Andruw Jones made an appearance in the starting lineup last night. Not that he is difficult to spot in the first place, but even if you look for him in the box score, he's the only one who went 0-for-4. He's now batting .158. But the microscopic average doesn't even tell the full story, for those of us watching the game last night.
Jones came up in the second inning and saw changeup, changeup, fastball, changeup. He swung at all four pitches, striking out on a 70 mph change.
Jones was more patient in his at bat in the fourth, taking two balls before taking a called strike and then weakly grounding to second on a fastball.
In the sixth, Jones saw two Reagan-era (low 80's) changeups, the latter of which resulted in a force at second (erasing Nomar Garciaparra) which was kept from a double play only when Padres first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was taken off the bag on the throw. At that point, to quote SoSG Orel in the GameThread (comment at 8:51p):
Jones is doing everything possible to get out. He finally succeeds on his third try (#1 DP but first baseman pulled off bag, #2 almost picked off first, #3 thrown out at second trying to advance on a ball that got away from the catcher)
So not only was it a poor at bat, it was compounded by ineptitude on the basepaths. A subsequent shot of a displeased Joe Torre in the dugout seemed to augur poorly for Jones' fourth at bat.
But no, Jones came back up in the ninth, for a five-pitch strikeout (his second K of the night). On this at bat, the slow-motion replay showed how badly he was fooled, as well as how jerky and back-foot-weighted Jones' swing has become. It's not a pretty sight, and it was almost as if Vin Scully was biting his tongue from saying a more acerbic comment.
Jones has devolved into a circus act, a train wreck that is only compelling to watch in that it's a looming disaster. He's getting booed on the road, for pete's sake--if anything, the Padres fans should be cheering Jones' presence in the lineup, particularly batting sixth where it can cleave any offensive momentum in two.
Look, Jones may get an occasional hit. Heck, Mark Sweeney can get a hit every one in a while (though Sweeney was 0-for-1 with a called K last night). But this is not something we want to be screwing around with down the home stretch of a tight pennant race.
Sure, it worked out last night (where the Dodgers ended up winning the game, and the Giants' win over Arizona actually extended our lead to a still wafer-thin 2.5 games), fortunately for us. But it's really playing Russian roulette to be trotting Jones out there when we're still racing for the division title. Save the postseason audition period for the meaningless games we may earn (if we're lucky!) at the end of the year.