Curveballs the key for fired up Bolsinger

Dodgers starter relies on offspeed stuff, allows one unearned run over seven frames

Curveballs the key for fired up Bolsinger

ATLANTA -- After getting Eury Perez to ground out in the seventh inning of the Dodgers' 3-1 victory over the Braves, Los Angeles starter Mike Bolsinger showed a bit of emotion. Just a quick display of unusual fire coming off the mound.

That's because the Braves, according to Bolsinger, were giving him some flak for throwing too many curveballs. But for Bolsinger -- who's averaging just above 87 mph on his cut-fastball this year and had just finished holding Atlanta hitters to one unearned run and three hits through seven innings -- there's no such thing as too many curveballs.

"If you're showing me you're not hitting a pitch, why would I go to something else?" Bolsinger said. "That's baseball. If you show me you're not doing something, I'm going to keep attacking your weaknesses."

And Bolsinger said that was definitely the case against the Braves, as the scouting reports have shown that the team struggles against offspeed offerings. That, combined with the fact that Bolsinger felt good with his curveball and slider as early as his pregame bullpen session, led to Atlanta seeing 61 offspeed pitches out of the 98 that he threw.

"For Mike, it's a matter of being able to get the ball to both sides of the plate a little bit with his fastball," said Dodgers manager Don Mattingly. "And then that sets up the breaking ball."

But what apparently got under the skin of Braves batters was when Bolsinger would go to his curve in typical fastball counts. He threw catcher A.J. Pierzynski a curveball in a 2-0 count, and then again in a 3-0 count.

"There's two ways to take it," Bolsinger said. "[One], I can throw that pitch in any count I want, and [two], take it as a sign of respect.

"If I respect a hitter, I'm not going to give you too much to hit, I'm going to go with my strengths and you're going to have to beat me with my strengths."

Bolsinger admitted that the chirping was what made him respond vocally after getting his final out in the seventh inning, but he laughed at the entire situation.

"It's baseball, it's fun," Bolsinger said. "You just have to keep a smile on your face and that's what I did, just had a smile on my face, got the next out and got out of the inning.

"I really don't do that too often, I don't lash out and stuff like that. But if the moment's right, I guess I kind of get after it."

Given his performance against Atlanta, during which he lowered his ERA from 3.04 to 2.79 while striking out four batters and walking just one (Pierzynski), Bolsinger is probably hoping that "moment" comes around more often than not the rest of the season.

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