It’s going to be a real shame that we probably won’t see this Dodger team in post season play. The way they are playing now leads me to believe that they could actually do some damage in the playoffs. The guys are hitting, the defense is sharp and the pitching (both starting and relief) is putting out great performances day in and day out.
Winners of six of seven and five consecutive, the Dodgers are within a win of matching their longest winning streak of the season, and right when it was vital to do so. Today’s 7-1 win over Colorado completed their first sweep of the Rockies since 2007. The Rockies are definitely putting out a bunch of scrubs with much of their starting lineup out with injury, but how many times in past seasons had the Dodgers lost to similar teams in the pennant stretch? Teams out of contention often play out of their minds, taking risks and playing aggressive baseball. The Dodgers simply stopped that from happening by putting crooked numbers up on the scoreboard this past week, taking a lot of pressure off of the pitching staff.
|Luis Cruz is greeted by Don Mattingly after hitting a two run homer to lead the Dodgers in their 7-1 win over the Rockies. (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
As the Dodgers start the season closing three game series against the Giants that many of us a few weeks ago thought would be a series for the ages, I can’t help but look back and think of the “what ifs” that would have changes the Dodgers fortunes.
There are the injuries: Chad Billingsley, Scott Elbert and Ted Lilly who are gone for the season. There are the injuries that set the Dodgers back for much of the year to Matt Kemp, Kenley Jansen, Andre Ethier and Mark Ellis. I saw a graphic put up on one of the Dodger telecasts this week that showed the number of games Dodger players lost on the disabled list this year. The number was second most in the majors. I’m not making an excuse, because everyone has injuries, but they certainly had their unfair share of bad luck this season.
There were the inexplicable slumps. What happened to this team in late August and early September when the mashers of the lineup were unable to score runs? So many great pitching performances were wasted by that anemic offense that couldn’t score more than a run or two each game.
There were the games that got away and some of the managerial decisions made by Mattingly that showed his reluctance to mix things up when his set lineup was failing day in and day out.
|Josh Beckett went 6 innings, yielding only one run in the Dodger victory today. (photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)|
This Dodger team has now won as many as the 2009 NL West Champion team did. Eighty-four wins isn’t fantastic, but it’s a winning season, and considering how bad this team was playing in June, a team finishing with 86 or 87 wins is really quite respectable.
Ownership went out and spent the money and made a true effort to buy the club a championship. Barring a miracle in the next three days which would include a colossal failure by St. Louis, it’s not going to happen. Perhaps this ownership group might have learned a lesson. That lesson is that championships aren’t won on paper, but on the field. That massive roster turnovers 3/4 of the way through the season might be a bad idea.
Don’t get me wrong. When the trades went down, I was all for them. We, the fans, were thrilled. After years of thriftiness from the McCourt regime, we were so accustomed to ownership making deals that shed salary or produced long term contracts that were paid off over a large span of years. The current ownership taking on big money contracts was a welcome sight. We are the Los Angeles Dodgers for heaven’s sake. We’re the second largest market in the majors and we should be spending big bucks. Perhaps though, they’ll be a bit more prudent in their 2/3 and 3/4 season acquisitions in the future.
So with three games to go, the Dodgers play out the season hoping that St. Louis loses at least two of the next three while the Dodgers sweep the Giants. Not an impossible scenario, but certainly an unlikely one. I have a lot more faith the the Dodgers accomplishing their end of the bargain before I do of the Cardinals losing a couple. So break out the rabbit’s feet, hang a horse shoe over your Dodger pennant laden door, cross your fingers and toes, and break out every good luck charm that you have at your disposal. The Dodgers are really going to need every one of them to continue playing beyond October 3rd.