Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly looks on from the dugout during the team's… (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press )
The Dodgers awake today in a strange new place. A place they haven’t known for 83 days.
Second in the National League West.
They now trail the Giants by one game. The last time they did not lead the NL West was April 10.
It just underlines their recent disastrous play, puts an unwanted exclamation point on their free-fall. Lose five consecutive games and nine of your last 10, and things like that happen.
And now it would seem there is the additional psychological letdown of falling out of first. Anyway, so it would seem.
“Not really,” said left-hander Chris Capuano. “As bad as this stretch has been – and it’s been pretty horrific – our record is still very respectable and we’re still right there.
“The race has just kind of begun for us. On the contrary, I feel like we did a great job early kind of buying ourselves some time to work through a period like this. I look at the standings and I’m pretty happy where we’re at right now.”
In this race, though, they are chasing, not being chased. Over half the season remains, but it seems clear now there will be no running away from the Giants, a team they once led by 7½ games.
“We really can’t be concerned with anybody else,” said Manager Don Mattingly. “We’re kind of going through a rut. We’ve got to take care of ourselves, get ready to play.”
The Dodgers have a new rallying cry: Get to the All-Star break.
By then they hope to have second baseman Mark Ellis back, and possibly Andre Ethier, with Matt Kemp soon to follow.
“The All-Star break is looming and I think we want to kind of run through that finish line,” Capuano said.
“If we can kind of turn it around here and play good going into that break, I think we’ll be very close to getting Matty and Mark and Dre back, and at that point it will feel like it did at the beginning of the year.”
Despite losing nine of their last 10, Mattingly is trying his best to avoid a sense impending doom. He’ll touch on reality, but then give it his best positive spin.
“We think we are in an optimistic situation,” he said. “We’ll push through the break and see where we’re at.”
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