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Dodgers playing percentages with infield shifts

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LOS ANGELES -- In Sunday night's 5-3 loss to the Pirates, a couple of steps cost the Dodgers a couple of runs.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the first, the Dodgers employed an infield shift, shading to the right and playing the left-handed-hitting Pedro Alvarez to pull.

He didn't pull. Alvarez poked a ground ball just past the ranging Hanley Ramirez at shortstop, allowing two Pirates to score off of right-hander Zack Greinke.

Was the shift a mistake?

"At that very point? I don't like it very much," manager Don Mattingly said. "But I think the shifting -- you're basically playing percentages. A lot of times you're pitching to that."

Greinke, despite the fact those two runs were charged to him, echoed his manager's sentiments.

"If the data shows that he hits the ball up the middle, then you've got to play up the middle," he said. "If the data shows he hits the ball to second on the pull side, then you've got to play three guys on one side. If the data shows he hits it to shortstop, then you'll play at shortstop.

"It depends on what the data shows. I like the shift for the most part."

Still, Greinke said he doesn't try to cater to the shift when he pitches. He said he continues to pitch to his strengths.

"If you look at Alvarez, if you throw the ball a couple of inches off the plate away, he still pulls the ball for the most part," Greinke said. "So, a lot of times, you shift for guys when they do that no matter what."

Michael Lananna is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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