A few questions came to mind while enduring another painful night of Dodger baseball at Chavez Ravine, this time a 3-1 loss Friday to the surging Arizona Diamondbacks.
At what point do the Dodgers stop operating as one of the haves and start to think as a have-not?
They're reaching a point that one key trade won't be enough. Manager Jim Tracy keeps saying that no one bat will make the difference. If the Dodgers keep losing players, then he's right. What would be the point of bringing someone else in if he's going to be surrounded by a bunch of triple-A talent?
They don't expect Brian Jordan to play again this season. They don't have time to wait for Dave Roberts and Fred McGriff to return to full strength -- not while the San Francisco Giants are leaving them behind and the Diamondbacks are now looking back over their shoulders at them.
So why go after one bat when it might not be enough? Why not concentrate on acquiring prospects instead? The speedy Wilkin Ruan just might play himself into a regular spot in center field while Roberts is on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, making Roberts attractive to another team looking to add speed to its lineup.
Why does Tracy keep bringing Gagne into games with tie scores in the ninth inning? It was 1-1 when the jarring guitar licks of "Welcome to the Jungle" blasted over the loudspeakers and Gagne emerged from the bullpen in the top of the ninth.
Gagne just seems out of his element when he isn't in a save situation. He showed that Wednesday night when he allowed an extra run to score by neglecting to back up an errant throw to home plate because he thought the game was over.
But why bring him in with the bottom of the order due up in the Dodgers' half of the ninth? If the top two-thirds struggle so much, is it reasonable to expect the No. 7, 8 and 9 hitters to end the game in their at-bat?
Gagne came in with Arizona's No. 8 hitter, Rod Barajas, at the plate. Tracy was down to three players on the bench, so he wasn't ready to pull a double-switch to keep Gagne in the game beyond that inning, with the pitcher's spot due to hit third.
Gagne struck him out, then got pinch-hitter David Dellucci to ground to first. He surrendered a single to Matt Kata before inducing Steve Finley to tap a weak grounder in front of the plate for the final out.
Then, predictably, Arizona's Oscar Villarreal struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth. The third out was McGriff, pinch-hitting for Gagne. That left Tom Martin to face the heart of the Diamondbacks' order in the top of the 10th. Martin gave up hits to the first two batters, Alex Cintron and Luis Gonzalez. He was lifted for Guillermo Mota, who gave up the game-winning, two-run hit to Quinton McCracken. By that point, all Gagne could do was watch.
How was Tracy going to explain this? Still waiting for the answer to that one. His latest postgame thing is to give an overview of the game then not take any questions, like one of those pseudo-media availabilities by a president.
Tracy did say "That was a great ballgame." Was he really talking about Friday night's game at Dodger Stadium?
Hard to believe he was. The one premise that comes with every sports ticket is hope. But the Dodgers just snatch it away. They couldn't even manage a hit for the first five innings.
For Dodger fans, this game was filled with more teasing and false hopes than a bad romance novel. For instance, there's Paul Lo Duca at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the sixth inning. On the scoreboard, it said that Lo Duca is the second-hardest player in the National League to strike out. What happened next? Lo Duca struck out.
But that wasn't even the worst thing to happen in the inning.
Why are the Dodgers so bad on the basepaths? Is it because they spend so little time there?
With one out in the sixth inning, Cesar Izturis on third base and pinch-hitter Larry Barnes on second, Alex Cora hit a blooper to center field. Izturis ran back to third base -- which made no sense, because Cora's ball was so shallow that Izturis could not have scored after tagging up. Barnes was chugging away and almost passed Izturis at third by the time the ball dropped in front of Finley. Finley's throw to the plate beat Izturis, who was tagged out by Barajas, the catcher.
Apparently the phrase "runners in scoring position" doesn't apply to the Dodgers.
Not when they can't get a guy in from third on a base hit.
Was there anything entertaining about Friday night?
Well, the Navy jet flyover during the national anthem was pretty cool. So were the postgame fireworks.
And also, there was this exchange near the escalators.
"That was the most frustrating game I've ever seen."
"That's only because you're not here every night."
J.A. Adande can be reached at: email@example.com.