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BASEBALL PLAYOFFS : Lasorda Gets One for Scrapheap, Not His Scrapbook : Dodgers: Team's play in what could be his last playoff series leaves him depressed and searching for answers.

October 07, 1995|CHRIS BAKER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

CINCINNATI — If this was Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda's last game, he certainly won't want to remember it.

Lasorda was distraught after the Cincinnati Reds swept the Dodgers out of the playoffs with a 10-1 loss Friday night before 53,276 at Riverfront Stadium.

"It's sad," Lasorda said. "I feel bad for our players, I feel bad for our fans, I feel bad for our owner. We owed them a better performance than we gave. It's going to be a long winter, a long winter.

"I'm just eating my inside out right now."

Third base coach Joe Amalfitano said Lasorda, who has won two World Series, realizes that he might not get any more chances to win another one.

"We had high expectations and he's naturally disappointed because you don't know how many more times you're going to get this far," Amalfitano said. "Each time you come to the playoffs you think, 'Is this going to be my last attempt?' He'll be all right. Tommy's been through this before."

There was dejection in Lasorda's eyes after the game as he sat in the Dodger dugout, arms folded, watching the Reds do a victory dance as fireworks exploded.

"What was going through my mind was that we didn't play up to our capabilities," Lasorda said. "We're a better ball team than we showed, but it's one of those things that happens. I can't explain it. I don't know why, but the guys we were looking toward to give us the offensive punch just weren't hitting. It's not the first time it's happened during the playoffs, it's happened to a lot of good players in the past. Who has the answers to it?"

A hot team in September, the Dodgers collapsed in October and were outscored, 22-7, by the Reds in three games.

Third baseman Tim Wallach, who waited 14 years to get back to the playoffs, went one for 12 (.083) in the series. Mike Piazza had three hits in 14 at-bats (.214) and Raul Mondesi was two for 10 (.200).

"We just couldn't produce like we're capable of doing. We had a lot of hits," Lasorda said. "I don't know what the answer is. They tried so hard that it might have hurt them to try too hard. Look at Wallach, look at Piazza, look at Mondesi. You can't criticize these guys for anything. The only thing you can do is commend them. It just didn't work out."

Lasorda wasn't the only Dodger in shock.

"Nobody expected to go three and out," first baseman Eric Karros said. "But there's nothing you can do about it, it's over."

Is Lasorda's career as the Dodger manager over?

The fifth manager to guide the same team to the playoffs in three decades, Lasorda, 68, would love to return for his 20th season.

"That's something that [owner] Peter O'Malley is going to have to decide," Lasorda said. "I love managing. We'll see what happens. I'll be talking to him. I feel awfully bad now because we didn't give him the performance that we are capable of."

Executive Vice President Fred Claire said it's too early to determine Lasorda's fate.

"This isn't the time to do that," Claire said after the game. "This isn't what we had in mind for this night. We've got a lot of decisions to make and we simply have to start on that Monday morning and give thought to the future."

After regaining his composure, Lasorda was off to congratulate Red Manager Davey Johnson.

"He's got so much class," Johnson said. "He could give all the other managers in the league a lesson. He's a great guy and I admire him and everything he's ever done.

"He's a competitor and a winner and he doesn't like to lose. He hasn't lost a lot. He's a better man than me. I look up to him and I hope I learn from the things he does. I'd like to be as good a manager and as good a diplomat for the game as he is."

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