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BASEBALL

These are becoming dog days

August 29, 2012|T.J. SIMERS
  • Dodgers reliever Jamey Wright wipes his forehead after allowing two runs during the eighth inning of the Dodgers' 8-4 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.
Dodgers reliever Jamey Wright wipes his forehead after allowing two runs… (Justin Edmonds / Getty Images )

DENVER — So much for our glory hounds winning best in show.

Everyone goes bonkers after the trade with Boston, including Page 2, but it's pretty obvious now our Choking Dogs react better when tapped on the fanny with a newspaper.

Yes sirree, a very peculiar thing has happened to our heroes as they make their way to the World Series.

They suddenly stink.

They appear lifeless and uninspired in three consecutive losses to the dead meat likes of the Marlins and Rockies, and how much more condemnation of their play can one make?

"We're not playing very good baseball; not only not swinging the bats but just not doing things right," Mark Ellis says. "I don't know why. I stopped running after a pop-up; I can't put my finger on it.

"I know it needs to stop."

The Dogs were projected as division champions only a few days ago but are 1-10 in their last 11 games against division opponents and now 31/2 games behind the Giants.

Poor hopeful Dodgers fans, and speaking of great ideas gone sour, now Joe "Boo-Boo" Blanton goes to the mound for the Dogs.

This is so indescribably ridiculous. If the Dodgers are a playoff team, what does that make the Rockies?

I defy you to name two players in Colorado's lineup, and yet this lineup has outscored the vaunted Choking Dogs attack 18-4 in two games.

So is lifeless, uninspired baseball the great equalizer when playing doormats? If so, is this a Dodgers team that is not going all out right now?

"I don't know that answer," says Andre Ethier, which is telling in itself.

I know Matt Kemp is the exception, willing to try to knock down walls two nights in a row to make the playoffs.

A little later Ethier, Ellis and Adrian Gonzalez behave as if they don't want to get their uniforms dirty, allowing a ball to drop between them for a double.

Kemp leaves the game after diving after another ball, a knee getting an MRI exam and his jaw getting stitches and a CT scan.

Everyone is told Kemp has left the ballpark with the game still being played by the Rockies, no reason why he should feel any worse and watch this mess.

How far gone are the Dogs? They don't even rally around their all-out team leader.

When Kemp throws his body into the wall, falling head over heels and landing obviously hurt, only the team trainers, Manager Don Mattingly, left fielder Shane Victorino, Ethier and shortstop Hanley Ramirez run to him.

Everyone else remains where they are on the field, apparently center field too far to walk or run to check on Kemp's condition.

At the very least, World Series checks are on the line if Kemp is lost, and still none of these guys make the move to check on a teammate.

Where's the spark to replace Kemp, the results to match all the weekend hoopla with the biggest trade in baseball history or whatever it's supposed to be?

Isn't this beyond embarrassing?

"I don't know about embarrassing," says Mattingly, who then goes on a baseball-filled cliche filibuster in an effort to downplay the effect of three consecutive losses to crummy teams.

But come on, the Rockies are handicapped by pitching rules they have installed that limit the number of innings worked by their starting pitchers. They didn't even play their best hitter, Carlos Gonzalez, against Dodgers starter Chris Capuano.

The Dogs should dominate, but yet I'm telling Mattingly how it looks from watching the game: "This team appears lifeless and uninspired at a time when you would hope they would be playing their most inspired baseball."

Mattingly takes serious exception because that would mean he doesn't have the Dogs ready to play.

"I'm not going to sit here and let you tell me these guys aren't trying or they are not inspired; that's just not the case. I know it doesn't look good when you don't score any runs; it's going to look flat. That's fine. It doesn't look good right now, but I'm not going to sit here and let anyone tell me they aren't trying, aren't bothered by a loss or wanting to get this done."

If only his players were so feisty.

But then Mattingly tossed in the towel in the fourth inning, his team down 5-2 with Capuano having nothing on the mound.

The Dodgers had runners on first and third with two out, and while managers almost never pinch-hit so early in a game, this is Colorado, where lots of runs can be scored, 33 games to play and with September call-ups arriving soon, why save anyone?

Mattingly lets Capuano bat, he strikes out and then Capuano gives up another run in the fourth.

"I understand; if I had September call-ups, I would have taken him out of the game right then," Mattingly says, September call-ups arriving in four days. "I was two guys short in the bullpen, so I didn't have enough pitching to finish that game. I had to let him hit, but I'm with you."

I thought we would be together for the playoffs, but I worry now I'm the only one who was excited about getting to them.

If I'm wrong, how about a sign of life?

--

t.j.simers@latimes.com

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