The Dodgers Win a Ballgame
It certainly was an exercise of contrasts when after watching the Kings clinch their first round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues last night, I come over to watch the Dodgers tangle with the Miami Marlins tonight. On one night I watch hockey at its finest. The next night? Well, it was a Marlins-Dodgers game.
But at least I got to witness the Dodgers avoid their first nine-game losing streak since 1992 as they beat up on the Miami Marlins 7-1.
"It feels pretty good honestly," manager Don Mattingly said. You can see the collective exhale from the fans, the manager, the players. The long absent stares that were trying to make sense of what was going on was replaced with smiles. "It's been a little battle for us. You only got to get one somehow, someway, and see where we can go with it."
Even for Dee Gordon who wasn't with the team for the entire eight-game losing streak it was a load off of his shoulders. "It's great to get that 'eight' off of our backs," he said. "Hopefully we can mix in some wins here and there and just keep playing hard."
Going into this series against the Marlins there was the sense that the Dodgers reached their nadir, that for as much as things were going wrong they would certainly be able to turn things around against the National League's worst team. But when they lost last night, that threw a world full of doubt into that equation.
But everything came together for one night at the very least. I don't really know who Marlins starter Kevin Slowey was pitching against to have his 1.81 ERA entering the game, but the Dodgers did a number on him. Okay, it wasn't quite the offensive fireworks what with only getting five runs on 11 hits and three walks off of Slowey in 4 2/3 innnings. But considering how the proceedings have been going for the team, we can call this a veritable breakout.
Andre Ethier led off the second inning with a double and scored on Skip Schumaker's single. Dee Gordon led off the third inning with a home run, and Adrian Gonzalez singled eventually scoring on Schumaker's groundout.
You read that right. Dee Gordon hit a home run.
"It felt good," Gordon said about tying Matt Kemp in home runs. "But I didn't know it was going out, so I ran hard to get in scoring position."
So the Dodgers had the 3-0 lead, the same as they had on Friday night through three innings before coughing up in a 5-4 loss, and all hearts waited for the inevitable collapse.
Only it didn't come.
The Dodgers added two more runs in the fifth inning for the 5-0 lead thanks to four singles and a walk.
And the Dodgers didn't have to use up their awful bullpen. Ryu Hyun-Jin pitched into the seventh inning, the only real trouble he faced was in that inning giving up a leadoff home run to Miguel Olivo. He left the game after giving up a two-out single to pinch-hitter Chris Coghlan. Paco Rodriguez got Adeiny Hechavarria to line out to right field to end the threat.
It actually was a surprise to see Ryu out there in the seventh after having already made 104 pitches.
"After the sixth inning, Mattingly and pitching coach Rick Honeycutt asked me if I was good to go out for the seventh," Ryu said. "I told them I was fine. I was feeling good."
It was clear Mattingly wanted to put off having to dip into the bullpen for as long as possible. "I was hoping to get one more inning," Mattingly said. "We weren't going to let him to get too far, but he said he felt good."
With the game gone to the bullpen, the Dodgers made sure to make things tougher for the Marlins by scoring twice more in the bottom of the seventh.
Fortunately Matt Guerrier and Javy Guerra pitched two perfect innings. "Could almost feel like it was champagne time for the guys," Mattingly said. "It was a relief for the guys."
With the imminent return of Zack Greinke, Mark Ellis and Jerry Hairston, it's easy to see how one can make more out of this one win against the Marlins. But Mattingly, for as much relief as he showed tonight, was not about to get carried away.
"It's hard to be down about this, but it's hard to get too excited at this point," Mattingly said. "Now if we can start putting some games together and put a section of time together, then you start feeling better about yourselves."
For Mattingly his focus is on one thing: "We've got a game tomorrow. It'll be nice to put another one together and then hopefully just get ourselves moving in the right direction."
Also to put this win in perspective, this is a win against the Marlins. This is a $230 million team that was projected to go deep into the playoffs beating the Marlins who had yet another offseason fire sale. It's nice that the Dodgers ended their eight-game losing streak.
But the Dodgers now remain in the cellar of the division, seven games behind the first-place Giants and 1 1/2 games behind the Padres. They also lead the Angels by a 1/2 game.
Sure there are the injuries. There are the slumps that surely have to end at some point. But even if that gets completely fixed, here's the more pressing question. When's the last time you heard of a team that was last place in the division in May making it to the playoffs?