Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez hits a run-scoring double during… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
The ugly news is, one of these two completely unimpressive teams is probably going to make the playoffs.
Not that they deserve to. You certainly can't claim the Dodgers do, not the way their offense has wilted down the stretch. It's pretty amazing, really. Those four studs in the middle of the order and the Dodgers are putting up more zeros than the national debt.
It's been going on so long now, the Dodgers have lost their spirit. Their confidence appears nonexistent. No longer do they look like a team that believes they will find a way to win. Lose, maybe, but not win.
It's the great Dodgers' mystery of 2012, all that talent brought in by the new owners to capitalize on the team's unexpected early success, and all that failure.
The Dodgers have lost four consecutive games and seven of their last eight. That is not called a stretch drive. They lost each of the last three by one run. Twice they were shut out.
"I can't really explain to you what’s going on," said Matt Kemp.
The thing is, the Cardinals have been doing everything in their power to keep the Dodgers around. St. Louis came to Dodger Stadium on Thursday night having lost six of the last seven. They're practically the same team.
"Obviously we could have really been in huge trouble," said Manager Don Mattingly. "I think we’ve been lucky to be here right now."
But put the Dodgers and Cardinals together, and somebody has to win. It's in the rules. So the Cardinals pulled out a 2-1 victory Thursday, pushing the Dodgers two games back of St. Louis for the second National League wild-card berth.
The game was almost painful to watch. It's almost like neither team actually wants to win this thing. Both have stumbled around so long they’ve kept the Pirates in it -- and Pittsburgh has lost six consecutive games. They've allowed the left-for-dead Phillies and Brewers to climb back in the race.
"We have to keep believing in what we have a chance to do and keep feeling like we're going to win," Mattingly said. "That's the toughest right now. The battle you have to keep fighting."
Difficult to do when you're mentally beaten. It seems like they play the same lousy game every night. And the crazy thing is, the postseason is still there for them to seize, if they would only approach their offensive potential.
Instead, in their last six games the Dodgers have scored one, two, zero, zero, three and two runs. They're losing games they know they should win and cannot figure out why.
"It's baseball, I’' not baffled," Kemp said. "In baseball, people go through sometimes [periods] where you don't hit. It just so happens that none of us are really hitting."
The Dodgers have 18 games left. They put together a couple of wins, and who knows? It's not like it's impossible to turn things around. It's just that right now, it feels that way.