Mattingly's gaffe, on top of an apparent miscommunication by the umpiring crew and a sixth-inning dropped fly ball, gave way to a Giants comeback and a stinging sixth consecutive loss for Los Angeles, 7-5, Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.
"We've had some strange things happen," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said in the clubhouse, from where he watched his team implode. "This is a test and you're going to have re-establish what kind of club you are, and this is how you basically find out."
Torre, bench coach Bob Schaefer and starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw had all been ejected by the seventh inning thanks to beanball wars between Tim Lincecum and Kershaw. So with the bases loaded, one out and the Dodgers clinging to a 5-4 lead in the ninth, it was on acting manager Mattingly to meet with Jonathan Broxton and the infielders on the mound.
Never mind that the Dodgers once held a four-run lead with their own ace on the hill and two-time Cy Young winner Lincecum out of the game after 4 2/3 innings. They were just looking for their first win since the All-Star break, any way they could get it.
Broxton threw 44 pitches just two nights ago, and Torre said before the game the All-Star closer likely wouldn't even be available. Tired or not, he might've been on his way to a second consecutive blown save anyway.
But it's not as though there was anyone better left in a reeling Dodgers bullpen, anyone more capable of escaping the jam. Hong-Chih Kuo had already given two innings.
Mattingly, by accident, never gave Broxton the chance. All the hitting coach was trying to do was tell first baseman James Loney where to play.
|A professional league shall adopt the following rule pertaining to the visit of the manager or coach to the pitcher:|
(a) This rule limits the number of trips a manager or coach may make to any one pitcher in any one inning;
(b) A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher's automatic removal;
(c) The manager or coach is prohibited from making a second visit to the mound while the same batter is at bat, but
(d) if a pinch-hitter is substituted for this batter, the manager or coach may make a second visit to the mound, but must remove the pitcher.
A manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber.
Rule 8.06 Comment: If the manager or coach goes to the catcher or infielder and that player then goes to the mound or the pitcher comes to him at his position before there is an intervening play (a pitch or other play) that will be the same as the manager or coach going to the mound.
Any attempt to evade or circumvent this rule by the manager or coach going to the catcher or an infielder and then that player going to the mound to confer with the pitcher shall constitute a trip to the mound.
If the coach goes to the mound and removes a pitcher and then the manager goes to the mound to talk with the new pitcher, that will constitute one trip to that new pitcher that inning.
In a case where a manager has made his first trip to the mound and then returns the second time to the mound in the same inning with the same pitcher in the game and the same batter at bat, after being warned by the umpire that he cannot return to the mound, the manager shall be removed from the game and the pitcher required to pitch to the batter until he is retired or gets on base. After the batter is retired, or becomes a base runner, then this pitcher must be removed from the game. The manager should be notified that his pitcher will be removed from the game after he pitches to one hitter, so he can have a substitute pitcher warmed up.
The substitute pitcher will be allowed eight preparatory pitches or more if in the umpire's judgment circumstances justify.
It's rule 8.06: "A second trip to the same pitcher in the same inning will cause this pitcher's automatic removal from the game. ... A manager or coach is considered to have concluded his visit to the mound when he leaves the 18-foot circle surrounding the pitcher's rubber."
Mattingly had left the mound, taken a couple steps, then turned back to speak to Loney. He heard home-plate umpire Adrian Johnson say "No, no, no." Without meaning to, Mattingly had gone back on the dirt and visited the mound twice, forcing a pitching change.
"I had a little bit of a feeling at that point," Mattingly said. "I'm aware of the rule. But again, I didn't realize, I kind of felt like I turned and just turned back around. Again, obviously, I guess, I guess I didn't."
Giants manager Bruce Bochy immediately jumped out of the dugout. Crew chief Tim McClelland said had Mattingly not stepped back on the dirt of the mound, it would not have been considered a second visit. It was truly a matter of inches.
"Not great," Mattingly said when asked how he felt. "Obviously we're not playing good and it costs us a chance to win the game. When you got Brox in the game, we're bases loaded there but you feel like you can get out of that. So not good."
Bochy said after the game it wasn't the first time he had gotten the call against the Dodgers. It happened with Brad Penny on the mound and Grady Little managing in 2006.
With Torres at the plate, Mattingly said pitching coach Rick Honeycutt recommended Sherrill come on to turn Torres around to his weaker side. Sherrill's had such a rough season that the Dodgers placed him on outright waivers last week. He cleared them Monday, and the team held on to him because they have nowhere else to turn, despite his 7.48 ERA.
Already behind the eight-ball, Sherrill ended up with only 10 warmup throws: two in the bullpen, eight on the mound. He normally takes 25 to get hot.
"After seven, the umpire says one more and calls for the hitter, that's all you're getting," Sherrill said. "Go get 'em, I guess. ... I'm still not loose."
Torres drove Sherrill's second pitch, which read 85 mph by one TV radar gun, into the left-center-field gap for a one-hopper off the wall and a two-run, go-ahead double.
Mattingly said the crew chief McClelland told him he would grant Sherrill extra warmup pitches, which the rules allow for. Mattingly and Honeycutt started to talk to each other in the dugout, and when they turned around, they thought he was good to go.
"Honey and I talked, pretty much turned around and Goerge was pretty much ready to go. I didn't realize they cut him off at eight," Mattingly said. "Timmy told me he could get all he wanted to, let him warm up, and at that point you figure that's the way it's going to be."
There was no protest from anyone, Sherrill, Honeycutt or Mattingly.
"Usually you get what you need," Honeycutt said. "Usually it's the plate umpire, but Tim was the one directing traffic."
Torre said after the game he'd see if there was a possibility of submitting an official protest. It was a fastball in the back of Aaron Rowand that got Kershaw and Torre ejected after the first pitch of the seventh. Both teams had been warned when Lincecum threw one pitch that came close to hitting Matt Kemp in the fifth then did the deed on the next pitch.
In between Kemp and Rowand's plunkings, Russell Martin was nearly hit, leading to Schaefer's ejection, and the Giants scored three runs, two of them unearned because of a dropped fly by Xavier Paul. That brought the score to 5-4.
"You feel horrible in that situation," said Paul, who was 3-for-4 with two doubles.
Kemp and Kershaw wouldn't discuss any intent after the game. But Torre thought the incident harkened back to April 16, when Vicente Padilla hit Rowand in the face, breaking his cheek.
"My guess would be yes, it did," Torre said.
Evan Drellich is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.