Broxton rockedby another big blast

first_imgBASEBALL: Dodgers’ young setup man has no answers after allowing a late homer to Hawpe. By Tony Jackson STAFF WRITER DENVER – The intensity and the desire might have been there all night, but afterward, the disappointment wasn’t. Not that it was that difficult to figure out. “Baseball is always going to catch up with you,” Broxton said. “I’m just going through a little struggle right now, and I just have to get over the hump.” This is the same Broxton who routinely pitches in the mid- to high-90 mph range, whose stuff is devastating enough to make him one of the league’s most feared setup men. This also is the same Broxton who gave up exactly one home run between opening day and the end of August, a harmless solo shot by Philadelphia’s Tadahito Iguchi on Aug. 23 that ended a stretch of more than a year since anyone had last taken Broxton deep. In these first three weeks of September, though, Broxton has given up five home runs over a stretch of 12 appearances totaling nine innings, during which he also has allowed nine earned runs. He has given up game-winning homers to San Francisco’s Daniel Ortmeier on Sept. 7, the Giants’ Ray Durham on Sept. 9 and now Hawpe. He gave up what would have been a game-winning homer to Chicago’s Alfonso Soriano on Sept. 6 if Andre Ethier hadn’t answered with a shot of his own in the top of the ninth. The reasons for Broxton’s sudden tendency to get lit up like the Las Vegas strip depend largely upon whom you ask. “He is finding out that the league is adjusting to him,” Dodgers manager Grady Little said. “There is no doubt in my mind that he will do a good job of adjusting back. His stuff is there, so it’s not a fatigue situation.” Broxton, whose 80 appearances are a professional career high even if his 79 innings aren’t, tells a slightly different story. “I’m a little sore,” he said. “I can tell it’s September. I can tell by my location, especially on the breaking ball. But part of baseball is that you have to learn how to get through a whole season and pitch with a lot of appearances.” Broxton’s struggles aren’t coming at an especially bad time, at least not anymore. The Dodgers (79-73) aren’t mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt, but they might as well be, and they have fallen a game behind the resurgent Rockies by losing three in a row to them in a series that concludes this afternoon. Still, this isn’t the way Broxton (4-4) – potentially the Dodgers’ closer in some not-so-distant season when the still-dominating Saito decides to retire – wants to go into the offseason. He is still young enough (23) that the memory of fading down the stretch could haunt him all winter and possibly still be stuck in the back of his mind come spring training. Little has considered using Broxton earlier in games so he can rebuild his confidence in less pressure-packed situations. For now, though, Broxton will stay in his usual role. “We’ll see how he feels (today),” Little said. “If he feels good, look for it.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The funereal silence that had filled the clubhouse the previous evening was noticeably absent, making it clear these Dodgers had reached a point in their season where even the most poorly timed mistakes were no longer critical and even the most devastating defeats no longer carried the same sting. Not that it was any consolation to Jonathan Broxton. The struggling setup man had left yet another pitch in yet another bad location resulting in yet another home run, this time by Colorado right fielder Brad Hawpe in the bottom of the eighth inning. It had all led to yet another, mind-numbing defeat for these lame-duck Dodgers, who dropped into fourth place in the National League West following a 6-5 loss to the Rockies before 26,184 on Wednesday night at Coors Field. The night before, it was Rockies left fielder and likely NL Most Valuable Player Matt Holliday who had taken Broxton deep in the eighth, bringing Colorado to within a run before Takashi Saito gave up a two-run, walkoff blast to Todd Helton an inning later. This time, the Dodgers didn’t have the luxury of a three-run lead when the suddenly vulnerable Broxton jogged in from the bullpen, and this time, it was Broxton who was left standing at his locker, trying to explain what had just happened. last_img read more