On Aug. 25, when the Dodgers were 91-36, they risked depression to realize they would soon be 0-0.
Now 0–0, and the promise of a reset, looks like two heavenly beacons on the shore.
Winning baseball games used to be like waking up in the morning. The same team that couldn’t lose for winning finds itself bound to a parachute that won’t open.
They have lost 10 consecutive games for the first time since 1992, when they went 72-90. They were listless and haunted on Sunday, and they lost, 8-1, to Colorado.
Rich Hill walked leadoff man Charlie Blackmon on five wayward pitches and gave up the first run in four minutes.
L.A. left six runners on base in the first three innings, and the snapshot was Chris Taylor, as much of a symbol of the Dodgers’ re-entry as anyone, rocketing a two-out drive into the third-base glove of Nolan Arenado with two men on.
“Chris’ ball was an example, and if we’ve gotten a few breaks yesterday it might have been different,” Cody Bellinger said. “I don’t feel that bad about it because of all the comebacks we had earlier in the season. Maybe it’s a blessing. Maybe if we’d rolled through September like we did earlier in the season, who knows what would have happened?”
Well, in that case the Dodgers wouldn’t have dressed in a “frustrated and angry clubhouse,” according to Manager Dave Roberts, and Arizona wouldn’t be nine games behind the Dodgers in the NL West when it was 21 games out on that Aug. 25.
This is why we use the term “mathematically eliminated.’ Mathematics is how all this gets decided.
Here’s some more:
— The Dodgers played 64 innings in this winless seven-game homestand and had the lead at the end of five of them.
— Going into Sunday they were hitting .172 with men in scoring position in September.
— They were hitting .204 for the month with a .599 OPS and a woeful .264 on-base percentage, all National League lows. Including Sunday, they have 101 strikeouts and 29 walks.
— Yasmani Grandal, who didn’t play Sunday, is 1-for-24 for the month with 12 strikeouts. Joc Pederson is hitting .110 and Chase Utley .077.
Roberts was asked if he’d considered pumping some sunshine into the room by telling the club that, back in March, it would be delighted to have a nine-game lead on the 11th of September. He said he had told individual players such things.
“And I tell myself at night,” he said, laughing. “I say it to the ceiling.”
That was pregame. Afterward, Roberts repeated all the new-world stuff about process, but said it was time to maybe shelve all of that.
“It’s the major leagues,’ Roberts said. “No matter how we do it, we need to win a game.”
Can the first 127 games of a season hit an expiration date so early? Can a team that was being called The Best Ever, at least in Dodgers history, lose it so easily?
No, those wins weren’t illusions, but a lot of them came in late innings against shaken teams, and no individual Dodger felt pressure because everyone was on board. They called it magic for a reason. It was real but it wasn’t permanent.
“I can see it where a guy might feel like he wants to be the guy to step up,” Bellinger said. “But I think overall that everybody’s got a good mindset.”
Those of us who urged the Dodgers to nail down their destiny by making trade-deadline deals have trouble throwing stones. Yu Darvish, who was supposed to seal up the rotation, has been awful, as has Curtis Granderson.
Lefty relievers Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson have settled down, but it was Watson who gave up that grand slam to Arizona’s Jake Lamb on Aug. 8. That seemed like the first leak in the pipe, but then the Dodgers won eight of nine after that and increased their lead by 6 1/2 games.
You can’t accuse Roberts of denial. He admitted the Dodgers were in uncharted territory and referred to this “historic, whatever-you-call it…I can’t think of an adjective.” He also says it starts with the starting pitcher, and Clayton Kershaw can only be that guy every fifth day.
Rest assured, the 1927 Yankees are safe. After the game Kershaw, Granderson, Josh Fields and Adrian Gonzalez spoke to fans as part of a Christian witness, and Brandon Cash, the minister on hand, indeed asked the crowd, “If you’d known you’d be nine games ahead in the division…..”
He was preaching to the wrong choir.