SPORTS DIGEST: Dodger fans panic after Giants sweep series

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By Don Wanlass 

Contributing Writer

It’s time to panic if you are a Dodgers’ fan.

Getting swept at home by the San Francisco Giants will do that to you. Not only did the Giants win a three-game series over the Dodgers, but they moved past the Dodgers into second place in the National League West in the process.

The Giants humiliated the Dodgers, outscoring them 29-4 in the final 23 innings of the series.

The Dodgers started well June 16, leading 4-0 through six innings. Emmet Sheehan, making his Major League debut for the Dodgers, threw six no-hit innings. Manager Dave Roberts pulled Sheehan and the Dodgers’ bullpen did what the Dodgers’ bullpen has been doing with tremendous regularity lately — gave the game away.

Brusdar Graterol gave up two runs in the seventh inning. Victor Gonzalez and Tayler Scott combined to give up three more in the eighth. After the Dodgers rallied to tie the score in the ninth, the bullpen recorded two scoreless innings before Alex Vesia yielded two runs in the 11th inning.

The next night was even worse for the Dodgers. Rookie starter Bobby Miller got shelled for the first time in his brief career, giving up seven runs in 5-2/3 innings. The bullpen made things worse, giving up eight more runs in 3-1/3 innings in a 15-0 rout.

After giving up 15 runs in eight-plus innings in the first two games, the bullpen didn’t allow a run June 18. But starter Tony Gonsolin gave up seven in 5-2/3 innings and the Dodgers lost 7-3.

The Dodgers offense wasn’t much help against the Giants. Dodgers hitters were 7-for-36 with runners in scoring position and stranded 28 runners in the three games.

That’s a good recipe for a 4-10 skid they hope ended with a 2-0 win over the Angels June 21.

The bullpen is the obvious reason for the Dodgers problems this year, but there are others. Injuries have affected the batting order and the starting rotation.

In the June 21 game against the Angels, the Dodgers had four rookies in the starting lineup: second baseman Miguel Vargas, third baseman Michael Busch, left fielder Johnny Deluca and center fielder James Outman.

The top four hitters in the lineup — Mookie Betts, Freddie Freeman, Will Smith and J.D. Martinez — are all hitting higher than .250. The only other hitter on the roster hitting higher than .250 is outfielder David Peralta, who is at .276.

The Dodgers say help is on the way. Max Muncy, out for more than a week with a hamstring injury, is supposed to be back in the lineup June 23 against the Houston Astros. Starting pitcher Julio Urias should be back a week later.

Injured relief pitchers Daniel Hudson and Jimmy Nelson are both on rehab assignments in the minor leagues. They could be back by the end of the month, providing veteran stability at the back of the bullpen.

As bad as they have played over the last five weeks — they are 13-18 since May 15 — the Dodgers are still one of the top 12 teams in the major leagues in wins and would be a wild card team if the playoffs started tomorrow.

There have been some positives. The debuts of Miller and Sheehan in the starting rotation have been eye-openers and the Dodgers are getting good looks at the four rookies   

This is the sixth time since 2013 that the Dodgers have had fewer than 40 wins 72 games into the season. The Dodgers have gone on to win at least 90 games and qualified for the playoffs in each of those seasons.

So it really isn’t time to panic yet. Next week, the Dodgers travel to Colorado and Kansas City, two of the worst teams in baseball. 

If that can’t get them out of the funk they are currently in, nothing can.

DRAFT TIME: The NBA Draft is June 22 and the Lakers and Clippers are both expected to select players who can make a difference next season, not two or three years down the line.

The Lakers have the 17th pick in the first round and the 47th pick in the second round. The Clippers pick 30th and 48th.

The Lakers’ biggest need is a wing shooter, someone who can hit from three-point range to keep defenses from sagging onto LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The Clippers could use a point guard to run the offense and allow Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to play off the ball. They also could use a back-up center.

Both teams could use a player like Jaime Jaquez Jr., the UCLA graduate who has been impressive in workouts. Jaquez was pegged as a likely second-round draft pick when the college basketball season ended but he has since moved up on most teams’ draft lists and he isn’t expected to last through the first round.

The Lakers should draft him if he is still there at 17. The Clippers probably won’t have a chance to get him.

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