The world has come crashing down around the Dodgers since the last time we talked, three short days ago on Monday. Corey Seager, out for the year. Hyun-Jin Ryu, the one consistently good pitcher on the Dodgers staff, left the game after 1.1 innings on Wednesday night. The bullpen continues to give up runs. It has not been fun.
I have run the complete gamut of emotions since the Seager elbow news on Monday. It started with me being angry that things weren’t taken care of after the World Series, until the news came out that Seager re-aggravated it on a throw in San Francisco. Then it was disappointment. Then, sadness. Then acceptance. And now, a sense of relief, if you can believe it or not. I, as I’m sure a lot of Dodger fans were, was filled with angst to start the season. A lot of unresolved emotions were still hanging on after losing Game 7. The thought that the Dodgers were this close to winning it all, and anxiety about getting back.
But now that the injuries and lack of bullpen performance have put a severe hold on a repeated World Series run, I don’t have the high expectations any longer. And that’s oddly okay. Maybe the front office could’ve hung onto Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson, both of whom are having pretty good seasons with other teams. And maybe the Dodgers would have another win or three under their belt. I almost think that would add to the angst, a more, dire “oh no, what do we do now” situation. It’s seems things are just not going to go the Dodgers’ way this season.
This is not to say I won’t enjoy the rest of the season. To me, it will make the wins all the sweeter, less to be taken for granted. I will worry about the postseason when it gets here, and not obsess about it all year. That also isn’t to say I’ve given up on the season, either. On the contrary. After last year, I know this team has a lot of fight in them, and I expect them to do everything they can to climb back up the division and into playoff contention. And once you reach the playoffs, who knows? I don’t expect other fans to feel this way; we all deal in our own ways. But after illnesses, injury after key injury, bullpen issues and who knows what else going on, the odds just seemed stacked against them this year. It is what it is.
Before Wednesday night’s game, Manager Dave Roberts said that “Tonight is the night it turns.” The Dodgers did indeed win the game, and not in a fashion anyone could predict. Ryu seemed to pull a hamstring during a pitch in the second inning, and was removed from the game. Pedro Baez, he of the shaky outings, proceeded to strike out the first three batters he encountered, and went 2.2 scoreless overall. He worked himself into a bases loaded jam in the fourth, but got himself out of it with another strikeout. Hopefully that goes a long way for his confidence.
Daniel Hudson followed with two scoreless innings. The Dodgers scratched across another run in the seventh inning. Alex Verdugo doubled, took third on a wild pitch, and scored the would-be winning run on a sacrifice fly. Tony Cingrani followed with a scoreless seventh, and Josh Fields worked in and out of trouble in the eighth. Kenley Jansen was in for the ninth, and allowed a run, but preserved the win. All in all, an impressive showing from the beleaguered bullpen.
Verdugo is making the most of his second call-up to the majors. In four games, he is slashing .385/.467/.615/1.082 with three doubles. He had both runs in Wednesday night’s game, both off a double and stolen base. While he may not be the Cody Bellinger of last year, he very well could be that spark we were talking about.
It was a brutal game Wednesday night. The Diamondbacks have the Dodgers’ number during the regular season. There wasn’t much offense to speak of. The starting pitcher exited in the second inning. Everything is going wrong for the Dodgers. And yet, they won. The bullpen stepped up and did what it had to do. That game could have very easily been a microcosm of the season. But it wasn’t. It was a definite reminder that although things look bleak at the moment, there is still reason to not give up on the season.
Thursday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks will start at 12:40 local time, and will be broadcast only on Facebook. Coverage begins at 12:00 PST with a special Dodgers Insider show. The game will be called by Rich Waltz who will be joined by current Dodger broadcaster Orel Hershiser and former Diamondbacks player Eric Byrnes. Alanna Rizzo will be the sideline reporter.