“We got outplayed.”
These words uttered by Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts after being swept by the Padres succinctly described what happened to his team while they were in San Diego. They got outplayed, in all facets of the game.
The Dodgers never led in the entire series. They allowed the Padres to score in each of the three first innings, and it seemed like the air was gone for the Dodgers from the very beginning of each game.
Los Angeles only scored seven runs total while stranding 21 men on base. They were 4-for-19 with men in scoring position.
The starting pitching failed them also. As stated, Julio Urías, Clayton Kershaw, and Trevor Bauer all surrendered runs, and home runs, in the first inning, allowing the crowd to really dictate the direction of the game. Urías ended up allowing a total of six runs through four innings, and Kershaw and Bauer both allowed three runs through six. While Kershaw and Bauer both technically had quality starts, it was not enough to help out the struggling offense.
Other issues were at play. Manny Machado and Jake Cronenworth have seemingly made it their personal mission to just demolish the Dodgers. Cronenworth homered in all three games, Machado in two. Never known for his effort while he was with the Dodgers, Manny was employed all over the field in various shifts, standing anywhere from short center to deep right field. He even booked it down the base path to beat a throw by Justin Turner, who had to get a better grip on the ball before throwing to first.
Mookie Betts battled what the team is calling the stomach flu through most of the series. He left the game early on Tuesday night and was sent back to Los Angeles early on Wednesday after receiving IV fluids. Roberts was unsure if Mookie would even be back in the lineup on Thursday.
Regardless of all of these issues, there was just a flatness to the team. Even when they tried to mount a comeback on Wednesday night, there still didn’t really seem to be any urgency or hype about it.
The Padres are a team that feeds off emotion and the energy of the crowd. The Dodgers, for how good they have been over the last five or so years, seem to employ a slow and steady approach, which does not always translate to getting up for the what fans and media seem to be an important series. They say all the right things ahead of time, but many times, it doesn’t translate to the field.
The Dodgers are missing that spark, whatever that may be. Love him or hate him, Yasiel Puig always brought it. Joc Pederson and Kiké Hernandez infused a child-like love of the game into the clubhouse also, and those fun sparks are missing off the bench this season.
To me, this is something they desperately need to find before the playoffs roll around, or worse, find themselves out of the playoffs entirely.
Now the Boys in Blue return home to Chavez Ravine for a tough, six-game stretch. They’ll begin on Thursday evening with a four-game set against the Chicago Cubs and then two with the NL West leading San Francisco Giants.
Joc will receive his World Series ring before the opener. The former Dodger is batting .243 on the season with 11 home runs. The Cubs as a team are second in the NL Central, 0.5 games out of first behind the Milwaukee Brewers.
The probable pitching matchup for Thursday is Zach Davies and Walker Buehler. Davies is 4-4 on the season with a 4.66 ERA, a pitcher who the Dodgers should be able to handle. Buehler is looking to take sole possession of the Dodgers franchise record of consecutive games started without a loss. He is at 23 regular season starts and 30 when the postseason is included.
Hopefully the home crown and the embarrassment at how they played in San Diego will light a fire under this team or they could find themselves further down in the division than they already are, with a long climb back to the top.