“Are you nervous?” my husband asks me before the Dodgers game. “Not yet,” I reply. I rattle off a number of reasons why not, that this isn’t the batting order that worked so beautifully earlier in the season, that the pitchers who got demolished in Arizona did really well against the same team the second go-round, Kershaw is on the mound.
These two weeks have been something else, though. And while I try to maintain as optimistic a view as possible, there is always that lingering doubt in the back of your head. What if.
What if this pitching staff behind Kershaw actually poops the bed in October. What if the bullpen can’t keep it together. What if Chris Taylor‘s and Justin Turner‘s first halves were a fluke. What if, baseball gods forbid, Corey Seager really is hurt more than anyone is letting on. What if, what if, what if.
Monday’s article was glib and in jest, that yes, even the best team in baseball has a slump or two throughout the season. And other much more well known writers have taken the same stance, pointing out that even last year’s World Series winning Cubs went on a cold streak for about 10 games or so.
The dichotomy of the season is what has been so jarring. This team had the highest run differential, the most wins, the biggest division lead, the best bullpen, the most walk-offs in all of baseball. And then, suddenly, they seemingly couldn’t do anything well.
I’m writing this as I’m watching the game. Kershaw has given up four straight hits, including a three-run homer to Nolan Arenado. Okay, so it’s the guy leading the NL in batting average in Charlie Blackmon, and Arenado who now has 31 homers, but it’s like a gut punch. Watching Kershaw not do well always hurts, but man. Part of me wonders if Kershaw feels the weight of this losing streak, and simply is trying to do too much, trying too hard, and therefore not hitting his spots.
Watching Kershaw walk off the mound after that inning hurts.
Common sense tells you that if a team was that good once, they will be that good again, and this is just a blip on the radar. But the heart tells you otherwise. Or whatever organ it is that controls all the worrying.
Joe Davis has just informed me that Arenado leads the NL in RBI. Small consolation when Kershaw is at 48 pitches, and has issues his second walk of the inning to load the bases.
After getting the count full, Kershaw mercifully strikes out Mark Reynolds.
The Dodgers head into the third inning down 4-0 and with no hits. Why does this seem like it’s happening every night?
Rockies fan creeps into my mentions. I don’t reply on the off chance the Dodgers actually get some offense going and come back to win this thing.
Roberts lifts Kershaw in favor of Brock Stewart after 3.2 innings, 86 pitches, four earned runs, seven strikeouts, and three walks. What is life.
A run! Back to back doubles from Bellinger and Puig that resulted in a run!
And then the Dodgers promptly give it back, and more on a dumb play, and more hits. It really does feel as though they just can’t get any sort of momentum.
Colorado, though, continues to score. “Has LA given Colorado momentum in the playoffs? My column-”
Paredes loads the bases. Josh Ravin gives up a walk. 8-1. I’m going to bed.
But wait, a bright spot! The Dodgers number one prospect, Walker Buehler heads out to the mound. He hits 100mph on the radar gun on his second pitch in the major leagues. He allows a hit to Carlos Gonzalez, then induces a double play and faces the minimum. He comes back out for the ninth, and he gets Charlie Blackmon looking ona gorgeous curve for his first career strikeout. Strikes out Amarista and throws two scoreless innings in his debut. More of that, please.
The Dodgers have lost seven in a row for the first time since May 2013. The stats are super-depressing, and I’m not even going to mention them here. There are horrible things going on in the world, and another giant hurricane is barreling towards the east coast. Obviously, there are much more important things than a baseball team losing, but when baseball is an escape from the world, it’s doubling frustrating when your team that used to look unstoppable barely musters a whimper. We’ve gone from expecting every game to end in a win to wondering when the next win will come.
I’m not anywhere near panicked, as this team is too good to keep this up. I said that back in April, and I’ll still say it now. I’ll leave it for others to speculate why they are performing so badly. But they need to get this figured out, and soon. For all of our sakes.
(FOLLOW ANDY ON TWITTER: @DODGERSANDYINPA)