended his scoreless innings streak to 11.2 in the second game of the series but Matt Guerrier's scoreless ninth in relief of Kershaw bests him by one inning (April 1-23) for the longest by a Dodger reliever this season and currently the sixth-longest active scoreless stretch in the NL.

  --Mike MacDougal has not allowed a run in 9.2 innings over his last 11 appearances since June 18. Overall, the 34-year-old ranks eighth among qualifying NL relievers with a 1.62 ERA in 41 games this season.

--RHP Javy Guerra secured the save with the toughest test yet in his young career as rookie closer. Inheriting not only a one-run game, but the pressure of a 1-0 game after Clayton Kershaw's gem, Guerra retired the middle of the Giants' lineup in order. Two of the outs were hit well, but the Dodgers outfielders were positioned perfectly.

--C Dioner Navarro, who has only 11 total RBIs, delivered the only run in a 1-0 victory for the third time this year. Navarro hit a solo home run in the eighth inning on June 19, beating the Astros, 1-0. Navarro hit a walk-off single on July 9 to beat the Padres, 1-0, after Juan Uribe broke up a no-hitter with a two-out double in the ninth. Then on Wednesday, Navarro's home run in the seventh inning was the only run in a 1-0 victory over the Giants.

--RHP Hiroki Kuroda is in the fourth season in the United States, but Friday will be only the third time he's faced the Nationals. He's 1-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts, one in each city.

--The Dodgers released minor league pitcher Merkin Valdez.

BY THE NUMBERS: 2 -- Number of Dodgers with a "Splash Hit" into McCovey Cove at AT&T Park. The first was Todd Hundley in 2000. The second was Dioner Navarro on Wednesday in the seventh inning. There have been 24 "Splash Hits" by the opposition in the Giants ballpark. Barry Bonds hit 35 into the water in his career.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "As a player, you've got to know we didn't get our job done. I know somebody takes the fall, somebody will take the hit. It always made me feel horrible. I know it wasn't their fault. He did everything he could do to help them. It doesn't mean he's not trying or not capable. It's just his voice isn't being heard and it gets down to the bottom line." -- Manager Don Mattingly, on the firing of Jeff Pentland as hitting coach. Mattingly and Pentland worked closely together as hitting coaches the previous three years.

NOTE TO QUOTE II: "Clayton's ridiculously good. I don't think he's reached his potential, just from watching him. He's mixing up different pitches. Sometimes he'll come at us with like a 90 mph slider like last time we faced off against him, then this time he's using an 83 mph pitch. You can never really get the same gauge off of what he's going to throw." Giant's ace Tim Lincecum.

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