Now in his fifth season as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Dave Roberts certainly is no stranger to facing criticism over in-game decisions and roster management. Despite regular assurances from president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, Roberts is dogged by perceptions the front office drives decision-making.
Just over one week into the 2020 season, Roberts has twice faced scrutiny after a Dodgers’ loss. The latest instance came Friday night, which saw Blake Treinen intentionally walk Eduardo Escobar to load the bases with two outs in the eighth inning.
That brought Christian Walker to the plate with Dodgers clinging to a 3-1 lead. Walker drove Treinen’s first pitch into the right-center field gap, over Mookie Betts’ outstretched arm. The bases-clearing triple gave the Diamondbacks a decided lead.
There were multiple layers to Roberts’ decision, including Walker’s history against the Dodgers and putting the go-ahead run on base. There also is the factor Escobar is off to a slow start this season and remains hitless through the first two games of the series.
“For me, on the road, guys on second and third, open base, I just liked the matchup with Blake versus Walker more,” Roberts explained after the loss. “I really did. Whatever book, to put the winning run on base, it’s different for me when I’m on the road and not trying to play to tie. I’m trying to play to win that game and get that hitter out. It just didn’t work out.”
Last week, Roberts defended his decision to leave left-handed batters on the bench on multiple occasions during the late innings of a loss to the San Francisco Giants.
Dodgers needed one more highlight from Betts
Having already flashed a remarkable arm by throwing out Ketel Marte on his attempt to stretch a double to a triple and with his first home run as a Dodger, Betts came up one highlight shy of potentially sealing a win.
He gave chase to Walker’s drive but watched as it continued to carry over his head. “I thought I was going to have a chance,” Betts said. “I think if I take a deeper route, maybe I have a chance. That’s the route I took. He definitely squared it up.
“It carried through the gap pretty good. He’s got some thump in his bat, so got to respect that. Gave it a good try and I came up short.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in our shows, and more!