That is the exact reasoning behind the "patience" manager Joe Torre continues to preach: make the starter work hard, run his pitch count up and when he leaves you face the bullpen which, by definition, is likely not as tough as the starter.
Simple in theory, but hard in practice.
Sometimes we think of Jeff Kent as a antisocial old curmudgeon but you don't get to be the all-time second baseman home run leader by just being grumpy. Here is what he said about the team's lack of patience:
"In reality, it's a catch between patience and being aggressive. There is that fine line. There is a time to be patient and a time to be aggressive when you're an offensive player. There is a time to be patient when you're coaching, too. There are decisions to be made about your action plan. There is a time to be aggressive and take some action, because you can't wait too long.
?"As long as I have been playing, there has been that fine line. Coaches can say be patient, but in the same breath, they're saying (when the opposing pitcher) throws strikes early. How can you be patient when a guy throws strikes early? That's the catch, and it's hard."
This is the concept Torre has preached since even before spring training started. It seems that before he said said hello to any of the players, he outlined the plan he had in mind.
However, Tony Jackson of the Los Angeles Daily News wrote after the game, "Your humble correspondent and blog host (that would be me) is a firm believer in the Joe Torre approach to hitting, the idea that you make an opposing pitcher work as much as possible, throw as many pitches as possible and that you go to the plate with an idea of exactly what you want to do.
"The proof is in the pudding -- and in the four World Series and six A.L. pennants Torre's Yankees teams won by taking that approach.
"But you have to remember, those were VETERAN teams. This is a young team. And it's just possible that they aren't ready to take on this cerebral approach to the game just yet. Not that they won't ever be. But let's put it this way: this approach ... obviously still hasn't caught on with any consistency -- and because these guys are so young, it might not catch on anytime soon, either (read: anytime in 2008).
"These guys are still at a stage of their careers where they would prefer to keep things as simple as possible, and Torre's way is definitely not simple."
The kids faced Mark Buehrle (5-6) in the first game of the White Sox series and it didn't take him long to dispatch them, He only needed a bases-loaded sac fly in the first and an RBI single in the second. The four-run eighth inning, keyed by Jermaine Dye's two run homer, just put a deadbolt on the already locked just for door for good measure -- all in just two hours and five minutes.
He put a cherry on the cake by making pinch-hitter Mark Sweeney' his 1,000th strikeout victim in the eighth inning.
Seven of the 13 games Buehrle has started this season have been played in under 2:30 and four of them lasted 2:10. It's obvious that he's not being paid by the hour.
The American League Central leaders are having the same problem on the road that the Dodgers are. Chicago is 18-23 after being swept by the Cubs in Wrigley Field.
Lowe retired 13 consecutive batters before a single and Dye's 17th homer for a 4-1 lead. Cory Wade allowed an RBI triple and a run-scoring single to complete the scoring.
Lowe was charged with five runs and nine hits over 7.1 innings and had a season-high eight strikeouts. "He [Buehrle] is an excellent pitcher. But by the same token, I liked my chances in this game," Lowe said. "I took good rhythm into the eighth inning, which is what makes this one tough to swallow."
Delwyn Young got the Dodgers on the board with a homer in the fifth, his first since the last game of 2007.
The Dodgers were overmatched and dropped their 20th game in their last 30. They didn't help themselves by hitting into three double plays, only two of which were the normal sort.
The other came in the sixth inning when the Dodgers trailed by 2-1. Matt Kemp was on first base with one out when Kent hit a blooper that looked like it might fall into shallow center field.
However, it dropped into the glove of a diving Dwayne Wise. When he got to his feet, Kemp was still halfway between first and second and the throw easily beat Kemp to the bag, ending the inning.
Buehrle (5-6) struck out just two batters and walked none, a perfect illustration of the pitch efficiency that was as much about the Dodgers' approach at the plate as it was about his.
It was the start of a stretch in which they will play 20 consecutive games without a day off, their longest this season. Their next off day will come during next month's All-Star break.
Over the last 30 games, the pitching staff has posted a 3.70 ERA while the offense has managed only 93 runs, an average of 3.2 a game, not the mark of a legitimate pennant contender. Of the 20 defeats, 10 have come by margins of no more than two runs -- including all five of the Dodgers' losses to the Chicago Cubs, who have baseball's best record.
"There is nobody out there that we have played so far about whom we can say we have no chance against," Torre said. "That's what you have to take from what has happened so far. If you look at the Cubs, every game we have played against them could have gone either way. I think that tells these players that with a hit here or there..." and he didn't complete the obvious.
