At the time, it seemed like a daunting task. The club was coming off being swept at home by what appeared to be a superior St. Louis Cardinals team. Kenley Jansen was getting smacked around, obviously not himself. The offense wasn't hitting with men in scoring position and the team was a mere six games over .500 at 67-61, 4 1/2 behind first place Arizona. They had a day off to think about things, regroup and start over against a couple of last place opponents, (San Diego and Texas).
So now, 19 games later, the Dodgers have played at a 13-6 clip, still behind in the division standings, but certainly in the running for a playoff spot. They continue to frustrate us losing to cellar dwellar Cincinnati in 6 of 7 on the year, but taking a series on the road from first place Colorado, in a respectable performance over the past weekend. This is a Jeckyll and Hyde team that is impossible to predict. My confidence in them taking the National League Pennant again isn't high, yet then there are signs every once in a while that the magic has returned, only to see the team to fall back into bad habits.
Let's take last night's 9-7 win at St. Louis for instance.
|Kershaw started striking out 6 of his first 7 outs recorded, but a homer surrendered to relief pitcher Tyson Ross opened the flood gates. He gave up 4 runs over six innings in earning his 5th straight win. (Associated Press photo)|
The team looked fantastic. Kershaw was dominant in early innings. Striking out Cardinals at a clip we hadn't seen all year. The offense clicking, hitting with runners in scoring position, at one point 5 for 7 with men in scoring position. Even hitting back to back sacrifice flys, a rare occasion this year. Up 8-1 in the 5th, this game was in the bag, right? Not this year.
Kershaw started getting hit. The defense sloppy. The base-running, stupid, (what were you thinking Barnes?). Relievers struggling. Offense stranding runners again. Kenley Jansen - lost. By the ninth, this laugher has turned into potential tragedy.
A win in game one at St. Louis should have raised confidence, but the way it ended put a damper on that. Last night's game was 2018 in a nutshell. It should have been an easy win. Instead it was a roller coaster ride.
They go at it again tonight with Walker Beuhler. Another "must" win. With a victory, the Dodgers ensure themselves of at worst a .500 season with their 81st win. I continue to believe that 91 wins takes the division. That'll require an 11-4 close out to the season. Again, not impossible, but a formidable task. Do the Dodgers have it in them? Again, the 2018 team raises doubts.