Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 6/27/12
For 15 months, Don Mattingly has made the most of his resources during a transitional Dodger phase, easing the evolution of a team awash in off-the field issues into a competitive, late-surging team in 2011 before emerging as an outright divisional contender this spring. Los Angeles is 125-112 overall in Mattingly's tenure and 68-43 on their last 111 games dating back to August 2. His current resources will be stretched taut after a 1-8 roadtrip that ended in disorder with his team being shut out three straight games in San Francisco and middle-of-the-order hitter Andre Ethier suffering what was reported to be a left oblique injury by broadcaster Vin Scully on Fox Sports West after sliding awkwardly into second based while unsuccessfully trying to break up a double play in the first inning. With the extent of Ethier's injury not yet known, Mattingly is hoping he won't have to deal with another significant hole alongside that of reigning that of MVP runner-up Matt Kemp, whose return from a hamstring injury before the All-Star Break is questionable. "It looks like an oblique," Mattingly said after the game. "I haven't really talked to Sue Falcone, Dodgers trainer as far as probably having an MRI tomorrow to find out the severity of it. We'll kind of go from there." With the three consecutive shutouts, the Dodgers' scoreless streak reached 30 innings as pressure continues to mount on an overburdened lineup and pitching staff. As if that was not enough, the three-game sweep by the Giants left the teams tied for first place in the NL West with the Arizona Diamondbacks lurking from a five-game distance, the result of an 11-18 Dodgers stretch since the 7.5-game first place perch on May 27. It was the first time in the Dodgers' history in Los Angeles that they were shut out in three consecutive games. "It's always been about us. Take care of our business," Mattingly said of having to ward off the Giants in the suddenly tight NL West on Prime Ticket's Dodgers Live Pregame Show. They will be severely hamstrung by their resources in an effort to do so. A makeshift lineup once again will be forced to rely on continued unlikely contributions with pillars Kemp and potentially Ethier missing time. Elian Herrera, who replaced Ethier in the field in the bottom of the second inning, has seen his average plummet by 55 points as part of a 2-for-31 slump but will likely continue to see time at the plate due to the scarcity of viable options. 36-year old Jerry Hairston, Jr. has held up with a six-game hitting streak and enters the homestand with a .313 average, though as a career .260 platoon hitter who has been pushed into every day action, he carries the risk of overexposure in the second half of the season. James Loney and Juan Uribe are a combined 0-for-their-last-30, while the team is last in major league baseball with six homeruns in June. They've grounded into 73 double plays this season, the second-most in baseball. They'll also return home to face the New York Mets, whose 17 runs in a 17-1 thrashing of the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday represent more than the 13 combined runs the Dodgers scored on their recent roadtrip as L.A. scored multiple runs in only three of nine games on their Oakland-Anaheim-San Francisco California misadventure. 11-1 New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will carry a 2.31 ERA into his scheduled start Friday at Dodger Stadium; Johan Santana will appear opposite rookie Nathan Eovaldi on Saturday. If there is a bright spot to be found, it's that preferred number two hitter Mark Ellis is on the verge of a minor league rehab assignment. Injured on Tyler Greene's slide into second base during a mid-May game against St. Louis, Ellis displayed his trademark patience and contact hitting near the top of the Dodgers order. Los Angeles was 22-11 in games he started. "It sounds like he's getting close to going out," Mattingly said to reporters. "It seems like there's a chance of getting him back before the All-Star break." The Dodgers will take any major league caliber player afforded to them at this point, and could be forced to re-call Scott Van Slyke or Trent Oeltjen should Ethier's injury project as anything more than day-to-day. Until Kemp returns healthy from the hamstring injury he may be close to rehabilitating, according to Dodgers.com, this is a Los Angeles team that will be very fortunate to ride out the remainder of the first half in first place, where they'll welcome the Mets and Cincinnati Reds as part of a seven-game home schedule that closes out the pre-All Star slate. Chris Capuano, a potential NL All-Star with a 9-2 record and 2.60 ERA will look to the stem the tide against Chris Young and the Mets, a game that will air on Prime Ticket Thursday, beginning with Dodgers Live at 6:30 p.m.
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