The Dodgers Are Optimistic
The magic word for the Dodgers was "optimistic" on Thursday. After the disastrous roadtrip, that's all the Dodgers really had.
They were shutout in three consecutive games by the San Francisco Giants and hit a paltry .177 on the nine-game road trip. The Dodgers had not scored in 30 innings, and to make matters worse, Andre Ethier left the game in the first inning on Wednesday with a strained left oblique. To say that the Dodgers were scuffling offensively was an understatement.
"Yesterday was really a pretty rough day in the sense of being frustrated, what was going on the field and really what happened with Andre and that whole situation made things really feel bad," Dodger manager Don Mattingly said before the game.
The Dodgers did get some relief with Ethier listed as day-to-day and not needing a DL-stint. Even Ethier was in good spirits joking how the good weather in San Francisco contributed to the Dodgers demise. The clubhouse on Thursday seemed as light as it had been throughout the season, the guys chatting with one another like any other day and bongo drums used as a soundtrack.
"But at the end of the day, you've got regroup and do what we've doing," Mattingly said. "We've got to get ready to play. We've got to battle our way to the break."
Mattingly detailed how Mark Ellis and Matt Kemp are due to come back soon, how Ethier doesn't need a DL stint for now and Javy Guerra's imminent return to the bullpen.
"We're getting ready to get some pretty big pieces of our club back into the mix," Mattingly explained. "At the end of the day, we've got to be optimistic."
There's that magic word. Even Vin Scully consoled the Dodger fans on the television and radio by running down a list of the great Dodger teams in the past and their penchant for being shutout.
Of course this brings up the Radiohead song "Optimistic" which despite it's chorus ("You can try the best you can / The best you can is good enough.") is pretty gloomy.
It didn't take long for reality to hit the Dodgers on the head.
David Wright grounded a double just over the third base bag in the first inning scoring Ruben Tejada at 7:18 p.m, the game seemed over. The New York Mets took a 1-0 lead in that first inning, and the Dodgers penchant for not scoring seemed to have writers throughout the pressbox scurrying to come up with ways to fill space.
Wright seemed to add insult to injury when he hit a solo homer in the fourth inning putting the Mets up 2-0 while the Dodgers upped their scoreless inning streak to 33, the fifth most in franchise history.
Then something started brewing in the bottom of the fourth inning. Dee Gordon led off with a fly ball that landed in between centerfielder Andres Torres and right fielder Lucas Duda for a double. We've seen this before with Chad Billingsley on third base in Wednesday's game.
When Elian Herrera's fly ball went over the head of Torres who was playing shallow, a moment of disbelief occurred. Had the Dodgers actually scored a run? Yes they had, and Herrera slid into third base with a triple with no outs.
THE DODGERS HAD SCORED A RUN!
Just as that had time to settle in, Juan Rivera hit a single scoring Herrera.
Not only had the Dodgers scored two runs, but they tied the game against a team that had scored 17 runs the day before in Chicago.
"It felt good to score a couple of runs to be honest with you," Mattingly said.
"We were pumped up," Dodger starter Chris Capuano said. "We were jumping around. We were pretty jacked up. Hopefully a lot more of that in this series."
Natually the Dodgers promptly gave a run back in the fifth inning on an Andres Torres double and didn't score thereafter. So as hard as people wanted to be optimistic, don't tell that to the 49,006 who booed James Loney as he grounded out to end the eighth inning as the Dodgers lost 3-2.
On April 8 to 10, the Dodgers were 1/2 game behind the Arizona Diamondbacks. That was the only time the Dodgers had trailed the division until after this game when they fell a game behind the San Francisco Giants. In a matter of 32 days, what had been a 7 1/2 game lead for the Dodgers has turned into a one-game deficit.
If you try the best you can, the best you can is good enough.