It was yet another opportunity for the second-place Dodgers to gain ground on division-leading Arizona in the NL West. The Snakes lost to Boston but continues to lead Los Angeles (35-41) by four games.
Tonight's starter, Eric Stults, would still be pitching in a Las Vegas uniform except for the fact that both Brad Penny and Hiroki Kurada came up with sore arms.
Stults knows that in the long term, he won't be in a Dodger uniform long but he's hoping to prove to the Dodgers he deserves a long-term shot somewhere down the line.
Stults earned a victory in his first Major League outing of the year Thursday at Cincinnati.
"He threw strikes, got ahead in the count a lot, and it really helps because it puts hitters on their heels a little bit," Torre said. Stults has started seven games and appeared in 18 the past two years in Los Angeles, but he compiled ERAs of 5.60 in 2006 and 5.82 in 2007.
The 28-year-old lefty went 5-6 with a 3.59 ERA in 14 starts in Vegas earlier this year and this could be Stults' best last best chance to impress.
"He's pitched important games at this level in the past, but again he's up here because we have a couple of guys on the DL, so obviously he wants to stay," Torre said. "I guess you could say every time out there he's into that 'show me what you can do.' mode."
He will face RHP Gavin Floyd (8-3, 3.19 ERA) who's 4-0 with a 3.66 ERA in his last five starts.
Score by innings Chicago 110 000 040-6 Los Angeles 000 010 000-1 Los Angeles ab r h bi ave Pierre lf 4 0 0 0 .280 Kemp cf 4 0 1 0 .289 Kent 2b 4 0 1 0 .255 Martin c 4 0 1 0 .314 Loney 1b 3 0 1 0 .311 LaRoche 3b 3 0 1 0 .278 Young rf 3 1 1 1 .286 Berroa ss 3 0 0 0 .200 Lowe p 2 0 0 0 .167 Wade p 0 0 0 0 .000 Sweeney ph 1 0 0 0 .103 Troncoso p 0 0 0 0 .000 Totals 31 1 6 1 Chicago 36 6 11 6 HR- Young (1). RBI- Young (4). LOB- Los Angeles 3, Chicago 6. Los Angeles in h r-er bb so era Lowe (5-7) 7.1 9 5-5 1 8 4.05 Wade 0.2 2 1-1 0 1 2.67 Troncoso 1.0 0 0-0 0 0 6.48 T- 2:05. Att- 43,900.Dodger Blue Notes-- The Dodgers introduced Josh Lindblom, their second-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, to the crowd before Tuesday's game. The closer is the only draftee to report above the rookie level and he will go to Great Lakes. ...First baseman James Loney has hit safely in 11 straight games, hitting .452 (19-for-42) during that stretch. He's also hit in 20 straight starts. ...Second baseman Jeff Kent and outfielder Matt Kemp have hit in seven of eight games. ...Delwyn Young's home run Tuesday was the third of his career. ...The Hall of Fame and Museum will dedicate a new Hall of Fame plaque for Dodgers great Jackie Robinson Wednesday in the Hall of Fame Gallery. Sharon Robinson, Jackie's daughter, and Rachel Robinson, his widow, will be featured guests in the Hall of Fame and Museum's Voices of the Game series. Last night marked the 61-year anniversary of Robinson's first swipe of home plate. He would go on to steal home 19 times. ...Diamond Leung of the Riverside Press-Journal reports that the Dodgers may be close to signing starting pitcher Jerome Williams to a minor-league contract and assigning him to Inland Empire. Williams could provide some organizational depth and faces long odds to get back to the big leagues. The 26-year-old right-hander was 0-5 in six starts with a 7.20 ERA for the Washington Nationals in 2007 and is 4-2 pitching for the independent Armada this season. A 10-game winner in 2004 for the Giants, Williams is 23-29 lifetime in five seasons with the Giants, Cubs and Nationals. ...From Rotoworld: "Scott Proctor's ERA is up to 6.62 after he allowed four runs without retiring a batter Saturday against the Indians. Dodgers fans don't deserve this, but at least Joe Torre is being punished for doing his best to ruin Proctor while both were with the Yankees. Unfortunately, if Proctor is done, he'll end his career having made only about $2 million. He was a late bloomer, and once he finally did emerge, the Yankees worked him mercilessly from day one." Also from Rotoworld: "Royals released RHP Brett Tomko. Let the bidding war begin."