DENVER -- The Dodgers have been a middle-of-the-pack defensive team in the National League, with nine more errors and a five-point-lower fielding percentage than the league-leading Phillies, but they've been good enough to build a fundamental foundation around solid fielding.
"It's one of the things we've kind of tried to hang our hat on," manager Don Mattingly said Saturday. "It's one of the things you control."
In Friday's 13-3 loss to the Rockies, however, the club committed a season-high four errors, dropping it down a couple pegs in the team fielding rankings. While a couple of the errors were the kind you expect in a game of imperfections, the mental lapses were more frustrating, resulting in Rockies getting extra bases that led to runs in prolonged innings.
"There's going to be physical mistakes," Mattingly said. "We're going to make physical errors. But those games are frustrating when you don't play good defense. I feel like we're trying to build around pitching and defense, and you can do that every day."
Mattingly has had his hands full managing a roster riddled with injuries, and the flux in the field accounts for some of the defensive lapses.
A game such as Friday night, when sloppiness in the field and a lack of timely hitting resulted in the biggest loss of the season, highlighted how much Mattingly misses one of the team's cornerstones.
"I miss Mark Ellis," Mattingly said of his second baseman who went on the disabled list with a leg injury May 19 and may miss close to two months. "He's one of those guys you don't think about and don't talk about, but you miss that guy that sits in that two-hole, makes all the plays at second base, and is just like another solid guy in your lineup.
"I thought right away, he's going to be tough to replace. Matt [Kemp] is obviously a given -- you miss Matt, that's huge production. But when a guy like Mark goes out I don't think people really realize what you're losing."