Flair to middling


Dodgers arrive at the break a perfectly average 47-47 after loss to Rockies, but they can't say it hasn't been an eventful, interesting ride.

July 15, 2013|Dylan Hernandez

Asked to describe the Dodgers' season up to the All-Star break, Manager Don Mattingly didn't know what to say.

"Well . . ." he started.

He leaned his head to one side, then the other.

"It's been obviously unscripted," Mattingly said. "It ended up OK. We survived it."

Even after a 3-1 defeat by the Colorado Rockies on Sunday at Dodger Stadium, the Dodgers went into the All-Star break only 21/2 games behind first-place Arizona in the National League West. Winners in 17 of their last 22 games, they are 47-47.

When the Dodgers were in spring training, this wasn't where they envisioned themselves. They were talking about reaching the World Series, not scrapping to stay alive in baseball's weakest division. But considering they have already used the disabled list 22 times and were in last place and 91/2 games out just three weeks earlier, they counted themselves fortunate.

They endured early injuries to Hanley Ramirez and Zack Greinke, as well as slow starts by Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. They lost Chad Billingsley for the season to an elbow operation.

So, when Mattingly called a team meeting Sunday morning, he did it in part to tell his players how proud he was of them.

"We persevered through this," Mattingly said. "We had a lot of injuries, we had a lot of stuff go on. These guys have hung in there."

But Mattingly also reminded his players they haven't accomplished anything yet.

"We're past halfway," he said. "We're close to 100 games. We have a short second half. We've got to come out of the break ready to play."

Although their recent surge in the standings might suggest the four-day break is hitting them at an inopportune time, the Dodgers viewed it as timely.

Rookie catalyst Yasiel Puig was out of the lineup for the second consecutive day because of a sore left hip. Carl Crawford didn't start for the fourth consecutive day because of a stiff lower back.

Puig pinch-hit in the fifth inning and played the remainder of the game. Crawford entered the game as part of a ninth-inning double switch.

"I wasn't well enough to help my team at the start of the game," Puig said. "But thanks to the trainers and everything they did for me in the training room, I was well enough to play."

Mark Ellis couldn't play at all, because of a bruise in his left leg that he sustained the previous day. Kemp is on the disabled list.

"As long as we come back playing the way we are right now, it's going to be a great break because we'll be healed," Adrian Gonzalez said. "If we had kept playing, we would have had to keep playing without a couple guys in the lineup. These four days will be good for everybody to refresh their bodies."

The Dodgers will resume play Friday in Washington, the start of a six-game trip on which they will also visit Toronto.

By Gonzalez's estimation, the absence of key players was part of the reason the Dodgers scored only two runs in their last three games. Their only run Sunday came in the fifth inning, when Puig led off with a pinch-hit single, advanced to second base on a hit by Skip Schumaker and scored on a single by Gonzalez.

By then, Michael Cuddyer had driven in three runs for the Rockies -- one on a first-inning single and two more on a fifth-inning home run.


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